Noosa Ride

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For our second overnight ride of the year we chose Noosa and we made it a bit of a party because Dee and Ali and JJ drove up to join us — and we met Dayne (who splits his home between Brisbane and Noosa) up there as another bonus.

So at about 5:30 Saturday morning Shirts, me and Scott headed out into the dying dark. Almost immediately there was a bang and the hiss of escaping air coming from Shirts’ rear wheel. It was a sound we were going to get used to today. I have never seen Shirts get a flat, yet that day he got four. Yep, four. Which is just a silly amount of bad luck. If you scripted that for a movie, people would think you were on drugs.

PREVIEW

And here is a mosaic of each and every one of shirts’ flats. Just documented for the AGES.

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FLAT #1

And it was a brand new tyre and was fitted the night before in a slightly inebriated state. So apparently it was because it wasn’t beaded well enough. I dunno. Shirts had all these excuses! (Just kidding!)

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Anyway, that sorted we headed up Gympie Road and managed to catch up to a MB Cycles bunch and suck their wheels for at least 20ks. It also helped that the wind seemed to be at our backs. So the going was easy. Too easy – even though the average speed crept above 32. But it would be a long day and any early help would be much appreciated later.

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So I had a chat with the dude at the back and just got dragged along and Shirts and Scott didn’t seem to mind. But at Strathpine the MB crew headed left and now suddenly on our own the going got so much more noticeable.

Just a bit later I accidentally led the group down the wrong road, (Narangba Road) and eventually when things looked quite different I said to Shirts, “Are we going the right way?” And he was like, “No.”

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“Oh.” I said, “But this road goes to Caboolture — right?” And luckily Shirts said it did and it turned out to be a far nicer road, scenic and less traffic, and only added about 5kms to the journey plus about 50m of extra climbing — NBD.

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STOP

But there was one little incident.

We saw this sign saying a roundabout was ahead and Scott was in front and a car was heading in from the road at the left and Scott seemed to be giving way to it. Shirts and me were a bit bemused by this, “You don’t give way to cars on the left at a roundabout”. So I followed Shirts as he pushed through, but then I tentatively perceived two big STOP signs I had previously been oblivious to and the car on the left wasn’t slowing down and it punched through like a missile and missed me by a metre or two. He would have had a great view of me too – but no sense of caution. So we realised later that the road we were on ended and then just a few metres later it led into that roundabout on the right. A really, really stupid intersection.

So yeah — it was my fault and I blew that stop sign — and I spent the next 10 minutes just a bit queasy struggling who to blame — me or the design of the road? I settled on a draw.

Past Caboolture we hit the country roads and had a break in Beerburrum. I had a chiko roll — which seemed to be the only edible substantial food at the store there and did my second-ever mid-ride use of the facilities for matters other than number ones. Apologies for that extra detail, but that’s what happened, and under the circumstances I felt it needed to happen. These rides mean you get up so unnaturally early and all your normal patterns get thrown about.

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TALENT

A few kilometres later and Shirts flatted again. Scott and I had a bit of a LOL and got to see Shirts’ considerable talent in tube changes all over again. See, a few years ago when I first flatted in front of Shirts he saw me fluffing about, taking forever and just being a general deadshit and soon went, “Ugh, you’re doing it wrong” and grabbed the wheel off me and took over — attempting 1) to get going again ASAP and 2) showing me how to do it right so he never had to suffer the bullshit I was displaying ever again. (Admittedly I learnt a lot that day.)

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THE CLIMBS

At Beerwah we turned left and about 5kms later we hit the gentle and civil climb up to Peachester. It was so gentle and civil I stopped to take a snap of the obscured but awesome views of the Glasshouse Mountains not realising we would get even more spectacular views — perhaps the best views of this range — just a tiny bit later.

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Then we turned right onto “Bald Knob Rd” (LOL) which wasn’t signposted, but it looked right and said it led to Maleny. This road was suggested to us by someone commenting on my blog about the Nambour ride. And wow. It was one of the most beautiful road climbs I’ve ever done. Thanks dude! Even when it got really steep and fucking hurt I forgave it, just cause there was so much beauty all around.

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We stopped to gush over the incredible view.

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And then there was this lonely caravan in the middle of this serene field with the most epic view. Wow.

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At the top we headed over the Blackall Range and through those massive gullies up there. They would look like champagne glasses from the side. There’s at least three of them and that day this is what they meant to a bike rider: you head down a 10-12% drop at 70kms an hour (with a crazy cross wind to complicate things), then smash through the tiny plateau at the bottom and then get about a third of the way up the other end before your speed plummets and plummets to virtually nothing as you slowly rake yourself out of that shit.

