If we had known there was going to be a strong headwind the whole 80 kilometres to Giru, the crowd may have been smaller. Riding a fully loaded touring bike for the first time for this distance is no easy feat. Add in a headwind and you can imagine just how shattered some of the group felt by the time they reached Giru.
Cycle touring is about riding at your own pace, so there was no pace line to ease the effects of the wind. People mostly set off from home whenever they were ready and even the five of us that left the shop just after 1.30pm on Saturday quickly spread out into three separate groups with the tandems and the solo bike settling into their own rhythm.
Everyone had decided to ride to Giru via Woodstock, lengthening the trip by about 20kms, but making it far more pleasant than pedalling down the Bruce Highway. As we slugged away into the headwind, we thought about the ‘wheelmen’ from the 1890’s who cycled around Australia carrying almost nothing and following cattle tracks through remote wilderness. ‘Tour De Oz‘ by Bret Harris tells the story of the bicycle race around Australia between a solo rider and a group of three. They were often out of water and food and had to walk their bikes through rough and sandy terrain when the track became unrideable. There were no support vehicles and no guarantee of a good meal at the end of the day. We did note that when they did manage to reach a station or hotel for a meal, this always seemed to be accompanied by an ample amount of alcohol…maybe our rides do have something in common after all!
It was late in the afternoon as we reached Giru, pulling up to the campsite after 5.30pm. Most of the others were there too, except for Doug and Michelle. They had gotten sidetracked by the pub on their way down the main street, wheelmen style.
It didn’t take long and tents were up, sleeping mats inflated and the pre-dinner snacks were out. This was cycle touring 2017 style!
There were two Jetboils on display that night and again, it felt a bit like a cook-off between these and the Trangia’s. No-one was complaining as dinners were demolished, so both cookers obviously did their job!
Giru is a sugarcane town complete with a mill and a train line. The campsite was in between these two noise-makers, which made for a rough night for some. We slept well though; there is something about climbing into our old familiar tent after a hard day on the pedals that almost guarantees us a good night’s sleep (wine probably helps…). We have found this to be true many times, the tent becomes a place of refuge and can often feel more comfortable and secure than staying in a grotty hotel or at someone’s house. Our Macpac Apollo tent has been such a good home to us when we have been out cycle touring. It will be interesting to see if the new Wilderness Equipment Space 2 tent we have on order has the same effect.
Breakfast in the morning was a leisurely affair, although we all wanted to get going before the wind built up again. We tried making damper on the Trangia for the first time. It worked great! Except we didn’t lower the heat and managed to burn the bottom very quickly. Understandably, no photos were take in the rush to get the pan off the heat before the damper burst into flames! Once rescued, and with the heat turned down, the damper turned out quite well. With a bit more practise, we can see this being a common feed on cycle touring trips!
Half the group decided to return to Townsville via the Bruce Highway, saving themselves a few kilometres in the process. The rest of use proceeded back along the road to Woodstock, then the Flinders Highway to Townsville. We enjoyed the headwind experience again from Woodstock into town…
This weekend’s 24 hour adventure ticked all the boxes for us…160 kilometres of cycling, a night away camping in our portable canvas home, cooking up a feast on the Trangia and a fun night with friends!
Some other ideas for overnight cycle tours were tossed around during the weekend. If you have any ideas, please let us know! We are always looking for places to pedal and for more cycle touring options in the local area.
Our next trip is over the long weekend in October and we are doing a roughly 360km loop out to Hervey Range Road, Gregory Developmental Road to Charters Towers and then back home over three days. It’s sure to be hot, dry and exhausting, but that is all part of the fun!