Ride Report ( Long) - Children's Cancer Institute Bike Ride - Townsville to Cairns
Thursday 28 July 0630h in Townsville at Centenary Hotel car park. It
cold, 10 degrees is cold in the tropics and the carpark is buzzing wit
people unloading from cars and utes and putting luggage onto the trucks
Lots of old friends to greet and new friends to meet. Radio statio
4TTT doing O.B. and various TV stations and reporters doing thei
stuff. People assembling into their ride groups that are sorte
according to speed.
We set off just after 0700. 213 riders, including 5 from New Zeland
and 40 support crew, the fastest group doing a lap around Townsvill
first, and the rest heading straight to the Bohle Barn 15k away on th
Bruce Highway. Another nervous pee and another safety brief.
First fall: on the bridge over the Bohle River 200m from stop. Amazin
fall, he hit a big pushed up lump of bitumen and went straight dow
landing on both feet and running beside the bike. Didnt take anyon
down which was lucky as he was at the head of a bunch of about 50.
Teresa and Hailey from the staff of the local Hardly Normal are o
tandem and riding in clown outfits. They pull into the carpark an
just forget to stop. Ride straight into a flower bed and fall over i
a heap of arms, bright colours and legs.
Off again and looking forward to lunch at Frosty Mango 68k away.
I am in the 15-20k group (25 ppl) or the "Yellow Roosters". Mostl
ladies in the group and overall probably more females than males o
the ride. In my group the bikes are nearly all Avanti, 5 new Blade
with slicks are a welcome sight as some old clangers have now bee
retired. Overall the most popular bikes are flat bar roadies closel
followed in number by road racers and hybrids a long third. The numbe
of MTB and BMX has dropped to about a dozen from nearly 40 last year.
The fastest group, 35k + , the Silver Foxes are off and we wont se
them again until about 1600h at Ingham.
Getting warmer, 25 c , road is flat, flat, flat and some lon
straights. Traffic is moderate and fast. Lots of tooting and waving.
Going down to the bridge over Bluewater Creek, hear a semi behind an
see a string of cars approaching. Yell out to warn everyone to kee
left and grab a quick look over the shoulder. Do not beleive what
see - the semi has stopped behind the last rider and is allowing us t
cross the bridge safely. He didnt proceed until we were all wel
clear. Think he was LinFox, not sure, I was in shock at such a displa
of gratuitous courteousy, what a champion.
2 little hills then more flat with a slight cross wind. Ingham loom
into view and Bill, the official Lantern Rouge, has a fffsssst 1 k fro
the hall where we are stopping over night. Bike goes into the ute to b
Thats 110k done.
Day 2 Friday 29 July Ingham to Innisfail 150km
Fed, packed ready to go. Roll call and safety brief. Cool morning, n
wind and heavy cloud cover. Bill cant find his bike which is a blessin
because it lowers the tone of the bunch. Its a rusty old 1971 Speedwel
with rag tyres and a thick gungy chain. A replacement appears out o
the truck and its his size. Didnt catch what brand but its about
years old and has paint and chrome, not rust and rust. The owner o
the replacement says that Bill can keep it as he never rides it. Bil
spots his bike - on the roof of the hall where we stayed. Big smiles.
See a fancy carbon bike in one of the faster groups. I may be
comparitive novice rider but I dont understand paying $5k for a ligh
bike and then putting 4kg of drinks on board to carry up a mountai
range with a drink stop at the top. Weird or masochistic!
We're off again
Three bunches held up on the outskirts of Ingham by a cane train tha
takes 10 minutes to trundle accross Bruce Highway. Ride out 12 k t
bottom of Cardwell Range and take a short rest because of a slow bunc
in front. Range is a 1.6k climb at 10% and 2 corners. It gets a bi
steeper just before the top.
This really sorts out the riders. Half a dozen riders gone in firs
300m, some fairly strained gear change noises, moans and grunts.
dropped chain takes out our oldest rider (72 yo), Lola, who is doing
the ride for 4th time, its a shame as she would have made it to the top
... slowly. I am going well, come around last bend, start to hurt,
stand up and change up for about 100m then back down when I see the
"Crest" sign. Nothing stopping me now. Over the top and over to the
Sallyman ( Salvation Army) truck for a cold drink. Our leader and LBS
salesman/ mechanic extrordinare, Alan, towed the Bob Ibex trailer up
with all the repair kit and hardly raised a sweat. There is no
substitute for youth, well he is 15 years younger than me, experience
and fitness. Safety vehicle heads off and I lead group down. Hit a
speed a fair bit more than the 40k we are allowed. Would have loved to
pass our car but I am a senior citizen and supposed to set an example.
