Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 33 Innisfail to Cairns 90 kms

Everyone up early for our last ride for this stage. Annie left first as she had someone meeting her in Cairns before lunch. Alf headed off so he could get in and have a shower before lunch.

The rest of the riders stuck pretty much together. We stopped at Fishery Falls (50 km mark) for morning tea on the side of the road in front of the closed hotel. Pretty hot day and difficult to find any shade.
Collis asked all the riders to gather outside the Coconut Palm Caravan Park so they could all ride into Cairns as a group and in single file. Georg turned off in the wrong direction and had to be chased down and brought back and Robbo came in a little distressed with his sore shoulder but got a quick massage from Fliss and with Peter assisting. Then they were off and being led in by Jerry. Probably not the best choice with directions but with a bit of horn bipping to redirect them we managed to find the finish line at the Marina.

Lunch was supplied by Cycle Across Oz at The Boardwalk Cafe in Cairns and was enjoyed by everyone. Theo's wife Caroline met us there so we had a small reception party. Once everyones bags were dropped off at the hotels etc, Collis and I could eventually relax for a few days before it all starts again with 6 new riders joining the group.  We have decided we won't be able to provide this service at Darwin or Perth due to the logistics of the size of the cities so in these cities the riders will have to organise their own transport of luggage.

At the end of this leg we are losing Danny (a surprise withdrawal), Lew, Fliss and Jerry. It is a sad time as this has been a really good group who were just so easy to look after and who appeared to enjoy themselves, each other and the scenery.

We have raised $440.00 via the collection tin on this leg. We hope to double that this new leg.
From this blog we will now be broadcasting on

Day 32 Ingham to Innisfail around 145 kms

Second to last day for this stage of the ride. Everyone was feeling a little low this morning but as usual keen to get out on the road. Robbo had gone out in a car the night before and sussed out the road for us. He had come back with some scarey news of lots of roadworks, steep climb, no shoulders and lots of traffic. He had everyone in a bit of a panic but it is best to be safe.

We found because of the roadworks and so much control of the traffic around the works that it was a much safer ride for the riders. A couple of times the traffic was stopped and the riders were escorted through the working area. It also limited the traffic amount and the speed at which they could drive in that area. The road was rough in parts but ridable. They all managed the Cardwell Ranges without a problem due to their increased fitness levels.

Another issue arose with roadworks also occurring in the town we had planned morning tea stop, which was Cardwell. There had been a bit of damage due to one of the cyclones so they decided to redo the whole town by the looks of it. We were fortunate that a cafe allowed us to set up camp at their tables and they got a bit of business from us in return. Peter was missing the whole day today and ended up doing around 200 kms sightseeing en route and a few side trips. He keeps us informed of his whereabouts on a regular basis via phone and text.
Lunch was at the information centre at Tully. The ladies there were very helpful with information for our trip into Cairns tomorrow.
We arrived early afternoon at the August Moon caravan park- another park outside of town but with lovely big grassy area for us to camp on. Most of us decided to go off to the RSL for dinner with 6 of them having the RSL courtesy bus come out to pick them up. Really nice meal tonight and then John, Annie and I went croc spotting in the river that runs through the town. We saw lots of the buggers with the torch- we could only see their eyes.

First Million (Woody)
This southern gent will never fail ya
He'll always turn up in Australia
Where he likes to spend his days
Cycling K’s and K’s and K’s
Every yard of sweat and gears
He’s logged each night for 40 years
With ageing bones and hide reptilian
No one doubts to ride his million
It'll be a feat quite without par
And they all create a plaque in Canada
By Jerry

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 31- Townsville to Ingham 110 plus kms

Fliss gave the briefing this morning as we decided it would be a relief from the sound of Collis' voice for a change (he did have to repeat everything so that he felt better). Peter & Danny were the first to leave and we got a phonecall from Peter telling us that the directions Collis had given were not possible as bikes were not allowed on the overpass. We quickly rounded up the riders left in camp to give them an alternative route but we couldn't catch all of them.

Danny saw the sign but couldn't work out another way to go so he continued on the overpass and Robbo didn't see the sign so he also went over the overpass. No one stopped them so it didn't really matter. Which ever way they went the traffic was horrendous, the road was narrow and the drivers were a concern.  They really need a dual highway leading in and out of Townsville with all that traffic. Morning tea was at a little roadhouse at about the 50 km mark. We hadn't passed Woody and we were a little concerned so we were about to go back and look for him when Anna arrived and stated she had passed him a fair way back. Woody eventually arrived and stated he had got lost coming out of Townsville and was pretty upset with Collis for his directions (he was the only one to get lost so not sure what happened in the translation).

Fliss and Ben went off to check out the beach at Rollingstone but found they couldn't swim due to the stingers and notifications of crocodiles in the area. Peter went off exploring everything he possibly could explore on the route into town and everyone else gradually made their way in with Annie and Georg getting in first today.
Staying at a lovely little caravan park called Palm Tree which was a little out of town and a little problem for food for the boys who don't cook but they ended up eating at the roadhouse near by which wasn't the greatest food. The rest of us cooked at the fantastic camp kitchen. Nice pool to swim in as well and enjoyed by most of us.

