Saturday morning dawned fine but with ominous clouds on the horizon. As usual the Wombles impressed with prompt arrival ready for the Challenge ahead. Our driver, Russ Loane, had the Vito all ready and had it packed ship shape with room to spare. Major Dave arrived with all the catering supplies and we were ready for departure. The Wombles led by Chris Gibbs left shortly after 6am with bright sunlight and dry roads. Soon that was to change with heavy rain delaying their progress as they left town.
The rest of the crew all arrived ready to ride and left half an hour later with a slight delay to replace a tube in Grant Botica's rear wheel. This was to prove advantageous as the rain that was pelting the Wombles had stopped by the time the main bunch came through with only wet roads to contend with. Liam led us through the streets finding a safe passage for us and we continued on without incident.
Ahead the Wombles were having puncture problems with Phil Ciniglio having to stop and wait when the tube supply ran out. The main group had its own problems when Jonny slid out on a corner just after Tamborine Village. He was ok but Simone also came down while taking evasive action and copped a nasty head knock. She was keen to get back on the "horse" but was persuaded to take a lift into Canungra just to be safe. We gathered up Phil with a quick wheel change and soon we were having our rest stop before our main target of the day....the 30km climb up to O'Reillys at 900m+ altitude.
The highlight of this stop was Julie's cookies which cost the local bakery a few sales. Combined with a can of lime Solo it was the perfect reviver for the lucky ones who snared one (or two)! After mending all the tyres and refilling the esky we were off again. The Wombles got away early to give the fast guys a target to chase. As happened last year a few chanced their arm early and ensured a hot pace on a hot day. Jeremy Moore struck out first before being chased down at the start of the main climb, unfortunately his chances of a high finish spot were dashed by a puncture. Then Liam hit out in the big chainring causing the bunch to split. Simone, who had miraculously recovered from the earlier fall, went into chase mode with Jonny and Blair Stockwell teaming up a chase group.
Up ahead the Wombles were starting to feel the effects of the heat and climbing. Some were running out of water as well as energy and an urgent call went out to Russ to bring some water. Some even had to take to the hoof on some of the steeper sections near the top! Meanwhile Simone had run down Liam for fastest climber....a great effort in the circumstances and the first female victor in the four editions of the Challenge. Commendation to Sam Morgan who was right up there with the fastest riders. Another outstanding effort was by rookie rider Karen who made it with ease. Only a couple of weeks ago she needed to be pushed up the small hills on our Saturday Westside ride!
After a nice lunch on the lawn it was time to check into the O'Reillys villas, our accommodation for the night. A few tried out the spa baths on the deck with some even having a little bit of bubbly! Others had a lie down or a beer and a chat while Major Dave and his allstar team prepared the vegetables for our dinner that night. This led us into a mini highlight....happy hour. This was an opportunity to tell tall tales and true about the days riding and other matters. The Long Island iced teas were as popular as ever along with the Guiness!
The majorhighlight of the evening was to come as Dave unveiled the dinner menu. Roast lamb, pork and beef along with copious piles of veges appeared and soon devoured by the appreciative diners. Cheesecake to follow and plenty of red wine saw Becky bring out the guitar and a sing along echoed through the valleys until after 10pm. Jeremy Moore only knew one song.....I'm Henry the 8th I am. We heard this numerous times as no one seemed to know his other choice I Am The Walrus.
Most had a great nights sleep in the crisp mountain air and soon we were on our way. That is until Marshall had to ride back down for his sunnies which he had left behind. Not too long after that we had to stop again as his computer had bounced off. Miraculously he and Russ retraced their steps and found it on the road. The only damage was that it had reverted back to MPH!
Breakfast was popular at Canungra with lots of bacon and eggs being devoured. Soon it was time to leave. The day had got windy and we were hoping it was a tail wind. Thankfully it was and the Wombles caned it home with out mishap this time. The main group were less lucky and ended up running out of spares! We all met up again at the shop and the Spring Challenge 2009 was over.
A big thanks to all who made it a success. Especially to our support driver Russ Loane who gave up his weekend for us, we hope he enjoyed it. Maybe next year Josie will be back on deck for it as well. Also thanks to Major Dave for his catering and also his organisational skills. It certainly made for a smooth run. As always Liam is invaluable with his tireless help with directions and help for those finding it tough. Thanks to all who came along... it was a fun event.