Monday, 24 September 2012

It's a numbers game

I've never been one to over think my safety on the road.  When cycling, I follow the rules, make myself visible to fellow ride users with my hi-vis wear and do my best to read drivers' minds when sharing the road.

I've had my share of near misses - cars turning left in front of me, being clipped by car mirrors when they get too close, cars running give way and stop signs.  My personal mantra as I ride is "always catch the driver's eye".  If I don't see him/her see me, I ride defensively to ensure the best chance of arriving at my destination in one piece.

There will always be an element of risk in riding a bike.  If it's not a distracted driver, it might be a pothole seen at the last minute, a magpie attack, a fellow bike rider who doesn't give notice that they are approaching and passing, or a pedestrian who steps off the kerb right in front of me. But there are risks every time I get into my car, catch a bus or walk too.

There is a whole movement out there trying to get legislation overturned with regard to mandatory helmet wearing.  Their theory is that a helmet won't protect my head in a high impact collision.  They are right in that regard.  My aluminium frame, weighing a total of 10kg, will certainly come off the worse for wear in an accident with a 1 tonne steel car travelling at speed.

But in a low impact accident (eg going over a bonnet or simply falling from my bike due to a tyre blowout), I'd back my odds a lot better with my stack hat firmly on my head.  I've had a fall at 5km/hr where I banged my head on a garden edge.  My helmet meant I had a head ache, but no major damage to my skull or brain.  If the law changes, I will still wear a helmet, even if it is not mandatory to do so.

In the last month I've known people who have sustained injury as a result of cycling.  One friend was knocked by an impatient driver towing a caravan during an organised ride, with just some minor injury to her shoulder and a bit of bark off.  She was certainly shaken, but as the old adage goes, she got back on the bike.  Two weeks later, on another ride, she was hit by a car on a roundabout, again, during a large organised ride.

This time, her injuries are a little more serious.  She has broken her leg in two places and will require surgery to plate her bones in place.. She is heavily bruised and grazed.  But she is alive.  It could have been much worse.  Will she continue to ride?  Who knows.  That may depend on how well she heals, both mentally and physically.

Two other friends of mine have had altercations with cars - roundabouts and turns are a common cause of bike to car accidents, with the frequent cry of "I didn't see you" an all too familiar refrain.  Both riders still ride regularly.

Will these instances stop me?  At this point, no.  I won't deny that after this most recent event I haven't had a re-think.  I ride a couple of times a week for exercise, and try to commute at least once a week too.  The commute is the ride I feel safest doing, as there are a number of other regulars on the road too.  When I drive, I always notice the regulars and mentally look for them on the way.  I hope other drivers think the same way.  At the same time, peak hour traffic is slower moving, making it less likely that a car will be travelling at speed through areas without seeing me.

Leisure riding is a bit different. Even though we regularly ride the same areas, because it is earlier in the morning, many drivers aren't expecting us to be out.  Riding in back streets isn't the best idea, as people don't expect to see bikes in quiet streets.  That is also true for commuter routes.

I hope I haven't dampened anyone's enthusiasm when it comes to getting out and riding on their bike.  There are risks involved.  But the joy I get from riding my bike outweighs the risk.  Hopefully the same rings true for you too.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Life's little triumphs

Saturday, 22nd September will stay in my mind as a special day in my exercise life.  That is the day that I ran in my first 5km fun run.

I had a ball, and contrary to my original thoughts, I enjoyed running in such a large group of people.  It was great to be able to drop in behind a fellow runner and match pace, and then decide, to move out and find the next pacer.

It was a humid afternoon, and as the first run of the event, the 4pm start time meant we ran the entire race in the warm afternoon sun.  I normally run 5km without a water break, but then I also run at night.  Today I stopped at all 4 water stations for a quick sip of water and to throw the rest down over my neck and back to make the most of the fresh breeze that kept us cool on the loop back.

It was also wonderful to have a strong support group there.  Hubby was running in the 10km event, and my wonderfully supportive Zumba buddy Wendy was there to cheer on her hubby and his friend.  Another Zumba friend, Siobhan and her partner Dave were also there, as well as my running inspiration, Steve.  It was a great feeling to hear them cheer me over the line.

