....continued from Part 1....
Waking up at 6am I quickly got my gear packed away and rode down to the Palmwoods IGA for a food resupply. My legs were a little stiff, but quickly came good as I warmed up a bit.
Making sure you have enough food(fuel) and water to get you to where you intend to go is probably just as critical as knowing where you are going. Making sure that there was a resupply point at the towns that I passed through shapes where you stop and where you just keep on riding.
Today's first stop would be Mapleton. At around 17km from Palmwoods it wasn't a huge distance but what it lacked in kilometres it made up for in elevation. Not only are the hinterland roads winding and hilly but I had to climb up onto the Blackall Range to get to Mapleton.
So, I set off on a route I came up with by linking a heap of minor roads together. Once again, judging by the traffic I had hit upon a great back way for all the locals to travel up the range. With no shoulder on the road and car after car of "school mums" trying to set land speed records I was soon pretty nervous about making it to Mapleton at all. Luckily there were some nice views and places to pull over and catch my breath.
There were several long steep climbs on the way up. One of the most disheartening things was to climb for 30 minutes, then blast down into a valley that I could see a huge climb on the other side of. Ouch! Getting to said climb, I was greeted by a warning sign advertising the gradient at 20%. There was nothing I could do but get off and walk.
At least when I reached the top of this climb I was up on the range proper. It was a gentle pedal in to Mapleton from here. The Mapleton area housed many detatchments of troops during the second world war. I imagine the forests around here made great training grounds for the jungles of Asia that lay ahead of the troops when they were finally shipped off to fight the Japanese.
In Mapleton I refuelled at the local IGA/Bakery/BP garage. Here I picked up a couple of maps for the coming days. The map for today's trails was a "Great Walks" topographic map which was perfect for what I needed. The other map for Day 3 of the ride was just a generic road map, but still better than the nothing that I currently had.
I faffed around here trying to decide which way to head to Kenilworth. I had been advised to take the Obi Obi rd as it was safer than Delicia Rd despite being the main road to Kenilworth. Mulling over my new maps with a coffee in hand, I decided that I had had enough of sealed roads and the traffic that goes with them, I would take Delicia Rd and deal with it's associated issues when I came to them.
It was great to be on the dirt again with the zero traffic flow that went with it. Much more relaxing despite the fact that I was still gently climbing. I soon passed Mapleton's cemetery with some interesting looking head stones.
The trees in this forest a huge.There are so many straight and tall eucalypts it would be a logger's dream to get in there. The views out across the Obi valley from occasional vantage points were stunning as well. The air was so clear after the thunderstorms the previous afternoon.
There were also some very fancy looking front gates along here.
Shortly after this point Delicia Rd came to an end with a "No Through Road" sign. This was the bit I had been looking forward to. As I eased off the dirt road, Delicia Rd narrowed considerably and pointed downward. Bring it on!
It soon became just a couple of wheel tracks, then a wallaby track. Without the gps there was no way to tell where the road actually went. Yep, thats Delicia Rd right there.
Hike-a-bike was the order of the day with many steep, rocky drop downs that had to be negotiated carefully. I must admit, I was keeping a sharp eye out for snakes along here as my gaiters hadn't arrived before I departed and my legs were feeling particularly exposed. All was good though with no sign of any Joe Blakes, just rock drops to contend with. This photo doesn't do the steepness of the hill any justice at all, but it was probably the hardest to negotiate. I have the scrape on my back to prove it too....
Delicia Road flattened out and opened up to long grass and I was able to ride again. I glimpsed some more nice views out to the west through breaks in the lantana.
I was soon pedalling into Kenilworth, crossing the Mary River just east of the town.
I don't recall coming through Kenilworth before today. It seems like such a nice little town that I will definitely be back to explore the surrounding area.
I stopped at a cafe to grab an orange juice and send a quick text update to the guys following me from home. I quickly put the phone back on Flight Mode to save the battery. Had I left my phone on for a while I would have received a detailed turn by turn text of tomorrow's route. That may have come in handy...
Riding out of Kenilworth was very pleasant as it was a beautiful morning. There seemed to be a lot of motorcycles cruising past and I soon found out why.
Just out of town there were a series of bends that were race track smooth and cambered perfectly to hold you into the turn. That explained the cafe just outside town that must have had 20 bikes parked out the front.
