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Offline Leon H

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FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« on: March 12, 2006, 07:24:39 am »
Every now again, when we can get leave passes, my mates and I partake of a ride we call the FNQ1000 (Far North Queensland).  Basically it involves heading north out of Townsville, and up to the Atherton Tablelands and Cairns region, around the ranges and roads.  Now the FNQ1000 usually takes in about 1000km and must be completed in a day.  That said it is not a race, just a touring ride without many breaks, the trick is to keep a good pace but not stop for too long anywhere.  As such I do not have a huge amount of photos, but I will attempt to give you a picture of how it went down.

First step, woke up Saturday morning at 0430, had a shower and looked at the weather report.  It said moderate to heavy showers - who would have thought it would rain in the wet tropics?  Anyway, I got my bike out of the garage and headed off to meet the other 2 guys at the local servo.

Over at the servo I met Tristain (of tengai fame) who had borrowed his dad's Bandit, and my brother in law Owen, who just bought my partner's old YZF600.  Tristain and I both race roadbikes in the Queensland series together, and are of equal ability.  Owen is a relatively new rider and this is his first modern roadbike.  He had never been riding with anyone from my "group", and no-one had ever seen him ride.  It turns out that bringing a guy with a new roadbike and something to prove to the racers was a recipe for trouble, but more on that later....

The first 2 hours was a boring blast north on the highway to a place called Tully, which incidentally is the wettest town in Australia.  And guess what - it was raining!  We grabbed fuel, and turned off the highway onto the Palmerston Highway, a winding sweeping, well paved road that leads up to the Atherton Tablelands.  The tablelands is a big plateau that is more like New Zealand than North Queensland, due to the alititude it is very cool and lush, and the roads are out of this world.  And it was raining.  It was pretty tricky so Tristain and I took it pretty steady but still had a great time.  We soon stopped at a place called Mareeba for coffee.  Depsite the slow pace and crap weather up the hill, this did not stop the tall stories from our newer rider - "I got it sideways there" "I passed a cop car doing 140" - that sort of annoying thing.  Funny thing is I never saw any of this.  Anyway there is a coffee factory there that makes I reckon the best coffee I have ever had.  We stocked up on a few bags for the machine at home, went out into the carpark only to sicover Tristains bandit had blown a fuse and he had no lights or instruments.  Fortunaletly our new rider was a self proclaimed expert at auto electrics, and of course he could not repair the problem.  I'm not sure if Tristain is frustrated by either his bike breaking down, or by a mouthy repair man who is violating his bike!

So Tristain and I have a small discussion about Owen struggling to keep up, and decide it is easiest and safest if he leads.  So Owen leads us out of Mareeba, and onto the Kuranda Range.  The Kuranda Range is magnificent, it is a very windy, newly re-surfaced road that leads down the escaprment through the rainforest into Cairns.  Now I can safely say in all my years when I was working as a riding instructor, I have never, EVER seen such dangerous riding.  Running wide through corners, sitting up the arse of cars, locking brakes, it was all there.  Hanging right off the bike road race style, but at 30km/h round the bends, then whacking it in a straight line and struggling to pull up to get around the next bend, again at a snails pace.  To give you and idea of how slow he was going on average, I only used the brakes 3 times down the range and just rolled down in third gear.  The more I watched the more I became convinced he was going to be seriously injured.  In the end I just pulled up and enjoyed the view down into Cairns (at the right end of the photo), the weather was starting to clear so the run up the coast to Port Douglas looked like it was going to be great.

I arrived at the bottom of the hill to find Tristain and Owen, who was surpisingly in one piece, but clearly in the throes of some sort of testosterone crazed episode.  I said to Tristain "let's hang right back and just let him do his own thing".  He agreed.  We set off up the road to Port Douglas.

This road is incredible.  In this area the rainforest reaches down to the sea, and the road weaves along a very small strip right along the ocean between the mountains and the coral sea.  It makes for amazing curves, and amazing scenery.

The road is so full of tourists, police and everything else, that the only option is to just roll along and enjoy the view.  But not our mate.  He was doing is out of control but slow routine a few curves in front of us and we were just shocked and amazed he didn't get hurt.  Dumb luck I guess.  What really fried me is that when we stopped for lunch he was talking up how fast and excellent he was, and that we couldn't keep up with him.  Hmmmmm.......

But on the plus side we stopped at a great little cafe at Ellis Beach, which they somehow managed to jam in between the beach and the rainforest.  It is a bikes only type of place and the owner has some pretty cool ducatis on display and bike parking directly out the front.

I ambled (about 10m) down to the beach for some snaps.  Note the crappy weather coming in.  The blue dealie in the water is a stinger net, where North Queenslands have to swim if they wish to avoid getting stung by often fatal box jellyfish and irukandji jellyfish that inhabit coastal waters.  On a fine day this area is amazing.  Incidentally I am getting married on the beach here in May.

We headed back down into Cairns, stopped for a few more photos, with the intention of continuing to the mighty Gillies Range.

I just love to pose in case the BMW catalogue needs a new model!

The Gilles is the twisties road in Australia, about 240 corners in 19km.  It winds up a very steep range, and I love it.  However, on the way down Owen, who used to live in this area, told us he knows a short cut.  Well it turned out to be a long cut, and by the time we got to the base of the range, it was so late we had to continue straight home, down 330km of dull highway to Cairns.  I would have to tackle the gillies another day.

Blasting down the highway it pelted rain for 200km.  I wound up the windcreen and switched on the heated grips, and I was in heaven.  So may times I have ridden this road cold wet and miserbale and wished for a BMW.  And now I had one, and it was great.  I was warm, dry and comfortable.  The ride back was uneventful except for some insane overtaking from the Yamaha rider, who seems determined to end up under the wheels of a truck or off the endge of a cliff.  When I finally returned home late in the afternoon 945km later.  I felt a bit dissapointed we had to bypass the Gillies and didn't make the 1000, but a good time was had none the less.

I did learn an important lesson.  Never let sportbike morons who do nothing but bag your bike and try to ride as fast as they can (not very) just to prove something come riding.  They will only slow you down, make you worry and irritate you.  In the meantime I am planning my next one day extravaganza, which should be a real challenge, the FNQ1000 Dual Sport Challenge, half dirt, half bitumen, all difficult, should be a blast!
"I see a boundary, I eat a boundary...and wash it down with a cup of hot steaming rules!"

Offline grizz

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FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2006, 10:01:08 am »
Very nice one Leon, I am surprised you showed us thew etrex reading, I thought you were at 265km/h all day...... :shock:
Great pice and report, Sorry you had to babysit then.

Keep 'em comming.


Offline funacide

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FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2006, 08:20:48 am »

GR8 report, I think we need to create a 1000K DS route here as well. GR8 idea and thanks for sharing....

Offline LiveInTheOutdoors

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FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2006, 09:55:12 am »
Beautiful country there mate, wow!
very minute is a chance to turn it all around - Vanilla Sky

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Offline Welsh

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FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2006, 10:07:54 am »
Quote from: "funacide"

GR8 report, I think we need to create a 1000K DS route here as well. GR8 idea and thanks for sharing....

But how much % are we gonna have dirt and how much % tar, I reckon we could easily make 50% / 50% run in the NW area, not too technical and could be done in one day without pushing too hard. However, the condition of the nether regions after 1000km,s on a KLR or DRZ in one day could be interesting, maybe Shark etc can comment after this weekend?

Welshie  8)  8)

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Offline X Banana Boy

FNQ1000 (dial up beware)
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2006, 11:58:26 pm »
nice ride.  great to see the them from all over.