T’was a few weeks before Christmas, and all through FNQ…… or so the story goes. Perhaps it was the universe striving for meteorological balance, or maybe just those pesky Christmas elves doing their thing yet again. Whatever the higher order explanation, once again our FNQ Audax Christmas ride report is dominated by the prevailing weather conditions.
In December 2016, our inaugural Rudolph’s Revenge in Cairns was……… hot (surprise, surprise). Ice blocks and melted riders were the order of the day.
In December 2017, Rudolph shifted his gig to the high country of the Tablelands, hoping for a weather reprieve.
Which brings us to 9 December 2018. Was it the forgiving nature of the average FNQ Audax rider that led to 104 people registering for Rudolph’s Revenge?? Or perhaps it was the promise of a brekky barbque after a shortish 50 or so km ride on quiet Cairns bikepaths and backroads that lured so many potential starters.
A developing low pressure system, that was just waiting to be born as Tropical Cyclone Owen, was looming in the distance, causing the BOM site to cover Cairns in its most spectacular shades of deep blue, red and dangerous orange. Against a backdrop of gathering storm clouds, our truck was loaded in Atherton with barbques, bread rolls, sausages, eggs and all manner of Christmas goodies and we headed down the range to Cairns.
And the big news is ….
Seventy-six eager cyclists tested their luck and headed to Brinsmead for a morning of FNQ Audaxing. The cyclone-gods decided to smile on the peloton for a short while, allowing check-in, a ride briefing and the start to occur while the rain held off. Our FNQ riders turned out in their Christmas best, ready for celebrations.
Santa hats, reindeer antlers and tinsel were the order of the day, and managed to capture the attention of riders to a far greater degree than did the ride briefing.
The ride started in a relatively orderly manner, heading through the tunnel and along the bike paths towards Barron Gorge. The ride briefing mentioned something or other about pretty Christmas stickers on a sign on the far side of Barron Gorge Bridge. In the excitement of the day, this was roughly translated to be a secret stamp waiting across the gorge. The non-existent stamp was never found, and multiple riders gleefully announced that it had been stolen by a rogue elf. In the meantime, Ian sat in the shelter shed and calmly dispensed a sticker to each rider – after they returned from the trek across the Gorge.
The course headed back down Barron Gorge and up the Redlynch Valley. There was some confusion between roads and bike paths around the Freshwater Creek end of town, with great debate as to whether the course ran clockwise or anticlockwise around Gamburra Park and Gamburra Drive (or if anyone really cared). The first riders headed into Control 1 at 35km (which doubled as the finish point and breakfast location) just as the rain started to tumble down. It proved to be more than a passing shower, and the heavens decided to open up in earnest for the second section of the ride.
As the riders streamed (literally) in to Control 1, Glynis busily stickered cards and recorded times. Most riders were amazingly cheerful about grabbing their fistful of lollies, bananas and yummies, and heading back into the rain for the final 18km loop before breakfast. Just a few decided that the lure of a dry shelter was too inviting, and parked their bikes for the day.
It was then a race against time, as the breakfast chefs cooked up a storm in anticipation of hoards of hungry (and possibly damp) riders returning.
A summer Audax ride in FNQ usually means iceblocks and cold drinks in the esky. However, this was no ordinary summer ride in Cairns. The ice blocks were bypassed in favour of the tea-lady urns and bodems of coffee that Kim had the foresight to stash in the truck.
Full credit must go to everyone who braved the elements, and ultimately enjoyed a memorable morning out on the bike. Many thanks to our volunteers, Kim, Glynis and Ian for their work throughout the morning. Thanks also to Nola and Mark who helped us with the Tetris-task of jamming all the gear back into the vehicles for the trip home – while the rain kept tumbling down.
Our next FNQ Audax event is the first of two summer dirt rides. The Colt 45 (which is a bit longer than 45) starts at 6.30am from Tolga Hotel on Sunday 6 January 2019. Registrations are now open. See you there.
(21 December 2019)