But the biggest high I got all day was watching so many people achieve their goals.  There is nothing like standing at the finish line and watching the faces of people who are doing something they love. There is such a feeling of achievement as they cross that line.  Triumph is in every face.  There are PBs being achieved, personal goals met and even those who may be disappointed initially will do some reaccessing and realise that they have still done something to be proud of.  To even attempt is still a step better than to not even begin.

I don't know the next step for me.  A few more fives to see if I can push my time down is certainly a plan.  But the ten is beckoning, so time to train for some longer runs to get the legs into shape.  And stretching, lots and lots of stretching to give those tired muscles every chance of success.

Thanks to my lovely friends for their support today.  You made it such a special day.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The funny and the facts

My final blog about CQ12 today - a collection of stories, quotes and facts that I discovered whilst "on tour".

You might remember from my blogs last year during Cycle Qld how open the showering situation was, and my shock at sharing a communal dressing room.

I resolved myself to it easily and even found it quite liberating.  In fact the only issue I had with the showers this year was the lady who felt that it was acceptable behaviour to pull the curtain back at the entry of the communal area, thus displaying us in all our nude glory to the world outside.  Not only did she do it once, but three times.  I mean, come on lady, have a clue - when we start to shout to put the curtain down, just do it!

Hayden, however really found it difficult to nude up.  Quote of the showers from my boy "mum, do you know what it's like to come out of your shower and be faced with an old man's butt right there as he bends over? Yuk!". In fact he did his best to avoid showering, and it wasn't til he realised that a late shower meant he could change in his cubicle that it became easier to get him to wash.  I even tried to convince him nudity was ok.  I said to him "it's ok mate, everyone looks the same".  His response - "no they don't mum, they really don't.  There are wrinkly bits and dangly bits and boobs and everything on some of these guys".  Poor bugger, think he walked around with his eyes closed a lot!

Fact that I learned while on CQ was in regards to catering.  The night we had Irish Stew and potato mash, the kitchens went through 150kg of meat to make the meal.  That's a lot of cow!

Another fact - the oldest rider was 82 and he completed every single day of the ride.

And another - the youngest pedaller was Josie, aged 3.

There were a number of fundraisers on our ride.  Brodie, aged 12 raised over $5000 for Rosie's.  Another fellow had raised over $20000 for his chosen charity.  I love that people get on their bikes for a cause, but I did get sick of strangers asking me what I was riding for.  Hard to keep smiling and say "for fun" - the concept of cycle touring obviously hasn't seeped into common thought process.  It seems they all think we are there to raise money when we go on these long rides.  Not me, I'm in it for a holiday.  They look quite stunned when I tell them that too!

Another fact - Gayndah is Queensland's oldest town.  Apparently it is also rumoured to have been considered as Qld's capital city.

The food was once again fabulous.  A nice array of easy to digest meals, including the aforementioned Irish Stew, Hungarian Goulash, Cajun Chicken, Lasagne, Spaghetti Bolognaise, followed by yummy desserts - banana cake, fruit salad, Danishes, all sorts of yummy treats on the road and delicious juices and cordials.  Once again, I put on 3kg in a week while on the ride!

Anyway, once again, the party is over and it's time to start training for the Cairns ride nxt year.  I've been advised that it's hilly area up there, and if it's true that we are heading to Atherton, then my training probably should have started a week ago!  Not to worry, the anticipation will just have to build.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The final ride - happy and sad times

30km from Noosa to Cooroy was all that was between us and the end of our September Adventure.  We packed early and were on the road with the first 100 riders or so.

Only a few hills to challenge us today, but the legs were a bit tired, so even those few hills were a good warm up and challenge.

Our ride route took us down the Noosa longboard track.  A great downhill section that saw me riding my brakes heavily as it was quite twisty and would have been easy to fly right over the side.

And before you knew it, we were cruising along the Noosa River Esplanade and across the finish line to end our 9 day ride.

There are so many great things about cycle touring.  I've driven on many of the roads that we rode on this week.  I've seen more from my bike seat than I ever have from my car window.  I've smelled the cold, crisp outdoor air, felt the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  This week's ride allowed me to share memories with Hayden that I may not have shared otherwise.

One morning (before I got my cold!), as we crested a rise, I smelled molasses grass.  Taking a deep breath, I told Hayden how that smell always makes me think of my grandmother - Nana Skerman - who lived in Maleny.  When we went to visit, we knew when we smelled that grass that we were close to seeing her.  To this day, I still can't help thinking we are nearly there whenever I catch the familiar scent.  He loved hearing that story, and would let me know when he could smell it once my head cold had cloaked my sense of smell.

