Getting physical in Tasmania – The Mount Wellington Descent.

After a month of walking around every available museum I could find in Sydney and Melbourne, I was growing weary of spending my days inside reading each and every display board and absorbing as much information as I could about Australian history. When I arrived in Hobart, I decided it was time to do something completely different, so I signed up for the Under Down Under Mount Wellington Descent.

The Mount Wellington Descent is a cycling tour which involves being dropped off at the summit of Mount Wellington, being assigned a bike and then riding 21km down the mountain back to Hobart. 

I’m the least sporty person I know.

The most exercise I’ve had in three years was hiking around the Blue Mountains. 

My favourite sports include walking, swimming, darts and air hockey….

Twice on this trip I’ve been asked to attempt a pull up, which for someone with the same amount of upper body strength as SpongeBob SquarePants, has been extremely odd and frustrating..

Did I mention I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike?

 As I said before I was looking for something different, and a bike ride down a mountain seemed pretty different to me.

I realise that cycling down a mountain is not as arduous as cycling up and then down a mountain. A friend of mine reminded me of this, after he burst out laughing as I scoffed cookies announcing “it’s fine I’m going in a bike ride on Monday!” 

I was quite apprehensive to do the bike ride, but I wanted to push myself and was dying to see Mountain Wellington whilst I was in Hobart. I met the tour at the Hobart Visitor Centre, and was relieved to find it was a small group taking part that day, in total there were six of us. 

As I signed the waiver before driving to the mountain, stating that I was both mentally and physically fit enough to do the bike ride, I began to doubt myself on both fronts.

Arriving at the summit of Mount Wellington we were allowed to walk around for ten minutes to take in the views and get some photos. The views were stunning and I took advantage of the opportunity to have a photo taken of me looking out over Hobart. 

(At the summit of Mount Wellington, my intrepid explorer pose needs work).

Mount Wellington is 1270km above sea level, and is the tallest mountain in Tasmania. I’ve always been fascinated by Mountains, having come from southern England I’d never been up one before. 

We were assigned bikes, helmets, tabbards and gloves. The guide said that when stopping the bike we should be on our tip toes, which didn’t reassure me at all. 

(The lovely Laura who very patiently drove the bus down the Mountain behind a very slow me).

The friendly guide showed us how to change gears, and explained that when we set off he would match the speed of the fastest rider. The slowest would be followed down by the bus. The first part of the descent would involve riding down the road for 2km before meeting up and riding another 5km.

After getting used to the bike we set off, knowing that I was the least confident cyclist I put myself at the end of the line. The tour set off and I found that there was no need to pedal, and so my expectations of the bike ride being a vigorous work out quickly disappeared.

I fiddled with the gears on the bike trying to get some resistance as I zipped along the road. I found the gears we’re going up and I couldn’t gunfire out how to make the gears go back down…

I was riding down a mountain in gear 1. 

Let’s just say I figured out how to use the brakes to control my speed pretty quickly! 

(Getting to grips with the bike, 2km in) 

At our first stop I asked the guide how to change the gears back up and we set off in the next part of our ride, I began to relax and a little bit and enjoy gliding down the road, sneaking glances of Hobart every so often. 

About halfway down our group stopped again, and our guide told us we could either continue down the mountain on the road, or try an off road trail. Having already surprised myself by being able to control the bike I decided to give the off road trail a go, I’m so glad  I did – it was so much fun!

The off road trail involved cycling through the woodland, on uneven paths littered with stones and twigs, which freaked me out a bit, but after being told the best way to deal with these obstacles was to ride over the, I found myself tackling the path with more confidence. 

Then we reached the top of a steep downhill track, this was the most challenging part of the ride, but it turned out to be the  best bit! Our guide advised us on how best to tackle the ride down, and I very nervously followed his advice.

Once of my way down it was such a thrill, having to maintain my speed and dodging dips in the track. I decided to dsimount a couple,of it,Es when I ran out of smooth path, and when I an ever steeper drop. But I found I was having so much fun pushing myself out of my comfort tone, and even though I didn’t manage some of the more difficult parts of the track, I was laughing so much and buzzing from the experience that it didn’t matter.

(The mix of cycling, stunning views and challenging off road tracks made the descent an exhilarating experience!)

In fact the part I disliked the most was riding back on the road through Hobart. I only just managed to pass cycling proficiency at junior school, and was probably the most annoying cyclist riding through Hobart that day!

The Mount Wellington Descent was the funniest part of my trip to Tasmania, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone planning on visiting Hobart. The tour guides are friendly and are there to help you out, and having the bus follow us down the mountain made me feel safe as unconfident rider. I went on this tour to push myself out of my comfort zone, and found that I really enjoyed challenging myself with something as exciting as cycling down a mountain. If you’re looking for something different, whether you’re into cycling or not, I’d definitely suggest you check out  out this tour! 

Under Down Under Mount Wellington Descent, Hobart. $75.



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