An M-G-M Brevet
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for most of us in respect of the number of km’s ridden because of circumstances that don’t need further mention, but having been out of action early in the year due to a biomechanical, I suddenly realised that I had ridden only three 200km brevets with the end of the season just three weeks away.
At least one more 200 was required to massage my personal ride statistics (and ego).
The Maroochydore – Gympie brevet being unknown territory to me I registered, albeit with some trepidation caused by the course profile on RWGPS. I told myself that RWGPS, while invaluable as a navigation tool per se, is notoriously unreliable with regard to gradient.
I arrived early to erect the Audax banner at the start before anyone else arrived but by the time it was proudly erect quite a crowd had gathered and I found myself meeting and greeting 16 other riders, including some new faces, at least a couple of whom hadn’t ridden any Audax rides previously.
This didn’t allow time for me to develop my usual pre-ride nerves, which cause me to faff about and start at the tail of the peloton.
This was A Good Thing as, being Audax QLD’s second worst navigator (I once blundered off course during an OPPY ride on the BVRT), my game plan was to keep Ride Organiser Kym in sight for as long as possible. This was made easier by the fact that his new bike is a stunning shade of (allegedly) burnt orange and easy to distinguish in the bunch.
I thought I was doomed to failure by the time we reached Bli Bli, about 10kms into the ride, as Jeff was leading the charge and Kym seemed to have forgotten that Jeff was riding the 100km option and seemed determined to keep up. Fortunately, this situation resolved itself somehow while my attention was elsewhere, and I found myself with a sensible group consisting of Justin, Shayne, Lisa and Kym.
I enjoyed being towed along by the others but felt compelled to take a turn at the front, as one does, so overtook the group and cruised along feeling full of virtue for all of five minutes until I started to head off course. Before my Garmin had time to emit a warning beep there were other, far more audible, warning sounds from behind me and I was able to regain my customary spot at the tail of the peloton without further embarrassment.
Shortly after this minor hiccup my luck kicked in, as Kym and I were the only two of our group riding the 200km course so by the summit of the climb up the Eumundi Range we were a select bunch of two and would remain so for the rest of the ride.
I felt, rather smugly, that my pre ride strategy of convincing myself that the ride profile on RWGPS is not a reliable indicator was validated by the fact that I was able to compare the Eumundi Range favourably with the climbs involved in two other 200’s I rode earlier in the season, which included the Grandchester Range and Maleny via Bald Knob Rd.
Feeling smug at the 36km point of a 200km ride is something best avoided as it only leads to feeling whatever the opposite of smug might be sometime later.
At this stage however, smugness warranted or otherwise, the ride was turning out to be a very pleasant experience for me. It took me to places I haven’t been for so long I had almost forgotten they existed. Travelling to Gympie other than by the Motorway is a delightful journey and the first control at Cooran (61km) was a reminder that I should come this way more often.
The next minor adventure was eight km’s of unsealed road, which I had forgotten about due to an apparent overabundance of smugness. I have to say that the gravel surface was generally as good as a lot of sealed surfaces that we encounter on Audax rides but there was a short, corrugated downhill section that effectively vibrated away any remaining excess smugness from my system. The gravel improved considerably after that salutary lesson so equilibrium was restored.
From this point the route took us to the south eastern fringe of Gympie via Mothar Mountain and we stopped at Monklands (84km) for lunch, where we briefly caught up with the faster riders ahead of us. Any further outbreak of smugness at discovering that we were faster than I thought was instantly dispelled by learning that they had suffered two punctures.
While Kym and I were chatting over our lunch outside the Monklands Store we were interrupted by one of those public-spirited individuals who regard it as their sacred duty to offer road safety advice to cyclists. I know they mean well and they’re giving up 15 minutes of their time for us but I still haven’t heard the rest of Kym’s story about cycle touring in W.A.
The next leg took us on the road less travelled (less travelled than Tin Can Bay Rd., anyway) towards Cedar Pocket. This particular area was unknown territory for me and I enjoyed soaking up the rustic atmosphere. There’s nothing else quite like the aroma of silage and the sight of B&B signs to remind cyclists that they are finally getting out into the boondocks.
From around this point onwards in the ride it became obvious that while most of QLD, including the Greater Brisbane region is in drought, the area behind the Sunshine Coast has been enjoying adequate rainfall; the farm dams were far from empty and the vegetation was green and lush.
As well as offering bucolic charm the forty km’s or so after lunch also offered undulations designed to stave off any risk of potential boredom brought about by riding flat roads. We made a quick stop at The Black Ant Café in Kin Kin (117km) for a quick soft drink as Kym had discovered during his pre brevet ride (something that all the best RO’s do) that the intended checkpoint at Boreen Point was closed and therefore had had to be pushed out further to Noosaville (158km).
Boreen Point is located at Lake Cootharaba, which was as popular as ever with the sailing fraternity and I’m sure the shop would have been doing quite well if it had been open. The section between Boreen Point and Noosaville is flat, well surfaced and doesn’t carry a lot of traffic on a Saturday afternoon except through Tewantin and we arrived at the Noosaville checkpoint around 3:45PM with a plenty of time up our sleeve to enjoy snacks and ice cream. (How good is this?)
The final leg of 44km heads straight down the coast back to Maroochydore and for the first time ever, I rode it in broad daylight and with the faintest hint of a tailwind. This section also features in Errol’s Beach and Bush Brevet, which starts and finishes in Mooloolabah and is an enjoyable way to finish a 200km ride as the surface is fast and the traffic is generally non intimidating. The views of the beach are good too.
To summarise, a great day on the bike, which I recommend to all. Thanks to Kym for organising and for keeping me on course for the entire ride.
Mark your calendars for the next edition on September 25, 2021.