Sunshine, clear skies, tailwind…we expected these things for our 85km ride out to Mingela, where most of us were going to camp at the Mingela Hotel before returning to Townsville tomorrow. A couple of people in the group had decided to go lightweight and booked accommodation at the hotel rather than carting their camping gear along. Combined with a sumptuous roast dinner being provided by the hotel, we were in for a treat!
Mick and I normally ride our tandem bike on tour together, but because I (Jen) will be continuing on to Mount Isa on my own, our Vivente World Randonnuers were getting another turn! Mick had fitted a Tubus front rack to my Vivente Gibb so I could have front and rear panniers for the first time. There seemed to be so much more space than usual even though one front pannier was full of work gear, to remain untouched until I reached Mount Isa.
Our expectations for the ride were dashed soon after midday when we left the shop, which we had closed early. We had a definite headwind rather than the much talked about tailwind, but the cloud cover at various points kept the afternoon cooler than it could have been.
We all arrived at Mingela hotel at slightly different times after leaving in our own time. Denis backtracked down and up the Mingela Range to ride with three others who were making their way along the Flinders Highway, while Mick and I made our way steadily along throughout the afternoon.
For some reason the first leg out of Townsville to about Woodstock (40kmish) is always a bit unpleasant, but once we get past that mark, the ride improves. I got a puncture before we even reached Woodstock, which added to the unpleasantness. We stopped for hot chips and drinks at the Calcium roadhouse, where the others had stopped earlier, then proceed through the final 35Kms to the Mingela Hotel. It rained for a good ten minutes about halfway there, enough to get us totally drenched. Being northern Queensland however, by the time we arrived at Mingela we were pretty well dried out and the threat of rain had passed. We love that rain up here doesn’t generally make you cold!
When we arrived it turned out the other two ‘campers’ in our group of six had gone for the credit card option and were staying in dongas out the back of the hotel. We were obliged to put the tent up though, in keeping with our adventurous cycle touring philosophy…and I needed practise with our newish Wilderness Equipment tent before I set off on my own the next day!
Mingela Hotel laid on a fantastic spread for dinner. We spent a hour or so propping up the bar and chatting with the hotel owner until dinner was ready.
The night ended relatively early with lights out by about 8.30pm. We all wanted to be on the road by 6am…or was that 7am?