This year I was privileged to be asked to be an ambassador for the Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge which is a yearly participation event held by Bicycle Queensland in October. It consists of riding 100km from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and the event often presents the opportunity for riders to nail their first 100km effort. This is a big achievement in itself, but made even more significant with the addition of adverse weather events. To be frank, I hadn’t planned on putting “ride 190km in torrential rain” on the “adventures to have on the way to age 50” bucket list. However, fate had other plans.
We have recently experienced a few solid days of rain in Brisbane which leaves many of us cycling types feeling a little bereft if we don’t own an indoor trainer. Plus, it is seen as poor form to complain about rain here where Aussie farmers are dealing with a ravaged drought affected inland. Having experienced torrential rain in the 2017 version of the event, Bicycle Queensland were attempting to be chipper telling us the “show would go on” and it certainly did!
As I am preparing for the Taupo Challenge (170km), my plan was to ride there and back again which is a long day in the saddle but entirely doable. However, when I lined up at the start with the other riders, rain pattering on my helmet, I started to have second thoughts. Naturally, to alleviate the psychological discomfort of the thought of a 200km day in the rain, I did what I do best and cut a deal with myself – around how I could jump on a train on the way home if I needed to.
The ride started with a trip down the South East Busway which had a surprise long dragging climb in it. I had managed to latch onto a fast moving train of riders, and the combination of speed, spray from other riders’ wheels and the freedom of using the entire transport corridor was oddly exhilarating. Little wonder as I was sitting well above 40km/hr as I got pulled along, feeling like a little kid telling their dad to “go faster!” Eventually the peleton split up and it was at this point that I got talking to some of my fellow riders in between the torrential downpours. I rode with Ian-from-Gladstone who was sporting a stealthy looking Venge as his ride, and once past the first rest stop I managed to find a couple of blokes who had these fantastic Hawaiian hibiscus style kits with the acronym “BAND” on them. We swapped turns for a good 30-40km all the way to the finish line. I discovered that they were simply “Dads from Nudgee” who enjoyed getting out on their bikes on a weekend. I established that their group was the “Bicycling Association of Nudgee Dads” and as the heavens opened upon us, I baptised them as my “Band of Brothers”. I was the “Sister from another Suburb”. I enjoyed their fellowship and camaraderie and most especially, their wheels, when Southport started whipping up not only torrential rain, but a cracking headwind to boot.
Once I reached Southport, cold, wet and generally bedraggled, I decided to turn for home almost immediately.But not before downing a can of the Black Doctor and sampling an ice-cream (as you do when you’re freezing). I was fortunate enough to find a group from Taylor Cycles, Chapel Hill to start my ride home with – however, after about 30 km or so, I decided to pull over, have another bite to eat and let them go. I tootled along by myself for awhile, yelling encouragement to those riders who were still on their way to Southport. This is when the real adventure started as I discovered that following the signs to the V1 bikeway don’t necessarily lead you there! After negotiating a killer climb around Daisy Hill and eventually finding my way to Logan Central, I had to admit defeat and pull my phone out to ascertain my location. Riding around Logan and Woodridge as a single woman is not something I’d recommend as I was passed by a car full of teenage boys who thought that throwing bottles at cyclists is cool. It’s not. I was lucky enough to come across a fellow rider in an unusual looking craft that wasn’t dissimilar to a space ship on wheels. He was able to point me in the right direction and soon enough I was on the V1 Veloway, polishing off my last Clif bar, enjoying(?) the rain and looking forward to a hot shower.
Finally I was back in the Brisbane CBD, and as I pedalled back to St Lucia I marvelled at my relatively cheerful disposition despite being muddy, drenched and smelly. It really must ring true the quote about cyclists being “happier people”! I must admit feeling fantastic about riding 190km in my preparation for Taupo.
Before I close this post off, I want to acknowledge and thank Bicycle Queensland and all of the volunteers and services who made the event well organised and safe despite the crappy weather. Secondly thank you to every cyclist who participated in the event, and inspired me to stick to my plan. I hope that there were milestones achieved and personal bests attained for all of you.
I would definitely recommend the event to any rider that wants to achieve 100km. I only hope that the weather is kinder. However it does make for an entertaining story!