Ride Start Date: 2022-04-23
Author: Joel Keenan
Starting at 6 am by myself in Fernvale, I filled up my water bottle, questioning if I should be doing this. I felt tired, it was colder than expected, and the weather forecast wasn’t looking great. But as always, the phrase ‘we’ll see what happens’ went through my head.
The BVRT section was what was to be expected, all the recent repairs from the flood damage were impressive, and the markers for the bad washouts were a nice touch. My only issue with this section was I saw a few too many large bulls. I’m scared of livestock. I made it to Moore at 10.45 am. This was the first control at 100km in. I felt good, as there was no one to chase and being on a loaded bike, I just watched my heart rate all morning.
The following section was a bit slow as I climbed up the range to Blackbutt and on to Yarraman. This is probably my favourite section of the BVRT because the scenery is impressive. Unfortunately, a couple of water crossings and some cells blew through, making me quite damp when I got to the old stock route to Nanango.
I’ve only been through this section once before but being wet this time made it a bit more technical on the rockier sections.
I made it into Nanango at 3.15 pm, the second control at 170 km. This was my last chance for resupply until 5 am the following day, so I made sure that I was loaded up with snacks and fluid before getting stuck into the isolated hillier sections. Leaving Nanango, I battled drizzle and headwinds along quiet sealed country roads that turned into gravel, a forestry track, and peanut butter mud. Once the mud cleared up, I had a rough descent at sunset, and my eyes couldn’t focus on the trail. This sent my anxiety sky-rocketing, and I almost pulled out at this point.
I decided to keep pushing on into one of the darkest nights I’ve experienced for a long time. I was riding along, and I decided that I needed to put my thermal layers on. I hadn’t seen any shelter since I had left Nanago, and then suddenly, I saw a fallen tree on fire on the side of the road. I took that as a blessing and pulled over to use the heat source to get changed. As I was doing this, a Landcruiser came from one of the close properties and pulled up next to me; he’d seen my lights coming up the road and saw them stop and wanted to check to see if everything was okay. This was nice, but I’ve seen Wolfcreek. I should have asked him why there was a tree on fire, but I assured him that I was okay and he was on his way.
The route uses a few road reserves, which is all fine, except with the recent rains, the vegetation has been flourishing, making it hard to see holes, rocks and logs in the grass that used to be tracks. The first one of these was fine, and I pushed on to Western Branch road. At the 244 km mark, the route left the road onto another road reserve. After about 50 meters into this field, the tracks disappeared, and you were left relying on your GPS to show you the way. Unfortunately, my Garmin and my Ride with GPS app on my phone seemed to be bouncing my location around; I’m assuming due to cloud cover, resulting in me getting lost in this field. After doing a hike-a-bike through thigh-high grass for 3km up a mountain, I found the route was completely overgrown and impassable. I even tried pushing through the bushes to see how far it went, but it was impenetrable. This was at 11 o clock at night, and I had been riding for 17 hours. I could only back-track through the field back towards Western Branch road and then follow that to Linville. Of course, I got lost again on the return through the area and was startled more than a few times by a bandicoot or two.
I was utterly exhausted and ran out of water by this point, but I had seen a couple of foxes while riding along Western Branch, so I did not feel comfortable stopping and setting up my bivvy.
I made it into Linville at about 3 am and tried to nap in the RV park near all of the old train carriages. I set my alarm for an hour and a half but woke up shivering 20 minutes later. After sitting there, way too cold and exhausted, I slowly made my way down to Moore to a cafe called Kai Lounge. It opened at 5 am, and I had a lovely slice of ginger cake and a coffee. Then I rolled very slowly to Toogoolawah, at which point I was a bit of a mess and failing to communicate with shop staff. A coke and many protein snacks saved me, and I somehow found some legs for a few kilometres.
I stopped at Esk for a pie because it’s rude not to, and saw the 100km Sunday ride come through. I pushed on and then got smashed with headwinds again from Coominya all the way back to Fernvale. I had all intentions of doing the extra kilometres to make up for the route change but didn’t have it in me. I arrived back at Fernvale and collapsed into my car at around 11.30 am.