Saturday, 18 July 2015

Holiday time ... Cairns to Karumba Charity Ride ... Part One

Twelve months on from breaking my femur, which has totally absorbed my time rehabilitating it. It was time to take a holiday, so when starting in my new role at Interex Projects, I negotiated  some leave.

Back in November, good friends Paul and Sam, while on the Southern Alps Tour mentioned that they were going to ride Cairns to Karumba, the seed had been planted, the problem was in November I was only riding 20 -30 km at a time. C2K was 780 kilometres over 7 days! Fortunately I still had seven months to continue to build some strength and endurance.

Cairns to Karumba is a charity ride which has raised over the last 18 years $1,000,000 + for distance education.

Time soon rolled around, I was visiting the Orthopaedic Consultant for a twelve month check up the week before I left for Australia, I have been getting a niggle where the distal locating screws are a bit long and the muscle rubs over them. Simple fix! The answer is to remove them!

So with that being planned it was time to pack up the bike and bag, finish of those last minute instructions for work and catch that big silver budgie over the ditch to Brisbane, hang around in the airport for a few hours and head on upto Cairns.

Although I had spent time in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, I had not been to Far North Queensland, although from my time working in Papua New Guinea I had passed through the airport to change flights but never got any further. But it was those flights which had peaked my interest to visit especially having seen the Great Barrier Reef from the air.

Arriving late Thursday and picked up by Paul and his lovely wife Fran, it was back to the motor camp to meet the rest of the crew, assemble my bike and have a cold beer or two, just to set the tone of the next week to come!

Pre race team dinner

Friday was a quick ride (30 km) to check the bikes out, find a coffee, register and be briefed. Our support crew Fran, Darryl (Paul's good mate) and Pete (Sams uncle) got the Camper Vans, food water and beers organised. Sam's husband Jason and two kids Zac and Lilly also joined us, Jason would be riding the mountain bike stages, while Zac would join him for some of the time. Lilly would hang with the support crew and later on become the Jenga champion!

Lilly and Daryl battling it out for the Championship title

Now the night before it started to dawn on me that this shit was about to get real! In the last 10 months since I was allowed to get on the bike (for 3 minutes at a time) to now I had only acculliminated 2700 kms of riding, the longest one being 100 km. This was not a lot!!!

Questions kept popping into my head ... How far will I make before I have to pull out? Will my leg hold up? Will my niggle around the screws play up? While trying to keep rational and sensible about it ... Its ok you can jump in the support vehicle anytime ... to the irrationale ... what the feek are you doing! It's 780 km, thats like a third of what you have ridden in the last 12 months! You won't make it up the first hill out of Cairns!

But if you don't try you will not find out!

Saturday - Day One Cairns to Atherton 96 km
We rode in from the campground to the start on the Esplanade in Cairns to depart with a full Police escort to the base of the Karunda Range, there we were split into two groups to be guided up the hill. This being the main road onto the Tablelands combined with the first weekend of the school holidays, it was fairly busy, but the local police did a fantastic job at looking after us and managing the flow of traffic!

We had chosen Pack 3 to ride in, as they said it would have an average speed of 25-28 kmh, so were in the front half heading up the hill. I was riding pretty conservatively, when I notice this portly old bugger riding with sandals on! You can guess what the conversation was in my head! Over the next week I got to know Don who turns out to be lovable old Irishman with a ditty for every occasion! Being a local Don knew the roads and conditions, later in the week he was telling us that this ride was a warm up for a trip in August which was to include Spain, France and Italy! Oh, the joys of being retired!

With many stops we travelled through some absolutely beautiful rolling countryside, it made for some great riding. Eventually we rolled in through the town of Atherton to the Woodlands motorcamp.

Day one complete 103.8 km 1583 metres of climbing 4hrs 42 min riding time.

Sunday - Day Two Atherton to Mount Garnet 103 km
Today dawned overcast which later turned to drizzle, but the gorgeous rolling riding continued today, we were still not really riding in our packs but there were still many stops ... every 20 kms these were starting to get on my wick, I am carrying two water bottles so can ride for two hours no need to stop every 45 minutes!

Paul, Sam and I rode together enjoying the climbs and descents, cresting Queenslands highest sealed road (1043m) we descended into Ravenshoe. Here we were treated to a fantastic lunch provided by the locals and also to pay our respects to the town. Which had had an unfortunate tragedy, where a driver of a vehicle had a medical incident, crashing into some gas bottles outside a cafe which exploded killing two and injuring 22. The ride organisation presented a cheque to the townspeople to help with the recovery.

After lunch we headed out in Pack 3, this was a little frustrating as we were not allowed to rotate and we had to stop every 20 kms, It was not long after leaving Ravenshoe the rain stopped but we hit about 3 kms of road works and we all turned red with wet dirt!

the road works
We eventually rolled into Mount Garnet staying in the rodeo grounds. We washed the bikes down while enjoying a cold beer or two, it was easy to settled down into this daily routine!

Day two completed 106.1 km 1273 metres of climbing 4 hours 29 minutes riding time.

Day Three Mount Garnet to Mount Surprise 113 km

Day three was a day we would have a change in attitude. But first we left for 40 Mile Scrub with pack three, to be treated to lunch by the locals, now there is no towns between Mount Garnet and Mount Surprise but there is a parking area which has a shade shelter and a toilet. This is where the locals meet us.

Outside this rest area was a compulsory stop sign, with 4 police cars sitting there, this made a good point for the event organiser's to encourage those who stop to donate! Unfortunately a road train rolled through without stopping which meant the boys in blue stopped him down the road - cost au $340 !!!

When it was time to move on, we decided to move ourselves up to Pack 2, within a few kilometres Paul, Sam and I had agreed that this was a good move. This is where we would stay for the rest of the week, the pack leader Tony was an expat kiwi, and kept the pack rolling at a reasonable pace without stopping at every drink station available, it was of a reasonable size, about 16 riders all of who were capable at taking a turn on the front, the bonus was they were a pretty friendly bunch too!

We were meet a couple of kilometres out of Mount Surprise we were meet by some local kids who rode in with us ... pretty cool!

Cli with a young local who escorted us into town!

Day three completed 117.9 km 569 metres of climbing 4 hours 11 minutes ride time.

We assumed our usual position at the end of the day!
Part two coming up soon

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