The Hardest Ride We Have Ever Done – Lake Manchester Cycle Tour
As our European adventure looms, I thought it would be a good idea to book in a few adventure trips while everyone is in the same city. Lake Manchester seemed like a good option of a summer Tour Cycle in Australia (Brisbane).
I have a certain trait that I previously thought was a joke, but now I’m starting to think its true…
If you ever want to know which weekend will be the hottest weekend of the year, just ask me to plan a cycling tour. 9 times out of 10, I’ll pick a weekend that isn’t just hot, but almost utterly unachievable even to get to the shops. Let alone cycle 40kms to a remote bush camp.
Our destination was Blue Gum Flats Campground – Lake Manchester Cycle Tour.
- Saturday 14th Jan – 37 Degrees C (98.6 F) with 88% Humidity
- Sunday 15th Jan – 33 Degrees C (91.4 F) with 88% Humidity
- Total Kms – 80kms
- Total Elevation – 1000+m
The planned route was west from Brisbane. We travelled out to Kenmore, then along Moggil road, eventually joining Mount Crosby Road (with hills as steep as 11%), joining up Lake Manchester Road, eventually ending on Light Line Road.
As we packed our bikes and left, we were a little worried about the heat, but mostly just excited to arrive at camp, set up our tents, have a swim in the lake and down some well deserved camp food.
We travelled along the Brisbane river, piecing together bits of rides we had done as a group before. Bike paths were our choice of travel style until we hit our first little challenge.
Kenmore has plenty of hills, most of them are unnecessary. In true adventure spirit, my GPS began to take us up a few of these hills just for fun, only to turn us around again, heading back to the road we had just ridden up.
I blame it on the GPS, but maybe it was just poor route planning. It felt like a surprising mouthful of concentrated heat. How bad could it get?
The seven eleven at Kenmore was our first pit stop. This was about half way through our total kilometers. Pro Tip – Get the banana bread.
We pushed on as the sun beat down unrelentingly. With relatively heavy bikes, Moggile Road’s undulating terrain began to test our mental capacity to ward off the heat.
We stopped to refill our 4L of water bottles. We needed enough water to get us through the night, and back to the park the next day. By this stage we had covered just over 30kms, with only 10kms to go.
We pressed on, already feeling pretty destroyed by the heat. We had not ridden far until our 3rd set of challenges arose out of the ground like mountains of doom. Mount Crosby Road was about to teach us a few things about pain.
The first hill was manageable, with the toughest part only 7% in gradient. It travelled over the creek that flows straight into the Brisbane river.
The second hill was pure pain. 11% at its toughest part, it was the exterminator elevator. Barnes Hill!
There were a few more hills that tested our ability to think what we where doing was sane. As the Hills became drop sets for our legs, each pedal stroke became a question on the meaning of life. We finally came across Lightline Road, but the adventure had only just begun.
The sun was beginning to drop, and darkness was very close. The problem was that we still had 7kms to go along Lightline Road. Unbeknowns to us, the road was rocky and treacherous. It evenutally got to the point where we couldn’t ride our bikes, so we decided to push.
If you had not noticed in the previous photos, Nick had completely had enough. Lets look at his journey in a little more detail.
Nick’s legs had been cramping so bad, that he would have to jump off the bike to catch his leg before it went into a spasming cramp. This probably captures how he was feeling at the time.
By this stage, it was completely dark. Headlamps guided the way through the dark bushland that lined either side of the road, pushing our bikes the last 5kms over the dirt track.
The best part about doing crazy things with your mates is the hysteria that sets in when the situation becomes too hard to handle. If we had not joked all the way to the camp site, it would have been pretty tough. For this I am forever grateful.
We arrived at the blue gum flats campground, only to find exactly what the campground title had conveyed. Blue Gum Flats – A flat patch of grass in the middle of no where, with no lake to be seen. Disappointment would have been an understatement.
As we attempted to setup camp in the dark, York had realised he had forgotten his hammock straps. I had brought two hammocks, but had also misplaced the straps to the second one. We spent the next half hour attempting to tie our way to DIY mastery with the spare cord I had brought. Next mission – food!
We immediately regretted heating up our food due to the sheer internal heat that food apparently gives you. As you might have guessed, intellectual forethought had long since left us behind.
We fell asleep amongst the army of mosquitoes and scorpions (Yes, we spotted a scorpion) without the rain covers on our tents. The heat made it absolutely impossible to sleep.
At 2am, a blizzard of cool fresh air followed by some rather large thunder claps brought us to the attention that it was going to rain. I’ve never jumped out of a tent so quickly, rushing around trying to secure rain covers and makeshift tarps. As the rain came down, it finally made it cool enough to finally rest our weary legs.
After a solid 6 hours sleep, we ventured out of the campsite in search of water. The tough hills and dehydration had left us with little over 500 mls each of water to get back to civilisation.
We walked the trail back to the main road, as Pete’s road bike was 1 flat away from game over. The over nights rest had refuel our energy stores, and the ride back over the hills proved much easier than the day before.
As we stumbled back into civilisation covered in a thick film of sunscreen, dirt and sweat, our spirits began to lighten. Home was not far away!
In hindsight, this trip was pretty insane. The heat, elevation and lack of water was a recipe for disaster, not to mention our lack of riding over the past few months.
If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, travel Together
When times get tough, its good to know you’ve got people around you to make you realise that the situation isn’t as tough as you think it is. Having a clear mind is crucial when making decisions can sometimes mean the difference between safety and danger.
This was an epic adventure to say the least. Its always the shit parts to travel that make some of the best stories, and hopefully will be remembered favourably for life.
I was humbled by the amount of trust everyone had instilled in me to execute this adventure. I assure you that future rides will be to destinations that have water, on days that are not so hot, and along roads that are not so challengingly steep!
Until next time!