Starting Spring with Cycle Queensland

Four days of riding my bike with little else to think about. Days warmed with spring sunshine and draped with landscapes that stretch the eye to where earth and sky shimmer as one. Night skies aglow with moonlight carrying the sounds of weary bodies sleeping. Sleep, Eat, Ride, Eat, and Repeat. This was my first ‘Cycle Queensland’ Adventure Tour and it ensured my spring began with a most enjoyable ride.

Cycle Queensland is an annual event run by the not-for-profit bicycle advocacy organization, Bicycle Queensland. Each year, the tour takes a different route delivering about 500 cyclists a nine-day cycling holiday. This year’s ride started inland at Goondiwindi, a small town in Western Queensland, and ended at Currumbin Beach on the Southern Gold Coast, where I live.

Two things attracted me to riding the 2017 route. One was that the tour would finish where I live and there was something strangely appealing about the thought of riding home. The other attraction was the route would take us over ‘Tomewin’, a road that connects the Tweed and Currumbin Valleys, and bears a challenging climb that I’d long wanted to try. For similar reasons, Jane decided to join me for the four days.

Choosing the half-tour option, my Cycle Queensland (CQ) began in Stanthorpe known best for apples, wine and cooler climes due to its elevation of 811 metres. Our bikes had been serviced and boxed by our local bike shop, and then transported by truck under the guidance of Bicycle Queensland. After a bus and train ride to Brisbane, we caught a bus to Stanthorpe chartered by Bicycle Queensland.

When we arrived in Stanthorpe, the CQ campsite was chilled, both in mood and temperature. The full-tour riders were relaxed having enjoyed a rest day after riding four days from Goondiwindi to Stanthorpe. Plus, an icy southwesterly was whipping across the campground. After registering at HQ, finding our bike boxes, assembling our bikes and sorting the night’s accommodation, we were ready for the nightly pre-ride briefing at 6.30pm.

Splashed with bellbirds ringing…

Our first day of riding took us from Stanthorpe to Woodenbong along roads lined with gum trees, dotted with granite boulders and splashed with bellbirds ringing. It was also the route’s longest day. Riding a distance of 105.4 kilometres, I experienced my first ever century-plus ride. And survived! Thanks to morning tea at a lavender farm with freshly made lavender scones served with jam and cream, and a healthy tailwind throughout the day.

Day Two brought an icy greeting with sub-zero temperatures overnight. Ice had formed on our tent, bike handlebars, tyres and bike bags. I was glad to be up and eating, and even happier once we started riding and generating warmth. Our second day ended in Kyogle after 60.5kms among bushland chiming with Bellbirds and beside pastured paddocks thirsty for rain.

I know you now…

Climbing rolling hills featured in the route from Kyogle to Murwillumbah on Day Three. Along winding roads with views of Wollumbin coming ever closer, we entered the Tweed Caldera having ridden 1059 metres elevation over the 76.8 kilometre ride. However, rolling hills bring a reprieve. You climb then you descend, then you climb again, and descend. Climbing Tomewin on the following day brought a different story.

With Tomewin, you climb and climb. For five kilometres, you climb, with no downhill reprieve. Yet ascending Tomewin on our final day brought my personal highlight. The climb was harder than I’d expected and more rewarding too. Rolling over the top of the range at the NSW/Queensland border and descending into Currumbin Valley, I felt the exhilaration of having looked an aspiration in the eye and being able to say, I know you now.

A quiet space descends…

Although there might be hundreds of riders participating in this tour, I found a quietness riding along that stands in stark contrast to city riding. In a wide landscape with few cars, the sounds of wind rustling trees and grasses, punctuated with the calls of magpies, galahs and cockatoos, are all there is to hear. A quiet space descends. As I sweep downhill, as I climb steadily up the hills, something quiet lands within. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of travelling by bicycle. Perhaps it’s the closeness to the elements as they touch my senses. Whatever the source, this quiet is a feeling I enjoy.

Riding past canefields in Tweed Valley.

Crossing the NSW border

Crossing the NSW border on the way to Woodenbong.

Lavender Farm for morning tea

Lavender Farm for morning tea

Gravel sections on the road to Woodenbong

We had a couple of gravel sections on the road to Woodenbong.

Paddocks dry and skies blue.

Paddocks dry and skies blue.

Ice on every surface of my bike!

Ice on every surface of my bike!

Barney was a backdrop for our ride to Kyogle.

Mt. Barney was a backdrop for our ride to Kyogle.

Grasses in a wide landscape.

Grasses in a wide landscape.

Wollumbin coming every closer.

Wollumbin coming every closer.

Stokers Siding, an old railway stop near Murwillumbah.

On the outskirts of Murwillumbah, we stopped at the old railway stop of Stokers Siding.

Campsite at Murwillumbah Showgrounds with Wollumbin in the background.

Campsite at Murwillumbah Showgrounds with Wollumbin in the background.

Canefield-lined roads in the Tweed Valley.

Canefield-lined roads as we leave Murwillumbah through the Tweed Valley.

Climbing up Tomewin.

Climbing up Tomewin.

 

16 Comments on “Starting Spring with Cycle Queensland

  1. Not trying to be naff, but you really are an inspiration. Am cycling more often with my daughter now but she and I do maybe 5kms at time – definitely not 105! Well done you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so good to hear Michelle. My regular rides to the beach and shops are anywhere between one and six kilometres. It’s such a great feeling to be freewheeling along. Even better sharing it with someone.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Gail, Congratulations on reaching another cycling milestone. Those icy mornings would have been a shock to the system when you are used to subtropical Currumbin Beach. I appreciated your description of the sounds of the countryside. Those sounds certainly bring a greater sense of harmony than the roar of city traffic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margaret, thanks 🙂 It was a satisfying adventure. I enjoyed experiencing the contrast in the soundscapes very much. Writing the story – both during the writing and after in reading – helps my memory of the soundscape stay with me… and then I can go there again 🙂

      Like

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