That freaking alarm!!! I swear I’d only just gotten to sleep when the thing went off and woke me up. All I can say is thank goodness I know myself well enough that I’d organised my clothes and our food when we arrived at midnight otherwise I’d have ended up wearing two pairs of undies and no bra or something equally awkward. Lesson 2 for the weekend was that the padded bicycle shorts I purchased to help with comfort had seams down the back of my legs and should therefore go on top of my leggings rather than underneath. So with that change to my most attractive attire, I shovelled some muesli into my tummy, brushed my teeth and packed my gear to get going again. There are no photos of this. I repeat that I am not a morning person. It’s a long time since I have voluntarily been vertical at anything even close to resembling 3.15am. Saturdays are meant to be for sleeping in! What on earth was I thinking????
Thankfully the sum total of the requirements for me were to get off the bike at the servo and purchase something to get us another receipt. I bought gum. Kiwi insisted this would help me stay awake. Knowing what I know now I think it was a waste of $2.50. Nothing was going to keep me awake after only 3 hours sleep. We did collect our second ‘big thing’ confirming this as a true blue Aussie road trip: The Big Banana. I didn’t manage to get a photo. Turns out it’s big for a banana but not so big you get lots of warning that it’s coming and we were past it before I realised. Oh well. You’ll just have to believe me.
I don’t remember much of the trip between leaving the hotel at 4am and getting close to Byron Bay just before 6am. I was conscious but mostly my eyes weren’t open. I feel like a bad pillion admitting this. I don’t know what the consensus on this one is, but I feel like the really hard part is the riding of the bike and that the least I can do is stay awake when Kiwi is required to be awake if for no other reason than to help him stay awake. In that task I failed. Only once did I drift off so much that my helmet knocked against Kiwi’s, but I think there was a good 45 minutes to an hour where I was at least dozing.
By 6 the sun was starting to rise on our right and I managed to emerge from my dozy haze to do some actual navigating. We had planned a rough route but needed some extra distance before Dalby to make sure we hit the 1600kms required and our thinking was to get them by detouring to Byron Bay. We still had about 90 minutes of ‘spare time’ available and Google suggested we could get to Byron in about 20 minutes, giving us a 20-30 minute breakfast stop and still some wiggle room to get to Dalby.
That was all well and good until we turned off the highway the road conditions deteriorated rapidly. What was supposed to be a detour, it took us 25 minutes to get to the lighthouse at Byron Bay because it turns out that the alternative lifestyle capital of Australia has some very relaxed drivers on its roads, even at 6.30am on a Saturday! The final part of the road to the lighthouse was closed, but we took our photos and got back on the bike.
We paused briefly in town to scarf down some food (beef, bacon, egg and cheese pies!! Delicious!!) and a much required coffee, fuel up the bike and collect our corner receipt. By this stage I think we were both feeling pretty time pressured. Our ’45 minutes total’ detour was now looking like an hour and we still needed time to get a couple more corner receipts north of Dalby. With that in mind, we were back on the bike fairly quickly and had the wheels turning soon after 7. If I got out of bed at 3.15am after only 3 hours of sleep and then it was all for nothing I’m going to be seriously cranky!
I am still amazed at how many people were up swimming, surfing, running and walking at 6.30 on a Saturday! There were people everywhere, including some with some very questionable dress sense, but nonetheless running up and down hills around town. Clearly Byron Bay’s reputation as a very health conscious community is not just about yoga and growing your own crops…
Back on the highway we were making decent time again. Crossing the Queensland border we skirted around the Gold Coast, staying away from the Commonwealth Games traffic, and headed for Esk.
I was awake, but the scenery was pretty average and the time passed with me and Kiwi exchanging judgemental comments about the various drivers and passengers of the cars sharing the road with us and laughing about what awful people we are. I’m so grateful I have a partner (in life and in riding) who doesn’t take life too seriously!
From Esk we went through Blackbutt and hit Yarraman for our final corner receipt – then it was time for our final dash to the finish line on some beautiful country roads. The weather was warm but not unbearable in riding gear, the sun was shining, and the GPS was still saying we were going to arrive at 11.35 – well within our time window! Yippee!
What’s that? Someone’s moving house? Their whole house?? Seriously??? Yep. Seriously…
Talk about a double wide load! Vehicles coming the other way were on the verge and there was grass flying everywhere as they went past. Thankfully we got past without too many dramas, had 1600kms on the odometer at 11.25am and we hit Dalby to fuel up and claim our finishers receipt at 11.45 with either 1623km or 1662km under our belts depending on whether you believe the GPS or the odo. Phew!
Then it was time to make our way to the Dalby Leagues Club, register and confirm we really were finishers. I don’t have any more photos from Saturday. But I have loads of great memories. I was welcomed with open arms into the IBA community – some familiar faces and a few new ones to boot. Lynne ‘The Pillion’ and Fatman, TableDrain and Colleen, TJ, PhilMor, Tele, Brookester, Ox, Cuddles, Frans and Jeannie, and many others gave me hugs and congratulations and made me feel very special – thank you all! I suspect I wasn’t as gracious and elegant as I would have liked to have been. Despite the success, my overwhelming feeling was one of fatigue. I wanted a shower and I wanted to return to a horizontal position.
A couple of hours’ nap time and I was feeling almost human again. Human enough to keep going for the evening’s ceremonies and social activities at least. We had some food and then I dragged the Kiwi away again. Those signs of fatigue (bloodshot eyes, humming in your head) were all very present and as much as I wanted to stay and chat, Sunday morning was going to involve another alarm and I needed all the sleep I could get before then. Thank you to all those who said hello, had a chat and made me feel so welcome. I’m sorry I wasn’t more sociable!
So there you have it! The story of how we made it to Dalby… In one piece and within the necessary time frame. It was fun but not too fun if you know what I mean. But we still had to get home again… *eye roll*
Who’s bright idea was this again??