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After the second of these bad-boys I looked back and noticed Shirts was missing. So I screamed at Scott who was about 100m ahead. That didn’t work so I literally had to shout the loudest I could manage. And just quietly (pun intended), being in a band and having to sing and growl like Kurt Cobain occasionally has taught me some skills in this department. This time Scott heard my WAIL and we turned around and grudgingly headed back up that 12% hill. We knew we had to go back cause Shirts would have run out of tubes by now and would need ours.

At the top Shirts was changing his third flat. As it turned out he had patched that tube and was attempting to repair a 2cm tear in the sidewall of the tyre. For a bit it looked like this would be irreparable, but with some patches and a $5 bill the tyre was good again.

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A HELL OF A WAY DOWN

After a stop at Montville for food and Scott’s enormous disappointment that his favourite patisserie didn’t stock some goodie he craved (the one he had so loved from our last visit) we turned right at Phillips Road. And the bitumen ahead just seemed to disappear. And even though it was virtually straight, at the bottom was a corner. So we had to squeeze a good deal of lever to keep our speed under 70kms/hr. Indeed, if we ever do this again, it just might be ok to do this descent without much (or any) braking. But we simply didn’t know what that corner, beyond our vision, really meant.

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Pushing though Nambour we stopped at Yandina — the ginger capital of Queensland! Scott rang Dayne and they decided he was going to meet us at Coolum. Meanwhile Scott was also increasingly worried about this pain in his knee — but more on that later. After a tiny detour cause we got confused looking for the road to Coolum we hit the cane fields. A few shitty hills gave way to a mostly flat section and that gusty south-westerly wind just maybe started working in our favour and Scott was leading and then seemed to be fading so Shirts dragged us ahead.

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Dayne loves stretching!

A bit later there was Dayne waiting for us after a roundabout. And we said our hellos and had a break and Dayne gave us a bit of a tour of his ‘hood. At one point he pointed to something in the distance and there seemed to be a few hundred metres of burnt grass and then I realised there was a smashed and burnt out car in the middle. “Stolen car that crashed. That made the news,” Dayne exclaimed!

Welcome to Coolum!

FINAL FLAT

So 2 roundabouts later we hear Shirts swearing like a cut snake and we stop and realise it is flat number 4. Surreal. But Dayne, almost just to accentuate the surreality of the occasion, points across the road and there’s a bike store perfectly adjacent. So we walk over and take another much-needed break from the heat — perhaps now approaching 30 degrees — in the shade of the alley beside. (My jersey had been stained with salt-sweat marks for the last 80ks.)

Dayne is a local so is all chummy with the staff and Shirts buys 3 tubes and sorts out his most recent malaise and makes use of the store’s pump.

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NOOSA

The last 15kms was a bit tough but David Low Way has a generous bike lane the whole way which is nice. But Scott was suffering. His knee was fucked and he limped along trying not to exacerbate the situation.

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Just at Noosa I almost came unstuck. I was coasting down a hill and in this daze of just having ridden 177kms I didn’t notice this semi-camoflaged traffic island until literally a milli-second before it was too late and I did this massive counter-measure and missed certain doom by inches.

TWO SATURDAYS

I like to have a very refreshing nap on Saturday afternoon after a big morning ride. I mean, that day I had been awake since 3:30am (I woke up and being so eager just couldn’t get back to sleep). Scott calls this “two saturdays”. You have this big adventure in the morning, have a nap and wake up and it’s like Saturday all over again — and an even better Saturday cause you can get toasty and smash some awesome food.

Because Dee, Ali and JJ were still an hour or so away, we went for a trip to Subway just in our sweaty kit and barefeet, Back at the main apartment I was feeling quite zombified, so I slunk off for that sleep next door. In my state I didn’t want to mess up the bed or manchester so I used a towel as a pillow and slept on the floor for about 30mins. It was glorious.

Back at the main apartment I was about to have a beer when the driving party arrived. Crucially Dee had brought a change of clothes and with this civility I dived into our shower and banished my stinky jersey and knicks.

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SUNBURN!Image

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“Amnesia Clothing” WTF? Instantly forgettable? Also “Open 7 days” just in case you forget.

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Not sure what happened here!

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“Monday is ‘Ladies Night'” with the wet T and wet jock comp. Classy!

After drinking (a lot — definitely a new record) and stories and laughs and Thai for dinner and Scott, Ali, Dee and JJ sneaking a trip to the spa after curfew, we all retired.

I slept so, so fucking good. Best sleep for ages.

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DAY TWO

The next morning Scott had a test ride to see if his knee was any better and he decided it was still fucked. So the new plan was just me and Shirts heading towards Nambour or maybe Landsborough for the train home.

While we all got organised, Scott Tetris’d the car getting his bike and all the luggage and gear into the boot. Then we went for breakfast at this wine bar down the road. Yep. That’s how Noosa rolls. And while we sat there we had a perfect view of every bike that went by. And 90% of them were TT bikes or road bikes with TT bars. One dude was even rocking a sperm helmet. You hardly see a TT bike in Brisbane, yet up here it was a different world. Bizarre.

