Augathella to Blackall
We were up before dawn this morning to prepare for a big day, 218km from Augathella to Blackall. As the sky turned pink we enjoyed our breakfast and were soon after “rolling” and on our way out of town. It was so lovely to have family stand at the turn off to the highway and wave us farewell as we headed out of Augathella.
The wildlife (and the roadkill) was a bit more prevalent this morning. We had kangaroos racing along in the paddocks beside us, emus freaking out and running the opposite direction (thankfully, as they’ve been known to be a little sporadic when they see a peloton rolling past), little cow families (units for those who know what they are talking about) panicking at the site of us on their fence line and making a mad dash (well as fast as cows can run) back to safety.
Our first stop was scheduled to be at about the 62km mark, however the patch on the side of the road where we had previously stopped, was overgrown with grass now over a metre high. It is such a delightful sight to see land out here regenerating after rain, even if it meant our riders had to push on for another 10km until we could find a safe spot for the morning break. The highlight at our morning tea stop was the ginger crinkle cookies supplied by Craig (courtesy of Suzi, from Bella and Tortie in the Grange, Brisbane). After the obligatory bush wee (which is particularly challenging for our 5 female riders), the top up of water bottles and application of sun cream, our crew was ready for their next stint on their way into Tambo, home to the famous Tambo Teddies.
On the next stretch of highway, we had plenty of traffic and a few decent sized road trains (triple road trains are 53m in length, just a little intimidating as they cruise past at 100km/hr when you are on push bike), we hadn’t noticed as many road trains on this ride due to the flooding in and around Longreach and surrounding towns that was preventing the big trucks getting through, but now that the flood waters are receding we are noticing a few more of those big guys coming past. We would love to give a shout out to all the truckies that have encountered our group, they have been so considerate, and patient and it was a pleasure to share the road with them. As well as the ginormous trucks, we also had a drive by of the RFDS Wellbeing Out West team. It was so great to see Dr Tim’s smiling face when you are doing the hard yards in the midday sun.
After a very hot and sweaty 118km pedalling in the sun with not so favourable cross winds, it was a huge sigh of relief that we all pulled into a beautiful shady, grassy spot on the side Tambo Lake to break for lunch. The next 100km was going to be gruelling for our team as the bodies are getting very tired and sore the afternoon sun only seemed to be getting hotter, peaking at about 33 degrees.
The education of our ‘city girl’ in the support crew continued this afternoon, as Emma pointed out the native birds hiding in the grasslands. The brolga lesson over the UHF radios between support vehicles brought some much-needed chuckles for the support crew as we entered our 8th hour of sitting at 30km/hour behind a bunch of middle aged men and women in lycra!
A little after 4pm and more than 10 hours from when we left Augathella, we finally arrived in Blackall. Straight into the pool to cool down and enjoy some cold beverages that were kindly donated by Ian Giles from CUB. Cheers for the beers Ian! The afternoon then proceeded into the final ice baths of the trip. The riders have been waiting all week to see the support crew take a turn in the icy bath, and what started as “I’ll put $50 to see Heff in the bath” quickly escalated to $2000 if Heff and our two nurses Emma and Mel could stay in the bath for 2 whole minutes. A monumental effort from all 3 of them and fabulous to see that even within our crew we can raise $2000 in just 2 minutes!!
This evening we were headed into the Blackall Cultural Centre to have dinner with the local community, always a treat as we get to meet some incredible people and share our stories. Thank you to Emma Taylor and her family for being so generous and organising our dinner this evening! Also a shout out to our friends from AAM Investment Group who were scheduled to join us, but were prevented by the challenges of flooded roads.
We can’t quite believe that we’ve already been on the road for 7 days!! It is with excitement that we look forward to reaching Longreach tomorrow and seeing our families again, but I know each of us will also be torn as we will also say goodbye to our new RideWest family. It is something that can’t be described the incredible bond that forms between this random group of people that end up on the ride together. The trust that is built, the shared experiences, the pouring out of hearts, these are the things that will build the lifelong friendships are formed and will forever stay in our hearts.
Highlights for the day –
Craig – making it to Blackall!
Evan – The cooperation and respect of all the truck drivers
TMac – convincing the nurses to get in to the ice bath with Heff and raise $2000!
Steve – the comradery in the peloton, that ensured we all got through the tough times to make it into Blackall. Also seeing the scenery change as we crossed the watershed.
Toby – crossing the Barcoo River and seeing it flowing all the way to the top of the bridge.
Rod – Seeing the support crew in the ice bath
Patrick – getting fabulous advice from PC about whether to wear his sun visor to the front to protect his face or the rear to protect his neck. Then spending the next two hours regretting taking the advice and staring straight into the oncoming sun!
PC – seeing the Barcoo and the country so wet and green