....continued from Part 3....
Not setting an alarm and just waking up with first light worked a treat. I felt pretty refreshed after another ten hours sleep. I don't know how the Tour Divide riders do it on four hours sleep a night! They ride about double my daily distance and at elevations up around 8 to 10 000ft.
I was packed up quickly and with an eye on some breakfast in Fernvale, about 40km(25mi) distant, started pedalling into the rising sun.
I had indulged in the pure luxury of clean, DRY socks this morning and they felt great! Yep, they felt great for about the first 3km until the long grass, wet with dew, proceeded to soak them. They were saturated by about the 4km mark.
Still, it was a beautiful, clear morning and it was a pleasure to be on the bike again.
I was into and out of Coominya pretty quickly. I didn't even stop in at the shop this time. Surprisingly I didn't feel hungry at all. After being ravenously hungry on the first two days, by day 3 and 4 my hunger seemed pretty much back to normal. Maybe I was acclimatising to the riding?
Being mostly a gentle downhill ride I was making good time while the shadows were still long.
Just outside of Lowood I spotted another rider coming toward me. I wondered if Dean0 had wagged school and come out for a ride. Then I could see that the guy had a roll on his bars and a seat bag. Total overkill for a day ride so it must have been someone else.
It turned out to be a guy called Gavin. He had ridden from Nerang the previous day and was heading to Esk today, then back down to Nerang. He said a mate had talked him into doing the Tour Divide in the US this June and he was trying to get a few training rides into his legs. With only two months to go he was getting nervous about his lack of riding. He mentioned riding in South America and from his lean, cyclist look, I guessed that he had some reasonable experience at long distance riding and would know what he was up against. Good luck Gavin!
After chatting for 20 minutes or so I was a bit behind schedule now. I steamed into Fernvale intent on rustling up some eggs on toast and a decent coffee. This I managed to do at the fine establishment below.
As I said, I have done this section of the ride several times and it is amazing how much local knowledge improves your judgement. I was soon powering along Banks Creek Rd toward D'Aguilar National Park, taking in the (deep) creek crossings and only slightly worried about passing through the "hippy" camp at the end of the road.
Not that the hippys are unfriendly. I just don't like going through private property uninvited. I wouldn't like a bunch of riders just cutting through my yard either.
Anyway, arriving at their gate I found it wide open with evidence that a car had driven out. "Good", I thought to myself. "Nobody around, so I'll just slip through unnoticed". Well, that was until some mean 'ol dog began barking at me. There was no way I was going to slip past him!
Soon a guy came out to see what the ruckus was about. I waved and explained that I was just going up to the national park and would he mind if I passed through his block, including in my explanation that the couple at the top of the block had offered an open invitation to come through any time. He said "sure, no problem" then we chatted for a while about the weather, my bike and living on his block. I have forgotten his name, but if you are riding out this way, make sure you say a friendly "Hi" to the owners and ask permission to pass through.
Barking 'ol dogs behind me, it was now the tranquility of D'Aguilar National Park that I heard. Plus my gasping for breath. I was making my way up "Whoa Boy", the notoriously steep climb/descent that is at the end of Dundas Rd. There are varying counts of the water bars that cross this track to prevent erosion. Today I played a rhyming game to help me keep track of the count as I battled up the climb and the wildlife did it's best to distract me.
It went something like "two, tie my shoe", "five, feeling alive" then 'thirty two,...um...tie my shoe", "thirty five, still alive". Yeah, I was knackered and struggling for ideas but I didn't lose the count. I got to "fourty eight, shut the gate!" and I was at the top. Therefore, I make the waterbar count 48 for the climb. That settles it......
Dundas Rd has some "rolling hills" along it's length and while I was reduced to walking up some of the really steep rollers, I mostly just stood up and mashed the pedals, single speed style. I was amazed that I could still muster this energy but also pleased to see that it netted a faster climbing speed and no pain for my legs. I was pleased to reach the rubbish tip at the top of Dundas Rd, for now the cafe's on Mt Nebo were just a few short minutes away.
