IntroductionThis was a ride that at first I was unsure if I would do. Although I had never been to a lot of places that both the Queensland and NSW Rides go to, Far North Queensland was a lot further away than anywhere else I had been. I was also considering going and watching the Tour de France this year instead, but that didn't happen, and I thought that this would be a rare opportunity for me to see this area of Australia.
So, several months ago, I made my bookings, and I flew to Cairns for this ride. The ride was pretty much based around Cairns, we were never more than about 3 hours drive from Cairns at any time of the ride, but at times it felt like we were miles from nowhere. We were starting from Port Douglas, that is about 1 hour north of Cairns, and we were finishing at Mission Beach, about 2 hours south of Cairns. Except for these two points though, we were never on the coast. The route was via the Atherton Tablelands.
Yet again, I was on a new bike for this ride. I was hoping that I would have the Pinarello as a permanent bike, however, after the NSW Ride this year, I noticed that the frame had cracked. Pinarello weren't prepared to cover the frame under warranty (it was a second hand purchase), and their best offer was a new frame had half price (still $3,500 AUD). Instead I purchased a new Cervelo Team Soloist which was about 3 weeks old at the time of this ride.
Update: 25/9/06: Photos are now up.
|Day 0 - September 8th 2006||Sydney||Cairns||0.00 km|
|Day 1 - September 9th 2006||Rest Day||85.56 km|
|Day 2 - September 10th 2006||Port Douglas||Mossman||19.28 km|
|Day 3 - September 11th 2006||Mossman||Mareeba||76.80 km|
|Day 4 - September 12th 2006||Mareeba||Malanda||75.77 km|
|Day 5 - September 13th 2006||Rest Day||70.75 km|
|Day 6 - September 14th 2006||Malanda||Ravenshoe||127.18 km|
|Day 7 - September 15th 2006||Ravenshoe||Innisfail||90.54 km|
|Day 8 - September 16th 2006||Innisfail||Tully||72.85 km|
|Day 9 - September 17th 2006||Tully||Mission Beach||22.96 km|
ConclusionThis was an absolutely amazing ride.
Unlike previous years, I spent a bit more time on the road visiting some of the "tourist" style locations. Especially on the rest day, the day to Malanda, and riding back from Ravenshoe to visit The Crater at Mt Hypipamee. This was also evident by the 300 odd photos that I took.
I must admit I was a bit disappointed with Cycle Queensland being so hard line at the start with the weight of the luggage. I was aware that I was close to the limit, possibly over. What annoyed me about it the most, was that multiple people used the loopholes in the system to either avoid getting fined, or avoid getting weighed. I have no issue with CQ enforcing a weight limit (otherwise some people would bring the kitchen sink), but they need to ensure that everyone who should be paying the fine, is paying the fine.
Considering the logistical nightmare that it must have been to get a lot of the facilities that far north, I think that the event was very well organised, there were no glaring problems that I saw with the NSW Ride this year.
The weather was a disappointment, but it is the one thing that they can't control. We ended up with head winds on most days, and rain (although only light) on a few days as well. It was a bit cool up on the ranges, but it never got drastically cold. My biggest regret was not doing the climb on Day 2 out of Mossman more than once. It was a really fun hill and for me, a very easy climb.
At the time of writing this, I have no plans to doing next years ride. My Brother is getting married in the UK next July (2007), so I will be travelling to that, as well as using it as an opportunity to watch the Tour while I am over there.