My first ride post-event yesterday morning felt a little hollow. Yes, I was back on the Merida, my riding buddy beside me, but there's something to be said for sharing the road with hundreds of other riders all headed in the same direction. As one of the slower riders on CQ, we would start off early in the morning and spend the day listening to choruses of "Good morning...passing...on your right..."
The majority of riders had at least a friendly smile for the weary mum and her gorgeous son on the road, with many standing jokes thrown back over their shoulders as they passed. "Hey he's not pedalling back there...passing on the up, but see you on the down...how's the turbo this morning..."
Riding that first ride back in the burbs and the other riders we passed kept their heads down and legs spinning with barely a glance at us. A friendly "Good morning" responded to with stony silence from the majority of riders along the foreshore. And of course, my little tandem buddy was not there to chat to me as we rode.
The Comeraderie of life on the road is what I miss the most after a week of CQ. Suddenly all of those common goals have gone home to their families and friends, and that feeling of togetherness is lost until the next tour. Even the larger group rides lack that vibe (or maybe I need to ride in a different group!)
So who rode CQ this year? People from all walks of life, all ages, male and female. The youngest participant rolling behind his day's bike in a trailer - a 2 year old boy. The oldest rider, and 83 year young gentleman. He has 41 years on me. I hope I am still that active at 83 - it would be my 44th CQ if I'm still riding at that age!
There were mountain bikes, tourers, hybrids, roadies and cross pollinations of all of these. Tandems, recumbents, solar powered and man powered made up the mix. On tandems - mums and sons, dads and daughters, husbands and wives all joined in the fun. Lycra wearers, boardie models, casual clothes are represented. All fitness levels joined the ride, but the one constant across the board was the united love of the bike that we all shared.
Now the tent is hanging out ready to dry, the clothes have been washed and the bike will be back home tomorrow. Across the country, people are sharing their stories and hopefully enticing their friends to come along for the ride in 2014. Photos are being uploaded on social media sites of smiling riders on bikes, at rest stops, at pubs, on tours, at breakfast and dinner, swimming in gorges and rolling down hills.
Let's hope just a few are inspired, drag their bikes out of storage, visit their local bike store and discover (or rediscover) the joy of the ride.
So it's farewell CQ2013 Mission Beach to Port Douglas, and hello CQ2014 Agnes Waters to the Sunny Coast. Only 350 odd sleeps to go and it will be upon us again. Hope to see you there!