All through the night it rained. We were worried that the start would be very wet. Storm fronts, one after another were coming thorough. When we got up it was still raining. According to the Weather Bureau there was 18 mm of rain in Toowoomba. I looked at the weather radar and found that it was the last of the bands of rain to go through. When we did emerge from the hotel room, before 7AM, there was dark foreboding clouds and rain to the east and blue skys and sunshine to the west. As we walked from the motel to the start of the ride, the rain moved further east and we did not get wet. Given that the walk was about 1.5 km, this was very good.
When we arrived at registration, there was already a queue of about 20 people over 5 queues waiting for registration to open. Registration went easily they gave me an orange bag and a plastic wine glass. After that I headed across the playing field to the other side. Here they were unpacking the bicycles off the truck. I saw the man bemusedly removing my trike from the truck. I grabbed the trike and unpackaged it. The trike had arrived in one piece. As the grass was wet the cardboard quickly became unusable. After a quick discussion with the organisers I threw the box in the recycling bin with the bubble wrap. I took the trike back to rego and met Jane, another greenspeed rider and an employee at Bicycle Queensland, who had been so helpful when I was deciding if I should go on the ride.
I went into town and did some shopping in the morning to buy batteries for the GPS. I grabbed a breakfast sold by the Endeavour Foundation. While I was waiting, Hugh from the toowoomba bug rode up on his GT3. I was delighted to see another GT3 rider and we had a good chat and ended up leaving together at the start of the ride. He had many more modifications to the trike, including a better placed SRAM changer, two extra water bottles, home made flag pole with what turned out to be a soccer referee’s flag and umbrella! I momentarily met up with two others from the DHBC who I knew would be on the ride.
We headed out at 12:00 after some speeches I could hardly hear. Hugh and I left together so both the trikes would be side-by-side at the start. Most people walked to the starting gate as we were doing a very slow speed. Out on the streets there was traffic chaos as 1,000 bicycle headed out together. We were split into groups by the traffic lights. At first there were plenty of bike lanes. The motor traffic was very patient and the atmosphere calm and anticipative. What were we heading out on? The old timers knew, but the first timers like me were wondering what was in store. I was surprised by the variety of riders, particularly the parents with tag-alongs and trailers for their children. One woman I heard was saying that her mother was riding with an empty trailer, while she had her daughter on a tag-along. When her daughter became tired, she would move into the trailer towed by grandma! I was suitably impressed.
At first the ride was easy and a bit chaotic. There was some traffic and some corners to test our ability and some simple rolling hills. Through the day we lost about 100 meters of altitude. At this time there were many people who were not used to riding in groups. Also, we were all together and riding at different speeds.
After a few km, we left Toowoomba and were out on the open road. Our first lunch of the day (@21 km) was at Meringandan Park. Here we all hopped off our cycles and had some food and drink, included in the ticket price.
After lunch we headed for Goombungee and the first night of camping. As always, there were plenty of signs indicating the way and track marshals at important points telling you to slow down, stop and change direction. I rode into Goombungee and set up camp against a fence. There were tents for offices, tents for kitchens, tents for eating halls, toilet trucks, shower trucks. All in all a very mobile set-up was in place. After setting up my tent, I met up with Geoff and Marian from the DHBC, and we walked into town. We visited an art gallery and had a quick beer before dinner. The women in the art gallery were delighted. They had the biggest crowds they had ever had in their quite new gallery.
Dinner was simple and good. The night was quickly getting cold. After dinner was my first debriefing. We had a man tell us what had happened over the day and some simple practical things. Then there was the woman in charge of the entertainment explaining what was happening there. Then there was Sgt Col O’Shea, a motorcycle cop from the QLD police. He berated us for not being good at following the road laws and explained what we needed to improve on. He also talked of the drivers and what he had seen and he is wonderful with the jokes. All in all, I’d say he is one of the best police officers I have ever seen. The quality of the riding certainly improved and a good atmosphere was maintained.
After dinner and under a fullish moon, I listened to the music and then headed up to the local school where there was more music. They were very unhappy up there as no one had stayed for dinner. They had all headed back to the camp for their included in the price dinner. As a new comer, I was a little surprised that they had provided dinner at all. I sayed for a little while before I headed back to the tent to sleep for the night.
My impression after one day was that the event was just as well run as I had expected, if not better. I had no cause for complaint. Everyone was friendly and helpful and competent. Everything worked like clockwork from where I stood. I could not be happier.
Distance: 42.73 km
Average: 15.07 kmh
Time: 2:50:09 hours
Maximum: 60 kmh