Schooled as a late adolescent in the art of the road trip I can fondly recall a quick ol lap of the bottom of Australia. Because that’s what time rich, money poor folk like my young self and peers did for shits and giggles in those days.
From Marysville to Sydney then Ulla Dulla via Broken hill, where we swapped from Ryan's Midnight Oil blaring so loud to overcome the screaming of wind through open windows to beat the heat HX Holden sedan into the other road trip icon Tarago of Mike who was Ryans mate from Broken Hill who we picked up on the way. The Tarago was a step up from the HX, it had air con...but it didn't work. Still the idea of it meant something and instead of Midnight Oil it was Sunny Boys.
Now 40 years old the thrill of a journey somehwhere, anywhere, still sits in me. Some call it the travel bug. I think of travel as the opposite. A profilaxis against modernity, urbanity, insanity and white middle class chubbiness.
Midnight oil and cars have moved on and so have I. With a wave of the wests magic social mobility wand weeks of road wandering have become weekends of plane flying.
Some come Friday, come getting on a plane. Calling it a plane is all sorts of wrong. Planes are not plain. They are a time and location bender to a virtual reality indifferent to the existing reality. Describing planes I am also tempted to throw some sort of pop culture reference to the start of everyone’s most hated love movie Love actually in here, but won't.
So I fly from Melbs to Launceston in less than an hour. Take off, Weis bar, chapter of a book, stunning sunset, touchdown.
Its late so I think I’ve missed out on a rental car but haven’t but a mate who is a new local but not long enough to be local yet swings to my rescue and picks me up even though I’m ok. Coz that’s how Launcestonians roll. They are happy to help. Same next day when it turns out I’ve left half my drive train back in vic. The local bike shop is only to happy to help. Good salt of the earth Tassy folk. Hope you meet them when you come down.
Via bike my new local old mate shows me around the stunning Catract Gorge and then up into the trails of Trevallyn. These trails are a joy but in comparison with the Derby trails to come are like playing on swings on your way to Disneyland. But I didn’t know that yet.
With my short weekend timeline it was time to boot it to Derby. From Launny to Derby is a stunning circuitous route through some non internet serviced awesomeness and after a couple of hours and some significant climate change you arrive at the trail head.
New maps and World Trail branding build the anticipation and after familiarising myself with the maps I decide to head for a late arvo spin on flickity sticks into Dam Busters.
Few can improve on or repeat genuis. Most have their Andy Warhol 15minutes then are gone –think Milli Vanilli, Rob Mills, Chik Chik boom, beached as bru, Shannon Nolls Drive song - luminous moments of jaw dropping amazeballs that defined the cultural zeitgeist for a least half a day and then gone, wallowing in their nadir for the rest of their days. After designing Olympic and World cup Mountain Bike courses world wide it would have been so easy and probably fair for Glen Jacobs to have reached his creative zenith by now. But it seems, and is evidence by Derby, each new blank hill side canvas see’s Glen and his crew create another magnum opus.
All of these conclusions were quickly and unarguably reached as I zoomed enthralled along the dam busters trail. In spite of Derby throwing one of its very best storms at me I was all peak experience, bike dancing the trails with the joy of autonomous movement, in a better reality, ensconced in so much forest green.
Then I stopped.
Off to the left i spot a trickle of mountain stream. And I sit for a while and reflect on how good it is to be out there, out the back of Derby which is already out the back of nowhere. Away from it all and just sitting for a bit. Looking around. Breathing it all in. And know that riding isn’t just about riding.