Crossing the line was a momentous moment - and once we had passed the finish line, photographers and friends and had dismounted, we had the chance to realise what we had done.  542km in 9 days, visiting 8 towns and passing through many others.  Milestones in terms of distance and back to back days.  New friendships formed and promises to catch up at next year's event.  And now we are done.

Thanks to everyone for their support, well wishes and encouragement throughout the event.  I love writing, and it gives me great pleasure to know that people are reading my blogs and enjoying them.  I know this year was different from the last and that there was more focus on Hayden, but that's just the way that it panned out.  I'm currently writing my summary of the event that includes cute and funny things that happened, so I'm hoping that one will be a little more like the previous year!

So now there is only 12 months until CQ13 - Cairns and beyond.  But who's counting?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Smashing the climbs

Cycle Qld is a little bit like childbirth.  Ladies will understand this more than the fellas.  If you've had more than one child, you'll remember that moment when you go into labour the second time and suddenly think "oh shit, I remember what this is like now, what the hell was I thinking?"

Today felt a little like that for me, as we took off on another hill climbing day after yesterday's long haul.  But today, walking was not an option.  Hayden absolutely, positively forbade me from getting off the bike until our rest stops.  And he was a great motivator.  Even on the longest climb today, we never looked like stopping.  Climbed a couple of 11% grades, and had a hair-raising 15% descent that wound down around the back of the range. Struggled to hold the girl back to a reasonable speed that would not see us plummeting to our deaths over the side of the mountain!

But we are now safely in camp at Cooroy, with only a short pedal tomorrow to Noosa.  Tonight is the CQ last night party, with costumes to start with a C or a Q.  Hayden is presenting as a caveman, while I am a Quidditch player for Gryffindor.  Can't wait to see what everyone else is dressed as too.  Lots of photos tonight I think!

So what are some of the negatives of the ride?  Not much really.  You could say the climb, but that's all part of the fun.  If you don't want to work hard on a ride, this is not the best place for you to come. Snoring is an issue - I swear they are all drawn to my camping area, and without my ear plugs I might have struggled last year.  This year I ditched the plugs and decided to grin and bear it.  It's a bit like having kids really - you learn to block them out!

Mad cyclists are a problem - the ones who give you no warning they are zooming up beside you and scare the bejesus out of you.  I could do without them, but as they say it takes all kinds.

The pluses far outweigh those few minuses.  The food has once again been spectacular, with great variety, wonderful flavour and pleases most palates.  The company is lovely, and most people are happy to have a chat and tell you about their adventures.  The volunteers are extraordinary, putting in long hours at thankless tasks to ensure our safety and comfort both on site and on the road.

The exercise is fabulous, and one of the big positives today was the reward of a long hard climb that resulted in views east to west of gorgeous dairy cattle country, with green valleys, lush creeks and rolling mountain backdrops.  It was like being privy to a glimpse of heaven as we sucked in the fresh mountain air.

The bonding experience that I have had with my son has been an absolute highlight of my week.  He delights me with the little things he finds to point out to me along the way, makes me smile with his singing to his favourite tunes as he rides along, amazes me with his strength, stamina and endurance and surprises me with random "I love yous".

There is not a single thing I would change about this week.  We are having a ball.  But tomorrow the fun ends for another year and we will be counting down to the next big adventure.  Can't wait to find out tonight where next year's tour will take us.  Stay tuned - maybe you will join us!

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Dora the Explorer moment

We did it, we did it, we did it yeah, Bellisimo! I am currently doing a little happy dance while singing the Dora theme song.  Ok, ok, it's a mental happy dance, my body is resting after putting it through a long haul!

What a fabulous day! 104.73km by my trip meter, and we are now resting comfortably at Albert Park in Gympie - our noisiest campsite yet as it is situated right beside the Bruce Highway.  I think it is strategically brilliant myself that they put us here after the longest day.  I will sleep like the dead tonight, regardless of whether trucks use their air brakes or a plane crashes on the oval next to us!

The day started with a gorgeous, albeit rolling hilly ride from Tiaro to the Dickabram Bridge, a gorgeous old steel frame and wooden bridge over the Mary River.  Took some nice photos and a few of my weird and wonderfuls of things like bolts and splinters of wood, but I'm like that!

