Day 23: To Brisbane

The plan for today is a bit tense. Valerie needs to ride about 10km to catch up with us after last night, then we all ride 2km to the Steritech plant for a brunch/protest until 11am, then we have 4 hours to ride 50km into Brisbane for a 3pm media event with the ABC. We have local guides, but that's still faster than the group as a whole normally travels and meals will be at odd times.

Woke late because we were inside with the blinds pulled, heard the rest of the group moving around and Phuong was starting to get restless so we got up. Breakfast was the usual confusion in someone else's kitchen then wandered out eating and starting to locate my gear. Evan was running a bike maintenance workshop looking at Valerie's gears and Beck's bike in general - she bought a pile of new bike bits up and Evan has been slowly adding them to her bike as we go.

CANC at SteriTechLeft Sue's place and travelled a whopping 2km to the Steritech plant for a wee protest and brunch organised by the locals. It's changed, there's now a biodiesel plant where the castle was and more development in general. The Steritech people apparently weren't expecting us as the gates were open, but the biodiesel place shut theirs. Bizarre. We hung out, got talked to, ate and met up with a few cyclists who had travelled up from Brisbane to ride in with us.

Left to ride 50kms at about 11am, as scheduled. Or possibly 35km to 40km depending on who you talk to. Sean Marler (who organised a few Cycle for Old Growth Forests or COGF's) has laid out a route mostly on cycleways and including some nice off road paths which we proceed to amble along after we survive the first couple of sections of nasty 4 lane road. The paths are excellent and Sean's directions (one copy each!) are pretty easy to understand, if showing signs of coming from a map rather than knowing the route.

Queensland drivers see to be well used to the "cyclists can use footpath" laws, and expect or demands that we do so. It's not so much that the average motorist is worse than in Sydney, there's the usual range from very polite through to careless, it's that the few aggressive motorists seem to be worse than their equivalents in Sydney. So riding on the road is a little more risky and noticeably less pleasant. The road-builders operate on the same assumption, with missing shoulders on many roads (especially minor roads) and very little on-road provision for cyclists... except where it goes completely the other way and there are great cycle lanes and signage. The signage is significantly better than Sydney, and I get the impression that aside from the obnoxious and omnipresent "cyclists must dismount to cross road" signs, it's quite easy to get around Brisbane using primarily or only the cycleways... hence the rude shock motorists get when they encounter a cyclists actually using the road.

After a while it becomes obvious that the ambling pace we've set is not going to get us to Brisbane Parliament in time for the 3pm appointment with the ABC. The group do no really seem inclined to worry about this until Evan and me go a bit spastic at about 2pm when we stop for a break and ice blocks (thanks Naima). So we split into a fast group and a slow group, only the native guides decide that they are the fast group and sprint off without any CANC cyclists with them., Eventually Evan, Georgie, Cassie, Phuong and I catch up with them when they stop after realising that they'd made a mistake. So our sprint through the wetlands was hard and didn't get a lot better once we hit the roads again. We decided to take the direct route, with much discussion amongst the guides as to the best way. What we used was pretty good, the hills were bearable but the traffic was a bit harsh. Evan was fading (again) for the last hour, I really don't think he's getting enough rest (or sleep, or anything really).

CANC arrive in BrisbaneArrived at Parliament about 4pm, well after the ABC had gone. It turns out that we covered just under 50km even with the shortcuts, meaning that my pessimism was once again right on the nail, and the people who went "we can go slow, it's only 35-40km" were... um, optimistic. Food not Bombs were there to meet us, along with a couple of antinuke types and a woman from Triple-Z (student radio). So she interviewed a few of us and we ate, then June arrived having had gear trouble and caught the train. By 5pm John was anxious to run off and see Mandy, his partner and provider of accommodation. I weasel my way into an early shower with him, so we struggle along while he restrains himself to the crawl that Phuong and I can manage. Shortly after we left the rest of the crew arrived, having had a much easier ride (55km in 6 hours rather than trying to do the last 20km in an hour but taking 90 minutes).

We end up with the fast group at Mandy's house and other people somewhere else, with a meeting at a conservation group HQ the next day. Dinner for me is rice, but apparently there was a curry later - Phuong and I disappear to the tent outside before that happens, having had showers and food. Mandy's place is pretty nice, backs onto the river, has a jetty and pool... and a bit of flat grass by the pool for the tent. She has a flat downstairs to put us in, but we share her kitchen. She's very cool, and John is a great supporter of the ride, after putting us up in his forest home he's persuaded Mandy to do the same! Yay!

Total Distance: 57.7km, 3:54 time, 14.6km/h average, 48km/h max. Total 699km in 47:43.

About 2km from Sue's to the Steritech Irradiation Plant, then 50km to Parliament in Brisbane of which the last 20km we sprinted in just over an hour (hard with the hills, erratic cycleways and heavy loads),then another 5km to Mandy's place.


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