In Audax terminology, a Super Series is a piece of obsessionality consisting of four epic rides – 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km – that are somehow linked together in time, space or concept. A year or so ago, it seemed like a good idea to throw one of these things together in the cycling paradise that is FNQ. There were cheers of anticipation and excitement, and promises of heaps of training to be done. As time loomed closer, there were more whispers in the air about a lack of cycling fitness and doubts about whether body and spirit were up to the task.
In the pre-dawn of Sunday 4 July 2021, 13 riders gathered near Atherton to have a crack at the 200km. Some were finalising months of preparation and clearly focussed on completing the whole series. Others were already declaring that just one 200km was definitely more than enough. Darren had obviously given it all a lot of thought – he jumped in the night before following a spontaneous decision to ride 200km. But team MNG (Mary Ann, Nola and Gayle) was taking a “wait and see” attitude, with decisions on the 300km being deferred until the days end.
Like all the best Atherton rides, the plan was to start in the darkness, hoping to sneak up the Herberton Range and across Longlands Gap before any of the riders noticed they were actually out of bed. Some loved the concept, and there was heaps of enthusiasm for the run down Upper Barron Road that followed.
“I am probably crazy but the first part of the day was great, really enjoyed riding up the Herberton Range and up Longlands Gap, and then when we came out of the scrub the views were amazing on the way down the Upper Barron Road.” (Chris)
“We had a really enjoyable climb up the Herberton Range and a nice spin to Longlands Gap before the ‘Best Road on the Tablelands’ Upper Barron downhill.” (Sean)
“High point – the stretch across the Upper Barron in the early morning light.” (Grahame, Ian, Mary Ann)
“The weather really turned it on for us at the beginning of the day with cool temps and a spectacular sunrise.” (Dave and Virve)
It was then a quick trip through Malanda and to the first control in Yungaburra (67km). It was quicker than average for some, with the first group arriving before the volunteers !!
“We managed to arrive at Yungaburra before the control volunteer arrived which just proves that Kim is human” – Sean
Kim and Ian later spotted a “rattler of turkeys” in the main street of Yungaburra – but alas no photographic evidence.
The rest of us arrived in Yungaburra in time to enjoy Mundi’s welcome and Kim’s home cooking, before setting off to find coffee at Control Two in Atherton (100km). Some were lucky, but by the time the Team MNG tailenders had arrived, every other traveller in Australia seemed to have descended on Atherton and surrounds. The coffee shop was packed, and the roads were unusually busy. Mary Ann’s Low point – “The traffic around Atherton was horrendous” (I think she was still lamenting the lack of coffee).
Somewhere along the way, other riders were having their personal highs and lows.
“Virve and I had a fantastic day except for when I was sick on the side of the road as clearly not fully recovered. It was a combination of my chest infection and that I broke my wrist on the MTB about 10 weeks ago and was only on Zwift for 6 weeks.” (Dave)
They finished – 10hrs3mins – awesome effort.
“A highpoint – Sean thinking that one of the volunteers was getting just a little bit too handsy with me (jealousy or infringement of Audax rules?)” (Grahame)
It’s true – Mundi has that special smile for Grahame. They have even been seen travelling to and from rides together.
The trip from Atherton was definitely a universal winner. “Highpoint – Atherton to end of Springmount Road with the wind behind” (Mary Ann, Ian, Grahame). Yep, it was a good 45km of downhill with a solid tailwind. Which just means one thing…… Having to grab the Audax flag to keep it upright for the photo, while it flaps madly in the opposite direction to where you are going – it’s never a good omen.
The comments about the return trip from Springmount Road to Walkamin (and maybe even Atherton) are self-explanatory.
“Low points ? I bet no-one else says back from Springmount Road into the headwind” (Mary Ann)
“The headwind was a killer on the way back at the end” (Dave and Virve)
“The bummers -Back home up hill and into the wind” (Ian)
“What seemed like long slog into the wind on the way back to Walkamin” (Chris)
“Lowpoint – the head wind but this was negated somewhat by the camaraderie of fellow riders Sean & Darren so really a highlight! (Grahame)
“Who called this the Tablelands – tables are flat” (Kevin)
So… everyone was understandably happy to make it to the Walkamin Control (175km).
And from there, it was just a short 25km hop up through Tolga and Atherton, and on to the finish.
“I ran out of steam with 50km to go and was very glad of the company to drag me along. Tolga Heights seemed much higher on the way back with tired legs and a puncture was even a welcome rest.” (Sean)
“Was quite happy to get to Walkamin, and the ride to Tolga and on to the finish seemed easy by comparison”. (Chris)
Team MNG ticked along at a steady tempo to the end, thoroughly enjoying the conversation and company, and even starting to plot our assault on the 300km. A total highlight of my day was the enthusiastic beeping and waving from Darren as he drove past us a few kilometres from the finish and then the welcoming cheers and congratulations from the rest of the riders and volunteers, who were happily chatting and drinking beers on our deck when we rolled in. Thanks to Kim, Mundi and Mark for volunteering throughout the day, and to everyone who joined the ride. I think we all agree – There is something pretty special about our FNQ Audax group.
Thanks for organizing an awesome day, had a great ride with great company along the way👍” (Chris)
“Another fabulous event in the Atherton Tablelands with weather perfect, company excellent, route challenging and organisers and volunteers top class.” (Sean)
“Great organisation and support. And…. Kim’s coffee at the finish. Coffee had never tasted so great.” (Ian)
“The support crew was absolutely fabulous as was the food! Everyone was also so friendly” (Dave and Virve)
“The company, the conversation and the checkpoint treats. The route was fabulous, organisation superb as always and volunteers so generous”. (Mary Ann)
|Rider||Yungaburra (67km)||Atherton (100km)||Walkamin (175km)||Finish (204km)||Overall Time|
|Mary Ann A||9.17am||11.02am||2.46pm||4.35pm||10h35|
(7 July 2021)