If you’re going to have a business trip, may as well make it a bike riding one!
Bosch are holding a training day in Cairns tomorrow for shops like us that sell e-bikes with Bosch motors. As Mick went to one last year, it’s my turn to go and get word on the updates as well as gain some valuable skills. One of the reasons we like Bosch is the fact they have a service centre in Australia and they hold training days.
We are a car-free family, so the most fun and credible way I could think of to get to Cairns was on my new Vivente Anatolia DTT! I got to ride one of these without the DTT (Drop Top Tube) just over a year ago when our friend Bec and I spent two weeks in Tassie cycle touring and absolutely loved it! At that time it was only on loan from our shop so we could give it a good test, and of course it sold as soon as I returned (darn it). There is no Bosch motor on the Vivente, but it does have a dynamo hub with a USB charging port!
The plan was to take three days to get to Cairns, and so I packed accordingly. Trangia cooking stove, tent, sleeping gear, Helinox chair (I know, I know, unnecessary luxury) and small amounts of some staples like rice and oats.
I set off about 9am from Townsville, after getting some quick adjustments made. You may have seen the Facebook/Instagram post on Monday morning. Mick was determined to get the rear reflective spinny thing (the name of which I can’t remember right now) attached to the back rack somehow and spinning despite the luggage (it normally hooks onto the back of the saddle, but my tool bag and tent is in the way). As well as that, I had only realised the day before that the water bottle holder is quite low down on the bike. It is reachable, but not as easily as on other bikes, and I wanted to know I could safely get a drink on a loaded bike without wobbling all over the place.
The Vivente Anatolia DTT comes with a bottle cage mounted in the triangle of the frame, as well as one underneath the bike, best suited to a small fuel bottle perhaps. We removed the one underneath as a regular 750ml did not fit comfortably behind the tyre and I wanted to mount the pump somewhere accessible. My bike is a Medium, so it could be even worse on a smaller frame. The drop top tube means that there is no other room within the frame triangle to mount other water bottles, except perhaps under the top tube. I like to keep that clear for easy pedalling and opted to replace the standard bottle cage with a BBB XL cage that can take bottles up to 1.5L. The only way to have a drink bottle handy after that was to put a bottle cage on the handlebars (highly practical but not so cool if you’re into that sort of thing). Being a water freak, I also put a couple of litres in our 4L Ortlieb water bladder and strapped that on the back. It turned out to be unnecessary in the end as there are lots of spots to refill.
Cycle touring on a highway is not usually that pleasant compared to a lovely quiet country road, but I was pleased to find there was a reasonable or good shoulder nearly the whole way. There were a couple of sections where I slowed my pace to wait for a bunch of cars to pass before heading through, over bridges for example, but these mostly occurred where there was less traffic and good breaks between vehicles.
The best part about riding north up the Bruce Highway though, was the tailwind! I was flying (think loaded touring bike going faster than 20km/hr)! When I reached Ingham at 2pm, I knew there was no way was stopping there. Cardwell is only another 50kmish from Ingham and I had a deadly tailwind!
Not long after Ingham I decided it was time to don the sexy and VERY practical hi-vis vest (that facial expression is a sign of my excitement)…Visibilty items are required for Audax rides, which we have been discussing, so this was actually good practise.
The infamous Cardwell Range was slow, but it only lasts for 3-4km and isn’t particularly steep, then the roll continued into Cardwell itself. By 5.15pm I had booked into a campsite and was ready to use all my camping gear, so carefully packed.Not really! By the time I put the tent up, showered and washed my clothes, it was too late to go and buy food to cook for dinner, instead I ate at the ‘Diner’ down the road and went to bed. In the morning, when I went to boil a cup of tea and cook my oats, I realised I hadn’t packed matches. It was too early for the caravan park office to be open so I used the camp kitchen kettle and vowed to buy matches later that day.
It rained on and off during the night, which wasn’t a problem except my freshly hand washed clothes were hanging outside. My wet tent would survive a day packed up wet, and my clothes could have dried in the clothes dryer except I didn’t have any $1 coins, vital in a caravan park! As I set off in the rain with my wet clothes strapped to the back, I was already planning how I would dry those clothes before my shower tonight, so I would a clean, dry set to put on! As it turned out, it didn’t rain all day and the clothes were only slightly damp when I put them on that night.
Being ANZAC Day, there wasn’t much traffic on Tuesday morning…and the cafes were shut until 9am or thereabouts. I got going at 7.30am, aiming for Tully where I planned to get a coffee at least. Yesterday’s tailwind had gone on this misty and damp morning, and as I struggled along the undulations missing the tailwind’s push, I thought about my possible overnight to come in Innisfail, 90km from Cardwell.
A break for a coffee and muffin after 40kms in Tully was refreshing. The wind felt like it was trying to make a comeback, although it couldn’t quite decide whether it should be directly head-on, or vaguely crossing. Whatever it was doing, I was not feeling the love, although there was a wisp of an idea forming that went beyond Innisfail.
By 1.30pm I had reached Innisfail and was going to push on a bit further. By the time I finished my banana bread roll and cold coffee drink, the wind had finally decided to help me along. Once again I felt like I was getting somewhere! By Babinda, 30kms down the track, I was flying once again and had made up my mind to reach Cairns today!
With that in mind, I stopped briefly every 20kms or so for a couple of minutes to rest my bum and stretch out a bit. At Fishery Falls, which is just south of Gordonvale and 40kms from Cairns, I stopped at the pub for a can of coke and ate some biscuits. Nothing like a hit of sugar to help you finish a ride!
I finished with relief at the first Big4 in Cairns, called Coconut Palms. The $46 a night fee to stay in the 5-star campground encouraged me to ride an extra few kilometres into town to stay at Caraville caravan park ($30/night) and so I stopped for the day at 176kms. After that, there was no way I was cooking for dinner! Besides which, I had forgotten to buy any matches and I had no idea where a supermarket was. By the time I had put up the wet tent and showered, it was 6.30pm, I was ready for a feed and was walking across the road to a motel/sports bar/pub place that served meals.
Of course I woke up early as usual this morning, but I took it easy, which meant washing and drying my clothes, losing the key for my bike lock, and using the camp kitchen to make my tea…bike lock key, yes, I was hoping you’d missed that.
I have never lost a key to a bike lock and whenever I tour it goes in my little money bag and is kept safe with me all the time. Last night I remember putting the key in my little bag…or I thought I did. I know I was really tired…maybe I dropped it when I was getting some money out? After searching around for a while, I admitted defeat and asked the friendly caravan park man to cut my cable lock off the loaded Vivente. His bolt cutters didn’t work so well so he went and got the angle grinder…it’s good to know the bolt cutters don’t work so well…
So, I still had to buy a lock because the old cable was chopped and in the bin. Grrrr…oh well, I helped the daily sales of another local bike shop!
Tonight I get to hang out with some cycle touring friends of ours, then tomorrow I am going to the Bosch ebike dealer training day! On Friday I get to catch the train home again (I love catching the train!) and then, when I get back, we will be ready to Bosch it up!
Did I mention my Helinox chair? Didn’t get used once! Because I was riding all day and eating dinner out, I didn’t have time. This morning when I stood to eat my oats rather than seat my slightly tender sit bones on the hard metal camp kitchen bench, I did think about how comfortable the chair would be…if I could be bothered to get it out!