Climbing, climbing and some more climbing later I turned off into Charlie Moreland Reserve, along Sunday Creek rd. This road would take me through Imbil State Forest, then Conondale National Park to my overnight destination, Jimna.
The thunderstorms that I had seen brewing from my Kenilworth stop were now moving overhead and I was getting the first spits of rain for the day. Checking the time, it was about 12:30pm. Pretty early for an afternoon storm.
I made my way through Charlie Moreland Reserve where there were quite a few people camping. The sign on the entrance to the national park ominously said "road closed" but I figured that I would ride along and see why it was closed. You can't believe everything you read, right?
There was mucho climbing to be had along here and little did I know this would be the theme for the afternoon. The view was mighty nice though.
I figured that because the road was closed, any vehicle that I saw would be a ranger's car. I had my "story" ready to go for when they stopped me and asked why I was there. Sure enough, thirty minutes later as I grovelled my way up another hill, a Land Cruiser was driving up behind me. Gulp! Here we go! But to my relief, he just drove past, giving me a wave in the process. That is a green light if ever I saw one
The next few hours were spent slowly tightening up my hamstrings with never-ending climbs. I knew that I had to make about 500m of elevation but I am sure I climbed much more than that.
When the road finally tipped downwards I was stoked! Photo time!
But it was to be a false summit. The climb went on and on. All the while I was getting rained on for a short time and I think I had donned my rain jacket four or five times by this stage. I was wishing it would make up its mind.
Shortly afterward, it did make up its mind. A cracking thunderstorm moved overhead and I assumed "the position", hunched under a tree, trying to keep my electronics dry again. This went on for another good 45 minutes or so and must have dumped 25mm(1 in) plus of rain.
Finally able to ride again I came to a road sign indicating that I had another 21km(13mi) to go until Jimna, my next resupply stop. This was bad as I had just finished the water in my Camelbak and had one 750ml bidon remaining. Oh well, at least it was cool.
The road progressively went downhill and I managed to enjoy the fruits of my earlier labour by hooning down the trail.
I was getting pretty toasted by now and popping out of the dim, dark forest into open fields was a bit of a shock as it seemed to be quite a bit later while in the forest.
It wasn't far into Jimna now. A quick resupply and I was planning on riding until dark, then stealth camping on the side of the road. I was also keen to get out of my wet riding gear. My feet had felt totally waterlogged for half the day and no doubt would be a sight to behold when I actually took my shoes off.
The last few km into Jimna were another uphill slog. I was really glad to see the turn off into town. It was bathed in late afternoon light that almost seemed to be a sign.
Rolling into town I could quickly see that there wasn't much to Jimna.
No shop, no petrol station. Just a blue tin shed that said "Visitor's Centre" on it. There was some advertising for food so that is where I headed.
As I walked up to the door, a tall thin gentleman came striding out and said "you must be Dave", more as a statement than a question! I knew his name was Dave as well and deduced that Neil must have warned Dave about my impending arrival.
Dave started loading me up with food. A couple of frozen sausages, a couple of eggs, a few slices of bread and a knot roll were put into a bag. Just as I was beginning to wonder how I was going to carry it all, Dave said "well, you can stay down in the unit. You can have a warm shower and cook that lot up". Upon hearing that, all thoughts of continuing on out the road vanished. Dave could not possibly have been any more friendly and accommodating to me, pretty much a perfect stranger! He wouldn't even take money for the food, suggesting I just make a donation to the Visitor's Centre instead! Pure gold country hospitality and greatly appreciated on my part. Thanks to Dave and Neil.
The unit turned out to be old loggers quarters. They were warm and dry after another wet day on the trail and best of all was the hot shower.
I had my little fry up then turned in for the night. I was pretty well shattered after today's ride. While only 84km(53mi) it had felt like a constant uphill grind all day and I was going to need a good long sleep to recover from it. I wasn't sure what the countryside was like for tomorrow, but I was hoping it wouldn't be more forest with uphill sloping roads!
So, the total after two days was 256km(160mi) with 4400m(14430ft) of climbing. I was a bit disappointed with today's distance effort, but once I saw the climb profile I felt a little better.
What would day 3 bring? New legs were what I was hoping for.......
Cheers and thanks for checking in.