2022 Challenge in the Tropics

Day 1 Blog—28 April 2022

Day 1 Blog - 21 March 2023

Launceston to Devonport

Written by:  Team Epic

Daily Stats

Distance: 150 kms
Average Speed: 25 kph
Climbing: 1564 metres
Moving Time: 6 hrs 13 mins
Temperature: Min 1 / Max 20

Day - 1 (Launceston to Davenport)


Day 1 and what a spectacularly amazing and challenging day! Rolling out of the Country Club at sparrows in minus 20 degrees (as some Queenslanders would express) we hit the roads to smash out the 150km leg to Devonport.


Blue peloton led the way in style but were temporarily halted within the first 100 metres, with a chain popping to bring roll out to a stop. A quick repair job from super mechanic Ryan Tierney had Blue peloton rolling away in no time.   The slight delay gave Red peloton some extra time cooling their heels (literally) in the near zero temp's that the mostly Queensland based riders are not accustomed too.  But our courageous Lead Vehicle Driver Chris "Jono' Johnstone took great pleasure sitting in his 25 degree car while the riders waited patiently for their scheduled roll out time - 10 minutes behind the Blue peloton. 


Before long both pelotons were on their way in the crisp Tasmanian air on a morning that could only be described as amazing! The riders making their way along through the Meander Valley taking in the rolling hills and scenery on offer.  We settled in to chattering teeth conversations and the people getting to know each other while we watched our breath leave our mouths as the sun slowly rose in the sky, but did little to bring the early morning temperatures up. 


The first hour or so of any tour ride is challenging, as riders come accustomed to new riding buddies, their styles and personalities, but in no time at all the riders where chatting away enjoying the rolling hills, historic building and rawness of the Tasmanian bush land. 

After a solid 45 kms through the Meander Valley we were able to make our way onto the back & farm roads full of fat happy looking cows surrounded by imposing moutains all around and took us through to 80 kms and our first morning tea stop at Caveside - a little farming community off the main track.  We were treated (as always) by our catering crew with a large selection of hot and cold baked goods too warm and feed some hungry bellies.  The cool morning start certainly makes you hungry. 

Out of Morning Tea the pelotons headed west to Mole Creek, where we all were hoping that Killers course selection did not take us up toward Devil Gullets Lookout. To our surprise as we gently swung to the north we were in for a delightful and gentle climbs through one of killers ‘little pinches’ as we started to rise towards the forest on a gentle 5-8 degree slope looking upwards to the lead vehicle it quickly became apparent it was in the high double digits for slope and oxygen tanks were quickly shared to feed the riders. The little pinch becoming the first big challenge for th day - a 3 km climb averaging 10% and peaking around 18% certainly tested a few leg's.  For the riders there will be some sore glutes and quads to warm up tomorrow. 


But what goes up, must come down and the welcome decent saw some some magical riding, land speed records and easy kilometres made on Strava soon had the riders forgetting about those 'pinches'. Kms were clicking away and the riders rolled into a much needed fuel stop with the amazing road crew clapping and cheering the teams into the feast at King George Park in the centre the Sheffield township - with many murals painted on building throughout the town overlooked by imposing peaks in the background. 


With the day time temperatures making double figures rolling out of lunch the riders were greet with more challenging hills through the Mersey Valley but soon gave way to flatter country surrounded by orchards and the odd cider distillery.  The area here well known for it's high quality produce.  Reaching Devonport the riders were turning their minds to a much needed hot shower, but we had just a little more work to do - making  our way to the very tip of Devonport overlooking a very calm Bass Straight, both red & Blue pelotons rolled into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park to be greated by The Neptune like Spirit of the Sea sculpture hanging out over the famous Bass Strait. We huddled like penguins to reserve any heat left, we gave a hearty three cheers and thanks to the road crew and riders for a great day 1 effort, followed by the Smiddy Smiddy Smiddy chant to remember Adam Smiddy and all our loved ones we've lost or still fighting cancer - they are the one's we are all riding for.

A quick team photo at the tip of Tassie and many hugs shared the short roll back to our accommodation and that well earned warm shower.  


In typical Smiddy style, the riders were well looked after by Pagey and Stinky who maintained high levels of vigilance to keep everyone safe and the ever present road crew watching over us riders.  A challenging 150km 1st day on Challenge Tasmania certainly lived up to it's name.  


Five stars, would recommend.