Thursday, September 3, 2009


I was up early the next day,not because I needed to get some serious miles in but I had a schedule to keep and on this particular day,time waited for no man,least of all a lazy bugger like myself.Todays morning ride was all about getting down the coast through to the little town of Nambour some 40k away before 10am.This was because today was one of the two planned train trips I had decided on before I started my ride.I hate riding through cities at the best of times but to ride through Brisbane was something I just did not want to do.Last October,when I flew in from Canada,I put my bike together at the airport and rode through Brisbane, north toward the Sunshine Coast.It was bloody horrible and with that memory in my head when I plannd this trip I knew that the Queensland capital and Sydney would be no-ride zones for me.With time pressing and the help of the hostel cleaner who opened up the office an hour early for me,I was off and riding at around 6:15am.That would give me all kinds of time to ride to Nambour and allow for any serious,unforseen delays.
The ride down the Sunshine Coast beaches was something I was looking forward to as it is just such a great place to ride with nice roads and beautiful views.That morning was no exception and as it was Sunday I had the pleasure of a great many cyclists for company along the way.This area is a huge training ground for triathletes and cyclists and the were out in full force that morning.I don't know if it was the presence of other cyclists that inspired me or the fact that I'd had four days off the bike but I absolutely flew along the road and I what seemed like no time at all I rolled into the Nambour train station about two hours early.Bloody hell,what to do?After a quick chat to one of the station masters and a consult with my maps I decided to keep riding south down the secondary road which pretty much follows the train line.I had calculated that I could make it to Beerwah station(where Steve Irwins' Australia Zoo is) in time to catch the same train I would have to wait two hours for here.I figured that I had about to hours and to ride just over 45 k and took off like a nutter down the quiet roads.
I still have a hard time getting head around the fact that 22kph is fast for me at the moment as that is a really pedestrian pace when riding my road bike.On the tourer,with four pannier bags,a handlebar bag,tent and trailer full of crap 22kph is a huge task especially if the road surface is bad.Today it wasn't and with the added help of a strengthening tailwind I made it to Beerwah with lots of time to spare.87k done for the morning and after the train trip,a shortish ride to Surfers Paradise from the Nerang station should see me at my hostel mid-afternoon.

Sundays are a great day to pass through a city and is the best day to put a bike on a train.Here in Oz, the rest of the week can be a pain as you are restricted to certain times to travel but it's all go on the weekend.This day,as it turned out was an extra special day to train-it and not ride as the very roads that I would have ridden were closed due to a huge fun run going on.I'm glad that I didn't need to negotiate that mess and had a great time reading the newspapers while the world wizzed by.The rest time ended abruptly once I started riding from Nerang to Surfers Paradise an the only things whizzing by were the insane drivers that the Gold Coast is famous for.During that 16k ride I was on the recieving end of more abuse and close calls than for the rest of my trip in total.No wonder I left this place all those years ago!Still, it is a great place to live if you are a beachy person and there is way more to do here than in Cairns.I just wanted to visit a couple of friends and do some shopping for bike stuff so there would be no theme parks or pub crawls for me this trip,just a couple of lazy days at my old home the "Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort".

I had last been here about 7 years before when I lived on site and ran the bar for about a year and a half.It was an interesting place and having attended boarding school since and early age I was well and truly comfortable with the "institutional living" that hostel life resembles.I had lots of great memories from that time and I was glad to see that not much had changed.It was pretty much the same just the people staying there seemed to be so much younger.They weren't of course,it was just my old eyes playing tricks.

Being the winter or "off season" as it is known,the hostel was very quiet which kind of suited me as I got to spread my stuff out in my own room for all but one night.It's always a good feeling knowing that I can just wheel my bike into a locked room and leave it there without worrying about who might be messing with it.The people around for those few days of my stay were great though and there was no need to worry.Each day I wandered around Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach astounded at the development going on and even went for a couple of runs and a swim or two in the cold surf.It was great to be able to run on the super nice beaches of the Gold Coast and I remembered just why my running and swimming were so strong when I lived there.It is just so easy to spend time training and I almost forgot how dangerous the roads were for riding,alomost that is, as I have more than one scar to remind me of the crazy Gold Coast drivers.It was a shame that Brad,the manager of the hostel,was really sick during my visit as I was really looking foward to seeing him again but he had contracted pneumonia and was out of action.I did manage a short chat just before he headed off to hospital for some tests.The plan was to spend time with him and his family but sadly it didn't work out.I also missed out on a visit with someone from my old life in Hong Kong.I have,over the last few months reconnected with a lot of the people who I grew up with and thanks to Facebook am in touch with a few of them on a regular basis.I had tried to work out a bit of a reunion with one of our old Hong Kong Pony Club mates Natalie who I had not seen since my brother Chris and I came to visit her and her sister Andrea about thrity years before.Man how time flies and it would seem that the reunion would have to wait as I wasn't in town long enough for the both of us to have a free moment to meet.Bummer!

I did enjoy my time in Surfers but kept my social life to just a few quiet drinks at the hostel bar chatting with my fellow travellers and sending them off to the clubs at 10pm when the bar closed.I was in no mood to be out on the town here as I'm absoutely over that sort of lifestyle.I'll leave that to the younger ones.It was funny though as it was the youngest of all the hostellers who were really interested in my trip.The two young Irish boys who worked at the hostel were especially interested and I though that was awesome.They thought that I was nuts but still asked all kind of questions and demanded a couple of photos with me before I left.Thankfuly I did manage the self discipline to leave as my last morning heralded the 21st birthday of one of these fine Irish lads and had I started sharing the birthday beers that they were having at 8am I know I would have been stuck there for an extra day or two.I made my escape at around 9:45am and started the long slow ride through the 25 kilometers of traffic that led me to the end of my time in Queensland and into New South Wales for the start of the week or so that it should take to reach Sydney.

Early morning in Cardwell,Nth Queensland