Boonah Overnightah (PART 1)

Traditionally, well in my experience, overnight tours have been about being super-minimalist. Basically these following “rules”:

1) Keep the weight to only what is truly necessary. They call it “credit card” touring.
2) Ride hard and fast with the Garmin on all the time on the smoothest route possible to maintain an impressive average speed.
3) Drink, sleep and eat at the local pub (or sleep at a cheap motel if you really have to).
4) Remember: if you think you just might need something — well you won’t. Leave it at home.
5) Lots of beers and dodgy pub food make sleeping easier so you can just jump out of bed and get a super early start for the limp home on day 2

But it seems there are other people out there in the world who do things decidedly differently.

1) They take an inordinate amount of stuff so they can be almost totally self-sufficient. Camping gear, cooking gear, most of the food and spares of almost everything.
2) And they ride the rough and dusty way. The slow way.
3) They might visit the pub but only for a counter meal
4) They leave their Garmin at home (Wait – what?)
5) Not so many beers and thus a very long and relaxed and super casual start on Day 2 – and that’s even before they even get on the bike.

And this was one of those overnighters. A very, very different experience for me.

ODD ONE OUT

Because I am only set-up for the former I rode this overnighter just like I would normally. Crazy huh? So I was *that guy*. I was riding a carbon bike with a dodgy seat-topper and a pretty much just a credit-card in my back pocket. I would be the one that would get ALL THE FLAT TYRES and maybe worse and slowing everyone down and be generally useless. Story of my life.

Plus I was the only one with a Garmin rolling and super-interested in its results. (Ryan’s doesn’t count cause that was ostensibly just for navigation).

The only thing I did to perhaps help my argument was to change my tyres to a set of 25mm Maxxis Re-Fuse. Scotty assured me they were bomb-proof. (So a little wider and heavier than I usually use). ASIDE: On that Killarney ride back in 2014 we met some old veteran overnighters and they said they don’t let anyone come on one of their rides unless they are rolling with the Maxxis. True story.

As it turns out I wasn’t “that guy”. Various other people thankfully took that mantle. More on that later.

THE RIDE

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This is one of those rides where you get a train at the start and a train at the end. This can be a bit awkward cause maintaining conversation for 1.5 hours at the start of a ride (at 6am when you are a bit blergh from just having woken up much earlier than usual), and then the inevitable 1.5 hours of conversation at the end (when you are super-tired and dehydrated and have spent literally every waking hour with these people and so you have NOTHING left to talk about).

Anyway. This trip out wasn’t so awkward. I got to meet a dude called Ryan — not to be confused with the other Ryan. So this ride’s “Ryan” I am dubbing “Planet Ryan” cause he’s a mechanic/bike-builder at Planet Cycles and not the Ry Ry from many other bike adventures. Planet Ryan is also a Ginger!

Also with us was Bennett, our leader — then Dan (not Antmandan), Daniel Licastro (AKA “Gypsy” in times gone by) and Scott. So six of us — though Dan was joining us just for day 1 and then riding back to Ipswich. All of those guys were rocking tyres no thinner than 40mm (even Dan). The other overnighters were also carrying 8-10kgs of extra stuff on top. Maybe even more.

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SECRET SEVENTH

And then there was this secret seventh member of our crew. A ghost rider ready to maybe judge us once we had uploaded our Garmin data. See this ride had been proposed, mapped, tested and then ridden (a few months back) by one Bradley Norman. Brad of Queensland Cyclocross fame. So we were essentially following his directions — even though he wasn’t there because he had to work this weekend.

Brad’s imperatum, and the fact that Bennett didn’t print the map out, meant we were kinda wedded to his plan. It was Brad or Bust. I stupidly suggested a slight variation to the last stanza of the Day 1 route but no one was having any of that shit. That idea got shot down in nano-seconds. Brad or Bust.

