Maryborough to Tin Can Bay
Up very early this morning. A fellow camper has decided to pack up at 3.45am, and was making a fair bit of noise until a womans voice told them in no uncertain terms to ‘Keep it Down!’ (I’ve cleaned it up a bit for publication…) but it’s too late, we’re already awake. Use the extra time to slap some chain oil on the bike and have a bit of a dig round for the ‘noise’ that has been driving me nuts for the last couple of days. I still can’t find anything, but on impulse spray WD40 over every exposed area of the bike.
Above us the sky is cloudy-ish, and the wind is coming from the SE. We will be punching into it the whole way. This is the only part of the ride I’m not really looking forward to. Most of the riders I say this to look at me in a funny way because the majority are dreading the climb up the range to Maleny on the 2nd last day. ‘Yes’, I reply, ‘But at least there’s stuff to look at on the range. Unless you like looking at endless rows of pine trees there’s not a lot to see along the Tin Can Bay road.’
Brekky over, toilet stop, and awaaay. Bernie has locked onto the rear of my bike as we wind our way through Maryborough. I’ve put my padded gel seat on the bike and my rear end is VERY grateful for the extra comfort. We pedal through the main street and out onto the highway, the steam from the hot water outlet of the sugar mill looks impressive, and Bernie and I have the same thought, “Barramundi!” Must remember to ask my relations if it’s a good area for catching the big fish.
The bike is running flawlessly, sliding easily between gears and not a noise to be heard. Okaaay, so I’ve inadvertantly fixed ‘whatever’ it was, but what is it? Have I mentioned I don’t like mysteries? The only concern I have now is the small pieces of sugar cane littering the sides of the road. I’ve hit a couple, and the last one kicked my front tyre to one side, I manage to stay upright, but have to concentrate fairly hard on the roads’ surface to avoid hitting anymore.
On the open road Bernie slips past me, his Giant is built for chewing up big miles and my mountain bike is hard pressed to maintain the same cruising speeds. I hold onto him for a while but I’m using up precious energy. We turn off on the road to Tin Can Bay, and Bernie points out that the whole highway had been a steady uphill climb. No wonder I feel buggered. After a quick pit stop we slip back onto the highway and continue on into the now increasing headwind. I can’t maintain the speed, and I back off a bit, calling out to Bernie to ‘Take it away’, I watch as he disappears somewhere in front of me, a pattern which will repeat itself over the coming days, and I think, “Gotta get me one of those things.”
In order to save my breath calling out ‘Passing!’, everytime I manage to reel in a fellow rider I’ve taken to ringing my cheerful little bell. It gets a few laughs from various folk. As we ride on, and the headwind picks up, the clingle, clingle noise from my bell is being heard less often. We stop for smoko on the side of the road. Strawberries and cream, a cup of tea, bikkies and cake… at this point it occurs to me why I’m gaining weight on this trip. Have a yarn with Bernie. He has loaned me one of his bandannas, as I had failed in my attempts to find one at Maryborough as well. They are pretty good. We take off again after taking some snaps. Again, it’s not too long before I find myself watching his rear wheel disappear into the distance. Then a group of smartly dressed gents slides past me and I decide to tag along. Pedalling hard I pick up the last rider of the group and am relieved to find that I can easily keep up and that we are riding at a pretty good clip. We pass numerous riders and I can even take a turn out front without slowing the group down. Ahead in the distance I can make out Bernie, I kick up a gear to the surprise of the group and try to reel him in. It doesn’t work, and I’m getting some pointed comments about my speed from the bloke behind me.
Logging trucks are all over this section of road and these boys mean business. They are probably on tight schedules and they aren’t slowing down unless they absolutely have to. One of the blokes in the pack is a screamer, and the first time he yells out, “CAR BACK!”, I nearly fall off my bike from shock. And besides it wasn’t a car, it was a truck bearing down on us like some sort of avenging juggernaut. I nearly fall off my bike for a second time when it roars past us, narrowly missing my right hand on the bars.
