Ride Report ( Long) - Children's Cancer Institute Bike Ride - Townsville to Cairns


New Member
Jun 22, 2004
Thursday 28 July 0630h in Townsville at Centenary Hotel car park. Its cold, 10 degrees is cold in the tropics and the carpark is buzzing with people unloading from cars and utes and putting luggage onto the trucks. Lots of old friends to greet and new friends to meet. Radio station 4TTT doing O.B. and various TV stations and reporters doing their stuff. People assembling into their ride groups that are sorted according to speed.

We set off just after 0700. 213 riders, including 5 from New Zeland, and 40 support crew, the fastest group doing a lap around Townsville first, and the rest heading straight to the Bohle Barn 15k away on the Bruce Highway. Another nervous pee and another safety brief.
First fall: on the bridge over the Bohle River 200m from stop. Amazing fall, he hit a big pushed up lump of bitumen and went straight down landing on both feet and running beside the bike. Didnt take anyone down which was lucky as he was at the head of a bunch of about 50.

Teresa and Hailey from the staff of the local Hardly Normal are on tandem and riding in clown outfits. They pull into the carpark and just forget to stop. Ride straight into a flower bed and fall over in a heap of arms, bright colours and legs.

Off again and looking forward to lunch at Frosty Mango 68k away.
I am in the 15-20k group (25 ppl) or the "Yellow Roosters". Mostly ladies in the group and overall probably more females than males on the ride. In my group the bikes are nearly all Avanti, 5 new Blades with slicks are a welcome sight as some old clangers have now been retired. Overall the most popular bikes are flat bar roadies closely followed in number by road racers and hybrids a long third. The number of MTB and BMX has dropped to about a dozen from nearly 40 last year.
The fastest group, 35k + , the Silver Foxes are off and we wont see them again until about 1600h at Ingham.

Getting warmer, 25 c , road is flat, flat, flat and some long straights. Traffic is moderate and fast. Lots of tooting and waving. Going down to the bridge over Bluewater Creek, hear a semi behind and see a string of cars approaching. Yell out to warn everyone to keep left and grab a quick look over the shoulder. Do not beleive what I see - the semi has stopped behind the last rider and is allowing us to cross the bridge safely. He didnt proceed until we were all well clear. Think he was LinFox, not sure, I was in shock at such a display of gratuitous courteousy, what a champion.

2 little hills then more flat with a slight cross wind. Ingham looms into view and Bill, the official Lantern Rouge, has a fffsssst 1 k from the hall where we are stopping over night. Bike goes into the ute to be fixed later.
Thats 110k done.

Day 2 Friday 29 July Ingham to Innisfail 150km

Fed, packed ready to go. Roll call and safety brief. Cool morning, no wind and heavy cloud cover. Bill cant find his bike which is a blessing because it lowers the tone of the bunch. Its a rusty old 1971 Speedwell with rag tyres and a thick gungy chain. A replacement appears out of the truck and its his size. Didnt catch what brand but its about 5 years old and has paint and chrome, not rust and rust. The owner of the replacement says that Bill can keep it as he never rides it. Bill spots his bike - on the roof of the hall where we stayed. Big smiles. Set up!
See a fancy carbon bike in one of the faster groups. I may be a comparitive novice rider but I dont understand paying $5k for a light bike and then putting 4kg of drinks on board to carry up a mountain range with a drink stop at the top. Weird or masochistic!

We're off again

Three bunches held up on the outskirts of Ingham by a cane train that takes 10 minutes to trundle accross Bruce Highway. Ride out 12 k to bottom of Cardwell Range and take a short rest because of a slow bunch in front. Range is a 1.6k climb at 10% and 2 corners. It gets a bit steeper just before the top.
This really sorts out the riders. Half a dozen riders gone in first 300m, some fairly strained gear change noises, moans and grunts. A dropped chain takes out our oldest rider (72 yo), Lola, who is doing the ride for 4th time, its a shame as she would have made it to the top ... slowly. I am going well, come around last bend, start to hurt, stand up and change up for about 100m then back down when I see the "Crest" sign. Nothing stopping me now. Over the top and over to the Sallyman ( Salvation Army) truck for a cold drink. Our leader and LBS salesman/ mechanic extrordinare, Alan, towed the Bob Ibex trailer up with all the repair kit and hardly raised a sweat. There is no substitute for youth, well he is 15 years younger than me, experience and fitness. Safety vehicle heads off and I lead group down. Hit a speed a fair bit more than the 40k we are allowed. Would have loved to pass our car but I am a senior citizen and supposed to set an example. Bummma

Rest at Cardwell, set off for Tully. About 10 k south of Tully is Euramo and the flood plain of the Murray River. The road here is built up and has concrete sides sloping away at about 60 degrees. In places the drop would be 8m and the white line is right on the edge. There were a few "white knuckles" as there is no where to go. Strong rumour that Scotty from the Navy Seals ( 30-35kmh group) found out what its like to slide down 4m of concrete into a cane paddock.

