McVilly Cafe Manager, Annie De Jong wanted a Birthday ride with a difference.
The concept seemed simple; Annie had two requests for her birthday celebration ride:
- We were to take a route designed purely around optimum cider consumption
- We were to look as mismatched and daggy as possible – Direct quote from the birthday girl herself, “It’s absolutely imperative that you DO NOT wear matching kit and that you look as ridiculous and daggy as possible.”
The first was going to be easy, the second however, seemed to stump a number of our lycra loving clan. One even stating “I don’t own mismatched kit”. Unless this member of the group only possess a wardrobe full of skinnies, I don’t think he quite grasped the concept. I’m not going to name names here but I will let you work out who this culprit was.
As everyone dawdled their way into the McVilly headquarters, it seemed there was no hurry to the day’s proceedings. Many with coffees in hand, some with their own picnic breakfast and a text message from Jessie to say she wasn’t going to make it to the designated roll out point so will instead meet us at Willie Smith’s. She blamed her dog, but I think we all knew this was a strategic measure of her own self preservation. Regardless, at some point along the line Annie made the call to get everyone’s butts into gear and head off. After all, there were plenty of cider stops waiting for our arrival.
We had 130km to cover, 3 cider stops and 1 bakery stop to make. The boys however didn’t seem to care for these facts and set off at an unwelcomely fast pace. After promptly reminding them that we had a long day ahead of us and that we’re not all capable of pushing some 400watts up Strickland, they graciously backed it off.
Where history is formed
Stop number one was made just 35km into the day at the famous apple growing region that is the Huon Valley. Producing 80% of apples in Tasmania, the Huon region remains Tasmania’s biggest apple grower; so it’s no surprise we were drawn to this area for our cider touring experience.
From planting their first tree in the 1800’s to now, Willie Smith’s is well renowned for testing new techniques in cider making in the endeavour of making a more complex organic cider.
As we turned off into the entrance to Willie Smith’s we were met with what was seemingly quite confronting for some. Gravel. Again, I’m not going to name names here but apparently someone was too precious to take their steed onto said gravel, opting to use it as an accessory piece to his well matched kit. Although, I think this simply added to his poor judgments for the day to which he is now receiving continuing repercussions. And deservingly so.
About halfway through everyone’s first cider, Jessie finally arrived. She managed to devise the most elaborate of reasons to justify her late arrival, to which we all conceded. She is a lawyer after all. Her late arrival was justified by both her presence and the emergence of what I would argue to be the best kit I’ve ever seen.
It appeared we were ready to pitch in for the day. Then at some point, following the consumption of second ciders, we were off again, just 15km down the road.
Stop number two was made at Tasmania’s most awarded cider company, Frank’s Cider. We very quickly filled up the bar, perplexing the maître d’ and its patrons. Apparently they’re not used to seeing a bunch of men and women in mismatched lycra.
A hot tip for this stop: Ask for their tasting palette. It’s FREE! And includes one of each of their four cider blends.
Another 20km down the road and we were making our third and final cider stop for the day. Pagen Cider is known for some fantastic blends and the cherry cider is not to be missed. It seemed a number of us were getting a bit tired at this point. Some opted to skip the cider, others choosing to stretch, but we all chose to engage in some solid banter.
With just 55km to go before reaching our destination (home), I think we were all thankful to have our first and only food stop for the day. In hindsight, it may have been wiser to have this food stop a little bit earlier in the day as a few members of the group were beginning to look a bit worse for wear. Whether this be the cider or lack of fitness, I will let you be the judge. From, what should have been an easy roll back home, became seemingly impossible for some. We had all identified Nathan as being the biggest lightweight of the group, which became evident on the way back home as he continued to end up off the side of the road and on some gravel. I should probably remind you to ride responsibly here.
The day in statistics:
Ride time: 5hrs
Total time: 9hrs
Ciders consumed: Unknown… or unquantifiable
McVilly Velo offers the Cider Rider as a tour and you can read more about it here!
Written and photography by: Sofia Tsamassiros