It was another perfect day in Audax FNQ. Another ride – another registration record. The Audax online registration system had been running hot with 151 registrations pounding through cyberspace. But it was nothing compared to the buzz of those same cyclists unloading mountain bikes and the stray gravel grinder in the main street of Tolga on a sleepy Sunday morning.
Our southern Audax colleagues often ask for insights into our “big ride preparations” in FNQ. The “behind-the-scenes” preparations for this ride had been somewhat unorthodox. Several days before kick-off, petitions were still being made for access to new (ie: unformed) bits of track around Hastie Swamp (thanks Leasie). Across at the Barron River, the tireless SAOs (thanks Rex and Joe) had cleared scrub and balanced rocks in place to build a somewhat civilised river crossing. Just days before the ride, and with a written permit hot off the press (thanks Andrew), pleas were issued for help with slashing the newly approved path around Hastie Swamp. With Kim stuck in Brisbane and Gayle still to fly home to FNQ, neighbouring land-owners Amanda and James came to the rescue and a path was duly created (huge thanks – James and Amanda). OK – it was a bit rough – but that is all part of the charm of Audax FNQ.
As the hours ticked by and Gayle finally arrived in Atherton, Kathy, Steve and Rex volunteered to do some last minute checking of the route and to set out flagging tape in the wilder regions. And then there were just the minor matters of shopping (watermelons, chippies, lollies, yummies etc), then printing and bagging and alphabetising 151 brevet cards, and packing the car…..while calling for emergency assistance to deal with the third plumbing leak on the day before the ride (yep – Kim was still in Brisbane – thanks Mike).And on Sunday morning – it all came together – thanks to the very capable support of our amazing volunteers – Jann, Jenny, Kerrie, Lloyd and Mikey.
After the usual ride briefing, which was mostly lost amongst the synchronising of roughly 150 Garmins with the universe, the crowd set off in a seamless display of cycling etiquette that defied the madness of the previous days.
Our super-volunteers appeared everywhere on-course to help with direction finding, encouragement, and sustenance at the Yungaburra Control (thanks Jann, Jenny and Kerrie). And thanks to Mikey and Lloyd for tackling the vital role of ensuring 150 bikes and riders made it safely across the Barron River.
The rest is now Audax FNQ cycling history. The Colt 50 was the first ever ride to circumnavigate Hastie Swamp and the largest cycling group to use the Barron River crossing. Encouraged by the enormous success of this ride, Leasie and TORA are continuing work to secure funding to further construct the Hastie Loop. And the SAOs are continuing their amazing efforts to negotiate permission and funding to build an all-weather Barron River Crossing and finalise the off-road link between Atherton Yungaburra and Malanda.
Audax FNQ thank Leasie, TORA and the SAO’s for their work on behalf of the cycling community and wish them every success in their efforts. We look forward to scheduling more rides in this fantastic cycling area.
Sit back, and enjoy the ride – as captured with by the now legendary cinematography of Jimmy Chan.
(6 February 2020)