TERRA AUSTRALIS 2020
Starting September 1 Terra Australis Bike Epic [TABE] is now just four months away and is a likely contender as the first ultra distance bikepacking challenge post Covid19.
of isolation, social distancing, take away food .... who needs to train?
Over the past months all major European bikepacking races have been cancelled or postponed till the northern Autumn. Likewise the US Trans Am, Bike Non Stop have been cancelled. The Tour Divide [June 12] remains on the Calendar but will likely be a casualty or at best a shadow of it’s usual self. Certainly all Australian riders I’m aware of have abandoned any plans to travel to the US and ride.
With a view to generating some interest from riders by expanding their horizons to undertake the TABE challenge I’m going to throw out a daily 200k ride schedule that touches on the challenge, road [surface] conditions, re-supply, elevations and beauty of the challenge as a once in lifetime accomplishment. The current benchmark time of 31 days for the 6,250 kilometres was set by Steve Halligan in 2018. Steve lost 24 hours with a mechanical but probably saved a day with some re-routing in the opening days of the 2018 race. In my view a 30 day ride is very manageable and it will be down to 25 days if there is some momentum generated by a larger race field with some experienced riders pushing the hours.
THE BLOG POST
This daily ride Blog post will go out on the Breathtaking Events Facebook page and will be aggregated on this Breathtaking Events website ‘Blog’ page. In addition I’ve launched a new Instagram page breathtaking.events … a little more difficult to post blog material on Insta but we’ll see how it goes!
My expectations are that Terra Australis this September will comfortably conform with any ongoing general social constraints post Covid19 assuming that our State and Federal Gov. management plans continue with an effective ongoing suppression program. Hopefully we may be able to have a few of the New Zealand bikepacking racers join us.
For the time being interested riders can message/email me with an Expression of Interest [EOI] without committing to Registering. This can be for a single Leg [see the website] or the Full Course and I’ll send out the .gpx files and Course Notes to make a start on their route planning pending confirmation of the start date for 2020.
GENERAL NOTES - NTH CAPE QLD CONDITIONS
ROADS and the …. Cape York ’tip’
September is normally the tail end of the 4WD ‘season’ when enthusiasts do their lemming like pilgrimage up to the Cape York ‘tip’. I’ve read reports of 200-300 4WD vehicles a day heading north at breakneck [or vehicle break] speed on the northern Peninsular Development Road [PDR] to get to the ’tip’ as a lifetime benchmark of accomplishment. To date Terra Australis rider experience has been only a modest encounter with the 4WD fraternity.
There are some interesting fashion statements for the tip trip if that’s your thing!
Maintenance crews from the tip down to Cooktown are an occasional encounter for motorists and cyclists alike but on the evidence are only about at break even point in trying to keep ahead of the ravages resulting from this 100kph 4WD traffic.
For cyclists there are sections that are pounding washboard bone shakers with little escape… try the roadside spoon drains, try the right and the left looks better and so the game goes. Occasionally there’s a 10-20k section just refreshed by a road crew… couple of graders, water trucks, heavy roller and the road engineer up and down in his 4WD checking progress, dam water levels and repositioning road traffic signage…. a few conversations over the day and you’re on first name terms….. handy because he knows where the water is!
You get lucky every now and again with a sealed section … maybe 10-20k for some reason in the middle of nowhere and little bits in and out of roadhouses, tick gates and frequently flood sections. Go fast when you can, suck it in at 6-8-10kph when it’s all you can do. Throw a layer of 40º mid day heat and you can be sure you won’t be averaging your usual 20kph+ flat country speed. These roads are wide … 50 to 80m. By mid morning the tree line shade has retreated and won’t reappear till late afternoon. At best you can hope for is a gentle easterly cross breeze to give some respite from the heat.
When the day is done sleep comes easily … there’s the odd grader blade pushed off the road side 20-30m, maybe a turn around point for the road crew giving some flat ground. Night traffic is zero… a few minutes [no tent!] gaze at the stars and drift off to sleep in balmy evening temperatures.
Sadly this won’t last for ever … each passing year, ever more of the PDR is being sealed. If you want it dark, now’s the time!
Tomorrow the virtual ride commences .... it will follow on here!
Box your bike up and you can be up in Cape York from the Eastern States by mid afternoon. Fly into Cairns and connect with a Skytrans or Rex daily flight to Bamaga. An alternate is a Qantas flight to Horn Island and a Ferry trip over to Seisia the coast port on the mainland. Seisia, Bamaga, Loyalty Beach are all options for early arrivals. Seisia Holiday Park has a kiosk that does evening meals for a good price and also has a well stocked Supermarket for last minute supplies.
Closer to the Tip, Punsand Bay [Cape York Camping] has cabins, safari tents etc and camping sites @ $20. They have a bar, do meals, breakfast and will do packed lunches. It’s quite busy with tourists and you will need to book if you want a Safari Tent. It’s a 27k ride up to the Cape tip from Punsand Bay for a pic at the 6:00am start.