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Offline Leon H

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Crappiest ride ever....
« on: April 01, 2006, 07:44:46 am »
I had been planning this trip for ages.  We had to ride to Cairns, about 340km away, to finalise our wedding arrangements.  In itself that would be a  fairly boring sort of a trip, so I thought why not make it a 4 day mountain riding extravaganza, and camp by the beach.  I spent weeks preparing routes and camping gear.  I was really looking forward to the trip.....

The week leading up to the trip was tough.  Cycylone Larry had destroyed a huge amount of rainforest (and houses and stuff) in North Queensland, so I had been sent to Mission Beach to help co-ordinate what was to be done about the cassowary population, a large flightless bird (a bit like an ostrich), that lives in the rainforest, is very agressive to humans, has large spikes on it's feet that severely tear people and animals to bits, and is very endangered.  Anyhow it now has no habitat thanks to the cyclone, so we had to work out what remained, and start to develop a feeding program.  To cut a long story short it involved helicopters, quads, and LOTS of mud.  It was fun, but very tiring, so by the time I got back on Wednesday night, I was tired, but I packed up the bikes in keen anticipation for the next 4 days.  Before going to bed I checked the weather, they reckoned isolated showers but mostly fine.  Should be a great few days away from work before I have to go back into the bush the following week.

Get up in the morning, the weather here in Townsville is good.  Put the last of the gear on the bikes, push them out the front and get moving.  There is nothing like that feeling at the start of a  long ride of jumping on a loaded bike out the front of your house, starting it up, checking all your shit is together, then pulling in the clutch and engaging first.  Always love that feeling of excited anticipation as the bike clunks into first, and today was no different.



So the first order of business was 2 very boring hours up the boring old Bruce Highway to the north.  About 120km north of our place we see some dark clouds looming ahead.  No worries, we'll just ride across the Cardwell Range, and put on our wet weather gear up on the other side of the range in the little shelter shed there.  We get within about 2km of the shed, and BANG, the heavens opened.  Not just a little bit of rain that starts gradually, it instantly began sheeting out of the sky, like a torrential monsoon.  Within about 5 seconds we were totally soaked, out gear was wet, the road was covered in about 5cm of water, it was full on.  When I finally pulled into the shelter shed about 2min later we were already drenched, there was no point in putting on the wet weather gear.



At this stage I must admit to wanting to do a Ewan McGregor in Long Way Round and pull out, go back and get the car and drive up.  But Melissa said no we'll press on, it probably won't last that long.  We rode on through the rain, it eased up for about 10 minutes, just enough for us to think "this ain't so bad", before starting again even heavier.  The road was a total nightmare, already damaged from the cyclone, it was now covered in water so the holes could not be seen, and the rivers were rising fast.  By the time we pulled into Tully (the wettest town in Australia apparently), we had decided we would not bother with the scenic routes, the adventure routes were off limits as they would all be impassable afteer the cyclone, we wouldn't camp as it was too wet, we needed to get to Cairns ASAP to get a motel and dry our stuff out for our meeting with the wedding co-ordinator in the morning.  We pressed on through the rain.

Just as we pulled into Cairns it started to rain with even more vigour.  To top this off, we got about 15 red lights heading through the city to the motel area.  I was thoroughly soaked, and furiously angry.  I was so pissed off and frustrated that my weekend I had been looking forward to for so long was going to be a washout that I was shaking, and riding hopelessly.  We eventually pulled into a motel, we discovered all our clothes were soaked, and set about turning our room into a mini-laudry of sorts.  Note the wet clothes hanging behind me from Melissa's luggage, and my pissed off expression  :evil:



My mood changed at about 1730, when the rain eased considerably and I had some dry clothes to change into.  I checked the weather using the internet on my phone, and it reckoned only a 30% chance of rain and a few isolated showers tomorrow.  Great, things were looking up.  Interestingly my phone told me that the highway was blocked in a number of places between Cairns and Townsville due to torrential rain and flooding.  I figured surely that can't keep up for two days straight.  Tomorrow we would see the wedding person, tour some mountain roads, and set up camp at Ellis Beach as planned and get the weekend back on track.  To celebrate our changing fortune we went and had dinner at a local tex-mex restaurant, were we ate too much spicy food and drank far too much very strong sangria :P  





Needless to say when we stumbled back to the motel and climbed into bed, which now smelt unpleasantly like wet riding gear, we were in high spirits and looking forward to an adventurous weekend ahead.......

To be continued..........
"I see a boundary, I eat a boundary...and wash it down with a cup of hot steaming rules!"
 