In addition to the headwind we are now hitting some hills as well. We pass stacks of slower riders, many of them are on foot pushing their bikes up the hills, sweat is pouring off me by now as the pace hasn’t let up. My little bell is working overtime as we pass more and more bikes. A couple of others join our pack and some of the originals drop off as the pace picks up another notch. We lose one bloke to a flat tyre and he calls out to us to keep going. We do. All of us want this ride to be over, the scenery is less than inspirational, and the trucks are getting thicker and faster.
We turn off the logging road as we hit the lunch stop. I meet up with Bernie and we flop to the ground and eat our salad rolls. The ride has taken its’ toll. Around us riders are lying down, some are stretching their various leg muscles, others are lay motionless, all are groaning. A bloke next to us tells us that he will be sleeping at home tonight in Gympie and re-joining the ride after the rest day. The REST DAY! That’s right, tomorrow is a day off from the bike. This cheers us up no end.
It’s 14 klms into Tin Can Bay, a doddle! The headwind from the SE doesn’t give us much respite, for some reason it’s still punching into our faces. The road though is in good nick, with wide shoulders, and there are a couple of great downhills. I can’t wait to pitch my tent and have a rest.
Tin Can Bay
We pass an army encampment, two soldiers watch us over the top of their sandbags. Australia’s finest are conducting an exercise in the area, and we have been warned that some of them are carrying live ammo. Great.
We pull into Tin Can at 12.30 ish. From what we’ve seen so far it’s a pretty little spot. The park we are camping in is near the water, the wind has picked up a bit and I’m a bit dubious about camping in the open. I set up my tent near Bernie’s, and step into a patch of clover. A bee stings the bottom of my foot. It hurts. I pick up my tent and move it back away from the beach, in between two bbq huts. It’s less windy here. A group of soldiers on patrol slip quietly through the trees nearby. In the distance can be heard the sound of some big guns being fired. Bloody hell.
Bernie and I head into town for a bit of a look around… on foot. The army has set up a base near a phone tower, sandbags, tents, and sentries everywhere. Around us are more patrols. I decide that yelling out ‘Alla Akbar’ might not be so funny at this point. We have lunch and a coffee, then wander up to the small marina for a look. It’s a beautiful little spot, with holiday homes and units right on the waters edge. Bernie has booked a dolphin cruise on his rest day, and he is planning on taking an old friend of his (a nice old lady who is one of the volunteers on the ride) out on the boat for a treat. I’m more content to just sit in my tent and read my novel.
We get back to the campsite only to discover that my tent has been moved to one side and is now surrounded by many other tents. Bernie has a bit of a laugh, then helps me move back to the beach area. We are joined by Bill, a twinkling eyed bloke from the Gold Coast who has put up his tent near Bernie’s. We immediately nickname Bills’ tent, ‘The Taj Mahal’. It’s a six man special, and he’s bought it along so he can put his carbon fibre bike inside at night.
That night as the wind picks up slightly we enjoy a couple of rums before tea. It’s the first bottle (hip flask type) that I’ve bought in years, and I’m happy to share the contents. The band is great and so are the conversations with other riders. We meet up with Maria from Miriam Vale. She’s the Australian distributor for Rohloff hubs, and is sort of here on business as well as pleasure. She tells us about her adventures on the Young Endeavour, and other sailing boats, her previous rides, and the ingenious design of the Rohloff hub. She is also getting over the flu and like half the other riders on the tour has a serious hacking cough.
At the after dinner briefing we learn that the weather for tomorrow is for increased winds and a 60% chance of rain. I like those odds. Here in Gladstone 60% means ‘no chance’ of rain! It might be a bit different though down here. Another late night, it’s 8.10 when I hit the sack, my tired legs grateful for the rest. I open my novel ‘The Sword Edged Blonde’ for the first time and read two pages before passing out. Outside the wind picks up the pace…