The city was shrouded in mist as the seven of us left the Regatta which made this little tour seem just that bit more epic.
Our first stop was in Rosewood for coffee and snacks. Then we pushed on into a slight headwind getting a big train working, each of us doing a minute or 2 at the front. We smashed through the little town of Grandchester where my great, great, great grandfather worked on the railway.EPIC!
Next was a shitty, little hill on the way to Laidley which was short, but a tiny bit demoralising as you examined the pain you were in at that point, then wondered how many times worse that final climb at the end would be — and after over 120kms of riding.
After the sweet downhill into Laidley, our train headed for Forest Hill, and then we stopped for a pretty uninspiring lunch in Gatton. Grantham was next, the town where so many people died during the 2011 floods.
At Helidon we missed a turn, but consulting the map Dan saw a road that looked like it connected and sure enough it did, and we were now on genuine country roads. The pace slowed a bit, partly due to the fact we were gradually climbing, and partly because we wanted to conserve energy.
At one point Scott and I were up the front and we saw the road just hit a wall in the distance. And I turned to Scott and said, “Aw fuck.” And then after a few more metres, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the road just turned right, just before that hill?” And Scott was like…”IT DOES! Look there’s a sign.” And it was like a dream come true. We did a big hi-five and I spent a good deal of the next 5 minutes just going, “Wow.”
But then Ian had a flat (our second for the day) and we had a good rest. I scoffed an energy gel and took some photos of a herd of horses that galloped over to check us out.
The country around was golden and every other hill had a cute little farmhouse perched on it. When we got moving again I got a head start and just rode along at my own pace and Shirts was just ahead of me. It was nice country but you were always wondering when the climb would start. I just wanted to get it over and done with.
The temperature was getting reasonably high too and I only had about 700mls of water left. I looked around at houses thinking if I saw someone I would ask for water, but no one was about. When we passed Table Top Mountain, the top of which looked so incredibly high, I said to Shirts, “See that mountain – it is actually a good deal lower than Toowoomba.”
So while we pondered that, without much warning things got crazy. It was really steep and for many reasons I hadn’t really prepared for this. But I just grinded away and started counting pedal revolutions again. About 120 counted and I was at the top. I stopped and waited for everyone else. Although I managed to beat Shirts up there, I imagined it was only cause he taking it easy, and he of course was riding a single-speed with a stupidly tough gear. (Plus all his overnight gear strapped on). But then I saw him weaving up the road, trying to get some ease to the intense gradient and I knew he was suffering too. And trust me – this insight is a rare event.
And so we pressed on. Another sharp spike behind us, things got a bit more civil. It was still relentless and after a bit I felt a tiny cramp in my calve. So I immediately jumped off the bike and just walked it off. I didn’t want a full-blown-cramp – the kind that puts your muscles in a blender. The kind that makes your leg look fine on the outside, but you know that inside it looks like mash-potato. So I walked a bit and Ryan was a little bit down the road and I wondered when he was going to overtake me, but it seemed walking I was going about as fast as he was riding! Later he said how he couldn’t believe how he couldn’t overtake me. So I felt better. Jumped on the bike again and rode a bit further and jumped off again just before another cramp set in. Walked a bit. Then back on the bike. This time I managed to stay on the bike and passed Dan who had decided to walk a bit too. No shame! This was fucking tough.
I got within about 50m of Tom just at the top and we dropped our bikes and I devoured the few sips of water I had left. Everyone else had run out of water too. And then we told Dan to push on and meet his wife and daughter at the hotel – plus (perhaps more importantly) to put all the homebrew he had brought up especially in the fridge for when we eventually go there.
Meanwhile I was told Ian and Scott had stopped at the bottom for water so we knew they would be a little late. After a bit I rang Scotty, knowing he was a master at answering his phone while on the bike. He was still alive, though he sounded not exactly in that state and just at that minute a car pulled up and I said, “How far back are the bikes you just passed?” They said only a few hundred metres so I relayed that to Scott and another few seconds they came into view down the road.
Scott gave us all some of his water and we were soon at Picnic Point for a look at how far we had come. There were only two features I could recognise – the shitty hill before Laidley – which was so, so far away it was all blurry, and Flinders Peak which is about the same distance as Ipswich. And to see that mountain you kinda had to squint.
But we made it. I won’t bore you all with our adventures that evening except to say it involved a LOT of food, a LOT of beer and a lot of back-slapping.
DAY 2, which was even more EPIC is coming soon.
T-bar is in the heart of Queensland’s bible belt
I think this is the first time I have officially met Eleanor. CUTEY!
The view from the penthouse – where Tom, Shirts, Scott, Ian and Ry Ry were staying – was spectacular
Scott and his banana. Front and back covered!