Day 29: Cunningham's Gap to Warwick

Sunrise near cunningham's gap
Woke at 4:30am for a pee, turned on phone to check time and got another SMS from Robyn hoping I'm ok despite her failure to help. Too early, so back to sleep. Woke again about 6:30am and got up properly. Photo times will spell out exact schedule, but shortly after I started I got to a sign "8% uphill next 5.7km". Yay.

Raining on the rainforest at Cunningham's Gap, QueenslandSure enough, 7.7km into the day I'm at the top of Cunningham's Gap and it's definitely rain forest... it's raining. I take photos of wet rainforest, wet cars, wet signs and so on. Stats for the uphill: 7.7km, 1:14 taken, 6.22km/h average speed, 18km/h max. I am about50km from Warwick, so will load ap, find raincoat,and venture slowly downhill. If it was dry I'd want to go really really fast, but in the wet with brakes only on the lightly loaded front wheels... no.

Later: turns out that the downhill is only steep-ish for 3km, then there's a long cruise down the valley at about 25kph with a gentle tail wind. Road surface ranges from amazingly good to appalling, so my speed sometimes drops below 20kph on the gentle downhills! Got caught by a local media photographer going into town, he's doing one of the "24 photos in 24 hours" assignments so I might make it into the local paper. Hopefully he'll ring me and I can scrounge copies of the shots, coz there looks like a cople of nice ones. I was a bit flat at that point, bad road surfaces make it hard to stay cheerful especially on drizzly days... wah wah wah, I'm just waiting to go home really.

But I make it into Warwick by 11am, then head to the info centre to book a bus ticket. They direct me to a bus company who can't help because their computer is down. So I use the 13... number from a phone box. The bike is at the mercy of the driver (as expected) but it's half price if it's disassembled... this could be fun. How hard am I willing to work to make the quad look disassembled? To save $27? Answer: not very hard.

Plan for the rest of the day involves finding a shower and internet, eating and trying to stay awake until the bus arrives at 10pm. Yay.

Later: public internet access here sucks. Two options, both are locked down and IE-only, so I can't upload photos. So I read, wait, eat and read until 10pm, the bike goes under the bus, I go into the bus, I get to sleep sitting up for the night. Yay.

Day 28: Boonah Shire

Finally got to see a decent map and discovered that the "no good options" part is true, it's either crud roads then the Gold Coast, or lots of hills.

wyaralong sign with No Dams sticker on itWoke into first light, decided I couldn't be bothered and drowsed until about 7am. Either way, into bed before sunset, alseep by probably 6pm, then not awake until nearly 6am! Holidays!

Rode about 25km into Boonah township this morning, noting yet another "NO DAMS" campaign on the way, and wondered what it is with all the locality signs along the way. None of them seem to have a shop or even a couple of houses opposite each other, but they all get a nameplate. Ah well, whatever. Going into Boonah there's an 8% downhill" sign but that only got me up to about 57km/hr... taking all that weight out has made a real difference. In Boonah I ambled around wasting time and getting a bit carried away with the shopping. Rang Phuong and chatted, have decided that just biking around aimlessly isn't really helping, I feel a bit bored and listless. So I'm going to get on the bus soonish and start looking for a flat in Sydney.

Museum near BoonahSite of the No Dam at Wyaralong

Then found decent internet access and $7 got me about an hour. Time enough to find my FTP password and upload the last lot of photos, then paste in the blog entries and spend a lot of time playing with email. Luckily nothing from Phuong coz those take a long time to read and reply to, but she was with me at the time and we didn't have internet access. Grabbed seom Google maps screenshots as a rough guide so I don't get quite so lost in the next few days.

Broken bolt from the quadThe info centre at Boonah also gave me a paper map that has more details at least down to the NSW border, and that is useful. A map with distances and stuff! So now that I've ridden 15km out of Boonah and broken the axle bolt in the quad again, I can spend some time typing while I ponder the newer revised plan. I've put another mild steel bolt into the axle, so I can probably go another 500km or so on that before it too breaks. Or it might fail in Cunninghams Gap which the highway I'm now on apparently goes through.

So I have 59km through the gap into Freestone where I join the New England Highway which will hopefully have a selection of buses running through it and I can get to Sydney fairly cheaply. I'm tempted to pack up the quad and courier it straight to Ben, but that would leave me with a lot of gear and no way to carry it, plus I don't really want the quad to be in Melbun. Ben's building a new back end with better bearings (did I mention that the new bearing is failing already?) and better gearing, but the trade-off is that the intermediate drive will have higher losses all the time, rather than tragic losses every 1000km or so when the bearings fail. Or if you're a normal user, they'd probably not fail at all :)

