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Global Fat Bike Day 2016

Global Fat Bike Day (#GFBD2016) is an annual celebration of Fat Bikes and the wonderful places they can take us.  This years ride took us for a long ride up the beach on Bribie Island.

Fat bikes are laid back.  So is the beach town of Woorim.  People sat in the shade out of the hot sun, enjoying the sea breeze.

The low tide wasn’t due till late afternoon, so we started our ride after lunch, gathering in the local park.

Some people planned to camp out for the night, others intended to ride up and back in one go.  We all checked out each others’ bikes.

“Ooooh – internally hubbed gears.  Nice!”

“What tyre pressures are you running?”

“How do you find the racks for carrying gear?”

“Are they carbon forks?”

It’s always fun to get so many fatties together in one spot and compare notes.

The sand on Woorim beach was quite soft, so most of us decided to walk the bikes down to the shoreline rather than fall off in front of a beach full of curious swimmers.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

As we reached the wet sand we jumped on the bikes, and pedaled northwards, carefully avoiding the swimmers and lifeguards.

We had a stiff headwind in our faces.  Today’s ride north would be slower than usual, but we were in no rush.

With smiles all around we pointed the bikes into the strong breeze, and made our way towards the northern tip.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Despite the relaxed pace, pedalling up wind on sand is hard work.

We stopped a few times to catch our breath and enjoy the company.

One of the tricks cyclists use in a headwind is to shelter from the breeze behind the rider in front.

Since the wind was coming from the north-east this meant we would let stronger riders go ahead, then sit behind them and slightly to the left out of the breeze.

I chuckled to myself as I realized we were doing what migrating geese had been doing for millions of years.

“Honk” I thought to myself.  Perhaps being called a goose was not such a bad thing?

We settled into a rhythm.  We were only doing about 13km/h, but it was hard work.  As we pedaled the hot sun slowly sank westward.

Beaches are happy places.  Everyone was having a good time.

Nobody seemed worried about anything.

As Darb and I took a quick rest in the dunes, I noticed Calum go whizzing by towards Caloundra.  He’s unstoppable.

We were heading towards a camp ground near the ruins of Fort Bribie.  I had no idea where it was, so I waited till Troy showed up and followed him.

Old tree stumps poked out of the sand, a reminder that the coastline around here is continually changing.  What was once bushland a few decades ago is now beach.

Eventually we found the track to the campsite, confirmed by a couple of sailors who sat in the dunes drinking cold beer.

As we waited for them, Justin and Shane slowly snaked up the beach avoiding incoming waves.

We made it.

This was where a few of the riders would be camping tonight.  With water, shelter, toilets and a fire pit – what more could a camper ask for?

Justin immediately checked out whether or not his bike would fit in the tinny.

It did.  But he thought better of it, and decided this little paradise by the water would be a better place to stay.

As the golden glow of the late afternoon sun reflected from the water, Darb and I bade the campers goodnight, and prepared for our return trip…

…back through the dunes to the beach.

Now the wind was at our backs.  What was a chore a few minutes earlier was now a delight as we rolled effortlessly downwind.

It was easy to maintain 30 km/h.  When you ride on the beach you accept the conditions.  Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it’s easy.  I was grateful for the respite.

Wayne and Brendan had been taking it a bit slower.  With heavily loaded bikes their ride up the beach had taken longer than ours.  They still had a few kilometres to ride until they reached the campsite and were resting by the ruins of Fort Bribie.

Not far away, a cruise ship was sailing away.

I’ve done a lot of cruises in my life, but I honestly would not have swapped my place on this beach with anyone on that ship.

Contentment is a wonderful thing.

We continued our homeward journey.  It was getting dark, and menacing storm clouds gathered on the horizon ahead of us.

The sky grew dark, then the wind changed.

Once again we were riding into a strong breeze, but now we were facing fading light, and an impending storm.

We pedaled harder into the gloom.

Then it was dark.

Pitch black.

Neither of us had lights – we hadn’t intended to get back so late.

As heavy rain splashed in our faces, we took a wrong turn along a 4WD exit track and trudged through a couple of kilometres of soft sand in darkness.  I was physically drained and stumbled in the darkness.  Darb helped me and pushed my bike some of the way.  (You’re a legend, Darb!)

We arrived back in Woorim exhausted, covered in sand, and relieved.

We rode a total of 56 km in about 6 hours including breaks.

It took longer than usual because of the weather, and our wrong turn at the end.

During that time I burned almost 4,000 kcal – so (for us) this was quite a tough ride.

Note to self:  Don’t ever try to ride a bike along the 4WD exit track at Woorim.  It’s gruelling.

In pleasant weather this ride rates 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Today, taking into account the weather and the unexpected ending, I’m rating our experience 9.5 out of 10.  Beaches are variable places – you sometimes don’t know what to expect.

Thanks everyone for an exciting Global Fat Bike Day!

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