From Dickabram we headed to Woolooga for lunch and onto Widgee for our afternoon tea stop.  I ate like a pig at all of the stops.  Refuelling is extra important on those rolling hill type days.  Gotta make sure there is plenty left in the legs at the end of the ride.

Hayden rode well today, stereo speakers blaring, singing at the top of his voice.  Lots of encouragement and smiles from fellow riders and lots of comments about his level of enthusiasm.  He gets so many high fives each night as we set up - lots of our "regular" neighbours seek him out to offer congratulations on the day's ride.

I was chastised by him today - at the 90km mark we came across a hill with 10% gradient that wound about 500m uphill.  I called out that we were stopping and he refused to stop pedaling so I could unclip.  I won the argument because I have the brakes, but I was pleased that he was so enthusiastic about getting the whole distance on the bike!

The weather was particularly helpful today, not too hot, topping out at about 25 degrees, but we could have done without the headwind.  Seemed like every way we turned today, that bloody wind turned with us.

For those who followed last year, this one wasn't as bad as last year's long day.  The first 80km was quite nice, nothing too major.  The last 20 km though certainly rivalled Stanthorpe's climbs and gradients.

So now it's time to rest and rejuvenate, ready for our last two days of riding - we are off to Cooroy tomorrow, and onto Noosa on Sunday.  More hills tomorrow, but mainly downhill to Noosa.  I can't wait!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It's a long way to Tiaro, it's a long way to go...

Ok, it's not so long, I'm exaggerating just a smidge.

We left our beautiful seaside campsite at 7.15 and started the 81km trek to the lovely town of Tiaro, population 444.  Which means when we roll into town we triple the population!

A relatively uneventful ride, but a good part of it on highway roads.  Two near misses for Team Boyd today - one from an impatient truck driver who thought we all deserved to die for being on his road.  He got very close and blasted his horn which was quite frightening.

Second close call was of our own making.  My pack came loose on the back so we pulled off on the side of the highway to right it.  Mental note, do not pull over and unclip your right foot when there's a one metre drop on the left.  You WILL overbalance and you will fall.  Or your son will act as a stopper and twist his ankle.

He was a real trooper though and fought back the tears to press on.  Once off the highway we wound through some hilly country and over a gorgeous old planked bridge into Tiaro.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the second half of the ride for me was a struggle today.  I have a head cold that is slowly manifesting into my chest cavity.  It makes breathing painful and difficult and hills are the enemy!  By the time we made it into town I was wrecked and it was a real effort to put up my tent and get settled.

A massage for us both was a great help, easing off our sore muscles.  Hayden is hooked and is quite a favourite with the massage team.  I couldn't get him in for tomorrow's sessions, but will make sure he has one in Cooroy, because he sure has earned it!

Tomorrow is our greatest challenge.  102km of hills all day, with no flat sections for recovery.  Hayden is a bit concerned we will be riding the SAG wagon, and I've been trying to convince him that it won't be a bad thing if we give it our best shot and have to catch the bus to camp.  At tonight's briefing they mentioned that the section to afternoon tea was easier than last year's Texas to Stanthorpe leg, but that after afternoon tea was the hardest section.  That was the hardest ride I had ever done, so I look forward to the comparisons at the end of the day.

I've never been one to quit before I start.  We will give it a good crack tomorrow.  But if you don't hear from me tomorrow night by about 8pm, send out the search parties and look for the carrion eaters circling in the air.  That's where you'll find us!

Rest day = welcome

After four days on the road it was restorative to have a rest day in Hervey Bay.  There were many tours and activities on offer, but I didn't book anything before our trip because I wanted to gauge how we were travelling.

It turns out that we really needed a day of rest.  The chance to reenergise the batteries and get ready for the three hard days ahead.

We had a sleep in, ate a late breakfast and caught the SAG wagon into town to check out what downtown Hervey Bay had to offer.

First stop was the Vic Hislop Shark Exhibition.  It's one of those things that we have always looked at but never done.  Now that we have done it, I know it's something I will never do again.  Basically, the exhibition is walls full of newspaper clippings about shark attacks, Hislop's thoughts on conspiracy and cover up and a couple of bits and pieces of memorabilia.  Interesting to look at, but hardly enough to get me to drag my friends to go and see it next time we are in town.

