Getting myself out the door for this ride was proving to be a bit of a challenge. I was still up at 10pm the night before, going over my route maps and cue sheets. I had known how important it was to have my planning squared away before my last trip, yet I still headed out on that one under prepared I had paid the price with some sub-optimal navigation that lead to a reroute. Not that it particularly worried me at the time but this time around I wanted to stick closer to the plan and feel more confident of the route.
This left me still packing my rig on the morning of departure. This is a job that you don't want to rush as you are bound to leave something vital behind. Now, not that I rushed it at all...but I left my arm warmers, towel and tail light at home! The beauty of the first 30km or so being through suburbia was that my lovely wife just met me along the route to rectify these oversights. I would be glad of the tail light especially over the next two nights.
The first part of the ride was along various sections of the Logan cycle network. Connected isn't a word I would use to describe this network. Nor would I use informative to describe the Logan City Council's webmap of the network. One small scale map with some lines that are about 1km thick going by the scale make it less than easy to follow. Still, I managed to find my way out to Teviot Road at Greenbank and onto my first dirt road in a fairly efficient manner.
|What is wrong with this picture?|
Soon I was pedalling along quiet dirt roads with only the occasional watchful magpie as company. This is what it is all about.
I soon came to my first creek crossing which was unexpected. The crossing on Undulla Rd had obviously been washed away in the floods, cutting the road with a fairly permanent looking "road closed" sign blocking my path. No problem on a mountain bike though. I just picked my bike up and walked across the creek.
Just the other side of this crossing was my first section of "questionable" route planning. Brennan's Dip rd/Nixon Rd was a road in name only, being a gazetted line on a map and nothing else. I was pleased to see that the farm gate did not have a private property sign hanging from it. I let myself in and followed a dirt track which more or less followed the gazetted line on the GPS.
|Nixon's Rd goes where?|
I soon came to a point where the official road diverged at 90 degrees from the track I was following. It was time to don my Moxie Gear gaiters and "head bush".
From here on I was on snake watch big time. I was glad that the cattle had kept the grass short in this paddock but I still made a point of keeping to the clearer areas. This isn't to say that every second stick and branch lying on the ground didn't give me a fright as I mistook it for a snake!
Coming to a creek line I was a bit stumped for 5 minutes or so as I searched for a point to cross that was not a 20 ft drop to the dry creek bed. I eventually found a cattle track that led me into and out of the creek.
This proved to be the only difficulty on Brennan's Dip rd/Nixon rd and I soon found myself looking down through the trees onto the dam wall at Wyaralong Dam. Having studied the maps so much in planning this ride I found I didn't need to consult a physical map at all. I knew the terrain so well that I could recall features from memory to navigate my way. Good stuff!
I then began my way along the shoreline track. I had not ridden this track before so was interested to explore it. It proved to be quite sandy with a lot of short steep pinch climbs and sharp descents which made keeping a good average pace tough work on a loaded bike.
After a while I came to the old homestead where I took the opportunity to top up my water from the water tank. This would be the first test of the Steripen to sterilise some water. And it was an epic fail! I had put fully charged Nickle-metal-hydride batteries in it and now the little blinky light on the pen was telling me it needed new batteries! Another mental note: test your equipment before you leave home......
It wasn't the end of the world though. I still had plenty of water but part of my game plan for this ride was to top my water up at every opportunity as resupply points would be hit and miss on this ride.
The Shoreline Track proved to be quite long and the sun was getting low in the sky by the time I reached it's western end. As I rode along I had been weighing up my camping options. While I had originally planned to just camp where ever I ran out of steam, I now had a desire to camp at Darlington Park campground, some 27km south of Beaudesert. I was currently about 25km to the west of Beaudesert. So that equated to something like another 50km. No probs. I would wing it and see how I felt.
While inhaling a bottle of flavoured milk I noticed that I was sitting next to a cafe'. Very soon a good old fashioned burger was following that milk and I felt like a million bucks again....well like twenty bucks anyway.
|Yeah, I know. Gaiters are on wrong legs....but it works.|
I decided to push on toward Darlington Park so switched my blinky tail light and Ay-Ups on before pedaling into the darkness. The next 27km went by fairly quickly and I was surprised how good my legs felt. No cramps or soreness. I felt nothing at all and could have quite easily kept pedaling. But I wanted to see what Darlington Park looked like and as it was dark when I arrived I would have to camp to see it in the morning.
Riding up to the owners house, he came out to see what I wanted. When I asked if it was okay to camp and if he wanted me anywhere in particular he asked "where are you"? "Here" I replied. "No, where are you parked" he asked. "Here" I replied again. "I'm on a push bike". "Oh, I thought I saw vehicle lights" he said. "No, they were my Ay-Ups" was my reply. As I set up camp I chuckled to myself about how good Ay-Up lights are. Most non riders have no idea how good lighting systems are these days.
It was about 9pm by the time I climbed into the hammock. With 152km(95mi) and 2130m(7000ft) climbing I was a bit tired and was looking forward to a good nights rest.
The route so far with everything going to plan...
Then it would be up early and into Day 2 and some interesting terrain........