ROLLING

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Off the train at Rosewood we went to the bakery and had some pasties and a toilet-break and then we were heading south. The gravel started almost immediately. On a road bike gravel means this:

1) You have to swim about the road like a drunkard hopefully avoiding any stones larger than a Jawbreaker.
2) And in doing so you are concentrating on the road-surface 100% of the time. Vastly more than you’d usually do.
3) The excessive vibrations mean your hands get very sore and you’re constantly shifting positions to get some relief.
4) You don’t get excited for downhills. Any speed above 25kms/hr is adventurous so that basically meant I was constantly on the levers trying to keep my speed in check on the backside of any hill. But in saying that when everyone else smashes past you at 40+ you eventually get a bit more relaxed.
5) The 90 degree turns are the worst cause that’s where the gravel has been washed over by traffic and seems to congregate like it’s a gravel-party — so you are slushing through much more junk.
6) Uphill is where I felt the most stable — cause it was so much slower. See point 4.
7) Downhill on grass I just had to get off the bike and run with it. True story.

So we were a bit clueless as to the route but luckily Ryan had this brand new super-fancy Garmin 1000 which he had pre-loaded with Brad’s route and we were sweet. I mistakenly believed I knew the turns but we would have been fucked if the crew had relied on my directional skills.

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The next 30ks was a variation of dirt, gravel, bitumen and various previously undocumented road surfaces which were quite refreshing. The views were great and we mostly had the road to ourselves. The terrain was rolling but no serious pinches.

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DOG

At about 15ks in I was about 100ms in front and I saw this dog on the left start getting nuts and barking and carrying on. He stated sprinting towards me and I was zen, assuming the fence would secure him. But then s/he was suddenly ducked under the fence and was on the road-verge charging at me and I heard this massive growl. The kind of growl that only means, “I want to fucking BITE you”. My heart jumped about 20 beats per minute and I jumped out of the saddle and sprinted away as best I could. Luckily it was on a downhill incline. Once the the dog was no threat I looked back at the crew having no chance to verbally warn them. But they seemed fine. Later everyone was like, “the dog was just playing with you.” But in my heart of hearts, that dog was only a bit more civil faced with a crew of bikes rather than just me on my own.

ROSEVALE

It should be said that there were no shops or water opportunities for these first 65kms. But there was a chance at a place on the map called Rosevale which was a “maybe”.

At a gully/creek crossing about 20ks in Dan’s only full water bottle jumped out and he lost all that water. So we stopped at the Rosevale hotel but it was deserted. We saw a tap but it was protected by a fence and a “beware of the dog” sign. But eventually we realised this place was empty — the “foreclosure” sign helped. We jumped the fence and got this shot with an old train carriage in the background.

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The next section was all bitumen and Dan said to me, knowing I was a bit worried about my tyres being compromised, “It looks like you might be alright.” Meaning I had dodged a bullet with respect to gravel. But then almost as soon as he said that there was a sign saying “Gravel next 6.8ks”.

And this gravel was very “AUSTRALIA”. So ginger. It spectacularly contrasted the super green of the vegetation. And the main range was now so close and so beautiful. There were cows everywhere and I love dairy cows, and there was a bit more shade — but my hands and arms were suffering from constantly cushioning the road surface on my body. Steadily I was starting to feel a bit shit — in the “can-I-do-this?” sense.

I did my best job of keeping that to myself cause everyone else seemed to be smashing it.

Meanwhile I was doin the maths trying to calculate when the gravel would end and suddenly it did about 800ms before it was meant to. And the country opened up and now we were so amongst the majesty of the northern section of the Main Range National Park. And I just got a bit excited and sprinted ahead amongst all these views and smooth bitumen and sweet downhillness.

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A MISSED BRAD SPECIAL

About 8ks later Ryan couldn’t figure out Brad’s map. It seemed to be sending us down a no-through-road. And we collectively decided that this was a Brad Special and not obvious enough for us goobs so we would all stick to the road. Admittedly we were all really hungry. Supposedly Brad’s special side-tour involved a creek crossing. I am just about 20 per cent disappointed we didn’t explore that. But then getting lunch 20-30 minutes sooner was magical. Just saying.