A few short minutes and some considerable PAIN away that is! I don't like riding on the road up here on Mt Nebo because the road lacks any shoulder and the large number of motorbikes and cars that like to treat it as their own private race track make being a hood ornament a very real possibility. Just watch this video to see what I mean(note: not here in AUS, somewhere in California but I don't want to be that guy).
Luckily, the pain wasn't from wearing a Deadcati up the backside but because I chose to take Hammermeister Rd and avoid the main road. I was soon at the cafe' enjoying a pot of tea and the chocolate hedgehog slice that I had hauled up the hill from Fernvale bakery as a reward for making it.
The run down South Boudary Rd was fun with the top section providing big smiles as my supertanker ploughed down the hills and managed to crest the next rise without too much pedalling effort. I was pretty much head down, bum up for the next few hours as I carved through a few of the single tracks in Gap Creek Reserve.
Hitting the streets in suburbia here is always a bit surreal after hours in the "bush" but I was pleased to be rolling along easily. I even spotted a mountain biker up ahead whom I guess was heading home from a single track session. As the road tilted up, I decided to go all "attack" on his arse and get past him. I actually managed to blast past pretty easily which was pleasing because this was the roughly the 100km(62mi) point for the day and the 480km(300mi) mark for the 4 days.( I learned later that his name was Mark. he saw the blog post on mtbdirt.com.au!)
I deviated slightly so that I could ride along South Bank to take in the views and top up my water. Talk about surreal. I had been in full on "bush" just 30 minutes prior!
The run along the south east freeway was pretty mundane as usual with just a chocolate milk stop at a local petrol station where I got to witness some outstanding driving skills/attitude displays by "school mums" on their way home with the kids. Scary stuff!
I decided to finish the ride by cutting back through Daisy Hill Forest and dropping down Wallum Froglet in Cornubia. I bumped into Oppy, one of the trail building gurus here in Brisbane as he unloaded his bike for a ride in Daisy Hill and chatted (rambled like a hobo on a bike) for 20 minutes or so. Thanks for putting up with me Oppy!
The run down Wallum Froglet was pretty sweet and I stopped at the bottom to shut the GPS down and enjoy the quiet of the bush (only just heard over the tinitis from wind noise in my ears!).
I had made it home after riding 515km (322mi) and climbing 8100m (26 600ft)! When I mapped out the route I have some misgivings as to whether I could ride the it. As it turned out, I cut about 100km(62mi) from it due to a lack of time and navigation problems, so I guess if I was being pedantic, I couldn't do it in 4 days. I am very happy with the effort regardless and with a bit less sleep, could have done the total distance. But then, I like my rest.....
I will pay more attention to the navigation in the planning phase next time and will have to look into why my Garmin eTrex didn't perform the way I had expected. Note, this is not to say it did anything wrong. It just didn't do what I expected!
My Giant XTC29er worked perfectly. There were zero mechanicals, not even a flat tyre.
I must thank Neil for his track logs. Without them I couldn't have even contemplated this ride. Also for his phone advice when I discovered my route shortcomings on the GPS and his very generous offer to drive up and meet me with another GPS. That was above and beyond the call! Thank you.
Physically I felt pretty good and the lack of rest I got in the following days testified to that. Normally I would have broken down with a cold or something but this time I was at trail building next morning pushing barrows of rock, then kids sport and catching up on work around the yard. That is not to say I didn't look shagged, but I felt reasonably ok.
Also, a massive thank you to my lovely, understanding wife for letting me go for 4 days to play boys on my bicycle. Not many women would give their bloke that much leeway. Thanks Rebecca.
I think this is my favourite photo from the trip. It is at the cafe' on Mt Nebo when I realised that I had done it. I knew I could finish from here. I felt great.......
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.