Lunch at Tully and off to the hilly section through the jungle near Feluga. There used to be signs on the road here to be careful of Cassowaries but I think that they have all disappeared, like the signs. Used to hear them in the jungle at sunrise in the 1970's.

Tully and South Johnstone Mills are not crushing as they have had so much rain in the district they cant get harvesters into the paddocks. Go past yet another dead dog on the side of the road. Blokes up here dont tie up dogs on the back of a ute. Im tough, me utes tough an sos me dog!

The long day is taking its toll. 2 riders in the car and some very determined looks as Innisfail comes into sight. A lot of coaxing and an occasional push where needed keep the group moving along. Through Innisfail in Friday afternoon rush hour, or is that 5 minutes. A small steep hill with a railway crossing just before the PCYC Hall at Innisfail Showground spreads the bunch.
This is the furthest most of the Roosters have ever ridden and being on a bike from 0710 to 1740 has resulted in some really sore buts.

The cost of our food is in the entry fee and the catering is being done by 3 CSSB from Lavarack Barracks. The menu is great and there are lots of carbos to fill the legs for tomorrow.

Day 3 Saturday 30 July Innisfail to Cairns 90k.

Half hour sleep in. Lights come on at 0530 and its pack up again then off to breky. The drizzle has stopped but still heavy cloud cover. Will have to be very careful on the wet cane train tracks. Spot Dave on his new bike. He is riding with the Red Ducks ( 35kmh + ) . His Cervello fell apart, probably from the **** roads in Townsville, and he bought a "BLUE" carbon frame and forks over the net. Put all the Campag Grupo on the Blue and those new fancy sculptured bars. Very Noice. We are off to a very creaky start and its obvious that there are lots of tight muscles that will need a long warm up period. All around is Banana plantation in every direction. One of our sponsors is EcoBananas, the one with the red wax tip, who donated heaps of bananas and I think that some people wont eat another banana for months after the ride. How can you eat 8 bananas in a day!

About 10k out I see the first signs of a tail wind moving the trees. Within 20 minutes its turned into a 15- 20k wind and gusting to about 30k, its directly from the south and we are going north all day. We have been blessed.
Miriwinni for a break. A few have the " are we there yet " look so they get loaded up with Power Bar, Muesli bars, yogurt, flavoured milk and more bananas.
Tully, Innisfail and Babinda compete for the title of wettest town in Oz. So its with releif that we pass through Babinda on a rest day for the contest. Babinda Mill is crushing and the sickly sweet smells follow us up the road on the tail wind.
Gordonvale for another rest stop.
We have been event free apart from the pssttt on day 1 and want it to stay that way. Can see that we are getting tired and concentration is wandering. A rest and a feed will pick everyone up. The Sallyman is waiting for us and the donations box is taken around because they head back to Townsville as soon as we leave. 18 k to to go before we catch everyone else and have lunch together.

Traffic lights on southern approach to Cairns start a long way out but somehow we manage to get through 5 in a row. Arrive at Worree Mobil Servo to the claps and cheers of everyone else.

A huge acheivement for most in the group and especially for Emily who is 14 years old and not really done much riding before. Her father usually rides with the Seals but stayed with her.
Other youngsters are Madison 12 yo. who was on a tandem with her Dad, a regular road rider and Mathew 13 yo, who did every group training ride for 4 months before the ride and heaps of individual training, he had only ever ridden a bike to school before this year.

Last year when we rode into Cairns from here we had a Police MC escort. Sadly today is his funeral. He died as the result of a prang near Sarina on a new police bike he was riding from Brisbane to Cairns. Blue arm bands worn.

Off to Cairns city and on to The Pier 11 k away

We obviously have used up all our traffic light luck. Get every one and the group ends strung out through 4 sets of lights in the CBD. Go around a corner straight into the gusting wind. Pain pain ouch and the sound of front rings changing is all around. Only 400m of that thank goodness then onto the Pier for a formal welcome and thanks.

We raised $140,000 for the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia (CCIA) which surprised the volunteer committee as we were aiming to beat last years $108,000. The CCIA is the only organisation in Australia that is funding research to Prevent Childhood Cancer and I think that is a priority mission. 1 in 500 kids will have a cancer before age 15 and 3 in 10 of those will not survive. The pain and inconvenience I suffered is nothing .......


Similar threads

UK and Europe
Simon Brooke