So my plan today is to ride another 30km or so to the start of the hill, or until I find somewhere nice to camp. Or until the sun comes out properly. Or something. Patchy cloud, every time I think it's cool enough to ride the sun comes back out, but it's still not all that warm. I dunno, I'm inj a crappy picnic area and it doesn't feel very restful so I want to keep going, so probably I'll just ride another 5km to Aratula, then on until I find a camping spot. Phuong just texted to say the greyhound bus leaves Warwick at 9:55pm daily and gets to Sydney 14 hours later. So I can panic and try to do another 80km in ... 7 hours, including the gap. Or I can lie back, take it easy, and get into Sydney on Wednesday sometime. Then Phuong goes to Melbourne on Thursday for a week on a school outing. OK, time to pack up and move on.

later: Rode through Aratula which was basically two roadhouses and a motel, didn't stop. The road was nice though, smotth seal and a decent shoulder. About 5km later started climbing and have been climbing since (a whole 'nother 5km or so). I'm camped on a "national trail" that has glyphs for horse riders and bushwalkers, and the track quality certainly does not suit bicycles. But, as with so much of Australia, it's definitely seen a lot of motor vehicles. It gets me 100m or so off the highway and around behind a bit of a ridge so the road noise is not too bad. I didn't get here until just on sunset, and by now (6pm) it's definitely getting dark. I'm also definitely up a bit on the daytime level, but right now I'm feeding mosquitoes and not enjoying it, so off to bed.

Stats: 55.7km today in 4 hours, 13.76km/h average and 56.76km/h maximum. 879km total on the odometer.


Day 27: To Beuadesert and a bit

It's Sunday the 22nd of July.

Map of the area around Beaudesert (click for more map)Woke as planned, had breakfast at the station then kissed Phuong goodbye on the 5:45 to the city. Sad, but I'll see her again in 10 days or so back in Sydney. My train doesn't arrive for 45 minutes, then it turns out that the timetable I have is only partial, or I misread it or something, because once I get off another train goes past a few minutes later. Perhaps I could have gone to the gold coast on a suburban train? Who knows. I wander off down local roads looking for useful signs, but somehow end up looking at the M1 motorway despite my best efforts. I'm somewhat handicapped by having a Brisbane map that ends at Beenleigh then a gap until my NSW map starts at Tweed Heads. So I use info centre maps and "welcome to the district" signs to give me vague guidance. This leads me to see signs like "Beenleigh 7km" about 12km after I've left Beenleigh, when I didn't want to go there in the first place. Bah!

Motorbikes everywhere, it seems that the minor roads make great entertainment for motorcyclists. They pass in one and twos and the occasional swarm. I stop for a chat with one bunch who are standing around a slightly dented motorbike. Not sure of the story, was too busy answering questions about my bike and why I'm riding.

Sign pointing to BoylandI ride through Tamborine and into Beaudesert, so named because despite it being fairly busy the only things open are servos, and the main event is a meeting of the Monaro club (they all own Holden Monaro's, going by the big row of them there). I have pizza for lunch (crappy chain pizza) and get my first flat tyre for quite a while in the carpark of the (closed) Coles. I buy fruit and veges at a stall and milk at a corner store, then ride out towards Warwick. That's about 140km from here, so it'll be a couple of days. By the look of the map, there's nothing significant on the road either so I might be eating rice and two minute noodles for a while. But I manage to scrounge a shower and take advantage of the facilities to do a bit of washing as well.

12km out of Beaudesert the cropland finally seems to be thinning out, I see a few stands of trees and find a spot just off the road to camp for a while. It's noisy though, the road is busier than I expected. But there are farms and fences everywhere, so I'm reluctant to park the quad and wander away from the road. Hopefully the traffic will thin out, I really want a good night's sleep to recover from all the Phuong-related wake ups in the night. She doesn't need as much sleep as I do, and is more nervous bush camping, so I get woken up a lot. Last night a possum chewed its way into our garbage bag going after fruit bread crumbs, so about 11pm we both woke up and faffed about getting the food packed up and inside the tent (instead of just in the vestibule).

The major bummer today is that I didn't tie my washing on well enough, so I've lost a sock. I also forgot to turn the solar panel/battery connection on, so I've been carefully collecting photons into a disconnected battery all day. Hopefully the battery is ok with that, I'm currently sucking a couple of amps to keep the laptop happy but at least the panel is on so it'll have an hour or so of recovery charging tonight then more tomorrow. Allegedly the charge controller has a blocking diode in it, so I pulled the blocking diode off the panel but now the meter shows 20mA of discharge when the panel is plugged in but there's no sun. But Phuong has the soldering iron so I can't fix that very easily, I'll just have to live with it.

Stats: 75km today in 5:14, avg 14.3km/h max 57. Total 823km in 57:16 (14.2km/h average overall). Lots of undulating roads today, many long slow sections where I was barely at walking pace. I suspect I'm higher up than when I started as well, so at some point I should get a faster day when I mostly go downhill. Or if I get the bus in Armidale or somewhere I might do the downhill on the bus.