Marginally nicer was the walk along the Urangan Pier, chatting to fishermen and greeting fellow CQ riders along the way.  Then a yummy morning tea from a local bakery and a leisurely 6km walk back to the campsite along the beach.

I was excited to find live starfish burying themselves in the sand and waiting for the tide to come back in.  Hayden was mortified that I was picking them up and looking at them.

Onto the bike for a quick trip to KFC for lunch and the rest of the arvo was spent in the water park next door, playing in the icy cold water and having a go on the Flo Rider.

Rounded out the day with How to Train Your Dragon at the camp cinema, and all and all it was a great day of just bumming around.

Tomorrow sees us moving onto Tiaro, with out hardest day of riding after that.  Hmmm let's see how that goes!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A well deserved rest day is on the cards

Ahhhh bliss.  Tonight finds us happy little campers right on the beachfront at Seaside Oval, Hervey Bay.

Today's efforts were less than yesterday, only 57km from Maryborough to our lovely little beachside site.  We had a ball at the Mary Poppins singalong movie. Ok I had a ball, but whether the kids had a ball is still to be confirmed.

And most excitedly, I can now say that I have sung with the Vienna Boys' Choir.  Now I know I'm neither a boy nor a singer, but the choir is in Maryborough to perform, and they enjoyed the singalong movie with us at the theatre last night, so technically, when we were all singing, together, my claim of singing with the Vienna Boys' Choir is validated!

Hayden was disappointed not to have a milestone today, until I pointed out that today was his first "four days on the bike" effort.  He cheered up at that, and put in another great ride.  Today was a lovely, relatively flat ride, with only two horror hills.  One steep fast climb approaching the first rest stop, but at the top we were rewarded with views out across Hervey Bay and out to Fraser.  The second was a cruel quick climb after lunch.  Never fun when your legs have cooled down and have to find something in the first 200m.

The best part of today was the highway riding - something normally frowned upon for cyclists, but approved for our touring event.  The new verge had just been completed, so it was smooth sailing for the better part of 20km, and it was almost a shame to turn off the main drag onto some less well maintained roads.

We rode on a short gravel stretch today, and it was fun to be passing lots of roadies as they picked their way through the hazardous material.  Gravel - the great equaliser - friend of those with huge chunky tyres, not so much to the road bike set!

Tomorrow is a well-earned rest day for our tour group.  We haven't planned anything too major. Vic Hyslop's shark Expo, the Urangan Pier, an historical village and the shops to buy gifts for the family, but who really knows - it could be a day just sitting around camp and relaxing.  All I know is that whatever it is, it is well deserved.

We are halfway there.  Over 270km on the road, with our hardest day ahead of us, but we are looking forward to the challenge.  But not just yet.  Tonight we rest.

Monday, 10 September 2012

A supacalifragilisticexpialidocious kinda day

Today we are in Maryborough.  With a trek of 86+ km from Biggenden, this was our biggest day so far, and it was an up hill and down dale kind of day.

My little turbo is in fine form today, and is delighted to claim a new milestone - his longest ride yet.  Now I'm sure a lot of you are thinking that really he just sits in the back and turns the pedals over, but honestly he is as much a contributor to our workload as I am.  And on some of the hills he is even moreso.

We receive great encouragement every step of the way.  As one of the slower riders (we average about 19.8km/hr), we get on the road early to get as much time up our sleeves as possible to get to our destination.  That means a lot of the faster riders pass us - a lot!  But most always greet us with a cheery hello, good morning or great to see you each time they come up the outside.  Today we even copped a few "you guys are an inspiration" type comments, and my personal favourite - "here they are, Supermum and WonderBoy!"

I am loving the time on the bike with my boy.  He is chatty and funny and inquisitive and clever and I find out more and more about him each day.  And for those who are in the know (Jane) - he is practicing SMILE everyday and is becoming more confident with every encounter.

We encountered sugar train trucks loaded choc a block with cane today, enjoyed the feeling of being sandblasted by the dirt that follows in the wake of a 100km/hr B double travelling past you and a fully operational saw mill at Brooweena that had him gaping at the size of the logs and delighting in the smell of fresh cut timber.

Last night we shared our dining table with a lovely bunch of Canberrians.  There was a couple riding an Appollo tandem as well, and it wasn't until we had been there for about ten minutes that we realised that the gentleman was visually impaired.  I had mentioned that Hayden gives me running commentary on the scenery and the wife asked if we could swap.  I readily agreed, as long as her husband's legs were as capable as Hayden's!

