Ahhhh, the wonderful Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. Beautiful one day, cyclonic the next. Possibly…. or maybe….. or should we just wait and see.
It was Cyclone Nora who deluged us in March 2018 during the Oppy. Continuing the BOM’s alphabetical ways, Cyclone Owen drenched us throughout our Christmas ride in December 2018. And just when we were venturing back onto the bike for another foray in Audax FNQ land, Cyclone Penny wavered around the Gulf and threatened to make a break for tropical coast.
A few days before the weekend, only 30 brave souls had registered for the Colt 45. The rest were no doubt recalling previous soakings and watching the forecast. After days of rain and gloomy skies, Penny finally decided to head south, taking the wet stuff with her and leaving us with delightfully calm blue skies. The registration site kicked into high gear, as another 110 registrations pounded in – some even before the official closing time.
With a backdrop of perfect weather, 140 or so riders filled the carpark at Tolga pub and spilled onto the Rail Trail. What followed was a morning of “navigating” along dirt trails, grassy road sides, gravel roads, a bitumen cycling circuit, and even a wooden swing bridge. There were plenty of misplaced riders, despite repeated warnings to follow cues sheets and those teeny signs that had been carefully placed around the course by the SAOs over the preceding days.
Everything was going well as a stream of riders headed along the rail trail and through Atherton. There was a small glitch at the secret stamp at Hasties Swamp, in the form of a massive swarm of paper wasps. Luckily, we all got to experience this wonder of nature twice – both on the way in, and on the way out. Strangely enough, very few riders decided to spend any time admiring the RAMSAR Wetlands at the bird hide. Thanks to Jimmy Chan for his Wasp Attack footage (yep – those frantically waving arms belong to Jimmy).
As I cheerfully announced that I had failed to score even one wasp sting, Mark took a direct hit on the lip. Our pace slowed after this, with lots of stops to take pictures of Mark practicing his mournful look.
At least we did the right thing by our mate as soon as we arrived in Yungaburra.
After eating an ice block or two, we sought immediate medical attention.
They were very impressed.
The flock of riders wound their way home to Atherton, some even managing to roughly follow the designated course across the swing bridge, through the gated laneway and along the drainage reserve that led uphill into Atherton.
Many thanks to the SAO’s again for their whipper-snipper, mower and flagging tape work.
I suspect this little gem would have remained undiscovered without the extra pink tape.
Despite our best efforts to mark the track, the Evans Park Cycle Track was strangely deserted, as was the drainage reserve that led back downhill towards the rail trail.
But everyone managed to find their way back to Linda and Kim who were waiting patiently at Tolga Pub, where stories of lostness and directional improvision were told and refreshing beverages were consumed.
The beers continued to flow well after our last rider appeared. Kim H had generously spent the morning tailing the field and filling his backpack with flagging tape and directional signs harvested from around the course.
Great footage of the day was captured by Brett Henderson using his drone and edited to include photos by Kathy Kilpatrick.
And Jimmy Chan survived the Wasp Attack to put together his video of the ride.
We even made a full page spread in the Tablelander, including a slightly excited and somewhat parachoical interview from the Ride Organiser.
Our next ride is the Crepe Escape – a 47km dirt ride from Kuranda on Sunday 17 February 2019. Registrations are now open. See you then.