Saturday, 7th September - up up and away as we begin our North Qld Cycle Adventure. You'll notice the capitals there - that's how I think of this ride - it's an uppercase kinda ride.
The flight was relatively uneventful, except for the six young knobs sitting behind us who thought dirty sexual innuendo was acceptable behaviour when addressing themselves and each other for the entire flight. Was it wrong that when one mentioned the word "bomb" I was hoping they would open a door and push him out?
Anyway, with the earphones in it was easier to ignore them and focus on a book, which I finished. Thank goodness for Kindle on iPad - I have 18 more, just in case I get through a few more as fast!
Arrived at the airport, jumped on a bus and headed for Mission Beach. Drove through about 20 rain showers, and fervently wished with each shower that that was the last one. Saw plenty of signs warning us of cassowary crossings, which I was beginning to think was a local joke for the tourists, when lo and behold, one of those magnificent birds walked right across in front of the bus, thankfully with enough warning that the driver could slow down and allow safe passage across the road. It was gone into the rainforest at the side of the road before we had even started to move forward again, but such a beautiful creature. Tick box 1 (spot a cassowary) - check!
Lady Luck was in our favour for the first 30 minutes after we arrived at camp, which is perfect considering it took us 29 minutes to set up! Tent up, gear inside, heavens open and the showers continued throughout the night. Not to be thwarted, and because we were ravenous, we pulled on our cheap shop ponchos (i'll admit I was worried it would be so old that it would perish in my hands) and caught the Rotary Club Shuttle into town.
Spoiled for choice, we decided on pizza and chips, which proved to be an excellent choice and then jumped back on the bus for our trip back to camp.
Early to bed in anticipation of building a tandem bike in the morning, we spent the hours between 10pm and 6am listening to the rain falling softly (and sometimes not so softly) on our tent. Hayden was more than a little dismayed to hear that we ride rain, hail or shine, but soon came round.
Bike box spotted in the line, heavens open again so we shelter in the camp cafe and attempt to put our bike together. I make this sound hard to impress you, but really I just had to put the tyres back on, put the handlebars back on, put the pedals back on and make sure the brakes and dérailleur worked before we took off for the day's ride.
Heavens open again as we ride through the start gate and CQ2013 officially begins. But what a ride it was. Easy to forget the rain as you cycle into lush rainforest corridors, eyes peeled for another cassowary, enjoying the joy of being back on a bike, even if it is a bloody big hulking tandem!
A quick right turn, a few more rainforests and we are back on the coastline, following the road along some of the most gorgeous unpopulated beach areas in Qld. Lots of giggling from Hayden and I as we listen to riders grumble about the head winds. Living at Wynnum it is rare to have a foreshore ride without some level of wind pushing you to work your legs harder to maintain momentum.
As we make the turnaround point for the first day's ride, we are passed by plenty of riders (yes that is jealousy you are hearing - I miss my roadie), most of whom have a joke with Hayden and a kind word for his mum working hard at the front. I think he was particularly happy to hear someone say, "hey she's not pedalling in front" - because the joke is usually that he isn't!
Lots of familiar faces who remember our names and praise us for coming back to tackle a course guaranteed to be harder than last year's event around camp and we are both feeling the love! And lots of people we don't know still giving us lots of encouragement. Fave rider of the day was the man in the jelly bean jersey who dropped in in front of us and draughted us up a long hill, while cheerily telling us that "if people knew how hard it was to ride a tandem, they would all drop in and give you a draught. Poor tandem riders do all the hard work on their own. Anytime I see you on the ride, I'll give you a draught love." I think I'm in love! (Draughting for the non-cyclist, is when a bike tucks in behind another rider and enjoys the sensation of being "pulled" along by the lead rider due to reduced wind resistance. It's like having 2 extra granny gears on your bike.)
Back at camp at the end of day 1 and Hayden is exhausted. He has slept for 3 hours this afternoon, and I'm suspecting he may be getting just a little anxious about the climbs on day 3. I walked the 6km return trip into town to buy a brollie and a few more disposable ponchos, so good chance I will carry those for the rest of the trip without another drop of rain falling, but you won't hear me complaining either way. I'm on a bike, I'm exploring a region I have never visited before (but will definitely come back to) and I'm doing it with one of my favourite people on the planet. Life is good. See you tomorrow for day 2.