So many questions, so many answers! It was a great day for me on the bike today as I'd spent so much time mentally preparing for what I knew could prove a tough day in the saddle.
Dalby put on a beautiful night for us, with temps just perfect for a comfy night's sleep. This was good news for my bad shoulder as I was able to finally sleep in a position that didn't irritate it and require 15 minutes of stretching to get any range of movement out of it. It was also perfect for the strained muscles in my chest and left thigh that I have been nursing for the last 5 days after a fall at the campsite in Warwick.
So feeling somewhat ready, I wolfed down my cheesymite scroll purchased from the bakery the day before, performed the world's fastest pack up and was on the road at 7.00am as the ride opened for the day. Once again I was hoping to get a jump on the headwinds, but no, just around the corner they lay in wait.
And so the battle began. An 84k day, with headwinds for all bar about 1.5k of it. Delightful! Challenging! Never-ending! Relentless! But the beauty today is that the ride began to take an uphill slant, so there were other things to think about over the duration of the ride.
Like the first rest stop, held at a local church for the Bowenville P&C. Talk about an amazing spread. Couldn't help myself and bought some banana cake with the most divine cream cheese icing. It was so good that I went back and bought a second piece to have at camp later in the afternoon.
Between rest stop 1 and lunch, I wrestled my inner demons and tried to remain positive about the rest of the ride. There was a sweeping uphill to conquer to get into lunch and it was fantastic to be able to focus on turning the pedals over without putting too much thought into the headwind that continued to hit us full on around every twist and turn.
The final 23k were tough, but manageable as I quietLy selected riders in front of me to hunt down and pass. By the time I'd gotten into camp, I was about the 8th rider to arrive, so was happy to find my gear and set up.
Now I've got to tell you that sometimes that part is harder than the day of riding. Picture a large section of a football field covered with the luggage of over 500 riders. Two pieces per rider. And you have to find your gear in that mass of bags. I swear I spend more time walking up and down the rows than I do walking to the toilet!
But finally the tent is up, the mattress inflated (30 breaths per night to inflate - that's a lot of hot air!) the sleeping bag unrolled. What to do, but to make my way to the pub for a few quiet ciders and to catch up with some riders who I've made friends with on the ride. One in particular - Jane, has me in fits of laughter as she tells me stories of her running days and time on the bike.
I rolled back to camp for a shower and a freshen up before heading back to the pub for a couple more drinks and to spin a few tales. Was absolutely blown away when I told the story of our friend Craig and his swim in his 4wd, and one of the guys told me that he had worked with Craig. It was such a nice way to remember our friend who passed away 5 years ago this week and brought a smile to everyone's faces as we told our stories.
So here I am after a roast and some veges, listening to the CQ final night party in full swing in the cafe.
I'm not a fan of tonight's music, so am spending some down time in my tent, reenergising and recovering ready for the final day of riding. While I am tired and ready for home, I will also miss the amazing people I've met on the road this year. Because I am riding solo I have made more of an effort to talk to people and have been lucky to meet some great folk. I've drummed up heaps of business for Chicks Who Ride Bikes and am already looking forward to organising a chicks contingent for next year's ride.
I'll sign off for now, ready for my final day's report tomorrow. Toowoomba here we come.