A Stuttering Start

Location: Palm Beach – Atkinson Dam, Queensland, Australia
Distance: 202km

Being about as prepared as I was going to get, I took my last chance – for a little while at least – for swim at the beach just before sunset before tidying up a few last minutes things before leaving. Unfortunately those few things dragged on for a tad longer than planned. I did eventually get everything sorted but it was 2am before finally crashed, hardly the best preparation. Note to self: Don’t leave promised jobs to last night before trying cycling around the world. Not surprisingly I didn’t exactly make an early start and woke feeling like shit. After much procrastination decided to at least ride to my grandparents’ house, a lazy (no, actually it was a sweltering) 5km away to show them my bike and say goodbye. After that meager effort it took me an hour to feel like walking again but promised myself and early night and a better start tomorrow.

There was barely a cloud in the sky the sun was getting well overhead before I made off somewhere around 9am. With the mercury already nearing 30°C, I was in no rush and cruised along the esplanade through Mermaid, Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise and Main Beach. A few stops here and there for some photos and watching the school holiday tourists roast on the beach. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take me too long to fall off my bike. I had been making a conscious effort to remember to unclip at least one foot before stopping but while pulling up to chill down by the Broadwater somehow lost all co-ordination and managed fall into the sand. No harm done but I did take a moment to do my first bit of maintenance, my seat having come loose. As the heat of the day kicked in I headed inland and away form the beach for the last time in a while and I soon found another spot to relax by the Coomera River watching the wake boarders. I had set myself the somewhat ambitious target of about 110km for this first day including climbing over Mt Tamborine (about 600m of climbing) mainly as to find somewhere suitable for camping. However, by the time I got going again I knew I wasn’t going to reach this goal but decided to push on the start of the main climb.

I did do some research on the climb but somehow it didn’t quite prepare me for actually riding up it. 12-14% slopes, 38°C heat, a general lack of fitness and still feeling decidedly average at the start of the day all combined to me feeling somewhat light headed when I finally stopped just short of 60km. There was a distinct lack of flat ground to be found and neither the few locals I asked nor the pub were willing to let me camp so I made do with the best I could find in some bush not far from the road. I sweated it out until at least 10pm before finally sleeping. After a brief war with some mosquitoes in the morning – my tent has blood stains to prove it – I was off again by 8am but I had probably ridden no more than 1.5km before I gave up and tried not to die in the shade by the side of the road. I called for help and got a ride home, thanks Mum!

I spent the next 2 days on the couch drifting between sleep and TV but 4 days later, having rested well, eaten lots and done a few shorts rides I was feeling much more human and ready to take on the world again. Unfortunately the weather had other plans. It was 10-15°C cooler but raining sideways and pretty relentlessly. So I held off another day seeing no reason to subject myself to that kind of weather yet.

Finally, finally, got to get on the road today. Had another custard tart before setting off from the top of Mount Tamborine and was quickly down the other side. All downhill for 8km and some undulating roads to Jimboomba for a rest. Decided not to take to back roads I had planned on but a more direct route to Jim and Marilyn’s,  my hosts for the night. Got a bit lost in Springfield Lakes (that place is depressing) before arriving at Redbank Plains and a steak sandwich later I was off again. Managed to time my arrival into Ipswitch right on peak hour (fun) but was through that and a few last little hills before arriving with my legs screaming at me. Jim cooked up a lovely curry and we talked about our various travels on and off bikes before I crashed.

The next morning I could barely eat but ate what I could before attending to some gearing issues. Thanks ti Jim’s well stock workshop I was fixed and off again quickly enough. Had a 10km stint on the Warrego Highway (not as bad as I expected, decent shoulder to ride on) before turning north to Fairvale to chill in the park during the heat of the day. The ride west to Lowood was enjoyable, being on a horse trail, no traffic to worry about was a welcome change. Arrived at Atkinson’s Dam while it was still light and sent up camp right by the water. I’ll have a day off here relaxing. Reading, watching water skiers and anything else involving little moving before heading north to Esk and Crow’s Nest.

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