This January, instead of baking like a blue-tongue on bitumen and riding to Adelaide for Tour Down Under, we packed up the FYXO Van and caught a ferry south to the Apple Isle and did not regret it.
Of the items on the to do list was the ominous Jacob’s Ladder of Ben Lomond National Park.
I took two bikes to Tasmania, a Trek Fuel EX and my own Boone which made this ride a breeze. You ‘could’ get up there on a road bike with 23mms, or you could do it faster and with greater confidence on something with wider tires and better brakes.
Getting two bikes along with the rest of the cycling gear into the van is usually no problem – but with the sleeper conversion I made it required an unusual level of disassembly – namely removing the wheels.
One thing they don’t mention in the brochure is the incredibly tough ride from the main road just to reach the bottom of the ladder. This 14km stretch is far tougher than the actual ‘Ladder’, which last time I played Snakes & Ladders more closely resembled a snake – of which I saw a black one on my return.
The towering Ben Lomond is an incredibly beautiful and unique rock formation. For how, and why it is the way it is I stole from wikipedia.
The basement rocks comprise slates, siltstones, greywackes and quartzite. These were intruded by granite and, later, by dolerite during the Jurassic Period. Dolerite predominates on the plateau. The only exception is a highly localised area under Coalmine Crag and around the flanks of the Ben Lomond Plateau. This exposure includes a narrow coal sequence, which was once worked commercially. During the Pleistocene Ice Age, a small ice-cap existed on Ben Lomond, which was the only plateau in the north-east to be glaciated. The effects of these glaciers account for much of the contrast between the alpine scenery of Ben Lomond and that of the other mountains in the north-east. The most notable relict periglacial depositional features are the blockfields, which cover over a quarter of the Ben Lomond plateau. Much of the plateau is devoid of soils. Organic soils (peats), including deep peats, are most extensively developed on the western side of Rodway Valley. Mineral soils are also found, particularly in the better drained sites.
I left in darkness from camp, which was covered in thick fog. I crossed my fingers that I’d be riding out of it to reveal a clear view at the top and Ben did not disappoint.
Tasmania was a real eye opener.
If you haven’t put this road on your bucket list I can safely say it won’t disappoint.