day 1: Ipswich – Boonah

Armegeddon comes early

11th Jan 11; 5:20am(dep)/12:00(arr)
61.8 km (dist); 3h 44m (saddle);
16.5 kph (av); 47 kph (max);
61.8 km (tot)

“…this gave place to a broad wooded valley, up which we rode for an hour, till our troubles began again; for we had to dismount and lead our animals up a narrow hill-path with broken steps of rock so polished by long years of passing feet that they were dangerous in wet weather.” 7POW;ch31

We rise at 4:00am for the 5:06 dawn departure. The clock radio alarm mentions a flash flood in Toowoomba. How bizarre. A last minute look at the six day forecast: a day of heavy rain following by 5 days of occasional showers. Apart from today; perfect summer cycling weather with lower temperatures and sun.

Le Grand Départ sees Mitchell, Mark, Leah, Scott, James, Steve and Ian (a last minute Canadian import) head off. Wendy, our Directeur Sportif, follows with vehicle. We gently explain to Steve that on your first epic you are required to carry everyone else’s gear. We head down the driveway of destiny:

After an epic train ride we thread our way through Ipswich, then travel the lesser roads:

Pleasant riding until halfway and the rain becomes torrential.

Suddenly a dog runs out at us, oblivious to a passing semitrailer coming in the opposite direction. The sound of impact and the dog being swept along under the truck is horrific. I turn to see people covering their faces and think at first that they are wiping gore away. The driver is distressed and tries to reverse the semi back, but there is nothing to be done but to drag the dog off the road.

Just outside Boonah, Leah makes a comfort stop behind a bush and a policeman screeches up. Momentarily I think it is the toilet police and we are in Singapore. But no, he has only stopped just to let us know that he is not going to help us. Leah manages to finish her toilet unaided and we thank him and back away slowly. What is happening?

We arrive at Boonah at ~9:30am seeking the bakeries and coffee shops that define the XmasEpic but somehow things are not quite right. There is frission in the air and blam! Suddenly we are hit by a deluge of sound as all our mobile phones start ringing at once. People come running out of shops saying “wall of water, wall of water”. The news has broken, loss of life in Toowomba, a major flood now overtaking the Lockyer Valley. Later in the day Ipswich and the road we had just travelled would be under.

The supermarket becomes packed with panic buyers, but we manage to snatch enough carbohydrates to keep us going for the next few days. Our leisurely second breakfast stop is curtailed as we scamper onwards to higher ground. In what will become a daily pattern, we phone ahead to our accommodation where we are assured that the road in is fine, but that the road out is blocked and we will likely have to stay for a few days until the danger passes.

An anxious 10km and we arrive at Destiny Boonah Donkey Rescue farm. Our host Heike swings into action, soothing our agitation, opening the Red Cottage and garaging our bikes.

Turning on the continuous coverage of the ABC24 news channel we experience what the rest of the world has been going through: horror, fascination, then ultimately saturation. The ominous signs continue as a Prime Minister is seen on TV to be standing behind, and not in front, of a State Premier.

Later in the day the road becomes blocked both in front and behind us. We are now trapped, and even the normally stoic cows are looking unhappy:

Heike cheerfully tells us that all bridges are gone, but that the cottage is available for at least the next 3 nights. Mitchell’s eyes glazed over. Stuck on a donkey farm. It is at this point we realize that we have forgotten the Kasundi.

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2 Responses to day 1: Ipswich – Boonah

  1. Wendy Riley aka yr mother says:

    Oh yes!! We were good at overcoming odds. Just a teensy weensy bit of exaggeration there?

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