Offline Leon H

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2006, 08:23:51 am »
..........so I wake up at about 6am and look out the window.  Not only is it not raining, there are patches of blue sky everywhere!  I wake Melissa up, we had  shower, packed our gear, went downstairs and had breakfast, checked out of the motel and started loading gear onto the bikes.  As we were packing we looked to the north, and the sky was black with a huge storm rolling in.  Shit.  We are getting married at a very upmarket sort of resort, and we did not want to have to rock in there looking like drowned rats.  We quickly jumped on the bikes and sped off hoping to cover the 24km to Palm Cove as quickly as possible.  It was all good until, once again, we were about 2km from the resort and the heavens opened again.  I was furious.  I was again instantly saturated, so was Melissa.  I was so angry I was riding like an idiot and spun the back far too much turning into the front of the resort and the back stepped out way to far, and I need to do a very swift and strong motocross sytle kick to stop the whole lot ending up on its side sliding into the valets desk.  So now I was not only wet and pissed off, but I looked like an idiot as well.  I quickly retreated up the footpath and to the back of the resort where we parked the bikes in the service entrance.  I changed my shirt and stood there for 20 minutes just looking at the rain, trying to calm my rage at the weather and stupid riding, before going into the resort.  We went in there and met the wedding planner and went through the arrangements, looking like drowned rats in a resort full of rich, white shoe brigade types.  I felt quite a tool.  Check out how wet Melissa's jeans are!



We stay there for an hour or so.  By the time we leave I am kind of angry again, this time in relation to the cost of weddings and in-law issues.  The rain has eased, but looking south it still looked very wet.



 The plan was to head west away from the coast, where it should not be as wet, and regroup and decide what to do for the rest of the weekend.  But about 15 mintues after setting off it starts to pelt again. This was too much for me to handle.  I pull into the nearest shopping centre carpark, and we decide to go straight back down the highway to home.  Every time I have come riding to Cairns in the past 2 years it has rained.  I had enough, and I was going home.  I had decided that Cairns was a shithole and I hated it.  Just south of town, of course, it stopped raining.  It was still very overcast though, and looking at the forecast and weather again when I got home, it had well and truly continued raining all over the Atherton Tablelands.  We stopped for lunch at a great cafe that sells game meats (kangaroo, emu, crocodile, etc) at the base of Queenslands highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere.  Which was of course covered in cloud....



It was also a prime opportunity to use my favourite BMW boxer accessory, the glove dryer!



On our way home we stopped by Mission Beach, where I have been working after the cyclone.  The damage here is incredible, and it is an environmental disaster that if not properly managed, will mean extinction for the cassowary.  I hope it all goes well so in 20 years I can look back and say with conviction "I was a part of saving these animals".  These next photos show the destruction by the beachside.  To give some perspective, my bike is parked about 5m from the ocean.  This area is normally best dexribed as a rainforest paradise, pretty similar to the photos in my FNQ1000 report.  The rainforest is very green and dense, and goes right down to the sea.  Have a look at it now.  It will take years to recover, if it recovers at all.........







So in the end wet finally arrived home, we and bedraggled, after only 2 days.  In the end it's probably for the best as I have to head back up to mission beach for some more helicopter and quad bike fun (I'll take the camera this time!).

But I'm no idiot, I have learned from my mistakes.  For years I have been heading north for all my riding needs, and for years I have been getting crabby with the poor weather.  Not any more.  I have spent the morning poring over maps of central Queensland, and there is world of DS possibilities to explore, in a dry climate and not affected by cyclone Larry.  So now being pissed off at a wasted 2 days is fading, and being replaced by a sense of excitement and anticipation of what I will find down south in central Queensland.  Bring it on I say!

Leon :)
"I see a boundary, I eat a boundary...and wash it down with a cup of hot steaming rules!"
 

Offline chrisB

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2006, 08:55:44 pm »
Nice report, some are g8 some not... I like those luggage bags that you are using, where did you buy them?
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Offline macduff

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2006, 10:26:01 pm »
hmmm, a wet one...
by the way leon....
hope you realise that s.afica dont allowed tattooed people into this country - just one of our quirks i am afraid  :wink:
 

Offline Leon H

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2006, 02:01:49 am »
Quote from: "chrisB"
Nice report, some are g8 some not... I like those luggage bags that you are using, where did you buy them?


The bags are made by an Australian company called "Andy Strapz", who originally started out making flat velcro elastic straps to tie stuff onto your bike.  I cannot recommend the "A Bagz" as they are called highly enough.  I have had these ones (they are synthetic, not oilskin), for about 5 years, have ridden all over, they strap very easily onto every bike we have owned, they fit a heap of stuff, my favourite feature is the adjustable storm flap that fits over the top of the bag itself, which normally stuff a tent or sleeping roll or something in easily.  Check them out online at http://www.andystrapz.com/

Cheers

Leon
"I see a boundary, I eat a boundary...and wash it down with a cup of hot steaming rules!"
 

Offline Maverick

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2006, 04:12:01 pm »
Hey mate that sure is a bummer. Worst is if you get excited every now and again thinking it can't get worse and it does :roll:

The damage sure does look severe and it's gonna take a few years to get that back on track. All the best of luck with the program and hope it's successfull 8)
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Offline wino

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Crappiest ride ever....
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2006, 06:29:36 pm »
well, then this is the place to post those crappy reports! yeah, bring on those qland riding reports!