After months of hiding under rocks and coughing into elbows, the coast finally seemed clear enough for FNQ Audax to quietly start hatching plans to enter the post COVID-19 cycling world. While I downloaded Queensland Government’s five-page check-list for event organisers, Kim started beavering away at IT solutions for contactless brevet cards. We plotted some courses, shot off a dozen or so emails (the Audax mail-out system having developed a case of something nasty during lock-down……) and bought a pump-pack of hand-sanitiser. In our humble calculations, we planned on giving everyone a few week’s notice and testing our new systems with the 30 or 40 people who got the news and had a Sunday morning to spare for an Audax ride.
But Audax FNQ doesn’t work like that. The prospect of a 75km jaunt around some of the most scenic roads on the Tablelands, or a sneak peak at the developing Seven Sisters Trail, was too great a temptation. There were 50 or more registrations before the newsletter function was coaxed back into action. From there, Audax FNQ exploded into life – resulting in even more trips to town for hand sanitiser and plastic baggies and rubber gloves (don’t ask) and watermelons.
On 1 November 2020, Audax FNQ hosted its largest ever event, with 55 riders taking to the road, and a whopping 182 riders registering to preview the 50km cruise along the Seven Sisters Trail.
Thanks to all the volunteers who beavered away throughout the morning to make it work. Linda, Mundi, Deb and Rex manned the check-in desk, while Sean acted as a crowd-controller/organiser. Tim joined the whole crew at Yungaburra to help serve lashings of watermelon, lollies and chippies to the hungry hoards. Kim had pioineered the “contactless barcode brevet” and then singlehandedly scanned all riders into the starting zone to leave in waves every five or so minutes.
And riders came from everywhere, ready for action and dressed to kill….
The introduction of the half-hour starting window led to six wave starts replacing the usual mass departure. Six ride briefings were duly delivered and mostly overlooked. Six big bunches headed south on the dirt and six smaller bunches dodged bike-eating potholes in the opposite direction to take to the roads.
As the last of the riders somehow found their way onto the dirt or road, or a bit of both, the volunteer team threw all the gear into vehicles and headed for the control in Yungaburra.
Meanwhile, there were reports of cyclists heading in all directions around the Tablelands, some even following a prescribed route, while snapping up photos of the stunning early morning mist. Clearly the bit in the ride briefing about “take a great photo and win a handy-dandy COVID mask” was working.
Or maybe it was just a sensational morning (great pics Dave N).
Nic was an early starter and found the best of the misty views over the Seven Sisters.
The dirt riders followed the Rail Trail south and (hopefully) marevelled at the newly graded section of the Hasties Swamp loop (thanks for the pics, Peter T).
In the meantime, Orlagh’s bike found it’s way into a few interesting places on the Seven Sisters Trail.
The road riders cruised through Wongabel and found a few mild lumps in the landscape on their way via Malanda to Yungaburra. They were duly checked in by Sean’s scanning system (which almost worked OK) before darting off to be first in line at the coffee shops.
Which was a pretty handy place to be as the rest of the hoard descended on Yungaburra en masse for yummies and the obligatory caffeine fix.
After a re-fuelling break, it was time to head back to Atherton, via either the rest of the Seven Sisters Trail or a quick road loop around Kairi and Tolga. Maybe it was the long COVID break or maybe it was that the FNQ sun had decided to heat up the landscape. A few of the riders found the return trip up the “Back Passage” a bit challenging, while one Phoenix Phairy was heard somewhere around Tolga commenting that she felt “phairly tired” or something similar.
Riders trickled back into Atherton, many lamenting tired legs and delicate nether regions, but most with smiles and renewed enthusiasm for long rides with the FNQ Audax crew.
Which is a good thing……. given Rudolph’s Revenge is ready to roll on 6 December 2020 from Tolga, and our FNQ Audax calendar for 2021 is nearing completion.
Thanks to everyone who helped re-start our FNQ Audax ride schedule, particularly for your patience with the COVID-19 rules and our new systems. After our Phoenix ride, we are confident that everything is on schedule to look forward to more Audax rides in FNQ.
More to See –
Fun Facts about FNQ Phoenix Participants
Finishers Ride Times – FNQ Phoenix by Dirt 2020 (roughly……)
Finishers Ride Times – FNQ Phoenix by Road 2020 (to the nearest five or so minutes)
Photo Gallery (including the COVID-19 Mask Winners)
And what FNQ Audax ride would be complete without Jimmy’s fabulous movie. Thanks again Jimmy for sharing some stunning views from along the Seven Sisters Trail.
And While We Were Taking Happy Snaps…..
The Seven Sisters Trail inspired an FNQ Audax member – Frankie – to paint the wildlife she saw along the trail. Her watercolours exhibition will be at The Frond Cafe and Gallery, (Lake Eacham Tourist Park, Lake Drive, Lake Eacham) from 1 to 30 December 2020. Drop in for a coffee and a look.
(16 November 2020)