Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cycle Queensland 2010 - Day 1: Yeppoon to Rockhampton

Saturday 4th September dawned bright and sunny. Unfortunately, I didn't, having slept badly battling a headache half the night. Not the best start to the tour.

First job of the day was to get our luggage to the trucks, register and get to the start line. Thankfully, our friend Phil from Rockhampton was determined to help us, especially since we were 3km from the centre of Yeppoon. He turned up in his trusty old open-top Land Rover and ferried us and our things into the bustling registration area (thanks Phil!). Luke developed something of a legendary comb-over as Phil gunned it into overdrive on the way in.

In the instructions sent to us they repeated loud and often: DO NOT FORGET YOUR RIDE TICKET.

Funnily enough, Luke forgot his ride ticket. When he showed up to collect his tag and T-shirt he was on the receiving end of much tut-tutting and chooks-bum expressions from the stern volunters. He could have sworn it was in the envelope but no. We found it on the kitchen table when we got back.

Loading the luggage had us wondering what they bloody hell we'd decided to take. My bag only just scraped in at 14kg. We definitely filled our quota of 22kg each. I blame the salad spinner.

Phil drove us back to the motel where our bikes waited and then he went a little Cecil B. DeMille with the video camera which, given the amount of visible panty line on show beneath my figure hugging lycra, may have been a bad idea.

With time ticking down to 10.30am, Luke and I pondered whether we might just skip the start (and the extra 3km) and join the group as it rode past the motel. We later discovered that the ride didn't go past the motel at all. Joining the start = good decision.

We tootled into town, admiring the lovely scenery and the kingfishers lording it over the mangroves and arrived late for most of the speeches. Yes, tragic, but there it is. At last they blew the hooter and we... watched everyone else ride past. It was the only option as the line of starting cyclists stretched 500m or so down the road.

And They're Off!
The route profile from Yeppoon to Rockhampton. 69km

We finally pedalled off at about 10.45 and it was lovely to ride past all the cheering supporters - thanks Yeppoon. I felt a bit like Cadel Evans, if Cadel had been riding a yellow recumbent with pink fluffy bunny ears and was female and had no real cycling ability to speak of.

The first major incident of the tour happened within 5km of the start. We'd laboured up a steep hill to the Wreck Point lookout and up and down several others. I crested one of the steeper hills to see a man lying face down in the middle of the road at the bottom, not moving. Apparently he'd only just come off the bike.

A woman ran up to help and a car stopped in the road, blocking other traffic. I stopped, jumped out and was looking for Luke (who knows first aid) but next thing another cyclist pulled up who was a nurse. The man came to but was very confused and said he could only see out of one eye. He was covered in grazes and bruises and he must have been unconscious for at least 30 seconds. The ambulance had been called so, figuring myself a nuisance, I went on my way.

Apparently they put him on the SAG bus but within half an hour he decided he was fine and, still bandaged, continued his ride, making it safely into Rockhampton that night. That may not have been the best decision healthwise, considering he'd lost consciousness. I still don't know how he managed to fall off.

At Wreck Point Lookout about 5km out of Yeppoon
Continuing on, we started to enjoy weaving along the glorious Yeppoon coastline with its turquoise waters and white beaches. Sure, I had already started to develop my sore knee and left-side "recumbent butt" but I kept going, determined and slowly getting into the groove. We were encouraged by the regular appearance of Phil, merrily filming us as we rode by, occasionally hiding behind DIY shrubbery so as not to alert the organisers to the possibility he may be a support vehicle.

Lunch at Emu Park was very picturesque and the tandoori chicken roll and bonus lolly python went down a treat (as did about 7 cups of lemonade). There we met fellow recumbent trike rider Brian and had what was probably the most leisurely rest stop of our whole tour.

I had added a foam cutout under my seat but decided that it was making my life difficult so we took it off. It's possible it was actually helping because it got me closer to the pedals... but that's a story for the Monto day.

After lunch we got into what felt like the serious part of the day, turning inland and heading for Rocky. After a while it became apparent that we were some of the slowest riders on the tour, a fact reinforced by the appearance of the SAG bus in our rear view mirrors. We lost more time when a bracket on my mudguard sheared off, resulting in a few on-road repairs.

Road Rage

I experienced my one and only incident of road rage about 25km to Rocky when a white Barina hurtled past and the passenger threw an empty plastic Coke bottle at me. Thankfully they missed. I was so busy yelling and giving them the finger that I forgot to remember their number plate which would have been far more useful. We had a whole highway patrol car just itching to lean on any obnoxious driver and I missed my chance.

An empty bottle won't do much harm if it hit me but there was the possibility it could have gone into a spoke or become lodged in the chain, resulting in a more serious accident. I'm glad they missed.

Further on we stopped to watch about 30 large birds, probably eagles, circling upwards in a gyre, riding the air currents over a wetland. Quite glorious.... and I didn't take a picture.

The sun was getting low as we hit the home straight to Rocky, egged on by Jo, Phil and the kids, cheering from the side of the road and driving past in their non support car. I really needed the encouragement by then: 69km is a long way! And the last 5km seemed to take forever, especially given the headwind.

Finally they directed us up over the Fitzroy River and along its banks to Victoria park. Naturally there were very few options for a campspot. I confess I was tired, headachy and more than a little tetchy by that point. We pitched the tent near the toilets and a very loud generator. Dinner was a very tasty lamb hokkien noodle thing which was promptly hoovered up by us.

We then ditched the campground (that by 7.30pm had started to really groove) and went to have drinks with Jo and Phil at their place. Alas, being more than a little exhausted, the drinks were shandies and staminade. We were in bed by 10pm, trying to get used to the whole "tent" thing and realising it was far too hot for our sleeping bags.

At about 2am the rain started.

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