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After breakfast Shirts and I headed off. He led the whole way. And it was into a brutal headwind which I only noticed if I strayed a tiny bit left or right of his line. But snug in behind him I was almost in a cocoon. He was going nuts and the average speed went over 35 at one point. But then after some very steep climbs it still stayed above 34.

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After a roundabout when Shirts had to necessarily slow down I said to him — should we just go down the motorway? Technically bikes aren’t allowed but this would be the most direct route and avoid any navigational worries I had about getting to Landsborough.

BEEP BEEP

And that’s what we did. There were no signs saying we couldn’t so I felt legit. That didn’t stop a bunch of cars beeping at us. We were utterly and absolutely no inconvenience to them — yet they chose to do this pathetic “beep protest”. How fucking weak these people must be. It must really, really suck to be them. Oh well. 🙂

But just smashing at 40km/hr was pretty tough along that tiny bit of concrete. (And remember Shirts was grinding into a serious headwind). Any slight downhill the speed picked up to 45 and on climbs it was at least 33. FARK!

Eventually I broke at this big hill at Parkwoods and Shirts made the call that we should head to Nambour.

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And just like it was ordained — the train was there waiting for us, it was a direct train to Brisbane and went express through some deadshit stops. YAY! Naturally Shirts got off at Petire to smash out some more k’s and in that spirit I got off at Eagle Junction and was a tiny bit proud of my extra 16kms which I brutalised as best I could to arrive home with a 30.6 km average. Just saying!

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How we rode to Nambour and how I hit the emergency brake on a train

This is the story of how we climbed two really big hills, how we ate a shitload of food, how I managed to accidentally push the emergency stop button and bring a halt to our train home and how, bizarrely, somehow Scott and I beat Mr Thomas — “the human mountain goat” — to the top of the Maleny Road climb.

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And I know you are all probably getting quite sick of these crazy bike adventures, but unfortunately for you, I am not. I am fucking, fucking, FUCKING loving it. The buzz you get after lasts for days. You are all just going to have to get used to it. Sorry.

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I love taking pictures just after dawn – all that golden shit makes pretty ordinary shots so much more wonderous 

And this one was special, one of those rides. Even though it was 8 hours of hard, hard riding and then 4 hours stuck on a train, it was all so worth it.

So statistically the ride looked like this: 171km of road travelled, 2514m of climbing (which broke my previous record by 600m), an average speed of 27.5km/hr and a top speed of 78.9km/hr coming down into Nambour.

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So this was Tom’s ride and I almost said it couldn’t be done, and then I said I couldn’t make it because I needed to be in Ormiston that evening for a family dinner. See as this was a one-way ride up to Nambour with a train back I just thought there wasn’t enough time to do it. But then I figured I could just keep catching trains until I got to the Redlands and send a change of clothes ahead of me. And so I realised I really didn’t have any excuses.

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Dayboro 

It wasn’t the easy way to Nambour. We would be going over two serious climbs and after the last climb there were a few quite fucked-up pinches of road that would smash the spirit when the end was so near. But then we could look forward to that last 10kms which were all downhill.

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Thomas looking very serious! 

The ride to Dayboro was pretty uneventful and after two pasties and an Ice Break we were hitting our first mountain – Mt Mee. Although it is a long climb, the gradient is pretty gentle, but then at the top there is still some climbing to do as you cross the “plateau”. The scenery was incredible up here and so green and wildernessy. This was riding. It was ART.

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I like this house at the top of Mt Mee, it looks like that big “mushroom” tree has grown out of it — a bit like in the Totoro movie

After dropping down into D’aguilar and scoffing a coke and a chocolate bar we pushed on to Woodford for a bigger meal. I chose the healthy option of a meat pie and a big bowl of chips smothered in chicken-salt.

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Woodford

Next we were heading north again through pretty quiet roads and Tom had devised this plan to avoid a shitty hill Scott and he had suffered through the last time they took these roads (for the Noosa L’Eroica). The new road was called “Commissioners Flat Road” and although a road called thus was entitled to be level, in fact it was actually a tiny bit uphill. But it wasn’t that noticeable. And when we got to Peachester and had this awesome, awesome surprise downhill we forgave the Commissioner — whomever that person was.

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Tom took the fenders off his Colossi. That doesn’t sound such a big deal, but to us — we care about that shit.

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Great views of the west and north face of Mt Beerwah 

Meanwhile, after only 100kms, I was now feeling a bit “shit” and started telling the other guys I might not make it up that looming HILL. But you what? I was just a little low on food and water and feeling a bit of a mental over-reaction to what I assumed was ahead. As soon as I fuelled up at Landsborough — an over-sized spinach and cheese roll plus another Ice Break — I started feeling well again. The secret to good riding, which actually isn’t a secret, is just eating and drinking accordingly — which usually means stuffing as much food and drink down your pie-hole as regularly as you can.

