My day started relatively early with a toilet wake up call at 2.00am. Stick with me here - there's a reason I'm sharing this bit of info. I just lay in bed telling myself I didn't need to go, go back to sleep, but after 20 minutes I admitted defeat, peeled off my toasty warm sleeping bag and dragged my body upright. I unzipped my tent and was greeted with a velvet blanket of darkness highlighted by thousands of diamonds of light. It was one of the most pristine night skies I have ever seen, and I've camped an awful lot!
So back to sleep for a few more hours and then it was time to pack down the tents, pack the luggage trucks, grab some brekkie (ham and cheese croissants) and hit the road for what promised to be a hard day in the saddle.
The ride to Peachester was just as I remembered it from the previous fortnight's training ride - relatively uneventful, but with some varying surfaces. We hit the road, bike paths, gravel stretches and did just enough climbing to get the legs warmed up for what was ahead of us post morning tea break.
I was greeted at Peachester by my Twitter friend, Andrew (who I met on CQ last year thanks to my other Twitter friend, Mary), who is a local but is also along on the ride again this year. It was great to pick his brain on what the next section was like, and with his words of advice ringing in my brain, I stopped for a couple of biscuits (ok it was four but I only ate two and kept the other two for later) and a Gatorade to give my legs a bit of a kick.
A quick downhill (split by a speed bump that I spied at the last section and took like a jump on my MTB) and a quick uphill I was calling good morning to BQ's Ben Wilson as he directed us onto another bike path that finished with one of those weird fence-type devices that forces riders to dismount and walk their bikes through the gaps. Then about 50 metres of downhill on grass before coming out onto another road. I treated my bike like a mountain bike for that grassy section and had fun dropping off the back of the saddle and careening down the hill. At the bottom there was a very cool letterbox shaped like Bender from Futurama and then a quick brutal uphill to get back onto the main drag.
This is where the fun (and climbing) began. The first section was a nice steady gradient that took a bit of work to get up, but once again I employed the counting breaths technique to distract my brain from the workload in my legs.
Andrew had prepared me beautifully for the next section, explaining there were a couple of good pinches ahead, and with his description of the view, I was able to identify them easily and know what was ahead. His advice not to put everything into the first pinch was spot on and after a short stop to admire the view and take some breathtaking photos, it was onto the second (and tougher pinch). With Andrew's words ringing in my head about looking over and realising that that was where I was heading, all of a sudden I was there and rolling out onto the road from Landsborough up the range.
This section was busy with traffic but a great road surface and a perfect gradient for an easy spin up the mountain. And then my nose picked up a scent that always makes me think of my grandmother - molasses grass. I remember every time we visited, we would wind down the windows and breathe in the delicious scent, knowing we were only minutes away from Nan's place.
I stopped briefly at the tea house lookout to cast my eyes at the ocean and send positive vibes to my friend, Sian who was racing the 70.3 World championships at Mooloolaba, and continued around the back of Maleny past Mary Cairncross Park, along Mountainview Rd (where I met a fellow Chick, Sarah) and onto the Maleny Rd.
The entire time I was wracking my brain trying to work out where my Nana's house was that she lived in when I was a little girl. I had so many wonderful memories of school holidays spent there and I just wanted to glimpse it, however didn't see it along the way and figured it was either the wrong area or it was no longer there and had been replaced.
Gorgeous views the entire time though, and as I rolled past camp to continue on the long option, I contemplated giving it a miss for a brief moment. (PS - Comms guy was wearing an orange and black mullet wig today).
However I had committed to it, the legs felt good, the lungs felt better and even the head seemed OK with it, so I took off toward Kenilworth on the old road, winding around the countryside, up and down plenty of hills (top speed of 70.2 km/hr downhill today), and finally back onto the Maleny Rd heading back to camp. I walked two sections on this route, steeper and longer climbs that just took the wind out of me and I lost enough momentum to know I needed to unclip. Even walking up them was exhausting, and I had to do a bit of a mental tidy to get back into the right headspace to continue on my way. The final two biscuits hoarded from morning tea may have helped too!
Best thing I could have done, because about 500m from the point where I would rejoin the regular route, there on my right was the house I'd been looking for, looking not much different from all of those years ago (except it was now khaki instead of cream!). I had found my Nan's house by complete accident.
Rolled into camp pretty chuffed, had lunch (tandoori chicken wrap, cheese and crackers, m&ms and apple juice) and kicked back with a chocolate frappe until camp opened. After a quick tent set up, cold shower to refresh my tired head and a short rest, we headed into town for a Pepsi Max and a gelato. Before returning to camp, I walked a 2km round trip down to my Nan's old unit at the nursing home she lived in, wandered around her garden that is still there and just enjoyed feeling close to her one more time. Those camellias and azaleas were absolutely stunning and I could almost feel her there with me.
A couple of the girls even went to do some platypus spotting in Obi Obi Creek and were rewarded with seeing them playing in the waters - how special is this part of the world, and it's all in my backyard!
After dinner of cottage pie and cheesecake, I'm snuggling into my sleeping bag as it promises to be a chilly night up here on the range. Tomorrow we set off for Kenilworth and I know I'll be visiting a certain dairy for a spot of chocolate mousse. Long option selected again tomorrow as we trundle out to Crystal Waters.
So until then, stay upright and keep the rubber on the road.