Now the day is over, I can admit to feeling a little apprehensive about today’s ride. A few people had told me about the single lane of sealed road, the multiple road trains that travel the route, and I was starting to wonder if I had bitten off more than I would enjoy chewing.
I made a last phone call to Mick before I ran out of Optus reception and he reminded me that the perspective of a car driver is always different to a cyclist and that the prevailing winds would be in my favour. With this encouraging information I set off with some excitement into new territory.
One of my first wonders of the day was broccoli! It was growing on the side of the road, and while it was pretty much all going to seed, I wished I was closer to dinner time so I could pick some. The photo below if of a poor specimen but I had stopped in an awkward spot so that’s all you get. I thought our friends at Artist as Family would be impressed…
My second wonder was when the Ortlieb trunk bag, water bladder and solar panel decided to gradually slip back over the back of the rear rack without me noticing until I glanced in my rear view mirror and realised something was missing…
It was easy fixed, I just hooked the handle of the trunk bag over the front of my saddle and that did the trick. I think this may have happened on our Tassie trip…you think I would have remembered!
About 40km out of town was the Fletcher Creek Camping Area. It had a beautiful creek running through it, plenty of grey nomads and toilets and non-potable water. There was even Telstra reception if you stood on a certain rock and held the phone a certain way. If this was the end of my day I would have happily camped here and chatted to the campers who regularly camped there for a couple of weeks at a time.
A couple of grey nomads warned me about the road trains that were constantly coming up and down the road I was about to continue on, and to prove their point one did go past at that moment.
About 70km out of town I hit the feared ‘single lane of sealed road section’…
I drew a deep breath and set off…and had to start laughing. This road was fantastic! The shoulder was hard packed dirt with some gravel, but it was easy to ride on with my 2″ Scwalbe Big Apple tyres (I would even have done it easily on narrower touring tyres e.g. 26×32″). Whenever a vehicle went past I just rode off onto the shoulder, then continued back on the sealed section when they had passed. The best thing was that there weren’t even many vehicles! I did start counting and lost track, but a good few minutes at least would pass before the next vehicle turned up. The mirror was invaluable for observing rear approaching traffic too.
The majority of traffic consisted of motorbikes! Must be a popular route I thought.
As for road trains, there were only a handful the whole day and I just got off the road and stopped, or took videos (don’t smile during this exercise because you end up with a mouthful of dirt!)!
The single land stuff continued for about 15km then it went to two lanes of sealed road with no shoulder to speak of. Again it was fine. There was some more single lane further on, but the rest was fine.
After passing the turn-off to Hervey Range Road, which would have brought me back to Townsville, I reached the Bluewater Springs Roadhouse. My aim was to eat some lunch then continue on for a bit and camp on the side of the road.
The owners seemed quite happy that I had arrived by pushbike, and after explaining the the motorbike riders were doing some charity ride, there were 460 of them and the owners hadn’t been told and consequently had been eaten out of house and home…I was provided with a delicious cheese and egg toasted sandwich with salad.
After a feed I was no longer keen to ride on, and instead paid the $5 fee to camp at the roadhouse. The owners even switched the hot water on for that price even though I offered to have a cold shower. There is a lovely big area to camp in, which seemed a bit dry and hot in the early afternoon, but was lovely as the sun went down. There was an outdoor shower and toilet…
…and only one other person turned up to camp the evening. It was almost like bush camping except there was a plastic chair available to use when I could not get a peg into the rock hard ground despite my best efforts. It was a bit dark when I took the photo and it hasn’t loaded properly, but it’s amazing the uses for plastic chairs! Tomorrow I am off to Greenvale and maybe even The Lymd Oasis Roadhouse.