Get High on the Tablelands was designed to be a different experience from the previous FNQ Audax ride (Eight Tableland Towns on 17 April 2016), and it did not disappoint. Tackling the high country of the Tablelands, the course visited the highest gazetted road in Queensland, the highest town and the highest pub. And just to increase the challenge, the weather turned on its blustery best, leaving some riders in no doubt as to why Queensland’s highest wind farm is located on (you guessed it) Windy Hill in Ravenshoe.
The final stats for the day were 49 riders registered and 45 starters. A really courageous effort, given how unappealing the weather looked in the wee, small hours of Sunday. Once again, the weather gods were kind and it cleared (a bit) as the day went on.
The starting kilometres of the ride left everyone in no doubt as to what was ahead with a leg-testing climb up the Herberton Range followed by a gentler uphill meander to the first Control at Longlands Gap.
The Popular Cafe in Ravenshoe lived up to its name, with most riders feeling the need for coffee, cake and an extended break at Control 2. The 100km riders then headed down the Kennedy Highway for Atherton, hoping that it would be all downhill to home. (It wasn’t.)
There were 35 starters for the 100km, and EVERYONE MADE IT HOME !!!!!! So I can now confess – it really was 110km. Chris, Tate, Rob and Mark finished and were heading for coffee before I’d returned to Atherton to set up the final Control. There was then a run of smiling faces checking in over the next two or so hours, with riders thankful to be home and delighted at their achievements. The coffee shop was buzzing with excitement as riders swapped stories and added caffeine to adrenaline.
The Absolutely Audacious Award is shared by Glynis and Sandy, who finished in 9hrs 11mins. By the time most other riders were showered and relaxing at home (in Cairns), Glenys and Sandy rode back through the drizzle and wind to Atherton. A truly gutsy effort by Glenys, who just refused to quit, and thanks to the wonderful supportive sister-in-law we’d all like to have, Sandy, who stuck with her. Well done to both of you.
There were 10 starters in the 200km, and eight completed the ride. The other two are still wishing their mates had told them about the plan to switch to the 100km before the ride. They were nursing tired legs from a mammoth effort the day before, but still managed 140km. Well done to all.
The 200km riders continued on from Ravenshoe through Millaa Millaa, Lake Eacham, Peeramon and Malanda, visiting almost every known hill along the way. First home was Donal in an amazing time of 8hrs10mins. Given the wind, weather and terrain, I am in awe. Tribute must also be paid to his ingenuity for finding the perfect solution to losing a Brevet card.
The Still Smiling Award must go to Kathryn and Rory , who had a slight geographical miscalculation almost within sight of Atherton, and put in an extra 10km for their troubles.
Many thanks to our volunteers – Peter and Maureen (who came up from Cairns just to help and ran the Ravenshoe Control), Leanne (who manned the 200km Controls, drove all over the place, and waited around until the end), Malcom (a returning volunteer who helped on the 200km controls and wore a great cycling tshirt), Nola (my long-suffering mate who manned a 200km Control and is always helping me with some project or other), Mike (who took photos, manned Control 2, kept Kim company, and remembered to bring ALL the coffee making bits and pieces), Katie (who kept me company driving around and worked on the final control), Gary (who checked the lights again), Glynis and Sandy (who manned the registration desk, prior to doing their amazing ride). And thanks to Kim – who has been busy behind the scenes before, during and after the ride (what an amazing bloke).
See you all on 22 October 2016 for the next ride – Atherton BikeFest Audax!! A choice of 100km and 200km road rides visiting parts of the Tablelands you may have never seen before, or a 75km dirt ride including the Rail Trail and Channel Road (by special permission). Then stick around for a weekend indulging in all things cycling at Atherton BikeFest.