About five years ago (was it that long?) Darb and I rode over Spicers Gap and down to the Cunningham Highway at Tregony. Since then I’ve wanted to fill in the gap in my ride network map from there to Goomburra.
It’s a long way, which worked in with Darb’s plans because he wanted to ride a total of 1,100km in the month of October as part of The Great Cycle Challenge.
We followed the highway for a couple of kilometres then turned into South Branch Road – a quiet gravel track which rolled over the hills and through peaceful farmland.
Low clouds and cool weather provided ideal cycling conditions. Although South Branch Road was hilly, this was turning into a relaxing morning.
Half an hour later we were in the small village of Maryvale.
We would be passing through here twice today. Once this morning, and once on the way back home. We made careful note of the pub as this could make a pleasant rest-stop later in the day.
Maryvale once boasted a railway line.
The original plan was to extend the train tracks up the range from Boonah via Clumber and Spicers Gap, and then out to Warwick.
The link over Spicers Gap didn’t eventuate, but daily rail services terminated here from Warwick until 1960 when the line was closed.
Apart from this old scale, and suspicious looking mounds of earth traversing flat fields, there are few remaining signs of the railway.
As we left Maryvale, we crossed the highway and rode towards Goomburra. Our destination was only ten kilometres straight ahead as the crow flies – but there was a range of hills in between. Rather than go over those hills, we had to follow a long U-shaped detour around the range.
A patchwork quilt of farmland spread out before us over gentle rolling hills. I soaked up the views. With the wind at our backs this was an effortless ride.
The weather forecast had promised rain. Although the dark clouds hung low in the sky, we were dry.
The lush grass in this valley makes it the perfect location for horse stud-farms. I noticed numerous horses in fields as we rode by. Occasionally a few of them would break into a gallop as they spotted us.
Horses love to run. We love to ride. We’re kindred spirits.
At the small hamlet of Goomburra, we reached end of the range of hills, and the bottom of our U-shaped course. The road slowly curved northwards then back round to the east as we entered Inverramsay Road and headed up the valley towards the National Park.
As we rode up the valley, we had to work harder.
Half an hour ago we had coasted easily downhill with the wind at our backs, covering long stretches of road and expending very little energy.
We now pedaled up the hill into the headwind.
Halfway along Inverramsay Road we stopped for a brief rest by the side of the road.
It’s about 22 kilometres from the turn off to the camp grounds near the national park.
Eventually the narrow bitumen strip gave way to dirt again. Our tyres crunched happily in the gravel
We crossed Dalrymple Creek a couple of times, splashing through the causeway.
Towards the end of the valley we laid the bikes down and explored the rocks for a while.
After this point the road grew quite steep, climbing the range to the lookout at the top.
We had ridden about 55 kilometres already, and decided this would be a good point to turn around.
We wouldn’t be doing any monster hill climbs today.
We bought some food at a small shop near the camp grounds and enjoyed a lazy lunch on the grass before starting the homeward leg of our journey.
The ride back down the valley was much easier. We slowly dropped 450 metres in vertical ascent as we rode out of the valley.
As we reached the end of the valley it started to rain. Nick and Annick decided to stop a while and have a cup of tea with friends. Darb, Simon and I decided to keep pedalling and visit the Maryvale Pub.
Rain shrouded the peaks on the edge of the range. The double “M” shaped summits of Mount Mitchell reached into the mist.
This is a beautiful part of the world.
We stopped at the Maryvale Pub for a short break on the way back. Simon got a bit lost, and took a wrong turn at the highway a few kilometres back. It took about half a glass of beer for him to find us.
Our route slowly played out like a movie in reverse as we retraced our tracks through the places we had ridden through earlier in the day.
My legs were starting to tire. I worked hard to keep up with Simon and Darb.
We splashed through one last crossing, climbed one last hill and emerged back on the Cunningham highway five minutes from where we had started.
Max elevation: 680 m
Min elevation: 503 m
Total climbing: 1543 m
Total descent: -1516 m
Average speed: 21.51 km/h
Total Time: 06:40:03
We rode a total of 105 kilometres in just over six and a half hours, including breaks.
During that time we climbed over 1,100 metres in elevation and I burned around 4,000 kcal.
This was a relatively easy ride with no major hills in conditions that were perfect for cycling. Overcast skies, low temperatures and light drizzle are ideal companions for long distance rides.
I’ll rate it 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter, purely because of the distances involved. On a clear hot day it would be more of a challenge.
Thanks to Darb, Simon, Nick and Annick for a fun day out.
Also, special thanks to Simon, who generously lent me his GPS when I lost mine before the ride.