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KENT’S POCKET

After a decent lunch at Aratula at the BP truck stop where we saw a douchecanoe pull in with a number plate that effectively said, “MY ASS” we headed up the highway. It was a bit hairy when massive trucks smashed past but thankfully only about 2ks later we were on side-roads again. Skirting around Mt French we hit the main road to Boonah and soon we were at the fabled sign that said, “Kent’s Pocket Road”. I won’t bother you with an explanation of why this event was so meaningful in a LOLOLOL kinda way. But it did mean we KENTS spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting this crew-shot.

The Kent’s Pocket road was a detour. An extra few kilometres over rocks and sapped our arrival time at Boonah by at least 20 minutes. But it was all worth it. Great scenery and at least one untethered and un-fenced cow standing inches away from the road which I did my best to avoid but Scotty tried his best to seduce.

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IMG_0230.JPGAborted timer-shot photo

IMG_0231.JPGTimer-shot I nailed!

IMG_0237.JPGThe beauty of Kent’s Pocket Road

BOONAH

At Boonah I was just absolutely ecstatic that I had not flatted (or caved in any other fashion). I was pretty chuffed with myself. I had successfully rolled 80ks without being “that guy”.

To celebrate we got some brews from the drive-thru and went to the park to relax but the sun and the ants made that a bit shit. I headed back to the motel where I was staying. I would have stayed at a hotel but there’s no way I would do that if no one else was doing the same. Meanwhile Dan headed back to Ipswich on his own making his total ride over 130ks. (that was an extra 50s).

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As it turned out Scott was bunking with me cause he couldn’t source a tent. I don’t think I have had a friend stay on the bottom bunk for like — maybe 20 years.

It was a bit daunting, but it worked out ok. He snored a bit, but then I had to pee in the middle of the night and I woke him up super-early.

WEIGHT

To be honest I think Scott won the WEIGHT AWARD. His bike was so super-loaded. Indeed he seemed to purposely overload it just for lols and maybe for a bit of ballast. I am sure Bennett would agree. Scott was constantly offering us all the excess food or water he had lugged. And then he was like, “Do want my spare tyre?” “What about this bean-bag and flat-screen I stuffed in there too?”

And for all the shit Ryan and Bennett carried — they forgot the sunscreen. WHAT? And they payed for that! More on that later.

NAP

I managed to get a 30 min nap while Gypsy and Scott lounged in the Boonah Motel pool. Meanwhile Bennett and Ryan set up camp at the Boonah Showgrounds. Thankfully they got a section a tiny bit more secluded. After I woke I was a bit sleep-drunk and made Gypsy and Scott ride up to the lookout just above us up this 20% climb. “TRUST ME — THIS WILL BE GOOD” I said and Scott was like, “No one who has ever said, ‘TRUST ME’ has come up with the goods.”

But I think I nailed it. You can judge by the pics. We could see all the major peaks, the entire town and the gliders getting towed up.

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Panorama from the Boonah Lookout

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DINNER (and camping)

So after my nap, and Scott and Gypsy having a swim we went over to the camp grounds just in time to see Bennett cook his dinner.

IMG_0250.JPGHere is Bennett (with his epic sunburn) cooking his baked beans

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After unsuccessfully trying to destroy Bennett’s tent by constantly tripping over his main anchor line, we headed for the pub.

We went to the Dugandun pub about 1k down the road on Scott’s insistence. It turned out to be an inspired decision. It was a beautiful old pub and it was just a bit lively. Crucially — at least for Gypsy — they had at least 6 different types of parmy’s on offer.

While Gypsy chose the traditional parmy, Scott and me went the “Nacho-Parmy” which Bennett described as “Bogan-Fusion”. And he was right. It was shithouse. But I just wanted sustenance. Here’s me and Scott getting our meal:

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Look I learnt a lot more about Tinder than I needed to know that evening. But that is another story.

COURTESY CAR

So after seeing a sign saying there was a “Courtesy Bus” that became a “thing” or a “challenge”. I was always like, “Dudes, it’s only 800ms back to town.” But I was voted down. The van was there and I just wanted to get in just to document the adventure. Here’s the photo:

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And here is Bennett winning $31 on the pokies!

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DAY 2 coming later!

Here’s some bonus pics via Bennett:

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