“Why would you want to do that?”
“Because it’s there.”
And so the Brisbane to Redlands 300km Microadventure was born. Steve and I would leave his place at 7am and cycle 45km into the city to catch the 9:33am train to Gympie. The train was due to arrive in Gympie at 12:40pm so we planned to mount our bikes at 2pm to ride the 250km back home. It was a simple plan that involved a full night in the saddle, over 24 hours without sleep, hot weather and stops at 24 hour McDonald’s.
The ride into town was uneventful, as was the train ride. The real adventure began after we mounted our bikes in Gympie and started the ride home. With the sun beating down through overcast skies, temperatures in the mid-30’s centigrade and a hot dry wind blowing, the first 45km to Pomona were definitely a challenge. But our spirits were high as we cruised over rolling hills and steep pinches through hinterland scenery. The roads were quiet and we could roll along beside each other chatting away. This was our first ride together so we had plenty to talk about.
All around us long green grass rustled in the dry wind, rolling hills opened out in front of us and cattle dotted the landscape. It’s one of my favourite places to ride.
Along the way to Pomona we stopped at the Kin Kin Pony Club to refill our water biddons. We were both out despite having covered just 31km. I stuck my head under the tap to cool down: it felt divine. I like this pic because it looks like we are watering our steel (well carbon and alloy) horses.
The rollers out of Kin Kin were lovely to ride. The corners were properly cambered and the road delightfully smooth. I felt strong climbing through the rollers and descending was super cool. There were pretty rainforest sections and deep rocky gullies.
After stopping for ice blocks and more water in Pomona, we hit the road again. With dusk starting to fall and an overcast sky, we donned our high visibility vests to help motorists see us. We made good time along Yurol Forest Road and I passed the time by enjoying the sight of blood gums dotting the forest along the road. Their red trunks were in stark contrast to the grey skies above.
We stopped at the lookout on top of Eumundi Range Road to enjoy the view to the west (fortunately, we didn’t have to ride over the mountains we saw). The ride down the other side was fast and fun.
We rode through North Arm and onto Nambour Connection Road. After stopping in a park to again fill our biddons, the heavens opened and drizzle started to sprinkle down on us. We were both hungry as we reached Nambour (87km); partly from the riding and partly because our body clocks were telling us it was dinner time. The Golden Arches shone brightly along the main road and we didn’t bother to resist their call. The salty fries were exactly what I needed and the burger was a nice bonus (I don’t usually eat Maccas but I do like it on long rides when all I want is easy to digest calories).
Twilight is fleeting here in South-East Queensland, so by the time we left Maccas it was pitch black night. There was no moon and the stars were hidden behind the clouds. The temperature stayed high and sweat poured out of our helmets at every stop despite the sun being asleep. But the darkness also brought quiet roads and we even managed to ride Steve Irwin Way in relative comfort instead of having to tackle the uneven surfaces of Old Gympie Road (Steve Irwin Way is like a truck and car highway during the day). There were some nasty pinchy climbs out of Nambour, including a walk up Tunnel Ridge Road where the views of Nambour’s lights made the walk worth the effort. This was a tough section of riding and really took it out of both of us.
After working hard on the climbs out of Nambour and picking up the pace on Steve Irwin Way, we arrived in Caboolture at about 11:30pm. We’d ridden 150km plus the 45km to the train station. It had been drizzling steadily since dusk, making the air feel like a sauna. Chicken nuggets, chocolate sundae and a cup of Fanta have never tasted better. Poor Steve was starting to get the zombie look that comes when the sleep monsters are attacking and I am sure that I didn’t look much better. But we were still both happy campers on a crazy micro adventure. A group of stoned teenage boys who came in couldn’t believe that we’d ridden all that way, nor that we were continuing into the dark night. From here we knew we could make it.
From Caboolture we entered a new phase of our ride: the waterfront. The drizzle was heavy but we were in high spirits as we came to a well-lit recreational cycle path along the water. The tide was out, leaving pools of water exposed between sandbanks. We followed the Deception Bay waterfront almost as far as we could before riding out to Anzac Ave and into Clontarf. We stopped at a 24hour 7-Eleven just next to the Hornibrook Bridge. I bought a can of Coke and a chocolate bar. It was about 1am and I needed to stay awake. From here we would be riding the final 70km home with just one quick breakfast stop planned about 10km from home.
The wind was whipping the waves off Redcliffe into a white-capped frenzy and I was sure it was spraying up on us as we rode across the Bridge. Steve made a comment about the salt being good for us so I pretended to try catching the drops. As we rode it became obvious that the spray was actually more drizzle but it doesn’t matter. It was still fun and a good way to keep ourselves occupied through the challenge. At Sandgate we rode along the waterfront that Mum and I had ridden on Sunday. It was so pretty at night with the Port of Brisbane lights shining in the distance. A slow ride through the Boondall Wetlands, crossing wet boardwalks and then down along the MBC to Eagle Farm got us near home. And then the MBC disappeared. Signs pointed us in a certain direction but that proved to be a dead end. So we had to find our way out of it – we joked later that without this detour, Steve would have come just shy of the 300km mark (he lives 8km from my place so his distance was going to be about 295km).
We found our way up to the Gateway Bridge and stopped at the top for a celebratory photo of the mouth of our city’s river. From here it would be a familiar 50km ride home. It was about 4am so we knew the sun would soon be bringing light to the world. The sleep monsters were biting and I was struggling to stay awake. But experience has taught me that all I need to do is hang on to dawn. The sun came up just before we reached Old Cleveland Rd, helping to wake me up a little bit. We ground our way home. I needed to stop in Capalaba for breakfast (all I could think of was pies) because I just couldn’t ride further without food (there are only so many bars a man can eat). After I dropped Steve home, I rode my final 8km very slowly but walked in the door at 6:40am: exactly 24 hours after leaving.
What a way to end 2013! I won’t make it to midnight tonight to see in the new year because I’m way too tired. I’ve slept about 10 hours today and will still need an early night if I want to be ready to ride to the 100km 11 of Eleven New Years Day Audax ride tomorrow morning.
The microadventure was totally rad. It makes me excited about the Starlight Wander (200km) and Esk At Night (300km) Audax rides I’ve entered in January and makes me hungry to find another similar microadventure.
Total: 308.9km road cycling in 24 hours.