Rudolph Does Dirt / Road – 8 December 2019

Our fourth annual Audax FNQ Christmas ride had something for everyone.  Well, at least a road and a dirt option.  The lure of a bar-b-que brekky afterwards at the pub brought everyone to Tolga for a not-so-early kick-off on a reasonably warm FNQ summer’s morning.  Roughly 130 riders headed off into the hills, some even in the right direction, and then found their way back to the pub in time for brekky and associated refreshments.

The result was a breath-taking piece of Strava art, with FNQ Audax riders creating their very own topographical bauble chart.  Check out the live version.  Hint – click on the box to the left of “athletes” to select all riders, then watch from 6.26.00 (the slide on the left).  Vary the speed to about 470x (on the top right – ) to see how Rudolph riders lit up the Tablelands.  (Thanks Keith).

Thanks to all of our volunteers – Kim and Karen (Control 1), Kathy and Mikey (Control 2), Frankie (on-road guidance and check-in) and Ivor (bar-b-que chef extraordinaire).  As always, an FNQ Audax ride needs many hands on board to make it work.  Thanks team.

The experience has left some locals feeling the need to wax lyrical – with Lloyd creating a poetic ride report (below) and Jimmy assembling another spectacular video of the ride.  (And even better – saving this RO from the task).  Many thanks to Lloyd and Jimmy for their work.

And…… there are a  few shots from me…..

An Unbiased Review of Rudolph’s Christmas Ride 2019

(thanks Lloyd)

Christmas is approaching.  All the excitement….shopping, relatives visiting, gift selection anxiety. But all is worth it as the annual Rudolph Audax ride for FNQ gets closer on the calendar.

This year a split event.  Dirt (with some road) and all road.  Locals did their homework and looked at the routes.  Road ride…. About 1000 metres at least of climbing, home into the wind.  Dirt… much more sensible.  Your scribe chose dirt.

And what a sensible choice.  On the pre ride assembly, a quick visual assessment of the road riders revealed a selection of finely chiselled athletes that looked like gazelles on million dollar bikes.  Let’s just slink back to the more sensibly shaped dirt riders that no bush could stop.  Onya SAOs!  But horror…. Suddenly there were the gazelles appearing on mountain bikes.  Damn.

But there was a third element to this game.  A small but select group of gravel bikes were in the mix, including your scribe.  This dirt course of gravel and road would eat up the mountain bikes….surely.

After the pre ride briefing, off we went in 2 minute intervals.  In the first group, all was jovial and happy, until SAO rider Rex noticed that Bob was out front.  Fearing that all would follow Bob blindly to Herberton, he paced up to direct the first group on the first right corner onto the course, and the danger was diverted.  Later Rex would state that this effort shattered his possibility of ride glory.  Yea right!

Of course the gravel grinder was eating up this hard gravel and road, and all was good until Bone’s Knob reared its incline.  In spite of all efforts, gazelles on mountain bikes outpace VOMITS (very old men in tights) on gravel bikes.  Oh well….it wasn’t a race (any more).

Coming down Bone’s Knob, we saw the first of the road riders starting their ascent.  How did they get there so quickly?  Drugs?  And they didn’t even look hot or puffed.

The dirt ride then went down the Pony Club trail.  The gravel grinder was struggling (probably more so the rider) on the rougher terrain, and your scribe was passed by more non-gazelle mountain bikers.  Once again….it wasn’t a race.  Nice scenery though.

Back onto the gravel, and then back towards Tolga.  Thank heavens Kim was there to direct us on course….only 20% of people took an alternate route.  But there was the first peopled check point.  And water, and ice blocks and bananas and water-melon.  Heaven.  Rumour went out amongst the dirt riders that that the roadies had already had a previous stop with unwooded Chardonnay and duck pate, but this, of course, was denied.  And then we were off again.

Down the rail trail, across the highway and a maze of Tolgian back roads.  Those roadies kept coming in the opposite direction, looking like they had just showered and been massaged.  Typical athletes!  And there was the second manned check point.  Thank heavens.

The homeward leg.  More gravel, and the time was approaching Tolga pub’s opening time. Map said turn left down the field!  What!  Through a track in grass that could conceal taipans,…or tigers!.  Oh well.  Gary Perkins was in in the lead.  A taipan would get him first.

Made it through the paddock and on to the Tolga pub.  Great effort….There was Kim again and Ivor manning the barbeque.  Much appreciated.  Master Chef look out.  And the scribes ticking off the riders as they came in.

And road riders already!  Definitely gazelles.

And as later riders arrived and were cheered for their efforts, we all appreciated the efforts and organisation that go into our Audax rides.  Thank you to the volunteers, the SAOs for route arranging, and Audax for the organisational umbrella under which we ride.  And of course Gayle, whose efforts make it all happen.

A total of over 140 riders registered for “Rudolph does Christmas”, and over 130 rode.  Audax in FNQ is a national phenomenon.

(23 December 2019)

"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle" Winston Churchill