A couple of large frogs around tonight with a competition with the cane toads- not sure which species won the battle. There was supposed to be a meteor shower tonight and Annie, Collis, Georg & I remained up for a little while hoping to catch some of it but were driven to bed by the midgies.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 30 Charters Towers to Townsville 134.25 kms

What a beautiful day and sunrise but then the fog descended and it was hard to see further than a few feet in front of you. It was a bit dangerous riding in these conditions and the riders were nervous. They all got away early so they could have pulled over and waited for the fog to lift but no-one did.

The scenery was great with the mountains in the background and green pastures in the foreground. Morning tea was at Mingela. We met Robbo and Jerry coming out of the town and they stated that there was no-one around and they had all ridden off. I had received a phone call from Fliss stating she  was already at the town and would wait for us; so we went into town to have a look and here they all were, waiting for us. Not sure which town Jerry & Robbo went into because they were all there. We had safeway cookies again from Jan. Apparently the rest of the group came in the first turn off and got blocked by an extremely long train that was parked over the road in and when Robbo wandered into town from the other turnoff he saw the train but not the riders behind it. Anyway we caught Robbo & Jerry further up the road to offer them water.
Lunch was to be at a roadhouse called Woodstock but when we got there we at first thought it was shut but when we tried the door it opened. There was hardly any stock in the place and it smelt of fat cooking and the toilets were all out of order. The guy running the place suggested we try the park just around the corner. The other car was parked at the corner near the store to guide the riders to just around the corner which turned out to be a little tricky and some of them just couldn't find us so they continued onto Townsville stopping for food as they needed it. Those that did stop enjoyed the area and it was clean and good toilets (everything a rider wants).
Jerry went ahead because he wanted to catch the ferry across to Magnetic Island. Georg went ahead because he wanted to have a beer with Jerry before he went across to the island. John went ahead to have a look around and I received a very excited phone call from him stating how cool the town is with coconut drinks in real coconuts and real green tea and he got to swim in the ocean. Alf & Anna had left us the day before for a little private time in Townsville and we didn't see them today although Robbo tried pretty hard.

The rest got in pretty early after some confusion with Collis' directions down the Bruce Hwy. All was well except for Robbo who panicked a little and got a bit upset when he had trouble finding us. He came in safe and sound and quickly calmed down when he heard Collis' explanation for the trouble with directions.

Some of us jumped straight into the swimming pool and had fun on the kids slides and in the spa. Nice afternoon had by all. Collis took me into town for a quiet dinner together but we ran into Jan  and then John & Theo. It was still rom antic sitting on the beach after dinner eating yummy ice cream and watching the waves lap on the sand.

Poetic Justice
He thinks that it should be unlawful
To write verse that’s quite this awful
He regards rhyme as a henious crime
Deserving more than just fine
The case is only prima facie
But I expect no mercy from Judge John Tracy
He will use his sentencing parameter
To send me down from my pentameters.
Cleat Poet
A word man who’s the real deal
His observations quite surreal
He’s a cleat poet of some repute
At the Quantum Mechanics Institute
His themes are original, never sloppy
Only his transport is a Coppi
He pedals it on a quest
Searching for the steak that’s best
But he will only meet meat perfection
I f he travels in the other direction
By Jerry

Day 29 Charters Towers Rest Day 0 kms

We love our rest days!! Everyone, except Robbo & Peter, slept in past 6.30 am. Robbo & Peter took off at 4.30 am to watch the sunrise at Tower Hill, they saw lots of rock wallabies at sunrise and then went to McDonalds for breakfast before heading off to the weir. No-one heard them leave so we weren't too sure where they had got to but assumed they were safe & together. They returned later after lunch and Robbo laid down in the middle of the camp kitchen area and slept for an hour & a half. The rest of us went to town to do some shopping and laze around. A few went to breakfast, then the museum and a few of the other attractions.

In the afternoon we spent the day lazing around the pool, swimming, sleeping and catching up on chores. Tonight we had an extraordinary meeting with the riders to discuss the amount of luggage everyone has with them and warned them that we will be weighing their luggage before the next leg and they will have to decide what things they can manage without and send it home or onto their destination. The riders have a limit of 15 kgs for their clothing and their camping gear but because this has not been regulated on any of the previous rides, the riders have increased their amounts and we are not coping with the amounts. The next ride has an increase of riders and we will not be able to fit in any more luggage as things are at the moment. We will be doing a weigh in before the beginning of Cairns ride.

We also discussed the riders concerns of the water shortage over the bush camp. The experienced riders were not concerned at all but the new riders were slightly panicked. We explained that we have never run out of water and we do not expect this to ever happen. Collis is very experienced with amounts required.

