Saturday 5th November saw the inaugural "Spring Challenge" take place. Similar in concept to our famous "Winter Warmer" but instead heading south to O'Reilly's mountaintop resort in the Lamington national park. Just like the 'Warmer', beautiful weather preceded the weekend but as usual we were destined to extreme weather as drought breaking rain rolled in from somewhere down south, promising a long wet day in the saddle. A nervous group of 20 riders started turning up before six with Phil, Gibbsy, Ian. Anna and Mel Carlyle heading off to get a start on the others. Kimble showed up to do all the last minute checks and adjustments and the bunch headed off through South Brisbane and Stones Corner towards Logan Road. Brad kept in constant radio contact with 'Ossie' Osborne in the Lifecycle van following close behind.
Did we expect extreme weather and hills? For sure.....this is a spin-off from the "Winter Warmer" so nothing less would be acceptable. Otherwise there would be no tall tales and true to be expounded in the Irish Happy Hour in the Rainforest bar.
Before we got there though there was 115km of wet roads culminating in the 30km climb up to O'Reilly's. After meeting up with the outriders who put in a great effort to hold off the main group we all had some refreshments at Canungra before the bunch headed up to "destination unknown". Before we got too far there was another stop for some 'fannying around' as Luke would have called it as Blair stopped to tighten up a loose cleat
After a short run up a picturesque valley, past a nice winery, which had a few wistful glances and a few promises of maybe next time, the road started to head upwards into the mist and rain. Slowly to the sound of a tuneless singer, who shall go unamed, riders started to drift off the back. Firstly Jeremy, then Jonathon, Dave Thompson, Blair, puncture victim Simon, Brad, Dave Robbins with Jay and Greg finishing together as KOM victors. Over the next half hour or so everyone rolled in as the heavens really opened. It was a great effort especially by a couple of the girls who had never ridden that far before especially in such daunting conditions.
We were all staying in the Kootootonga lodge, the original O'Reilly homestead and soon we had a fire blazing in the fireplace with 20 pairs of shoe on the hearth, stuffed with paper in a valiant attempt to have dry footwear for the ride home. The billy went on and numerous cups of tea and coffee were consumed along with the best part of a freshly baked fruit cake sent by Paula Stockwell. Shortly after lunch was served, huge platters of sandwiches and homebaked cookies and orange juice. Then it was time for a yarn or maybe a sleep or a bit of reading.
Soon enough it was 5pm and time for the Irish Cocktail hour in the Rainforest bar. 1/2 price cocktails got a few going and soon the bar was humming as the rain began to clear giving glimpses of a beautiful sunset and the valley far below. All too soon it was time for dinner. Soup, Lasagne and Apple Crumble filled everyone nicely. To follow was a birthday cake for Anna, who could have been having a nice time in Brissie, but spent the day toiling up the mountain. For Jeremy he would have to make do with a cocktail for his birthday the following day.
Most turned in early keen to get a good nights sleep in the mountain air. The snorers were sent to one end of the lodge for everyones peace and quiet but even they seemed to be fairly restrained. All too soon it was daybreak and there are always those who love getting up at the crack of dawn and get the day started. A few pulled the doonas over the head and kept stacking zzzz's until Major Dave got a feed of toasted sandwiches off the BBQ going. A few more faces appeared until once again we were on the road again. Another outrider bunch formed with the promise of coffee in Canungra and they were off to a flyer. Also off to a flyer was 'rockin' Rod Stewart who overcooked a hairpin bend on the way down and disappeared over the side into a huge Lantana bush. The intrepid Rod soon clambered back up to the road, brushed himself off and took off again. When he checked at the bottom he had flat spotted his back tyre to the canvas!
A number of punctures from road debris kept "Ossie" in the van busy but everyone made it safely down in the end. The Outpost cafe did a sterling job feeding us and about 50 motorbike riders in double quick time. Lots of running repairs and tube/tyre changes were made before we set off in the sun towards Brisbane via Beenleigh. Soon a couple found the pace a bit arduous so a quick bunch split saw Anna and Gibbsy take the "as the crowflys' route home. Phil became the unofficial co-pilot for 'Ossie' and the bunch headed for home.
A couple of puncture stops and a lost follow car slowed us a little but before long we made it through the Ikea crowds and back into town for the welcome sight of the shop carpark. Remarkably Anna,Gibbsy and Melissa were able to slip the field on the outskirts of Brissie and take line honours as the Spring Challenge came to a close.
A few quick congratulatoty hugs and pats on the back, a cold drink or two and soon it was over with everyone promising to meet again in one years time for the 2007 Spring Challenge.
The Profile of the ride and climb to O'Reilly's