A slightly restless night's sleep was had again. It certainly wasn't a comfort or warmth issue as the Thermarest and my down bag are excellent bits of kit. No, plain old thirst and just being plain old and sore made for a sub optimal sleep. While I am anti Vitamin I if I can help it, perhaps I need to weigh up strategic use to balance against pain related insomnia? Another consideration for the race.....
Anyway, It was nice not to have the tent covered in dew this morning and I quickly packed it up while my breakfast was also hydrating. I was sort of surprised that no one stopped to ask me what the hell I was doing camping there as I had been passed by many cars during the night and this morning. I must have looked honest or respectable.....yeah right!
Loaded up and pedalling off I was definitely a bit sore today. My chain was also protesting about the lack of lube too. I didn't have a small enough bottle of my favourite lube, Ride Mechanic Bike Milk, that would fit in my already stuffed bags. I thought to myself "Bike Milk is frickin' awesome and it will be ok" but even Superman had Kryponite and so it seemed I have found the limit of the lube, which was not insubstantial, at about 200km(120mi) on a heavily loaded bike.(A little birdy tells me that RM has a new, touring oriented lube in development)
As I slowly climbed Left Hand Branch road I worked my way past quiet farms either side of the road. The soil here looked as fertile as that up on the range.
I love these old farm sheds. They have been around for decades, with more and more "precious" junk being shoved into them until over time the junk is all that is actually holding the shed up. Clearly, this is one of the newer ones.
I was gently climbing this whole time and crossed some more new low level creek crossings. There was much evidence of earth works all along the creek. I guess it has taken this long to catch up on the extensive damage caused by the 2011 floods.
A quick photo stop at the Thornton School and I was off again.
Another of the old Epic's infamous grinds, I needed no GPS or route notes to find the trail as it was etched into my memory.
Still in cattle country and I was even stirring them up when they were 100m away in a paddock! These clowns ran for about half a kilometre before they realised I was on the other side of the fence and would do them no harm.
I came to a bend in the creek with a nice flat, grassy area that I wished I had found last night. It was the perfect camping spot but I wasn't quite sure if it was public land or on someone's property.
Shortly after this I passed a farmer shovelling manure into the bucket of his tractor. I stopped to say hi as I was passing very close to his house and sheds, along the BNT. He was very friendly and asked if I was riding the "horse trail"? I replied in the affirmative and he thought that it was great and said the trail went through his property and up, over Laidley Gap. "You can't miss it", he said. I thanked him and we both went back to our respective "jobs".
Laidley Gap? Mt Sylvia?
Ahhh, the penny dropped as to where I knew those names from! This was part of the old Flight Centre Epic race course! I had clearly buried those memories very deep but now they all bubbled to the surface as the track became all too familiar.
There were still red arrows marking the route even though this hasn't been the course for about 4 years. I must say, at bikepacking pace, this was actually a very pretty ride...........apart from the hoof ruts in the black soil. They don't look like much but I am running zero suspension travel on this rig.
Up and up the trail went. Before too long I was off and hoofing it myself. I was so glad that it was dry. I think there are still guys in therapy that tried to race this in the wet a few years back.
There is an end to this.....and there it is!
As I crested the top a herd of horses pranced around and made a lot of noise, but dashed off before I could get a photo. So I modelled again. Sorry about that.......
That warning sign is to inform one and all that the track is very steep and "ill defined". Now they tell us?! Anyway, this bit drops down through Thornton View and was a hoot during the Epic race but in the two times that I raced the "old Epic" I never had time to take in the view. This time I stopped and admired the view over Thornton.
It was a hoot blasting down the farm road to the gate of "Thornton View" and brought back memories of crazy overtaking during the race just so I didn't have to touch the brakes after all that climbing.
The next few kilometres rolled by quickly and I was starting to wonder where I might meet up with Gaz, who was tracing the route out in an anti-clockwise direction. As I said, I didn't know what time he started so I didn't know where we might meet.
Just up the road was the tell-tale marker at the entrance to Edward's Gap, a tractor mailbox.
Most of the track over Edward's Gap was actually covered in long grass and I became a pin cushion again for a while, but thankfully nowhere near as badly as yesterday in Goomburra.
The road down off Edward's Gap is fast and flowy so it was nice to be making good time here. I was sort of hoping I would meet Gaz somewhere here but little did I know he wasn't even on his bike yet.
The ride from here became one of quiet back roads where I could hear the air streaming through Magpie's wings as they maneuvered to get a better vantage point of what this thing was that was squeaking it's way along the road. Yes, the poor chain was starting to sound bad by now!
As I finally rolled into Rosevale again, this time suitably thirsty, I saw a fluro yellow dot coming up the road the other way. I ducked into the pub and ordered two Cokes then nonchalantly sauntered out the front to watch Gaz roll up! We downed the Cokes, then he produced a huge iced coffee milk he had packed from Aratula for me. Not wanting to dissappoint, I downed that as well and to be honest, if he had another I would have made short work of it as well! This bikepacking sure gives a bloke a hunger and a thirst!
Gary Tischer photo.
After a short break we pedalled south toward Aratula and Gary's car, still 30km(19mi) away. It was a glorious morning for a ride, as the last two had been and Gaz proceeded to photo-bomb my attempts at artistry......
We rolled into Aratula for another feed at the truck stop. My GPS read 371km. Take off the 54km of train travel and it was a not too shabby 317km(198mi). Later analasis would reveal a total of 3765m(12 350ft) of climbing. Hmmm....it felt like more than that!
As a training ride I was pretty happy with how it went. I felt good for the 3 days with no major soreness anywhere. My kit worked well, especially the Ground Effect Exocet knicks(shorts-thanks Marshall!). After about 28 hours in the saddle, my bum(butt) was in perfect condition, which as any cyclist knows is EXTREMELY important and a real deal breaker for long rides. I must point out that I have no affiliation with Ground Effect, I just love their knicks!
Ground Effect miracle shorts!(and my arse!! Too much information?)
My sleep setup worked well and I was a little hot both nights. This won't be a problem on the Divide and I must say I am more concerned about the lack of temperature on the Divide. I am sort of hoping for a "hot" year, but planning on it being cold.
Finally, if anyone wants to get out and explore this great section of South East Queensland, I say DO IT ! It is a beautiful area, so close to Brisbane and the temperatures are starting to drop, making for some great riding.
Cheers and thanks for reading.