Those familiar with Toowoomba would be able to attest to the climate here in early September too. To say that it's a little chilly is something of an understatement. But I digress, let me begin at the beginning.
I was very fortunate that my folks agreed to drive me up to Toowoomba for the start of the event, and even more fortunate that they will be driving around the area for a week ready to pick me up on the last day. This is the second time they've offered this to me - the first time being in 2012 when they drove Hayden and I to Gayndah and picked us up in Noosa.
Camp opened at 2pm, so after hanging around "helping" mum and dad set up the caravan, grabbing some lunch and doing a spot of shopping, we headed over to the USQ campus ready to pitch the tent and settle into CQ life.
Now when I say pitch, I mean undo the strap and let my tent just pop open, put eight pegs in to stop it floating away, and camp is pitched! I am lucky to have my friend Jenny on the adventure with me this year and she had saved me a prime piece of real estate to set up.
Registration complete, and now I'm starting to get excited about the ride. I'd been a bit down of late, what with a bout of bronchitis that had kept me off the bike, and a shoulder injury that does not seem to be abating. So the fact that I'm just starting to get excited is no surpise.
After a quick walk to my folks' van park, dinner at the golf club and a lift back to camp, I found myself nestled into my new home for the next nine days.
Now for the cold. As the sun dropped, the temperature went from a comfortable early 20s to a brisk 7 degrees. Thanks goodness for long pants, jumpers and beanies! The wind really picked up too, making for a welcome respite inside my little tent. Compared to my "Taj Mahal" model from last year, this one is extremely modest. After only one night I'm thinking that I will be bringing the big one back next year! Logistically, it is much easier to put on Lycra when you can stand up!
So there I was, snuggled in my tent in my new polar rated sleeping bag. It was like sleeping in the Bahamas. I could hear the music from the band in the canteen as I put my light off ready to sleep.
I love that we have live music each night and this year the decade of the late 70s and early 80s has featured both nights so far, which is a pleasant change from the usual rock and roll hits. This is my music! As I write this I'm listening to my fave karaoke song drifting across the campground (Dragon's April Sun in Cuba).
It always takes me a few nights to get used to a new mattress and pillow, so while I slept well, it was in fits and starts. But finally the sun snuck up over the horizon, and after a leisurely breakfast, we headed over to the starting line ready for the first day of riding.
I was very excited to find that there is a water fairy who fills up my water bottles for me overnight (thank you Jenny), and before we left today we were given the coolest jellybean packages for the day.
Day 1 was an "easy" 45km loop around Toowoomba. You would think that being on top of the mountain that there wouldn't be many hills. If you thought this, you would be wrong! There were a couple of good climbs today, of a couple of different varieties - longish, slow ascents, harder shorter up hills and one bitch of a hill that had me off the bike twice resting before climbing back on and continuing on my way. I was determined not to walk up any hills today, so was happy to wait until I'd caught my breath (not loving this bronchitis).
But for every uphill there was a breath-taking downhill and some of the most scenic views across this part of the world. Prince Henry Drive offered views back across the range which made the climbs totally worth the effort.
Picnic Point for lunch was a gorgeous place for a break and then it was back to camp. The traditional shower and refresh before an 8k walk to the shops for a few more supplies and then settling in for an afternoon of chatting, reading and watching the AFL app for news of my boys (Brisbane Lions). Then a good stretch to ensure I was ready for tomorrow, a spot of dinner (spag bol), ride briefing for tomorrow and now time to write, read and sleep ready to do it all again tomorrow
Allora here we come..