Most riders ate at home tonight as the meals in Charters Towers were all pretty ordinary. We had some champagne to celebrate the birth of Georg's first grand daughter last night- her name is Clara and she weighed around 3900 gms.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 28 Bush Camp to Charters Towers 64 kms

Awake at 4.30 am for a call of nature but too scared to leave the bed due to the sound of mosquitoes banging against the fly wire, screaming with frustration as they can't get at us. We laid there for another half hour before it became an emergency. With spade and paper at hand my brave husband led me into the wilds of Qld looking for the perfect tree and cleared spot to make our claim. I wasn't sure why we were walking so far into the wilderness and eventually called a stop to the search. He claimed to be looking for the perfect tree so that I could hide behind; it was pitch black and the only light was coming from his head torch. I stressed the urgency in a very lady like way and he conceded to assist me with the digging. He was telling me to turn my light off as someone would see me but it was his light shining straight at me. When we eventually found our way back to the camp we discover we had left the fly wire open and the bedroom was full of angry mosquitoes. We resorted to sitting in the car until daybreak and the cyclists started to emerge from their cocoons.
Collis ensured all the cyclists bidons were filled with lovely tank water before we were able to make a cup of tea for a select few remaining in camp (oh the priveledges of remaining behind in camp). Pack up after a bush camp is always a dirty job and smelly. Plenty of rubbish you have to cart out with you. Peter went for an early morning walk and picture opportunity and came across a big kangaroo who wasn'tt frightened but curious before hopping away. We left camp around 8.30am probably earlier than usual due to the driving force of mosquitoes. This was an unfortunate bush camp for the first bush camp due to the road trains (travelling down the dirt track most of the night), the water restrictions (but at no stage was there any chance we would run out of water) and the biggest mosquitoes I have ever experienced.

One rider appeared extremely concerned that we may run out of water so it was important to catch up with each rider to refill their water bidons as we were not stopping for morning tea today. The road was a good surface but the riders felt there was a gradual climb all day with a head wind. Even though it was a shorter day, some were really struggling. Jan had her chain come off and then a flat tyre which happened right outside the local bike shop.

Perfect close to a lovely day.
Everyone arrived safely at the Aussie Outback Village &  van park which has been a real oasis for us after the previous night. A few of us went straight for the swimming pool and the rest straight for the showers.

Day 27 Belyando Crossing to Bush Camp 134.2kms

Tonight will be our first bush camp and the only one for this leg. Some of the riders went into the roadhouse for a cooked breakfast and Woody got away pretty late. Another warm day and not much shade around this area. Everyone is looking depleted after yesterday as I think some of them need to learn the importance of drinking enough water throughout the day.
We had to try and get as much water as we could possibly carry today as it will have to last us for 200 kms riding and one night at a bush camp. We managed to fill four 25 litre containers, all water bottles and we had some in the tank under the car. The car tank holds about 25 litres as well but we were struggling to find somewhere to hook up to to fill it. I asked the backpacker at the roadhouse and she directed us to a tap near their accommodation but it looked that this may have been illegal. Our attachment wouldn't fit so we found their hose and were just setting it all up when we got caught and told we couldn't have the water. I hope the young backpacker didn't get into trouble because of this. Collis feels we should have enough water with just the containers.

Morning tea was just at the 50 km mark on the side of the road and lunch was at Cape river. There was a suggestion we camp at Cape River and do an extra 30 kms tomorrow which the majority of the group thought was an OK idea. Only one rider expressed she would prefer to go on. As it turned out this wasn't an option as the river was all fenced in and there was no way to get the van into the area. It would have been nice to have a river.

Collis and I had picked out a camping area at the 135 km mark when we did our reccy 18 months ago but back then the area was very dry and quite barren. They have obviously had large amounts of rain as everything is so green and the grass is really high. We pulled in on the Harvest Home Rd and searched for a nice spot. The first choice was full of mosquitoes and I couldn't stand it so we moved further up the road. We eventually found a nice spot which had less mosquitoes and was flatter. George was struggling today and Collis was about to go out to bring him in when he arrived on his own steam.
Everyone arrived into camp with Peter coming up the rear because he had stopped at another river to have a wash. Tonight's dinner was pretty well pre- prepared and we were having corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, peas and homemade pickles. Fliss offered to make the damper which we had a fruit one and a plain one with jam and cream. John was the master fire builder and had the campsite named after him for his efforts. The mosquitoes were still unbelievable all night and it was even difficult going off to the toilet as they were biting every surface that was exposed. It was easier just to crawl into our tents to get away from them.
Around the campfire!
Poetry reading.
Beer and Steer (George)
This is a story about a man
From the same hometown as Ludwig van
He thought his land too full of Turks
So he boxed up his Eddie Merckx
He said farewell to Westphalia
And caught a flight down to Australia.
Customs asked him to explain what had brought him here by plane
He said “I visit your country
To eat all your cows and drink VB”
While mentioning as an aside
That he was going on a six-month ride.
And so he set off on his way
Cycling one twenty K each day
But it was not all pure hard slog
Each journey ended with some grog
It was the thought of this libation
That gave George his motivation
When he got off his bicycle seat
He'd swig some beer and eat some meat
No matter whether palace or dump
He'd order T-bone, Scotch or rump
He always ordered them ‘rare medium ‘
But changed his sauces to avoid tedium
He consumed 19 barrels and 14 Steer
Now my friends here’s some advice
So you're not forced to sacrifice
When George returns to Germany
Sell your shares in C.U.B!
By Jerry