Day 26: Still around Mt Gravatt

Woke up late, cuddled for a bit, ate breakfast, then Phuong wandered off to find railway stations with disabled access so she can get her bike on the platform easily. Have decided to stay here another day since there are very few people using the track and we're not very visible from it... and I'm very lazy. So I spend the day reading and sleeping while Phuong rides a lazy 10km or so shopping and looking at trains. Her conclusion is that it's going to involve stairs, so since I have to get up when she does anyway (she's taking the tent), I might as well go with her to the station and help lug her bike up and down stairs. We're both riding quite light bikes now that all the CANC-owned stuff is gone and our "group" gear is mostly gadgets that I'm not willing to donate to CANC (Maurice's solar panel and so on). I'm down to perhaps 70kg including 30kg for the quad (those two giant bins probably weigh 10kg between them, and suddenly a fairing doesn't seem so heavy after all). So the new plan is that we wake at 4:30am, pack up and ride to Banoon station, Phuong goes up and down stairs to the city-bound platform and I take the train 20km or so to get out of the worst of the city. The bike plan booklet doesn't really help this far out in the 'burbs, there don't seem to be any coherent routes and the main egress is via the motorway. So, train to Loonlea or somewhere, then ride.

Day 25: Around Mt Gravatt

Phuong has hung out with me for the day, and seems pretty resigned to spending time with me rather than on CANC. But since her "week on the Cycle" turned out to mostly consist of riding into Brisbane, hanging out, then riding out for a total of three days of actual riding in the week she doesn't seem too unhappy.

Dodgy urban bush camp near Mt Gravatt in BrisbaneWe camped in the forest park about 10m off a track then early this morning packed up and from 7am sat in the nearby cemetery in the sun cooking rice for breakfast. Then I sent her back to look for campsites while I packed her panniers into the quad then read science magazines in the sun. Ah, sunshine :) Most of the day was spent shopping for food and reading material - Phuong has 12 hours or so on the train on Sunday to fill in, and I'm going to be slacking around for the next week or so. I've rung work and they're happy to see me back whenever I get back... things are still busy. Megan is still in Sydney, she will hopefully ring me tonight and we can catch up a bit and I might be able to help her out now that I'll be back sooner than expected.

Came back through the uni and showered in a disabled toilet, with me washing all the clothes I was wearing as well as shaving. So nice to be clean... after a whole one night without a shower. Back in Phuong's campsite, which turned out to be very close to the one I'd selected in the dark last night. Bizarre, but in a way not surprising as there's only once decent sealed path through the forest and the quad really doesn't do very well on narrow gravel paths. So now we're 30 or 40 metres further off that path from where we were last night. Closer to the motorway, further from the track and quite unlikely to be seen I think. And less likely to be something people care about.

Phuong just got mugged by a kookaburra. She had just cooked two minute noodles when the bird knocked the billy over, spilling half the noodles on the ground, then sat a metre away waiting for her to leave so it could snaffle her dinner. She is not pleased. I expect the bird will also not be pleased when it discovers just how bad two minute noodles taste.

Phuong: Two minute noodles don't taste bad!!!

All packed up by 5pm and inside the tent after dinner. Now to read and talk for a while.

The plan now is that we ride further out towards the end of a suburban train line tomorrow, then on Sunday Phuong trains into town nice and early for her ride back to Sydney. I will ride south for a week or so by myself and chill out a bit, then bus back. The quad will not go in a bike box, so I don't like my chances of getting it on a countrylink train. But the bus companies should have no problem with it as it will go under a big bus just fine. Even FireFly or Macaffertys should be able to fit it in but since they have less luggage space it might be tight if the bus is full. I will have to see.

Day 24: In Brisbane.

Phuong driving me round Brisbane in the quadOur meeting doesn't start until 9am, or 10am as it turns out Beck lied in an attempt to get the group somewhere on time. Phuong and I left early so we could chase train tickets, she's now going home on Sunday morning so gets to spend Sunday on the train. And she has to check in at 6:30am which means leaving Beenleigh at about 5:45am. Ow! But at least she gets sleep on Sunday night rather than arriving in Sydney just before her first lecture. We catch the group in a cafe next to the HQ and Phuong has breakfast number two with everyone else.

Meeting starts more or less on time, by a bit after 10 we have a plan for the pre-11am checkin, the Evan and Cassie go to do a school visit while everyone else works on the script for the presentation tonight. The check-in is even worse than usual, Valerie starts with a 20-minute dramatisation of her solo ride to Paul's place from CREEC the other night, which basically means she rejects the idea of minimising motor vehicle use on the ride, she would rather not have to make hard choices. But since the original discussion was framed in terms of sustainability, she can't attack that directly and CANC in a cafe in Brisbane instead focuses on the "counting grams of carbon" obsession of certain members of the group, their white male privilege and how that allows them to have better gear and thus an easier time of the riding. June's talk is more about her struggle yesterday and being made to feel guilty about using the train. People give me dirty looks, assuming I was involved. Beck is concerned that the ride focus more on anti-nuke issues and less on sustainability and other "mixed messages". Phuong is brief, so am I (we're running out of time), I mention that attacking straight-white-males is an easy out for the group but also frees me from any responsibility for my actions - it's not as if I can stop being a SWM. Evan is also unhappy about that attack, but more politely. We discuss the vehicle thing a little, then the group decide that once again motor vehicle use is entirely up to individuals. After this we get into a justification spiral, where people are purely competing for victim status, which prompts Cassie to make a particularly nasty personal attack that is one step too far for me, on top of all the other shit, so I leave.

