So Tom and Ryan and me did something a bit “Fred” today — by Ryan’s sandards anyway. We did one of those “all pile our shit into a car and drive to somewhere exotic and ride our bikes to the top of a mountain and then do the exact thing but in reverse.”
This climb to O’Reilly’s is rated quite highly on the interwebs. It gets a mention now and then as maybe the best mountain ride in South East Queensland — so we just had to check it out. And all told it certainly ticks a great deal of boxes and it does have a lot going for it. But here is my critical analysis:
1) The gradient is pretty even and super-civilised. It averages just 4% over the 1000 metres up. That sort of incline means you can hold a decent conversation, you can sit up and enjoy the scenery and you’re never truly suffering. (It should be said there is a brutal, brutal section right at the end which hurts.)
2) The scenery is fucking amazing. Really, really green at the dairy farming section on the plateau. And initially you get to climb up on the left (east) side of the mountain and then transfer to the other side just under halfway up. All the way you get some super-amazing views of this section of the Scenic Rim.
3) We got to see a lot of wild life. Heaps of kangaroos and wallabies and some lorikeets.
4) The descent is the longest I’ve ever experienced. Hardly any pedal-action for about 15ks. But that has it’s own complications (see below).
5) For a summer ride — it was 29 degrees max today — it was really cool. Lot’s of shade and even chilly at the very top.
1) The monotony. It feels a bit “samey” for a lot of the climb. The switchbacks provide some interest but even they become a bit too familiar. It’s like you have to go through three sets of GRIDS and three sets of switchbacks before something new comes up.
2) The shitty road surface in the last 5kms. It meant a lot of suffering for your arms and hands. It’s not dissimilar to that annoying buzzy feeling you get post-operating a whipper-snipper for ages. Ryan’s water bottle jumped out at one point and it got stuck in his back wheel. After that I kept checking my bottles after any break in the jolts and they had always moved into dangerous positions.
3) I should mention the potential conflict with cars. The road at the top is very narrow. For a few kilometres it resembles more a bike path than a road. And it does make for some close passes. But it should be said generally the cars (and trucks) were fine. Yep — we saw three trucks (and one insane Australia Post vehicle) on their way up while we were on our way down.
4) Going downhill for such a long periods really targets muscles, other bits in your body and your brain. It’s a workout. Those bits aren’t used to being that way for such a period of time. On paper coasting for 14ks down a mountain looks magical. But it’s not. I shouldn’t really complain, but it needs to be said. Apart from the soreness in your back from being excessively at that reclined angle and the evil feeling in your arms and hands from supporting extra weight and braking all the time, you have to really concentrate cause there were sheer cliffs on one side, sometimes they looked like death if you strayed. Tom went off the road at a switchback cause he wasn’t concentrating enough.
5) It’s kinda inaccessible to Brisbane riders. So it feels a bit cheating having to drive to the start. Really it is an overnight ride from Brisbane or at least a very long day catching a train there, riding for 130 odd ks and then catching a train back. Once upon a time we did Binna Burra like that and I left at 5:30am and wasn’t home until 4:30pm. Makes for a very, very long day.
BACK TO THE RIDE
So It was certainly memorable. When we picked up Tom we had to get him into the car first while we sandwiched him into the backseat with two bikes wrapped around him like medievel Tetris-torture. He didn’t complain. He was pretty much trapped in there until we could free him at Canungra.
After we re-assembled our whips we set off at 7:30am. At that hour the wildlife were still about and we were graced with some sweet encounters. The kangaroo that hopped along side us for a good 100m was impressive, even though we were constantly worried it would dash in front of us at any moment. And I got to see a little joey poking its head out from in her mum’s pouch.
Bizarrely at some point we saw a car that had gone off the road, on the wrong side and then down the ditch at the side and then smack into a tree. Car drivers are such goobs.
Tom was up ahead while I was still trying to work out whether the car was just awkwardly parked and the look on his face of sheer “LOL” was amazing. I missed capturing that on camera by milli-seconds.
At the cafe at the very top we got a few peeps enquiring about our adventure in their usual “are you guys insane vibe?”. On previous rides we had encountered this malaise and eventually decided we needed to nominate someone to do all the talking when this situation arises.
For a few reasons: a) so there’s no awkward silence when some random comes up to us asking gooby questions; and b) so we don’t contradict ourselves (Tom’s very impressive logic). Like you don’t want one person to answer the gratuitous question of “How hard was it?” by saying, “Yeah it was really tough” while the other person at the same time says, “It was a piece o’ piss!”. Awkward.
So when we were almost down Tom was suddenly absent. And so Ryan and I stopped and looked back. We had just caught up to a car that had passed us at the top while we had completely stopped while Ryan checked something on his bike.
Anyway. Tom appears and then pulls up and I say, “All good?” And he starts squeezing at his right brake lever and it moves in this useless pattern. I start thinking he has snapped a brake cable but then he turns the bike around and I see his entire rear brake calliper is missing. Holy shit!
All that braking, all that PASSION (as Dayne would say) was too much for those callipers. RIP. Poor Tom — he loved those brakes.
OK HERE ARE THE PICS