This was a significant ride for me as circumstances had prevented my riding any distance in excess of 100km since August 2021.
Time flies, and suddenly it’s six months without a BRM.
This situation was exacerbated somewhat by the “Rain Bomb”, which prevented the brevet being ridden on the original scheduled date of February 26.
So, bearing all that in mind, I went to bed in the Highfields Motel the night before the ride feeling vaguely nervous but slept OK until Vaughan shook me awake early next morning. He was already showered and dressed for Audax and his cheerful disposition contrasted with my feeling of vague unease.
My sense of foreboding was not improved by the fact that we managed to record 4.6 KM on the 2KM ride from the motel to the start. We weren’t lost, but…
10 Riders were present for Pat’s pre-ride briefing and group photo and we left at 7:00AM precisely, an example to all R.O.’s
From the outset, I decided that the other riders were obviously burning off nervous energy because why else would they all be riding so much faster than me. Common sense (and a brief off-piste sortie) kicked in and I let them go, telling myself that I was only sensible rider in the bunch.. except of course, that I wasn’t (in the bunch, that is).
So, I settled down to following the pink line on my Garmin Etrex. These were roads untravelled by me previously and featured some glorious, long downhill segments, which I would have appreciated even more except for that annoying little voice somewhere in my brain that kept reminding me I had to come back this way.
At 30 km, Oakey appeared in what seemed to be a very short time, marking the end of the “out and back” section, meaning that my enjoyment of any long descents from here on need not be tempered by the thought of climbing them on the return journey.
From here it was a straightforward ride to the first control at Pittsworth through typical Darling Downs agricultural country on quiet roads, under overcast skies and with only a light breeze; almost perfect cycling conditions, in fact.
There were 3 intrepid randonneurs still there when I arrived at the control (69km) and I was able to share the table with them for a short while until they left so I knew I wasn’t too far off the pace and would almost certainly have company for lunch at Rudd’s Pub.
From Pittsworth, the route continues to Felton, noted for its annual Food Festival, which proved to be an amazingly popular phenomenon for six years until it became a victim of its own success in 2018. It drew crowds of 10,000 plus and showcased local produce with presentations by such luminaries as Costa Georgiadis and Jerry Coleby-Williams of Gardening Australia fame. Rumour has it that a reinvigorated festival will return this year. Should that happen, it would definitely not be a day to be cycling in the vicinity; the traffic and associated dust this event generates is horrendous.
About 7km’s short of Rudd’s Pub I was passed by Joel and Steven making their way back and then by Kendall not far behind them. I was beginning to think I’d be dining in isolation but everyone else was still eating and/or relaxing on the veranda when I arrived.
Rudd’s Pub is named for the famous Australian Author, Arthur Hoey Davis, who wrote the classic short story collection “On Our Selection” under the nom de plume of Steele Rudd and farmed near Nobby from 1909 to 1917.
Those of a certain age would also be familiar with his other well known work “Dad and Dave”, which was serialised on the wireless (that’s the “Radio” to you younger randonneurs).
Apart from Rudd’s Pub, Nobby is also home to the Sister Kenny Memorial Museum. Sister Elizabeth Kenny became famous for her revolutionary (at the time) treatment of Polio, or Infantile Paralysis. Like some other Australians, her achievements seem to have gained more recognition overseas than in her own country. Her life story was told in a Hollywood film in 1946 with Rosalind Russell being nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Sister Kenny.
Sr. Kenny lived in Nobby from 1910 to 1932, apart from her Army service between 1915 and 1919, so Nobby (Population 563) can claim two of the Q150 Celebration’s icons.
While enjoying a substantial lunch (all meals appear to be substantial at Rudd’s Pub) I committed a serious Faux Pas in mentioning to Tara that we’d been so lucky with the weather. Five minutes later, just as we were about to depart for the return trip to Highfields, the heavens opened. It would be accurate to say that it fairly hissed down for most of the remainder of the ride.
I was accompanied by Vaughan and Rod on the second half and the journey back to the next control at Oakey, although only a few km’s shorter than the outbound leg, seemed to be considerably quicker in spite of the rain. There were some low-lying sections of road already degraded by local flooding in February which were beginning to show signs of suffering further damage.
Most of the riders regrouped at this control with only 29km left to ride but I was beginning to feel the effects of six months without a long ride at this point and needed the sugar hit that only a chocolate milk can provide. Fortunately for me, this was available and I cheerfully rode into the gathering gloom just in time to watch my Garmin 130 suddenly die.
This was not as drastic as it may seem as I use the Etrex for navigation and the 130 to monitor the rear facing radar/taillight unit but, like most technology, you don’t realise how reliant on it you become until it isn’t there. So… not drastic but a bit of a downer all the same.
The remainder of the ride was uneventful, which is as good as one can hope for in the final stage of a brevet, and Vaughan was kind enough to wait for me to try to ease my suddenly aching neck once or twice before the finish. Six months without a long ride has consequences, apparently.
All in all, a pretty good day out on the bike in spite of the rain, which had stopped in time for a few of us to have a chat in the car park and congratulate Pat on having designed such a great route.
Put it on your calendar in 2023.