Brisbane Valley Rail Trail – Esk to Coominya – 12th of July 2018

Dennis had been planning a ride on the Toogoolawah to Lowood section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail for sometime, and invited us along. We managed to park the kids for the day so it was just Jenny and myself along with Dennis and Christian, on a Thursday in July.

Approximate distance 57 kilometres (return)

The day before I got Jenny’s and my bikes out to service them and get them ready, since we hadn’t done a decent trip for a while

The servicing was going well until I noticed the condition of my back tyre

Nah! She’ll be right I thought….and then texted Jenny a picture of the completed bikes…….(what could possibly go wrong??)

Dennis and Christian biked/bussed and trained it to Toogoolawah the day before as well, and stayed at the Toogoolawah Motel, and we drove down on Thursday morning and met them there. 

However when we arrived and were unloading the bikes I found my tube had ruptured through the wall of the tyre and was poking out a bit like a balloon – there was no simple solution – I’d have to get a new tyre. Now you’d think a region with a popular bike trail running through the middle of it would have plenty of bike shops ~ but no!

After much frantic searching and phoning we found one further up the highway who said they might have a used tyre they could give me, but this would be a round trip of about half an hour.

This was very good of them, so we all decided Jenny and I would go there, whilst Christian and Dennis set out to ride from Toogoolawah to Esk, and we’d all meet up again at Esk.

Sounds like a good plan I thought, and everything would be simple and fine – so we left Dennis and Christian, and went looking for the bike shop.

Now with Dennis’s photos I can show what they were doing at the same time as us…so Dennis and Christian packed up and then left the motel

 and started cycling on whilst we were looking for the bikeshop – which turned out to be someone’s home not an actual shopfront.

We got the tyre, which they graciously gave us because it was a bit old and worn – but it was infinitely better than the one it was replacing – and I put it on the wheel and started to pump it up. Because we were pushed for time I thought I’d use the air compressor at the servo next to the motel back in Toogoolawah – so we drove back there – found Dennis and Christian gone, as expected, and I put the compressor on – gone – dead – flat ~ nothing happening 🙁

Not the end of the world I thought – I’d just have to pump it up by hand and do a good job of it – so I did. At this stage we’re not too far behind I thought – and if we hurry to Esk, we will have missed out on some cycling but still have a lot of it ahead of us.

So I finished pumping it up and left – meanwhile Dennis and Christian are having fun on their section

So we pull in at the car park at the old Esk train station to unload the bikes – and what do I find? The back tyre’s gone flat! So it’s either a pinched tube, a puncture from something already in the new (old) tyre, or who know’s what!! So this requires pulling it all down and inspecting it.

What else could possibly go wrong I thought!! Jenny takes it all in good humour and we set about finding the problem

It turns out to be a patch over an old puncture coming loose – so it just needs re-gluing – we do this and then we’re ready to go

– meanwhile Dennis and Christian are riding on towards Esk

So the tyre’s ready to go – and I get my Gopro out – I’ve got a mount to put it on my helmet – this will be the first trip I’ve ever done with it – and the mount breaks!

At this stage I’m pulling my hair out – but not to worry by luck I left a couple of cable-ties in the car the other day – I can cable-tie the Gopro to the helmet – so I do this, and then go to put the helmet on

This is when I discover I had inadvertently cable-tied up one of the straps, so I can’t actually click my helmet in. I’m beginning to think there’s a common theme now….

Anyway so now I have to get the cable-ties off – which is easy to do with a knife  – we always carry a pocket knife in our glove box….no that’s right our car got broken into a while ago and it was stolen… nothing to cut it with….I just end up forcing it to snap using one of the tools from the bike kit – not good for the helmet though

So with one remaining cable tie I just get the Gopro on…’s a bit wonky but it’s ready

And now we can ride north towards Dennis and Christian, currently riding south from Toogoolawah….

Until we have a Spinal Tap moment…’d think in a town with a major tourist route running through the middle of it they’d have it well signed……well think again….. (or maybe I’m just thick – I did cable-tie up my own helmet strap after all…)

So after checking back with the workmen we finally found our way and started heading out – how far away would Dennis and Christian be I wonder?

We hadn’t got very far before we met them – they’d made better speed than we were expecting and so we soon turned around and all travelled back to Esk – it was starting to get late so we thought we might as well have a late morning tea now, especially since Dennis and Christian had come that much further. So it was back to the park we’d only just struggled to find our way out of!

So with that done we were finally on our way south and it finally felt like we were making progress and actually going to do a ride!!

It was quite pleasant riding and reasonably flat with pretty smooth dirt tracks. We decided to take a break at this old railway bridge and pose for a group pic – the ride down into each gully with all the bridges was always good

The riding from here on was quite enjoyable, gently undulating but mainly flat – and with the day being cool and overcast it was pretty easy going.

The cattle grates though were pretty serious and not ones you could just fly over in your bike

We came to another larger bridge with a great down hill run

And well I just couldn’t help myself going out for a look – pretty stupid I guess – don’t try this yourself!

So with that done and another quick break we continued on through much the same kind of country

We started to get a bit of variablity now as the path wrapped around the edge of some mountains (hills really!) and we came across this group of female Droughtmasters (I think)

And then further on to another bridge

Unfortunately this is where my Gopro ran out of battery

From here on things started to get interesting – the weather cleared up to be nice and sunny and the country changed again going through some really picturesque stretches, with a nice downhill run too.

Unfortunately neither Dennis or I took any photos of this stuff – there was a nice railway cutting into the hillside and good run next to an orchard – it was very pretty stuff – but I think we were also getting a bit behind on time so wanted to keep moving.

Also I should address the elephant in the room here ~ the elephant was virtually literally me – I was carrying almost 20 kilos extra in fat! No nice way to say it – I was up around 93 kilos – when I should be in the low 70’s and it was starting to take it’s toll on me – and making the going even harder. 

We met a nice lady on the way who was walking the entire Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and had a chat to her, she seemed very peaceful which was lovely.

The final run into Coominya – which went for quite a few kilometres – was very unenjoyable riding though – there was a lot of rocks on the dirt track which made it hard going. I think the BVRT has enough potential to be a great tourist money spinner for the local towns that they really should clean up that section of it.

Coming into Coominya was funny – we seemed to go literally into someone’s horse paddock and was immediately accosted by the friendliest horse in the world which knew instinctively to sniff every one of our panniers for food!

So we all made it into Coominya and took this pic at the railway station before finding a shop to get a drink and have our lunch at. On the way we passed someone on his way to the local pub who let us know quite clearly we were mad for cycling here, but his loss we thought!

Time was against us now – Jenny and I had to get back to Esk to drive home in time to get the kids, and Dennis and Christian had to continue on to Lowood to get a bus back to Brisbane with their bikes, so after lunch outside the shop we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

With the extra weight I found the way back a real struggle – we managed to save a bit of time by taking some roads back out of Coominya rather than just staying on the rail trail (see that map above), but most of the way back was on the rail trail.

The light was failing as we finally got back close to Esk

and was dark by the time the bikes were loaded

and we found later Dennis and Christian had made it to Lowood in time for their bus.

So it was a fun day, but a few important lessons in terms of having the bikes properly prepared and not being overweight!!  (Both problems I’ve now fixed, I might say!) – And I’d very much like to do some more cycling on the BVRT – this was only one small section of it, and it was great to get away from cars and roads and just go through farmland and hillsides, overall it was very enjoyable