Freedom blows in the wind in Tasmania. Roberto Cassa shares his latest journey. | Selle Royal

Freedom blows in the wind in Tasmania. Roberto Cassa shares his latest journey.

People & Partners
Freedom blows in the wind in Tasmania. Roberto Cassa shares his latest journey.
December 2018

So, this is it. I’ve found my seat and fastened my seatbelt. The plane is taxiing down the runway and the crew will soon indicate the emergency exits and explain how to inflate the life vests.
I have about 30 hours ahead of me before I arrive home in Italy where everybody is impatient to hear about my latest two-wheeled adventure. Such a long flight might be boring, but at least I’ll have time to catch up on some sleep and sort through my thoughts before returning to everyday life.
With a smile, the flight attendant asks me to raise my window blind for departure. I smile in return and perform what would normally be a very easy action: lifting my arm to raise that little bit of plastic. Yet it is difficult because I know what awaits me as soon as I do it. I do my best not to look. 
Tasmania is right there, just outside my window, reminding me of all I have experienced in the past month and everything that I am leaving behind. I try to resist but I give in, turning my eyes to gaze out the window. One last time.

The wind is blowing so hard, the rain is falling almost horizontally. My eyes were met with the same view when I landed in October, coming from a land where summer had not yet given way to autumn. When I think back, it’s hard to believe how much cold and wind I have faced on my rides in these lands! 
I’m an incurable optimist, so this frigid reception seemed charming to me at the time: Tasmania was warning me, cautioning me that I would not forget it for many reasons, more than I would have imagined. 
I remember how the morning fog slowly dissipated, unveiling the wonders of luxuriant and varied vegetation, while the wind bore cold air from nearby Antarctica and swept away the clouds to let the sun reveal the colours of this adventurous earth.

Cycling in these conditions is fun because the rain pushes you to give your very best, and the wind…well, it’s wonderful when it’s at your back! 
Fortunately, it almost always was on this journey, or I would have collapsed again and again along the way. There are many, very steep climbs in Tasmania, with major differences in altitude, mainly in the western part of the island. I have to admit that they sorely tested both my body and mind. At some points along the most difficult stretches, like on the Tasman Peninsula, I had to get off my bike and walk, but they were such fun to coast down! 
And the chill inside my tent!? Sleeping under a thin layer of cloth may have been the most difficult part of the trip. But I love being in contact with Nature: opening the zipper to watch the sunrise and feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, or gazing up at the vast starry sky at night. These wonders made it easier to withstand the less than hospitable temperatures.

Unlike the climate, the locals were very warm and friendly, offering me their homes for a hot shower and a chat. How could I ever forget Bruny Island and John, a cycle adventurer who has explored Iran by bike, and who opened the gates of his immense garden to me? I also remember the pleasant conversations about cycling with Brett who was so excited after hearing about my adventures, he decided to buy the same saddle I use for his future cycling trips. And finally, I’ll never forget the unique experience of sleeping in Anabella and Roger’s farmhouse, and their thoughtfulness in preparing me a delicious pizza for dinner to make me feel at home. 
I noticed that the people in the western part of the country were friendlier than in the east, where they are generally more formal with the tourists passing through. And although the countless savoury pies I was offered may not have been the most attractive, they were always hot and filled with all kinds of delicious ingredients: mushrooms, chicken, beets, bacon and butter, providing me fuel to face the cold and a quick meal to eat on the fly when I had to get back in the saddle.

I’ve never tasted better raspberry jam than the kind they make in Tasmania, and I made sure to stock up along my journey. I wonder if the little wombats scour the woods for the delicious fruit or if they prefer the beets that seem to grow everywhere. I spotted several wombats in the national parks I pedalled through, as well as echidnas and wallabies that often nosed around my tent as I settled in for the night. 
When I think back to how much Tasmania seems to be the last outpost of the civilized world, on the edge of remarkable Nature, I realize that my passion for cycling has taken me to places I never imagined: a land dominated by the elements, the flora and the fauna, a region swept by the winds and kissed by the sun, a place where the turquoise sea and the emerald trees fill your eyes and your heart, and never let you go.

But the wind! It played a key role in my trip at the edge of the earth. It was my fiercest enemy in certain ascents and my sweetest companion in all others. It provided me my most vivid memory of this entire month: the feeling of freedom when you chase it and the enchanting views that it reveals when it sweeps away the clouds from this corner of the planet. And it was the wind that urged me to push hard on the pedals; it got me back on my bike every day with the idea that I could fly if I really wanted to. 
And it is the wind again that’s bidding me farewell on the other side of my window. The Tasmanian wind, my wind of freedom.

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