So off i went. A combination of not enough sleep and imperfect weather conditions meant a somewhat delayed start after a beautiful sunrise. No wandering about through Wolvi this time, instead it was straight through Como which allowed lots of time to savour the full spectrum of road surfacing on the Cooloola Way.
There were rocks, which slowed progress considerably.
Sand, which slowed progress considerably.
And then this stuff, which had just the kind of effect you would imagine.
In due course i reached the bridge over the upper reaches of the Noosa River.
And around 8:30 i reached the northern end of the road. I haven't got a photo of that as it is a very dull, unsigned intersection in the middle of a coastal swamp. So now after 41kms of riding on some pretty rough dirt, it was time to really get down to business. My strength lies in TT type efforts, turning the dial up to 90% or so and just holding it there as long as necessary, so that's exactly what i did. I had checked the Strava segment before leaving, so i knew the KOM speed was 20.3kmh, and distance was 23.7kms (actually it's nearer 30kms, i have no idea where i got the 23.7 figure from). For the first few kilometres i was able to hold around 30kmh (when the road wasn't rougher than Lindsay Lohan's career trajectory) although with my recent lack of activity my legs were soon putting on a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's 3 Little Maids From School Are We.
The flat wasn't of any concern though, what was of concern were the 3 or 4 solid climbs. Now none of them are long, or steep, but the ATX is, by some considerable margin, the worst climbing bike i have ever had the misfortune of swinging my leg over. Seriously i've ridden uphill on a Specialized Big Hit downhill bike with what felt like a couple of FEET of suspension travel and it still wasn't as slow as my Giant.
I struggled on in any case, and made up what time i could on the downhills and flats. Even with dual suspension (and for an 18yr old bike it is quite reasonable suspension) i was getting seriously knocked around on the rough sections, and hitting it flat out as i was made pretty much everything a rough section.
By the halfway mark i was really struggling, with the heat climbing quickly and a strengthening headwind but hey it was only a 23.7k segment and heaven forbid i should be incapable of covering that in an hour or less. So i kept pushing deeper and deeper into the pain, edging closer to Tarangau Station (a 1700 acre property at the southern end of the Cooloola Way). When i did eventually pass the driveway i was well past the red and into an altogether more unpleasant colour. As i finally crested the last hill at Coondoo i had less than nothing left, and couldn't even stand.
So with that effort, and the heat only increasing, i decided against clearing an acre of groundsel by hand in favour of just unloading half a tonne of furniture. A bit of rest every now and then is pretty reasonable, and the groundsel isn't going anywhere in a hurry (besides up i suppose).
In other very exciting news, i can finally report success (after 6 weeks!) in my crusade against the feral kittens of Kunda Park. Technically the job is only 50% done, but i have precisely one more kitten today than i did yesterday. It appears to be calming down nicely, and is in pretty reasonable health for something that has been living on beetles and out of date meat pies. He/She (i haven't been able to confirm one way or the other just yet) is certainly strong, most particularly the scratching and biting muscles. When i first trapped it the poor little tyke was quite scared, and apparently the best way for it to dispel that nervous energy was by sinking it's teeth into my thumb, just about down to the bloody bone.
Not to worry, i've had more tetanus boosters than most people have had hot dinners.