There are some great stories to hear along the way - there are many people here who could just curl up and wish their lives away due to disability or age but instead they are out here everyday living their lives on the bike.  There's a mum and her intellectually impaired son, the couple I previously mentioned, a number of hearing impaired riders (it's quite scary when we come up alongside them, cos they can't hear us call that we are passing and sometimes we are travelling at a great rate of knots) and too many older riders to mention.

Yet all of them are out here each day enjoying life on a bike.  I think this week has consolidated a love of riding in Hayden that I hope will be a joy to him all of his life. He constantly talks about next year's ride and is already planning rides when we return to Brisbane.

Admittedly he was very quiet this morning after passing another accident scene - two riders had a slight altercation which left one heavily concussed and bleeding from a large gash to the head.  Hopefully she is ok, but it was quite confronting, and he was certainly more subdued until we talked over how he felt about the scene.

But enough of the somber stuff.  Tonight we are both getting a pre-dinner massage, followed by a ride into town to join in a singalong Mary Poppins show.  Maryborough is the birthplace of Mary Poppins author PL Travers, so what better way to spend our only night in this grand old town?

As for the massage, I know when they ask me what areas they want me to focus on, it will be shoulders, calves and butt.  Hayden's response will be "just my bum cos it is sooooo sore". I have to remember there isn't much padding there and it must get a lot of jarring on these roads.

Tomorrow we find our way to Hervey Bay, where we have a delightful campsite on the water's edge and an even more delightful day of rest.  Until then, cheerio, pip, pip...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Just keep pedallin'

Hayden has a new longest ride.  Today's 65km trek from Gayndah to Biggenden was a hard ride backing up after a tough first day, but he attacked it with gusto.

The course challenged us with a few toughish hills, but there was no walking today for Team Boyd - there was no way Hayden would let me!  He wore his new riding shirt today - a big L plate with the wording underneath "Do not overtake turning vehicle".  He earned plenty of comments with that shirt today.  Again, all positive and all very encouraging to a young fella.

We have earned a couple of nicknames now - to some we are the One and a Half Horsepower bike, to others, we are the team with the turbo in the back.  Most people have commented that Hayden will have earned his P plates by next year and he is already making noises about coming on next year's ride, but under his own power on his own bike.

We felt great after the first rest stop, but those head winds kicked in again and it was tough times from there on.  There were many occasions of "Come on Mum, you can do it" and even a couple of "doing great Hayds, keep the legs pumping".

But here we rest now in camp at Biggenden, lazing around the campsite, eating a bit of junk food (no judgement please - we are earning it!). We set up tents and meandered back into town to take a dip in the town pool.

Oh wow! How good did that feel!  It was like diving into a mountain spring, cold, refreshing and soothing.  Our tired muscles nearly screamed with pleasure as we pampered them with a good soaking in the cool waters.

We teamed up with Sue and Brodie today, and spent most of the ride chasing each other up and down hills.  Our camps are right next to each other, and the boys are becoming friends, with their conversations less forced and more like two 11/12 year old banter.  Sue and I enjoy telling stories that make them giggle or blush, so that probably helps with the fast forming bond!

So it's time for a quick nap before dinner, then I'm off to the movies; tonight it's The Muppets.  Hope I can stay awake long enough to enjoy it!

Tomorrow we are off to Maryborough.  It's 85km to get there, so once again Hayden will hit a milestone, and he's pretty pumped at the prospect.  I think he's more excited that we are booking in for a massage post-ride tomorrow but don't tell him I told you that.  Me, I'm looking forward to the Mary Poppins singalong show on offer.

Have a great night - the weather has been treating us to warm, balmy days with mid to late 20s, and crisp, clear nights of 7-10 degrees.  I don't mind the cooler evenings, but wouldn't mind turning the temps down at midday!

But no point grumbling about what you can't change.  I'm just thankful I wasn't the fellow who had a fight with a magpie today.  It attacked him head on, resulting in a nasty fall that is seeing his CQ ride finishing 7 days early.  A spot of hot weather is nothing to complain about while I have my health and the chance to keep the pedals turning.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bloody headwinds, bloody hills and bullocks

Day one and we are finally on the road.  56km - shouldn't be too hard!