Phuong and I bail back to Mandy's place and I vent for a while, then chat to Mandy briefly before we ride off at about 3pm to bush camp near Mount Gravatt.

This is the end of CANC III for me. This sort of uncontrolled encounter group stuff is not comfortable for me, and the personal attacks were just too much. Similar things happened on CANC II, which makes me suspect that this ride will not get any better. At some point I'll do a more analytical retrospective, and a bit of a write-up of what went wrong.

Sorry to those who were expecting me to ride the full distance.

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.

Day 22: CREEC (Phuong)

Phuong says:

We woke up and packed and June was ready to go, which was great! June had suggested we should go to Morayfields Shopping Centre, which was halfway towards tonight's destination, to do a stall there. So that's what we did. The stall didn't last too long before we were asked to move along by a friendly security guard. So we continued our trip. The ride was slow and quite comfortable. The weather was great and there wasn't much wind at all. We arrived at CREEC around 1pm. I spotted the playground that they had and proceeded to run around and play for a while and was shortly joined by Moz and June. There was a really cool earth-moving stationary playground toy that I'd never seen before and it was really cool! Moz and I decided to take a nap underneath the sails around the back. We woke up a couple of hours later to find Cassie had arrived. Moz, Cassie and I later cycled up the road (me cycling the Quad with Moz in the back) to find the pub 'cause we were craving for wedges. After filling our stomachs I chauffeured Moz back to the CREEC. Everyone else had arrived at that time (barring Evan, who we later discovered was riding his bike to where we were rather than catching the train). Paul was there as I was pulling up to the building and he had a go at riding the Quad. We all ate dinner and chatted to the other people who later arrived. The public meeting began and soon it was late and dark. Time to go home. Valerie wasn't going to be able to cycle the 10km to Sue's place and so took up the offer of Paul to sleep at his place, which was 1km away, that evening. So we set off into the night in one long line of flashing lights until we eventually arrived at Sue's. Moz and I quickly jumped on the offer of a bed and quickly took a shower and went to sleep. Others stayed up and chatted for a while before going off to bed. I'm finally starting to ride!

Day 22: CREEC - Caboulture Regional Environmental Education Centre and Sue's place

An extremely easy day to day - the predicted distance is 14km :) We laze about as planned then head up the road to a shopping centre to buy junk food and June wants to try a stall. As expected it's fairly hard but the shopping is good. Except that I end up walking about 2 kilometres inside the bloody mall as I traipse up and down looking for stuff. Batteries at the opposite end of the mall to where I started, then internet access right back down the other end of a T-shaped mall, then finally back out the end of the T. But wait, must go back and visit more shops. But eventually that's over and with gentle prompting from a security guard we proceed towards CREEC.

Which turns out to be as far away as advertised (Whereis.com.au is like that), except that it's not number 98 in the street, it's about 500m past that house. We find it anyway, then wander in and chat to Wayne who works there since it's not even close to the 3pm official arrival time. We left the mall about 11, it was maybe 8km from the mall to CREEC... 3 hours of lazing about and napping until the group arrive.

Then it's all organising dinner, running round in circles... and discovering that public meeting consists of us, a couple of anti-nuke activists and a couple of members of The Greens who have an interest in nukes. So a couple of hours later we've learned a little and are ready to depart into stinging cold air for a 10km ride to Sue's place. Valerie is going to go to Paul's place about a kilometre away because Hope is not into night rides or cold air, then meet us tomorrow.

Moz and a digger toy in the sandpitPhuong and Moz in the quadPhuong ridingPaul riding the quad at CREECBogan Moz (Phuong's sunglasses and photo)Phuong plays on a digger toyCANC meeting at CREECWindmill with toy possum at CREECCANC at CREECSunset at CREECSunset at CREEC

Day 21: rest day in Caboulture (Phuong)

Phuong says:

Yesterday we had meetings. I cooked everyone dinner so I could get out of attending the meeting. Apparently the meeting was about group dynamics and how it had previously been operating, so no one really felt I had to attend. Which was good. Paul (guy from The Greens) rocked up to greet us. He had arranged for our free campsite and was coming to say hi. We stood around and spoke for a while, Evan held a bicycle workshop to fix someone's bike and we had dinner. Dinner was followed by another meeting about where and when it might be acceptable to use a motor vehicle. I can't quite remember the phrasing, but it was something along the lines of "in cases of distress, danger, sickness". And so that discussion went quite well. Evan left to go back to his brother's place, and everyone else proceeded to go to sleep. Cassie left and slept at her friend's place.

