After a restless nights sleep I was awake just before the alarm went off at 5:20am. We were aiming for a 6am start to maximise our ride time in case of weather or mechanical delays.
While still overcast with the odd drop of rain and the constant rumble of thunder in the distance we were on the road at 6:15am and feeling fine. Feeling fine after staying in a pub? When you are the motor on your bike you need to tone it down, so despite staying in a pub we were all in bed by about 9pm. Yes, a bit sad really!
Rolling out of Esk the trail was damp but firm. The dry ground has simply sucked up all of the rain.
We made good time along here for a while. Until the first puncture. Where we lost about 20 minutes.
The scenery was very nice and the overnight rain had added to the vibrant green that is summer in South East Queensland.
We were into Coominya for an iced coffee and back on the road in no time at all.
Shortly after there was another mechanical. A chain ring bolt had decided to work it's way loose on one of the bikes, so another 20 minutes was spent sorting that out. At least the scenery was spectacular.
Crossing the rail bridge was the only way to go with a bit more water in the creek than yesterday. I really do hope they can save these bridges as they are awesome features.
One of the guys had a lie down in a puddle shortly after. I am bummed I didn't get a photo as it was a bloody funny sight as he went down still fully clipped in to his pedals. Being an ex pro triathlete we then ragged him about when he was going to do the run leg as he had done the swim and the bike....
A quick stop in Lowood to pump up a tyre and hit the autotellers(cashpoint/atm) and we were on the well groomed section to Fernvale and a date with the bakery.
But not before another mechanical of some description. Alan and I pressed on to Fernvale while Dean0 and Fitzy checked on the problem.
45km before breakfast? Yes please! We had a nice hunger built that was squashed by a hit of baked goods washed down with coffee. We were now ready to start the climbing leg of the ride up and over Mt Nebo in D'Aguilar national park.
With a thunderstorm passing across our track just ahead and another passing just behind us shortly after, we were having fantastic luck with the weather. The ride up Banks Creek Rd is always pleasant and today didn't disappoint.
Rolling through the shanty town we didn't see anyone and it wasn't long before we were pushing our bikes up "Whoa Boy" hill. This is a very steep section of trail that rises about 300m in a few kilometres and is definitely a push only section. Adding to our discomfort here was the total calm that was preceeding the storm that was catching up to us and the extremely high humidity. The photo doesn't really do it justice but we were as wet as you can be without actually being in a pool. Unpleasant yes, but it beats working!
At the top of Whoa Boy we took a little break and I watched the tops of the storm pass behind us, with the first blue sky we had seen all weekend breaking through. It was quickly gobbled up though.
From here we raced the rain across the hills to Mt Nebo cafe, making it just in time as "big 'ol rain" drops were beginning to smash down around us.
Here we enjoyed more food and coffee as Mother Nature put on a massive light and sound show for us. At least it washed the mud off of the bikes.
With the rain finally catching us we donned out wet weather gear, packed the camera away and got all business like with our ride down South Boundary Rd. This is a fun descent as I have related before with the object being to try to hold as much speed through each dip to try to get over the top of the next climb with minimal effort.
This was going well for me despite the fatigue in my legs. The others seemed to be keeping up, but at the intersection on Sth Boundary and Centre Rd I sensed a problem. As I waited nobody came along. Probably another mechanical. Well, it was getting late and I still had a lot of riding in front of me so I made the reluctant decision to press on alone. I sent Dean0 a text to let him know what I was doing, although my phone was drowned and I wasn't sure if he would get it. I reasoned that between the four of them they would be able to sort out whatever the problem was.
As I rolled out of Gap Creek onto Beilby rd I had a text from Dean saying that they were about 15 minutes behind me, which I was glad to hear.
I put my head down and made for home, still about 30km away. It is always a bit of a surreal feeling riding all day in the bush, then popping out onto a suburban street and having nice ashphalt and bike path to roll along. We are lucky to have bushland so close to our back doors.
After yet another iced coffee I was about 8km from home when the fat 'ol rain returned, forcing me to don the rain jacket again. Probably not a bad idea anyway as it was getting pretty dark and at least it was bright fluro yellow.
I could see from the gps that I was going to do about 142km(89mi) for the day. I was really keen to see 145km so began climbing into Wallum Froglet trail just to add a little extra to that total. Unfortunately the gps had had enough and promptly turned itself off after running for about 11 1/2 hours! So I reluctantly turned for home and had to settle for 142.2km for the day. Probably a good thing.....
This trip was intended to be a gear test, to inspire thoughts about what works and what doesn't and also to just tackle a tough ride.
The main thing I have got out of the weekend are that I can make pretty solid distances and the gear that I am carrying is practical AND RELIABLE. I must admit, I wasn't fully aware of how important this last point was. Bringing paper thin racing tyres inflated with 50psi means flat tyres by the truck load. Not a sensible option when in the middle of nowhere. Also having a well maintained bike and a useful tool kit to fix it if it isn't, is a must.
So, while everything didn't go exactly to plan, I guess that is what these type of trips are about. Learning what mistakes not to make.
But hell, that was a great weekend on the bike! Bring on the next one.