Boy was I wrong!  The ride start was great, with almost 1000 riders taking part in this year's tour.  Lots of scenery, a ride over a bridge, locals lining the street to cheer us on, it started idealically.  But at the 24km mark things turned sour.

Today's ride took us over the Binjour Plateau, a beautiful place but a hell of a climb.  1.6km climbing at 9% was a tough ask on my roadie let alone on my clunky tandem.  But we were tearing up the climb until traffic stopped in front of us and we were forced to stop.  At that point, it meant we had to push our bikes the rest of the way, however the downhill was pretty special afterward.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful, with lots of hard work on hills, mostly by Hayden, and the most breath taking downhill that saw us clock 70.2km/hr on the speedo under brakes.  I didn't tell Hayden the speed until we reached the bottom, but he wouldn't have heard me anyway, he was too busy woohooing behind me!

We had our first tiff on the tandem today when he accused me of not working hard enough.  I had to explain to him that I was pedalling as hard as I could, but the headwinds were wreaking havoc and there were times when we had to work hard to find momentum on the downhills.  It was like that for most of the ride, with the wind hitting us full in the face.  I have no idea what wind speed was, but know it was a hindrance more than a help.

With that and the hills now under our belts, I'm so proud of our efforts today.  We've had plenty of support from lots of people on the ride, particularly those urging Hayden on, and a lot of the guys are ready with a high five for him at the end of the day.  We've talked to lots of people already, all asking about how we are going and hoping to see us succeed.  It was bloody hard work today and it felt great when we finished as we realised what we had done.

We paired up with Brodie for a bit today too - he is a absolute trooper who just plugs away, and he smashes us on the hills, but we always catch him on the downhills!  He has raised over $4000 now for Rosie's and is well on his way to the $5k mark.  If you're reading this and haven't donated but would like to, you can find him on - just search for Brodie and you'll find him.

Finally, on return to the campsite, we hurried over to see a display put on by the Gleneden Bullock Team - and had one of the most entertaining 1 1/2 hours at the show.  Rob is a school teacher with a hobby interest in bullock driving, and he took us through a typical day on a bullock dray with humour, frustration and a history lesson all rolled into one.  If you're ever up Gayndah way, drop in and see the show - its well worth the $20 it will set you back.

Today was now Hayden's longest ride.  Until tomorrow when he rides 65km to Biggenden.  And somewhere along this ride he will hit the 100 mark.  So a few milestones this week.  I'm just hoping the hills are a little milder in the morning!

More tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Gentlemen, start your engines...

Here we go again.  Cycle Qld 2012. Gayndah to Noosa via Hervey Bay. 542km from start to finish.

Sound familiar? It should.  This time last year I was excitedly looking forward to my first Cycle Qld ride - Goondiwindi to Brisbane.

This year I return a seasoned veteran, smiling knowingly at the first timers as they find their way around camp.  I know now how we must have looked last year as we were learning the ropes.

But I'm also seeing camp again through the eyes of my own first timer - an eleven year old boy who is not just excited about what lies ahead, but has a degree of doubt about whether he will be able to do the ride.

We left Brissie early this morning, much to Hayden's disappointment - he wanted to go to school so he could play inter school sport.  He slept for some of the drive, read for some and just stared out of the window for other sections.

It wasn't until we got to site that he started to get a little more animated.  He gave me a big smile as he challenged me - "first to get their tent up wins".  Have I mentioned his is a pop up tent that opens up in 20 seconds?  Hayden has now settled well into cycle camp now and is happily reading a new book on my new Kindle.  That's right - MY Kindle!

We've touched base with Sue and Brodie - a fellow Wynnum team riding this year.  I won't tell you too much about our topics of conversation, but let's just say we had the two boys in fits of giggles telling stories about pee.  Enough said.

Tomorrow brings our first riding day.  A loop out and back from Gayndah - 56km that includes some ups, some downs and a lot of in betweens.  Our tandem bike is prepped and ready to go.  Our legs are ready to ride and our minds are set to determined.  Nana and Grandad are planning to wave us off at the start and meet us at the finish.

With tomorrow out of the way, I'll be much more confident of how the rest of the week will go.  So for now it's off to bed to get some rest, ready for our midday ride.  Here's hoping its cooler than the 34 degrees we had at 2pm today!

Wish us luck!