Today I rode the Quad into town with Moz in the bin, so it was quite entertaining to see the look on people's faces when they saw what was happening. We went grocery shopping and eventually found a library with free internet access. I rode around to find other bike shops while Moz used the library facilities. We later took the Quad to have its spokes fixed, then rode back to camp. June had wondered over to the campsite about 100m from ours and had friendly chats with the people there. They had a fire so June seemed to quite enjoy standing around there as it was getting dark. We agreed to leave around 10am tomorrow in order to continue the ride. So today was another relaxing day. Well, except maybe for Phuong who's carrying about 70kg I think, more than her own bodyweight in junk. Half of which is mine... an 8kg tent instead of a 2kg hammock, so that we can sleep together for instance. I'm not complaining :)


Day 21: rest day in Caboulture

Beck, Valerie, Robyn and Gina are riding off to Bribie Island for tonight, leaving June, Phuong and me to laze around camp. Cassie is having another day off to do personal stuff but still feeling guilty for not going to look after her mother (who is sick). The plan for us lazy types is that I go into town to shop and upload more blog, then come back here so June can got hassle mall people over lunch. Phuong is going to clean stuff up and try to work out what food we have. Evan is at his brother's place and I was going to join him but think I'll probably just use an internet cafe in town instead. Easier and faster... no half hour train trip each way.

Am currently in the Caboulture library using free internet. Phuong is doing the pedalling, I'm a backseat driver while we shop.

Stats: no loaded riding, very little work. Did about 15km, half of that carrying Phuong, half being carried by Phuong.

Day 20: Landsborough to Phuong

Woke around 6am, packed up and wandered over to the food area to discover that the others had cleaned and packed up a fair bit last night. Assembled rice and powdered milk then packed everything else while that sat (to make the milk taste better). Did not especially feel like eating, felt like riding, but ate anyway. Knees a little sore, muscles very tired, would have much preferred the 30km motorway option yesterday. Such is life, but try telling my legs that.

On the road a bit before seven I think, basically grinding along local roads built by cyclist-hating morons counting the kilometres and thinking of Phuong. About 25km later I reach the showgrounds, which luckily are on our side of town. Finding officials is easier than expected, I'm kinda wandering around the markets when a PA announcement directs me (well, ok, some woman they'd misplaced) to the office where I find Bryce and he agrees to guide me to our camping spot. There's quite a lot of camping going on, but way down the far end is a clear spot that's well out of the way but has showers and toilets. This is home! And it's free. And the showers are truly excellent, being the old high-volume units with apparently unlimited hot water... bliss!

tent with tarp over itI have no idea where anyone else is, so I post windmills to guide everyone else the last 100m, SMS directions to all and sundry then just pile all my sh... gear in one place, put the fly over it, then wander into town. The quad fair flies when it's empty, definitely undergeared... top gear lets me cruise at ~30kph spinning comfortably, but any faster requires concentrated spinning effort. So 30kph it is. Town is easy except that everyone seems to be headed for the showgrounds and the markets there, so there's lots of traffic. I get directions to a supermarket (hidden in an otherwise-closed shopping centre) and buy soap, shavers and food for the day. Then on my way back... PHUONG!!

Phuong!Big grins and hugs later I grab some stuff off her overloaded bike and we cruise back to camp. Some faffing later we get the tent cool enough that we can stand being in it and have some private time. Or as Valerie calls it "being presumptuous". About 1pm the rest of the crew start arriving after their stall in the markets so Phuong gets a bunch of new names to forget and we have lunch again.

Evan being silly on Ginas bikeEvan and Gina are of course late for our 3pm meeting, I ring and they're due to arrive at the train station about 3:07pm, so rather than garble directions I take off with the empty bin and Phuong to meet them. Gina jumps in the back with some stuff and plays with the camera while Evan rides her bike. We're in camp and all ready to start faffing again at 3:30 or so. Phuong takes baby photos. Lots of baby photos.

we like meetings. Really.The meeting starts with a check-in that lasts until nearly dinner time, so we have a pee break and bike servicing workshop then dinner before we get onto the follow-up topics, most controversially the car dependence one. People have been using cars just the way they would if they were your average ecovandal, and I've been getting increasingly cranky about it. Most notably one rider who seems to want full credit for being on the ride and therefore being a hard-core cyclist, but their threshold for "too hard, use a car" seems to be "if it's slightly easier". So we talk through that a bit and decide that billeting is not the way to go because it splits us up all over town and makes us dependent on being driven back to the meeting point at the convenience of our hosts. There's general agreement that we need to lift the threshold at which cars become an option. I express the idea that people who have left the ride can do whatever they want, but that riders have an obligation to fulfill the principles of the ride, sustainability not least amongst them. Supporters can do whatever, but they don't get involved in decision making. The remaining tension is over "days off" and what counts as one, I expect that Cassie will continue her pattern of frequently visiting friends along the way, or more accurately, getting friends to drive her around.

