The train wasn't scheduled to leave Warwick until 10am, giving me all the time in the world to get ready and drive the course. The priority was to see where the climbs were and what the dirt section was like. Well the climbs were few and far between (and quite gentle too as one might expect) but the dirt was... interesting.
So i headed back to Warwick for the traditional pre race Bacon and Egg McMuffin, and popped down to the beautiful Condamine River to eat.
With brekky taken care of it was over to the station to get the Tom Wallace Special set up and begin the waiting game as the train prepared for the off. I was quite pleased in the meantime to find that a bloke i know from a cycling forum was going to be on the train, though i should have thought to ask if he could nobble the train to help my chances.
The forecast had been for a favourable wind, but it wasn't until i was underway that i had a full appreciation of just how favourable. The moment i had a clear path it was into the 52-14 top gear and spinning away in the low 40s.
The downside to the tailwind was that it also carried the sound of the train, and each time the whistle blew for level crossings it sounded as though it was right behind me, and i would challenge anyone not to kick the effort up another notch when that happens!
Under the track i went a few kms out of town and was presented with the first uphill (very short though it was).
The road crossed the line again-
And after a long gentle rise which i was able to clear in top gear, it was on to this straight-
Unfortunately at the other end of that straight was the steepest climb of the course, and the shifter was so unhelpful i had to hop off and walk the last 30m. After another long rise which i dealt with by holding the bars in one hand and the accursed shifter in the other, i saw the grain silos at Allora glistening in the distance.
I flew into town desperately searching for a service station and while one did not make itself apparent, i did spot the local hardware store.
A mere second with the screwdriver had the shifter perfectly sorted again, and with it back on the counter and a rushed "Thank You!" i was back out on the road. It was good timing, as the next few kilometres of road headed slightly into the wind and had a little climbing too. There was no rest to be had though, as i spotted the smoke from the train in the distance and put my head down.
After passing through Ellinthorpe-
There was a short climb and then onto Glenbuckie Rd. It started off nicely enough (though far narrower than the photo makes out)
But up at those trees is where the dirt started. Now on Google Street View it looked virtually flat, and this photo makes it look pretty tame too.
In the flesh it actually dips down so far that the bottom is completely hidden from view, and when i did reach the bottom i was presented with this-
The rest of the dirt wasn't much better, but on the bike it proved fairly easy to pick a suitable path through. Spotting wild budgies for the first time in my life buoyed my spirits considerably too. With the dirt out of the way there was the final climb to be taken care of, and yes it is just as long as it looks.
At the top though i was presented with one of the most glorious sights a cyclist could hope for, the Clifton grain silos 7kms away, with a 2km downhill leading to flat road for the remainder of the distance.
With the tailwind blowing strongly i took off, spinning away merrily until i hit a small causeway doing the better part of 50kmh and just about got airborne. Within just a few minutes i skidded to a stop at the Clifton station, just over 50kms dispatched at an average of 33.8kmh (or a smidge over 21mph if you prefer).
There was a group from nearby Pilton there to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing (or near enough to it) and the strains of "The White Cliffs of Dover" kept me entertained until the train rolled in, 11 minutes after i had arrived!
With the breeze now quite energetic indeed i decided against riding back to Warwick, instead calling my aunt and uncle to pick me up (which they had kindly volunteered to do if necessary) and when they arrived they went a step further and shouted lunch at the Clifton Pub. Still in my lycra i had some apprehension about going into a pub with a cow skull mounted over the door, but it turned out to have a very nice atmosphere, and excellent irish stew.
But wait, there's more!
By the time we got back to Warwick the afternoon was starting to get on with a 300km drive ahead, but i couldn't leave until i had done one more thing. The last time i was racing the train i had set the KOM for a rolling TT segment heading out to the west of Warwick; it was taken in due course by a freakishly strong local triathlete. I got the Shiv out of the car, saddled up and within a kilometre was up over 50kmh. At the halfway mark i was flying, all set to regain the KOM when....