Day 4 - Tuesday, 12th September 2006 - Mareeba to Malanda
Today was a really tough one, it seems ironic that again the day before the Rest Day was a really tough one. As I had camped under a tree last night, I had a dry tent this morning. It was a cold night, but still not too bad considering some of the ones we had last year. I was ready to go before 7am, so I rolled to the start gate and hung around until about 5 past and then rolled out. Despite the cold night it wasn't too bad on the road, it was starting to warm up already.
On the way out of town there was a Cattle Dog who was chasing the cyclists, he had a go at me, but I had armed myself with a water bottle and I was spraying him to discourage him. He finally got the hint when he got a direct hit to the face, I wasn't trying to hurt him, just discourage him. I caught up to Gaye at the top of a short climb just out of town, I confirmed that John had driven to Malanda and was riding back to Lunch. The early road was up and down and a real change compared to the end of yesterdays route. Today we had to gain another 400m in altitude, but this time it was over about 40km instead of the 7km yesterday.
About 15 minutes out of Mareeba, a wind picked up, and as is the often case when you are cycling, it was a head wind. It drastically slowed me down and it made it into a harder day. There weren't many riders ahead of me, and I slowly chased them down. I caught up to one, Eddie, a few k's out of Morning Tea. I stayed with him and chatted. He turned into Morning Tea and I kept going. A bit further on, we turned onto a Major Highway and I was told that there were 3 or 4 ahead of me. I thought one was Rabbit again, but I later found out he was at Morning Tea when I went past. The Highway had the wind pretty much straight into us, and it was slow going. The trucks didn't make it any more pleasant, I saw a sign warning that we were entering a Cycle Damaged Area, and a bit further up, that was reinforced by seeing a flattened banana plantation.
I saw a cyclist up ahead and as I went past, I offered to her to sit behind me, she wasn't prepared to, so I rode on. A bit later, I saw two other cyclists ahead and I also chased them down. By this stage I was often only sitting in the low 20's due to the wind. I caught up to the riders and found it was Scotty, who I met yesterday, and Sue, a rider he had met. I chatted briefly and then rode on. I soon pulled into Lunch. I was pretty much done and glad of an excuse to stop and get some fuel. I don't think that I ate enough yesterday, and I was paying for it today. I ate some of the food on offer and pocketed the sandwich. I left with Scotty and Sue, but again pulled away.
Straight after lunch we went through a tunnel of rainforest, that besides being scenic also gave us a break from the wind. It didn't last and we got the wind back as we pulled into Atherton. We were taking a scenic route to Malanda, so often we were turning against the road signs. It was easier after lunch, but still quite hard. It was still quite scenic, so it wasn't all bad news.
I saw John Lindsay going the other way, I turned around and told him that I had planned to ride back to lunch with him, and then back to camp. Considering the day though, I pulled the pin on that idea. He did tell me about the Curtain Fig, which wasn't far of the route. Subsequently I took a turn off and went and had a look. It was quite spectacular so it was worth while.
As I turned into Yangaburra, I saw Scotty's and Sue's bikes at a Cafe, so I pulled over briefly and said Hello. There wasn't anything at Afternoon Tea so I kept on. I later found out that it was a bit hidden from view and initially, not well signed. The route took us on another detour via Lake Eacham, which is a Volcanic Crater Lake. The road out there was again sheltered from the wind, so it was worth while. I pulled over at the Lake and had a good look. Again I found it quite spectacular.
I kept on and again we turned against a sign to Malanda. We were on a bit of a back road, so it was sparse of traffic which made it nicer. We went through a town, Peeramon that had born the brunt of Cyclone Larry. The pub still had tarps on the roof, and I later heard that they very nearly lost it as the Cyclone partially lifted and turned it on it's foundations.
I finally made Malanda and without realising it, missed the camp site. Luckily I didn't get too far before I realised my mistake and turned back around. I went to the Bakery in town and had some food, I saw some other cyclists go into the pub, so I went over and joined them. One of the was Trisha, who I knew was on this years ride, but was yet to run into. I chatted with the other cyclists and quickly caught up with Trisha before heading back to camp. One luggage truck was unloaded, but not the one with my bags on.
I quickly jumped into the other as my bags were right up the front, and it was only about 1/3 to 1/4 unpacked. I knew I would break my earlier promise, but only about 3 people were unloading. Once set up I went for a walk back into town and saw the local cinema, which is apparently the oldest continuously running picture theatre in Australia. Further up in town is a Dairy Centre as this is a large Milk Producing Centre. I walked back through town and went to the Malanda Falls which were quite pretty. I went on two Rainforest Walks which I found quite peaceful and relaxing. Tomorrow is the Rest Day, but I have a 100km ride planned which will take me back down the Range.
Balloons over Mareeba
The Curtain Fig
The Curtain Fig
This flood level was at least 10 metres above the current water level.
for more Photos from Day 4.