I also point out that we as a group need to be willing to stop riding early if there's a problem, and not fixate too much on making the destination every day. Especially because the bail-to-car option is unlikely to be available to Evan and I, as either of us would need an empty van or truck and a bit of time to get our bikes into a motor vehicle. But one thing I've been doing is kind of being ready to ride back 10km or so if the group needs to stop early, but I think only Evan knew that.

It's been interesting realising that my "green lifestyle" is quite different to many other peoples. It's something I kind of knew, but I still get regularly surprised at "environmentalists" who have all the same bad habits as their non-aware compaitriots. Or often, they just never challenge themselves to meet the standards they want others to meet - it seems deeply hypocritical to me at least that anyone would claim to be a greenie and still be able to easily reduce their energy consumption by the same 20% as everyone else in Australia, just by (say) reducing standby power use, using efficient lighting (and less of it), driving less and so on.

Anyway, the meeting goes better overall than I expected, and it's even a bit shorter. Phuong cooked dinner and managed not to turn into a kitchen nazi over the messiness that some people revel in. Sleeping with Phuong kinda works, she was cold and I was a bit constrained but I think we're happy, and the cold thing is vulnerable to technical solutions (the best kind :)

Stats: 33km, 2:06, 15.8km/h, 39km/h max (on flat ground :).

Day 19: Nambour to Landsborough/Steve Irwin's Australian Zoo.

Up at six-ish and pack up ready to start playing with bikes and bamboo poles. Bruce has a workshop so I can drill holes for windmills in all the poles. Plus Beck has a rack for Robyn's bike as well as more bits to fit to hers. Robyn and I manage her new rack after Evan strips the spring-hook off it, and I find stainless bolts to replace the crappy zinc plated steel ones. Then it's more adjustments to give her heel clearance and I'm still out the gate at the scheduled 9am. So is Evan,which is a major acheivement!

9:30 sees us mostly assembled at the showgrounds for an unofficial anti-nuke parade that would almost be Critical Mass except for the car at the front. We do a couple of laps of the town centre then stop at the enviro centre to donate photos for a press release and have a cup of tea. It's after lunchtime now, so we head out to the organic shop a few kilometres from town to shop for staples and eat. A few nasty hills separate town from those shops and my knees do not like it at all. Evan is having the same problem, even though we're both carrying less than we were yesterday. Makes for a grumpy ride.

The locals lead us out of town and through a series of winding, hilly byways that apparently make for a nice ride. I'm not in the mood, I'd rather cruise down a nice busy motorway with lots of traffic, no hills and nice straight lines. A short, easy day is the requirement. By lunchtime (1:30pm) Ev and I are definitely struggling to hold it together, and Valerie has some gripe with Evan after he snapped at her at some point. This will no doubt be talked through at a meeting later, but for now Evan is working on Beck's bike and Cassie is trying to justify her car addiction to me. I'm trying to be patient but... the answer to "can I bring a car on the Cycle Against the Nuclear Cycle" is still "no". After a while Joe talks to me about bush camping a little and it sounds as though other people have talked to him since I did, as he's now focussed on bush and trees. It sounds as though a bit past the zoo is the best plan, so we agree to that and I leave.

Landsborough localSome time later I fill up water bottles at a playground near the Landsborough turnoff, then wander on down to the zoo. As suggested, just past the zoo is a pine plantation so after a photo shoot with one of the locals and a bit of exploring I decide to camp in "Science Area 24".Or near offer, the pines are easier to cook in by virtue of the dead zone underneath them. I cook rice then ring Evan. He's definitely off to his brother's place with Georgie on the train tonight, but will return in the morning. I toss up riding on but haven't seen a map and Valerie wants me to hang round. So I pitch my hammock in the pines and plan to leave early.

Stats: 43.2km, 2:54, 14.86km/h, max 73.6km/h (down the big hill from Eve and Bruce's place), totals 564/38:15. Big stats news for the day is that Evan now has a speedo again so the pressure is off me a little in the stats department.

