After weeks (read months) of rain, Mareeba treated FNQ Audax to a relatively clear sky day to start the fourth running of Eight Tableland Towns. Roughly eighty something riders turned out for the third birthday of Audax rides in Far North Queensland, with 26 tackling the dirt, 16 choosing a big day for a 200km ride, and the rest (40 or so) deciding that a 100km spin and coffee was just perfect for a Sunday outing.
After three years of experience, we are now finely attuned to the needs of FNQ Audax riders, and cruise through our preparations with relative ease. That is, Kim takes full charge of preparations in the supermarket, the kitchen and at his desk.
In the interim, I display my customary level of worth in all things practical, and test-ride the course with my mates.
(Yep, Kim does get on a bike every now and then……)
In the early hours of Sunday morning, and after the usual (mostly superfluous) rider briefing, the groups lined up at the Coffee Works gate, bursting with energy and ready to go. The 100km and 200km groups headed north through Mareeba and on towards the first Control at Springmount Road, while the dirt riders found the rail trail and tackled the loose gravel and long grass on their way to Rocky Creek.
The local lads, Graham, Rex and Kym, led the field through Walkamin and to the first Control for the dirt riders at the entrance to Barney Springs.They paused briefly for yummies, before continuing their charge down the overgrown (and muddy….. and rocky……) roadway to Barney Springs. Later riders were more fortunate. A local farmer quickly decided that the roadway definitely needed attention, and brought his slasher and tractor into action.
Still, there were those who didn’t quite follow the instructions that the turnoff on the left at the sign to Barney Springs was optional, and that the track to the Secret Stamp was on the right.
An easy mistake to make……
After gathering enough sustenance at Control 1, the dirt riders disappeared down the track to Barney Springs. Given they didn’t return again, it is assumed that they all found their way safely back onto the course at Barney Road and followed their instructions back to the rail trail and places beyond.
Any further lostness would have been entirely forgiven, and with full acknowledgement that one of cue sheet instructions may have been a little misleading. Possibly something about going through the gate clearly marked “Hastie”.
The rest of the ride seemed to go swimmingly, with riders finding their way onto Trass Road,
and even managing to find the correct way along the headlands beside the highway and back to the rail trail. I guess they had a few clues…..