Tuesday, 10 September 2013

CQ2013 - Day 3 Exhausted, Exhilarated and Emotional

CQ2013 - Welcome to my Nightmare - Day 3 on the road.

Today was always gonna be a tough ask.  I knew, Hayden knew it and everyone we spoke to on the ride knew it.  Let me begin by telling you a few "fun" facts about today's ride.

We climbed over 1500m today (elevation) - the equivalent of 5 Cootha rides.  One climb was 5km at 8% gradient, another was 2.5km at 10%.  There is rumour that one of the climbs was 15% but I'm yet to have that confirmed, however I have seen the Garmin that shows the gradient.

BQ have confirmed that it was the hottest and hilliest day in the history of CQ. It was a reported 30 degrees, with the temp maxing at 35 degrees on the blacktop.

70 riders rode the SAG wagon today - approx 10% of those who are participating.  A pretty mammoth effort given the route we followed.  BQ very generously kept the route open longer to allow those who wanted to finish the ride to do so.

So how did Hayden and I do today.  We started at 7.30am and finished at 4.10pm.  We rode 66km in that time,  which we would normally do in about 3 hours.  Of course that is the ride to Cleveland and back, which doesn't involve any mountains and only very small hills.  We stopped and reenergised at each rest stop.  We ate and drank copiously to keep our energy levels up.  We even managed a little bush walk at the lunch break to work a few different muscles and rest the hill climbing ones.

The day began with a nice 26km generally flat (only a couple of challenging hills and climbs) route.  It was already 25 degrees at 10am when we stopped, so lots of water on board to stay hydrated.  We had a flat tyre after the first rest stop and had lots of offers of help, but happily able to do this simple repair, so sent the good Samaritans on their way.

The next section to lunch at Henrietta Creek upped the ante with more prolonged climbs (but still quite gentle rises that felt manageable).  Felt pretty good after a rest (and a mango frappe) and happily pressed onto the afternoon tea break.

Cue Hell Breaking Loose!  First climb out of lunch - the aforementioned 5km at 8% gradient, through roadworks.  But for every pedal stroke up, total value in the scenery provided at the end of the climb. Rolling green vistas across the hills and valleys of the Palmerston region made every drop of sweat and every tear (cried silently of course) worthwhile.

We had been watching Mt Bartle Frere (Qld's highest mountain) for the whole ride.  At some points you could see the peak peeking out of the cloud cover at the top, and for about 5 glorious minutes it was clear of cloud cover and showed itself in all its glory.  Again, totally worth it!

And the cherry on the cake - a huge sweeping 2km downhill with limited curves, which saw us doing about 85km/hr at the steepest section.  Absolutely, totally and utterly crazy and exhilarating at the same time.  Had to ease on the brakes when the bike started to shake and shudder under the pressure of the fast descent.  It wasn't til afterward when one of the riders we passed told me that I found out Hayden had both arms outstretched for most of the downhill, meaning he was no hands for our top speed.  Makes my gut wrench thinking about the potential injury if he bounced off at those kinds of speeds!

At the final rest stop at Mingalli Falls, I put my foot down and told Hayden I had nothing left to give. He did not accept my protests and again after an energising iceblock we set off on the final 14km.  The first climb was 15%.  We had a crack but ended up walking it.

So we limped into camp at Milaa Milaa after almost 9 hours on the road to many hugs and high fives from our fellow campers.  One lady looked at us and said "you didn't do today on that did you?" and pointed at the tandem.  She was horrified when we said yes!

Mentally, I was shattered. It had taken every reserve to get through the final section and I had nothing left in the tank.  As we crossed into camp to the applause of a number of fellow finishers I will admit to having a quiet tear at the accomplishment of our day's feats.

So after a quick tent set up, a gloriously cold and refreshing shower and a fabulous massage each, we find ourselves relaxing in our tent after a delicious dinner of chicken satay kebabs with cous cous and salad.  Proud of our efforts and even more proud of the pluck shown by a twelve year old boy
determined to complete his day of riding.  There were times when I had to ask him to dig deep and find extra power to get us over a hill and he rose to the challenge on every occasion.  I am so proud to have such a resilient, determined fellow on the back of my bike with me.

Time for bed now as it's another 70km on the road tomorrow to Yungaburra where we will have a well earned rest day.  Hard to believe we are almost half way already.  Hope I haven't rambled too much - brain is still fuzzy!  See you tomorrow.