Monday, 9 September 2013

CQ2013 Day 2 - Plantations, Paronella Park and Pools

Ah NQ, rainy one minute, steamy humid the next!  Welcome to day 2.

Spent the night listening to showers and mentally preparing for a wet pack up.  Would have been time better spent sleeping, as the new day dawned with only very little cloud cover and a magnificent rainbow over camp.  It was like Mother Nature's way of saying "Sorry for the crap weather, here's a rainbow to make up for your troubles."

Still had to give the tent a good wipe down before packing away, but so much nicer than the worry of everything getting wet when the tent comes down.

Left Mission Beach (somewhat sadly) and started the day's trek to Innisfail.

Gorgeous rolling hills (they said it was flat!), but nothing too major to bother us.  After all, when the hills finish there's the dead flat plains full of sugar cane plantations, then banana plantations and finally pawpaw plantations.  With a gentle breeze that provided a cooling effect on a 29 degree day, the smell of ready to harvest sugar cane was absolutely intoxicating.  Even Hayden with his end of cold blocked nose commented on it - particularly as we rode past the cane factory - mmmm heady sugary molassesy goodness!

The banana fields sadly don't have the same smell allure, but are very pretty, as the huge bunches of bananas are covered in blue plastic - whether to prevent ripening too soon in the tropical sunshine or to prevent marauding fruit bats from destroying crops, I just don't know, but either way, quite decorative.

The pawpaw doesn't get the same royal treatment - they just hang from the trees waiting to ripen.  No smell there either, but still very impressive to see row after row of tall green stalks weighted down with orbs of sunshiny goodness!

Lunch today was held at Mena Creek Falls - right next door to Paronella Park - a privately run park previously owned and built by Jose Paronella. Jose's dream was to recreate Spanish castles in NQ.  Made entirely from materials sourced locally, it has been hit very hard by flooding and cyclones in recent years and is going through a period of rebuilding.  I guess it could be considered pretty, but to me it was just a crapload of ugly concrete in an otherwise beautiful setting.  Maybe I'm just not sentimental enough to appreciate his dream, or maybe it's just that I live in a house formerly owned by a Jugoslavian man who loved cement and used it far too much in our house and yard!  Still worth a look and a bargain for riders, as admission was half price!

The waterfall on the other hand is well worth the stop, as there is a suspension bridge over the top that let's you fully appreciate the force and fury of water.

Back on the bike for a short 18k into town.  Today's riding challenge was cane trains and tracks - a number of riders took falls today, with the worst one getting a ride in the ambulance to hospital. The plaster must be just about set by now I think!

Arrived at camp, popped up the tent and decided to explore the park we are using.  Woohoo there's a pool, but it's closed.  Couldn't con anyone to unlock it for us, so Hayden and I jumped back on the bike in civvy clothes (the only lycra being our togs) and rode back through town to the Innisfail Memorial Baths.  Best $6.80 spent so far as the water was deliciously cold and I could almost hear my muscles thanking me for the impromptu ice bath.  It certainly eased a few squeaky joints and put some of the hard work on the road to rest.

Refreshed, we spent the rest of the arvo in our tent by the river enjoying the cool breezes and company of fellow campers.  I've managed to catch up with a number of people from last year and also made some new friends by introducing myself at dinner to new people each night.  So there should be some more encouragement along the road tomorrow.

Tomorrow - the word that currently chills me to the bone.  Only 69k on the road.  First 40k is relatively flat, followed by 14k of climbs ranging from 5% to 15% gradients.  Then a short downhill and another 15k of climbs.  Gut clenching at the thought of it, but Hayden and I are determined to give it the best crack we can.  If we have to catch the bus, so be it, but it won't be before we give it our all to clear the top of the tablelands.

Again, either way, we have a prize at the end of the day - pre-booked massages with our favourite masseurs Jeffrey and Estelle.  That is what might just get us over the line!

So it's early to bed, early to rise, as it's a predicted steamy 28 degrees tomorrow, so an early start to stay out of the midday sun, which just saps the energy right out of us.  As in previous years, would appreciate all of your positive vibes and affirmations.  If I don't blog by 9pm, send out a search party for riders 199 and 22.  See you tomorrow for CQ2013 Day 3.