Day 18: Noosa to Nambour

Energy Coop solar rig Moz is carrying on CANCThe morning started well, I woke up, packed up and biked into town to buy milk and eat breakfast. So by about 8am I was sitting in the park waiting for everyone else to arrive. While I'm here I finally got around to taking photos of the solar rig. In the photo the solar panel is off to the right, power from this comes through the leads bottomright into the solar regulator sitting outside the plastic bin. This is a bit of magic electronics takes the roughly 25 watts at 16V from the panel and charges a sealed lead acid battery (top of frame inside the bin). From the battery I run a range of stuff through a standard car cigarette lighter outlet. The two multimeters display current (in or out of the battery, here we have 0.76 amps going in) and battery voltage (13.49V). The battery voltage when it's not on charge tells me roughly how fully charged it is, but in practice I use the no-load charge current to tell me, as that drops under half an amp when the battery is charged. Over to the left are the loads - the laptop and phone charger. The laptop uses about 1.5A at 16V, so there's an adapter that produces that from the 12V battery, and the actual load is about 2A at 12V.

Luckily none of the loads draw much current when they're not in use, so I can let group members charge phones unsupervised, and if they forget to unplug the charger it doesn't kill the battery (50mA... 20 hours of standby per amp-hour of battery charge wasted). The battery is an 18AH one, so charging it at the theoretical 2A the panel can supply will not bother it much. But I've never seen it get above 1A anway. All this was supplied and assembled by Maurice at EnergyCoop, and I'm slowly tweaking it to make it work better on the bike. I've extended the wires to the panel so that I can leave it connected on the top of the bin, and that usually keeps the battery topped up quite well. I get an hour or two of laptop (enough for the blog and photo editing), plus lots of phone charging and batteries from my LED lights.

Mayor of Noosa with CANCWe met the mayor of the shire, Bob Abbot, and we got a surprising amount of time with him chatting about stuff and getting interviewed by the meeja. Then we started the serious faffing, getting lost twice in the first four kilometres and just generally losing the plot. Many lessons were learnt, but my lesson was learned later in the day and was one of those "I knew that" ones... if you're going to ride a long day, start early and focus on that task. Instead we faffed, and barely got to Nambour in time for the public meeting.

CANC see the sea on the sunshine coast (seeing the lagoon at Noosa doesn't really count)Once we were on the coast it was the usual undulating meander but we were moving by then and eventually we got to see the sea! We were also chased by aphotographer from the paper that sent a reporter to see us this morning, I gave him a few photos but they wanted action shots apparently.

Moz is macho - a big loadWe continued grinding along the coast in the sun and hills, with June and Cassie a few kilometres ahead of us due to their 15km head start. Riding in the hot part of the day is not a lot of fun, and we're all a bit stressed for various reasons. Valerie never got around to eating breakfast, so she was a quite vague and her usually good direction-finding skills evaporated. Unfortunately this was one of the days we were depending on one person knowing the fine print because things were a bit complex, hence getting lost. Cassie's mother is sick, Robyn is sick, Ev and me are just very tired. Then half way through the day Georgie blew her knee. Then somehow before lunch Evan ended up with Valerie's trailer, so I said I'd take it after lunch. Much stress, I think the long day we planned has combined with the morning stuffups to make everyone a bit conerned about making it into Nambour in time for the meeting. Trailer sits on top of the bin without too much drama, but the quad is now very heavy indeed, but at least it's still sonmewhat aoredynamic (at least judging by how enthusiastically it goes downhill).

Evan and I take off after lunch and basically grind along together trying to get to the end of the day in one piece and without being too panicked about the time. The country is more or less flat and by a bit of inspired drafting we manage to avoid the worst of the headwind (I can draft Ev's trailer, but he can't draft me, so I extract a bamboo pole from my collection and use it to poke him when he goes too slowly (poke the trailer, anyway, and apparently it helps)). We meet up with Bruce on the edge of Nambour then start waiting for everyone else, luckily they're not too far behind because of the slow struggle we've been having. Both of us are kinda tired right now.

Then it's off through town to Eve and Bruce's house which is up a bloody great hill about 5km from the centre of town. But it's a nice house with showers for all and we enjoy it a lot. I use the shower-queuing time to find a couple of trees in the neighbours orchard to pitch the hammock, then discover that I've left my soap/shavers/handcream in Gympie or somewhere which sucks a bit. Need to shop. But not now, we need to be back in town for the meeting! Dinner is some anchovy quiche that I can't eat, so I havre rice. So do others, so 3 cups of raw rice disappear (pretty much all that Eve and Bruce have) so I find the remaining couple of cups that we have left and cook that ready for breakfast. Then Robyn, Evan and I ride into town, the rest exercise their auto addictions. Well, Ev gets a ride to the cop shop where they left Georgie's bike, then we ride to the CWA hall where everyone else is.

cassie presents CANC stuff at Nambour to the Sunshine Coast Environment CouncilWe're addressing the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, and things go fairly well. Valerie is big on the introductory circle thing, but there's too many people so just us riders talk a bit. I rant about bikes :) Misc talking continues, then we show an anti-nuke DVD before we split up for more discussion one on one. People like the quad, and the whole talky thing seems to go pretty well.