Rest at Cardwell, set off for Tully. About 10 k south of Tully is
Euramo and the flood plain of the Murray River. The road here is built
up and has concrete sides sloping away at about 60 degrees. In places
the drop would be 8m and the white line is right on the edge. There
were a few "white knuckles" as there is no where to go. Strong rumour
that Scotty from the Navy Seals ( 30-35kmh group) found out what its
like to slide down 4m of concrete into a cane paddock.
Lunch at Tully and off to the hilly section through the jungle near
Feluga. There used to be signs on the road here to be careful of
Cassowaries but I think that they have all disappeared, like the signs.
Used to hear them in the jungle at sunrise in the 1970's.
Tully and South Johnstone Mills are not crushing as they have had so
much rain in the district they cant get harvesters into the paddocks.
Go past yet another dead dog on the side of the road. Blokes up here
dont tie up dogs on the back of a ute. Im tough, me utes tough an sos
The long day is taking its toll. 2 riders in the car and some very
determined looks as Innisfail comes into sight. A lot of coaxing and
an occasional push where needed keep the group moving along. Through
Innisfail in Friday afternoon rush hour, or is that 5 minutes. A small
steep hill with a railway crossing just before the PCYC Hall at
Innisfail Showground spreads the bunch.
This is the furthest most of the Roosters have ever ridden and being on
a bike from 0710 to 1740 has resulted in some really sore buts.
The cost of our food is in the entry fee and the catering is being done
by 3 CSSB from Lavarack Barracks. The menu is great and there are lots
of carbos to fill the legs for tomorrow.
Day 3 Saturday 30 July Innisfail to Cairns 90k.
Half hour sleep in. Lights come on at 0530 and its pack up again then
off to breky. The drizzle has stopped but still heavy cloud cover.
Will have to be very careful on the wet cane train tracks. Spot Dave
on his new bike. He is riding with the Red Ducks ( 35kmh + ) . His
Cervello fell apart, probably from the crap roads in Townsville, and he
bought a "BLUE" carbon frame and forks over the net. Put all the
Campag Grupo on the Blue and those new fancy sculptured bars. Very
Noice. We are off to a very creaky start and its obvious that there
are lots of tight muscles that will need a long warm up period. All
around is Banana plantation in every direction. One of our sponsors is
EcoBananas, the one with the red wax tip, who donated heaps of bananas
and I think that some people wont eat another banana for months after
the ride. How can you eat 8 bananas in a day!
About 10k out I see the first signs of a tail wind moving the trees.
Within 20 minutes its turned into a 15- 20k wind and gusting to about
30k, its directly from the south and we are going north all day. We
have been blessed.
Miriwinni for a break. A few have the " are we there yet " look so
they get loaded up with Power Bar, Muesli bars, yogurt, flavoured milk
and more bananas.
Tully, Innisfail and Babinda compete for the title of wettest town in
Oz. So its with releif that we pass through Babinda on a rest day for
the contest. Babinda Mill is crushing and the sickly sweet smells
follow us up the road on the tail wind.
Gordonvale for another rest stop.
We have been event free apart from the pssttt on day 1 and want it to
stay that way. Can see that we are getting tired and concentration is
wandering. A rest and a feed will pick everyone up. The Sallyman is
waiting for us and the donations box is taken around because they head
back to Townsville as soon as we leave. 18 k to to go before we catch
everyone else and have lunch together.
Traffic lights on southern approach to Cairns start a long way out but
somehow we manage to get through 5 in a row. Arrive at Worree Mobil
Servo to the claps and cheers of everyone else.
A huge acheivement for most in the group and especially for Emily who
is 14 years old and not really done much riding before. Her father
usually rides with the Seals but stayed with her.
Other youngsters are Madison 12 yo. who was on a tandem with her Dad, a
regular road rider and Mathew 13 yo, who did every group training ride
for 4 months before the ride and heaps of individual training, he had
only ever ridden a bike to school before this year.
Last year when we rode into Cairns from here we had a Police MC escort.
Sadly today is his funeral. He died as the result of a prang near
Sarina on a new police bike he was riding from Brisbane to Cairns.
Blue arm bands worn.
Off to Cairns city and on to The Pier 11 k away
We obviously have used up all our traffic light luck. Get every one
and the group ends strung out through 4 sets of lights in the CBD. Go
around a corner straight into the gusting wind. Pain pain ouch and the
sound of front rings changing is all around. Only 400m of that thank
goodness then onto the Pier for a formal welcome and thanks.
We raised $140,000 for the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia
(CCIA) which surprised the volunteer committee as we were aiming to
beat last years $108,000. The CCIA is the only organisation in
Australia that is funding research to Prevent Childhood Cancer and I
think that is a priority mission. 1 in 500 kids will have a cancer
before age 15 and 3 in 10 of those will not survive. The pain and
inconvenience I suffered is nothing .......