It has taken me all this time to work it out. As Scott says, “Eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty”. Yet I have spent 90% of my biking career riding out without eating breakfast, not eating at all on the ride and wondering why I was such a mess halfway through. But then again, I should be forgiven because I am a total, fucking idiot.

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A little bit of cyclocross action on that Commissioners Flat Road

At Landsborough I also downed one of my Endura gels just before we set off again. Scott and Tom blasted ahead while I just settled and attempted to work out what I was capable of. See this climb had been stabbing at my mind ever since I found the bit after Mt Mee just a bit more painful than I assumed. In the past I had driven a car up this road — and even with a decent run-up and my foot glued all the way to the floor — the car would struggle to stay at 60km/hr while at the same time making ugly sounds that would wake the dead.

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But truth-be-told, I didn’t find it that bad. There was a tiny bit of relief after 1km where the road got a little less steep, which I initially thought was the end, but then I could see around the corner and instantly realised that section was just a warm-up. A big sign said “2km of steep road” ahead. “Fantastic,” I thought. I rested as best I could on this tiny bit of respite and then started counting crank-revolutions again. I also had some tunes in my ears to distract me from the pain. Periodically I shifted from sitting forward on the saddle (using my quads) to shifting as far back on the saddle and “lifting” (using my calves). Bizarrely at one point I found myself trying to use my arms to lift me higher.

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One of those awesome downhills (in the distance) followed by a shit-shit climb on the Montville plateau.

Eventually I caught up to Tom and I hugged his wheel for a bit thinking he was just taking it easy. After 20 crank-revs I decided to pass him and then I started feeling actually — good. I caught up to Scott and just enjoyed the rest of the climb. I know that sounds crazy but my body had suddenly come to the party and I felt supreme.

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Montville

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A bit of “surprise” gravel at the bottom of the descent from Mapleton. I had just hit almost 80km/hr and had to mash on the brakes to deal with this shit

And indeed the whole ride after that was almost like I was as fresh as if I had just left home. But Tom on the other hand was suffering. And this is the very first time I have seen him in this state. It’s not like I am gloating, it’s just, well, refreshing to see him as a human being for a change! It was only a few months ago that he beat me up Tambourine by at least 5 minutes! I should also say we only arrived 15 seconds ahead of him — so it wasn’t that big of a deal — but it still gave Scott and me lots of material to give Tom a little friendly ribbing.

[Also of note on this climb I looked down and my Garmin ticked over the magic, and personally unprecedented, 2000m of elevation. That achievement — which has alluded me for a while, was quite glorious.]

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I’ll fast-forward over those beautiful rolling Blackall Range hills and return to the story at Nambour. We found the train station and realised we had missed a train by 10 minutes. The next train was over an hour away. I suggested we have a beer and this seemed to be a popular idea so we tried to find a pub but couldn’t. So a better idea hatched. We found a bottle-o in a shopping centre and Scott and I bought Smirnoff Blacks — the clear stuff. We then found a discreet spot and poured that shit into our water-bottles.

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We then retired to the last seats on the platform and waited/party’d on for the train. And once on the train, naturally I did something stupid.

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THE STORY OF HOW I ACCIDENTALLY STOPPED THE TRAIN

So we were about 30 minutes into the journey from Nambour to Caboolture. As there was a toilet on the train I got up and went in. And because the train was rocking around and I was in cleats I really couldn’t stand up that steadily so I leant against the wall for some support and because I try to be a good citizen I wanted my aim in this public facility to be as true as possible.

And as I had had quite a bit of liquid of late – not just booze – I knew this trip to the facilities wasn’t going to be a short one. So I am blissfully gushing away giving Niagara Falls a bit of competition and the train suddenly comes to an abrupt stop, with all that bumping and rocking, and at the time I remember thinking, “Good thing I am leaning against this wall. Genius.”

But then just as the train slams to a stop I hear this voice through an intercom saying quite gruffly, “What’s your problem?”.

I kept on urinating for at least another 5 seconds before I figured out that the “voice” might just be directed at me. Maybe. I pushed off the wall and instantly saw I had been leaning quite intently on the emergency help button and freaked out. “OMG! I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to push that. I was just leaning…oh god…Sorry!”

The voice at the other end said, quite a bit more gruffly, “Yeah…alright.” And then the train started moving again.

So I didn’t get to finish my pee and had to cross my legs all the way to Caboolture. I guess that was justice.

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And so I made it eventually to Ormiston, at about 8pm — only about 3 hours after I had planned! But I got to the restaurant just before the main courses and just before the bottle-shop closed – so all was good!

And here are the birthday girls — all born a day apart (just different years) — plus the birthday cake.

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