It was getting colder over night as the cloud cleared. I had felt a little cold in Oakey, but in Pittsworth, I had to get up and zip up my sleeping bag. I had been using it like a dooner. People the previous day had mentioned seeing frost, but I had not seen any. But this morning my head rest had a layer of frost. Still it was not freezing as the air was still. Some people thought it had been 1deg. some 0.5, and others claimed zero. And as soon as the sun came up it started warming up. As it was the longest day, I just had breakfast, packed and was on my way. I wanted to have the maximum time to get to the far end.
The event had an official photographer, All Action Photography. Each day they would be out on the course somewhere, taking photos. They had quite a production system, with at least 2 photographers and two extra people. Each day they would take the photos and have them printed and on display by the early evening. We got on the official CD of the event on the last day, but I also purchased three prints of me. There would be a sign, so they said, announcing where they would be. If you waved, they would take your photo. I rarely saw the sign, but on this day I did. As a photographer, I’d have to say the photography was good, but not great.
When I had looked at the rides, I had decided that the second day would be the worst, as it had the most up hill sections. But the day on everyone’s mind was today, becuase it was the longest distance. A reported 97 km. Though I rode of 98 in the end. Some people (including the ones with butterfly wings you will meet later) did some laps of the town to make it up to 100km. I had done 109 km in the leadup, so this was not such a big milestone.
The first rest stop was at back plains state school. It had one teacher and 16 students, yet was much bigger than Jingellic Primary, where I went for a short while which had 30 students and one teacher. I was asked to ride down the main drive by the official at the gate. Here I found Sgt Col. Every child and the teacher were having a go at sitting on his motorcycle. Some of the students were suitably impressed by the trike. The teacher had everything under control and the kids headed off to do a performance. I’d have to say they’d win a prize for the most uncoordinated mob. But still well behaved. By the time I was there they were exhausted by the excitement of 1,000 bicycles, food stalls, police, trucks with toilets, tents and so forth. It was clearly going to be a long day for them. But one I’d expect they will remember.
Lunch was at Pratten Hall, strangely this was located in Pratten. I grabbed my lunch and sat in the shade next to the Epic Cycles repair centre. They had a steady stream of work and I wondered what was causing it all. After all, some of these people were really fit riders. I thought, surely they know how to fit a flat tyre. What I learned was that the main work seemed to to be repairing spokes. The man had a massive collection of all different sizes. I was amazed. In all my years of riding, and I have ridden over 40,000 km, I have never broken a spoke. It seems that these high tech wheels give up strength for weight and hence over tax their spokes.
After lunch we headed through Cunningham to the Darling Downs Hotel at Leslie. Again, gentle up and down hill sections of road. I was beginning to hold my place in the pack, even though I would revert on this day and the following days to a bit above 18 kmh on average. We crossed over a wooden railway bridge that is so typical of this part of Queensland and along some roads that they had been gouging parallel groves in. I do not know what made these markings.
The afternoon rest stop was in Leslie. It was not as advertised in the Darling Downs Hotel, but rather it was next door. Though many people stopped and had a drink at these hotels, I did not. I grabbed my afternoon tea and continued on my way.
At the briefing the night before we had the only visit from a many from the Queensland Main Roads Department, one of the sponsors. He had mentioned the difficultly in scheduling road works to have the roads ready for an event like this. After the rest stop, we discovered what he was talking about. We hit a section of brand new bitumen. It could only have been days, if not hours old. Now this may sounds like a good thing. But it was not. The bitumen was still wet. It was still sticky. There were puddles of tar in places. The end result was it stuck to the wheels acting to dramatically increase rolling resistance. Though it was not as bad as riding through sand. Luckily it was only a short section of road.
As we arrived in Warwick we rode along the Cunning Highway for several kilometres. Instead of being a traumatic exercise, it was a pleasant one as the highway was wide, well made with good shoulders and best of all bike tracks along some of the sections that would put the tiny narrow excuses for roads here in Sydney to shame. We rode into town, along some back streets with a route designed to avoid 1,000 bicycles turning right on the main highway and down into the show grounds.
In the show grounds I camped with the Toowoomba bug riders. Rob had shown up on his Anura. I could not ride it as he was so much taller than I, and I did not want to go through the task of adjusting the trike accordingly. After that I wandered up to get more to eat and then wandered around the show grounds. The rodeo area was quite substantial, a testament to the revival this sport is currently undergoing.
That night we had Lamb Curry and fruit salad for dinner. I talked the the bug peoples for a while in the cafe while the band played, before going to a early night’s sleep. But I had managed to stay up during the afternoon.
The original post
I was early to sleep because I was tired. It was cold over night. Zero degrees they say, with a frost. Also, another early start for the longest ride. It quickly warmed up to one of the hottest days we had.
I was at 235th at one stage, though as the day progressed I was overtaken by many people. I could not keep up yesterdays pace. But still got to the camp site at 1:30 pm.
I am camped with the members of the toowoomba bug.