Afterwards we manage to get away fairly cleanly, but it's still going on 9pm by the time we get away. It's a bit of a struggle (again) up the hill, but I have to say the the quad goes significantly faster without anything much inside it (I just had the camera/laptop bag and my toolbag). Plus Beck bought presents :) I now have a minipump with a pressure guage so I can make sure tyres are at 100psi, and new tyres to test... Schwalbe Big Apple's, but they're only rated to 70psi so I'm not sure how they'll go, I'll probably put one on the left rear and pump it up to 100psi and see what happens. Using Ev's floor pump and wearing ear plugs!

Ring phuong, she's all prepared and excited because she leaves tomorrow to come up here. Then sleep, hearing the windy night but I think I got the expected seven hours or so until I wake at 6am.

Stats: 66km (about 60km loaded up), 4:36, avg 14.3, 65kph max, 521 total, 35:20 total time.

Day 17: John's place to Noosa

John and the CANC crewJohn kindly offered to ride into Noosa with us as a guide to the back roads so we could enjoy a peaceful journey in and see some of his favourite bike paths. I was impressed,there's a long downhill on an old road that seems to be maintained mostly by a car club that use it for hillclimbs, so it's well maintained and there are barriers on the corners. We had fun going down!

evan going downhillCANC kids going downhill

CANC in a park in Noosa10km later we were in Noosa, or at least some approximation of it (Terwantin). There's a town called T something, then a bunch of "Noosa Blah" localities, and they're all made out of ticky-tacky and it all looks just the same. Anyway, we arrived, John left to ride home and work and we sat in a park and talked about what to do. After a while someof us went to do a stall, Ev and me geeked out a bit then joined them,and we did a bit more media.

We wandered along a bit to Noosa Waters or something for lunch in a park where Wayne? and Bruce caught up with us. They make handcycles and stuff and are interested in the recumbent bikes, so we chatted and they poked things. I rang Ben because they'd been trying to contact him this week with no luck, so he got to explain being busy over my phone... but I assume sold a seat and had a good chat. So that's cool.

Today we have a choice between riding 15-odd km to stay with friends of Cassie (she's doing that), then 15km back in the morning before we start a long 50km days riding. Oh, and we have to be back by 8:30am to meet the mayor... in the park where we arrived today. I also want some time out, so after lunch we split up - the CANC circus disappears into another bit of Noosa to do more stalls and I split off to camp somewhere. The only campground that's not full is no fun - bare gravel tent sites with no hammock trees, so I bypass it (and text Ev to save them the hassle, since him and Valerie at least seem inclined to stay in town rathre than riding an extra 30km). I'm currently not-very-steath camped in the sports complex listening to rugby players running around under lights at 6pm. It's been a nice quiet afternoon, much hammock time (bought copies of "Autralasian Science" and "ECO", the laytter being a CSIRO publication). Now about to sleep I think, after I ring Phuong for my daily dose of missing her. Only 3 days until she arrives to join the ride for a week, much organising is taking place right now.

Stats: about 10km from John's place, but for the whole day: 25km, 2 hours, 12.4km/h average, 57.3km/h down the step hill just outside John's place. Totals: 455km in 30:44.


Day 16: Gympie to John's Place

Stayed at Zela's place and slept in an actual bed! Wow!

CANC planning meeting in GympieShe dropped me back at the gallery at about 7:45... I woke about 5:30am when it started to get light and the truck noises began, then about 6:30 wandered out and had a look at the garden and bird life. An hour or so later Zela and Greg got out of bed and started their day. I had packaged breakfast cereal for the first time in ages, then got officially shown the garden again before we took off into town.

Interesting discovery for the morning was meeting Dion and Sue who've bought an off-net house rather than built it. They have PV electricity, compoting toilet and tank water,plus a vege garden. Plus mild guilt because they just live there rather than having done a heap of work to build it. But I'm impressed because it demonstrates that you don't have to be a green geek whizzkid to do this stuff, just someone who's capable of reading electrolyte levels in a battery... it's not rocket science.

People started arriving just before 8am and we departed about 9am.

Save the Mary River signs around Gympie in QueenslandEvan and I decided to just sit on the Bruce Highway all the way so that we get wide shoulders and fewer hills all the way. Val and co decide to take the back roads where there will be less traffic but probably more hills and no shoulders. So we rode 30-odd kilometres to Cooroy and got into town about 2 at a guess. By the time Ev had hit the laundromat and I found the gallery with Robyn in it someone had contacted John and SMS'd directions around the place so we knew where to go from Cooroy.

John is a guy who rode up to the Peace Convergence and found us there, offering accomodation and contacts down this way. He's a cyclist who lives in a wonderful house out in some bush about 5km from town. It's so great - a big block with mature trees around it and a nice big house in a clearing in the middle. So quiet and peaceful. Well, until 7 hippies arrived :)

Evan and Robyn riding down John's drivewayEvan on the phone (Evan is always on the phone)Evan just off the Bruce Highway in QueenslandCANC outside John's placeCANC arriving at John's placeCANC arriving at John's place