Wide of the Mark had already thrown some challenges at us in the first few days forcing us to really learn about our bikes and how the performed in some pretty tough terrain. A big learning curve for the ride group, and a good picture of what was to come over the course of our journey in Tasmania. I’ve kept a journal of our whole trip and production experience, so as I go through I’ll be drawing from that to share the experience.
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In this article we cover our ride inland through some amazing forestry trails, leading to one of Tasmania’s most well known and spectactular roads, Jacobs Ladder. A gravel track carved into the side of a steep cliff. Surrounded by the harsh natural beauty of granite cliffs, winding through switchback upon switch back at full noise was a ride to remember. So let me take you there with us.
Leaving the sleepy beachside town of Bridport we made our way inland and took the long way to Ben Lomond national park. We found a back road called Ben Ridge road. Through the trip we tried not to research too heavily, instead choosing to value the search. It looked twisty, and went through the middle of no where so that’s where we headed. Soon after leaving the main road it turned to dirt, and before we knew it we were riding lush forest and steep logging hills. Having a blast at some easy going roads with nice wide gravel corners perfect for opening the bikes up and having a slide around. The team was getting pumped, each day so far had been vastly different and everyone was enjoying a bit of high speed off road riding.
Ben ridge road winds its way toward ben Lomond national park and a short trip on bitumen then straight back off road as we started climbing the mountains into the camp ground for the night.
Early afternoon at this stage and we had all been on the bikes for a good 5-6 hours.
Coming into the camp ground on 6 bikes we learnt pretty quickly that it was a bit of a shock to people. Plenty of dirty looks during our trip, especially if we came in after dark. Campsite was epic, no facilities, just a creek down the back in a valley surrounded by huge old wood tree’s. The crew were still pretty slow with set up so after we dropped our gear and set up the swags it was just about sun down.
As I had planned the trip and our destinations, the riders never really knew what was coming, and Jacobs ladder was one of the only locations where the film crew knew what to expect. The guys from Electric Bubble headed up to check out the ride spot for the afternoon as the sun was setting no one was around and we had the whole stretch of road to ourselves.
On the climb to Jacobs ladder the gravel road started to open up to a huge valley down below, with the sun starting to go down in the distance it was hard to concentrate on the road with such an incredible view. Until ofcourse we reached the bottom of Jacobs ladder. Staring at the sheer climb to the top the riders were foaming at the mouth, me included. Before the cameras were able to be set up we couldn’t help but race to the top for a look. The corners were sharp and close up quick, the gravel was loose and the climb was steep. The first run was a little intimidating but that soon gave way to pure excitement and adrenaline.
We took a breath at the top, got our heads together and headed down for a second run up. The first few were pretty tame, but as time went on, and we got to know the road, it turned into an all out Bar to Bar hillclimb race with gravel flying off the rear wheel. If you weren’t in front, your shins and bike were getting peppered with large gravel roost off everyone else. We were all laughing our selves stupid on the races to the top. The ultimate rush, on a 1200 sportster scrambler, kitted for adventure, with 5 of my mates hitting one of the worlds most amazing roads wide open, sliding out, almost losing it off the edge of the road, barley hanging on from exhaustion. This is what I wanted from wide of the Mark and 3 days in we found it.
That afternoon saw some of the most amazing footage generated for our documentary, and atleast 10 runs up and down Jacobs ladder. Around the camp fire that night it took hours for the excitement to subside. Throwing back a few Young Henrys and downing a camp cooked meal all we could do was talk about how epic that afternoon was and what was yet to come.
I had a big moment when we finished the ride, finally seeing the vision we had been working towards for 12 months starting to come to life and all captured by the lense of Jake and Cam from Electric Bubble. The team was operating really well, bikes were holding up ok and we were having way too much fun.
After we ate and chilled out a bit a few of the guys started a bit of torch light maintenance of the bikes, the sporty clutch copped a bashing on the hills so needed a touch up and Keeley was continuing to sort through the issues on his vintage triumph head. Matty Mac had busted his clutch cable but wasn’t too phased, we would just nurse it into town to sort it out. At this stage we didn’t have any gear to solder cables.
Next morning we were headed south to Fingal, it got super cold overnight so we rugged up and left. Riding straight into a storm. We had decided to head to Launceston to re-group and get a plan together for the next few days. The road in was hell. Pouring rain so hard you couldn’t see, a few bikes choked out by the down pour and all our riders were frozen. To give you an idea of how cold it was and the sudden change. The afternoon was a mild 20 deg on Jacobs ladder, by 10Am the next morning it was covered in snow.
It was a strange thing to witness but the ride group sort of panicked, the sudden realisation that we weren’t ready for this. We had a bunch of great gear from Akin Moto, but in freezing temperatures and pouring rain nothing cuts it except more layers and proper wet weather gear. Wide of the Mark just kicked our ass, and we were dirty about it.
With our ride gear soaked through we decided to hole up in an Air B’nB for the night, dry out, and use the day to get better prepared for situations like this.
More wet weather gear, warmer clothes and some on the run modifications to the bikes. Max from Akin Moto mod stood out the most, using some empty beer cans to cover the pod filter set up and protect it from rain run off, The sporster scrambler air box worked a treat, torrential rain and didn’t miss a beat. A standard sportster filter would have been choked in 10 minutes.
The next few days would more than make up for our bad luck that day. Heading south through some spectacular heavy rock roads, getting lost on the back tracks and stumbling across lake leake. Our first real chance to ride some epic single track and tight forest trail. I’ll save that for our next blog.
Thanks to out major sponsors far making this all possible:
Production Partner: Electric Bubble
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