After 500 km I have reached Townsville. It has certainly been demanding. The sun is extremely powerful, burning right through my cycling jerseys. It is 42ºC and humid. Carrying up to 10 litres of water as there is nothing between towns. Seeing lots of wildlife —some nice, like birds, wallabies and kangaroos — some not so nice like snakes and mosquitoes.
Townsville is a city of about 200,000 on the tropical northeastern Queensland coast, adjacent to the barrier reef. It is about 1,400 km north of my first major rest stop in Brisbane. Townsville is an amazingly beautiful city, full of fantastic, supportive cyclists. They rode into town with me, took me to their favourite coffee shop in the morning prior to departure, and cycled a short ways along again. I even had a home host me with a bed and a great meal.
Below is an Australian road train. Trucks up to 50 metres long barrel down the highway, causing a turbulent wind current strong enough to suck you under or throw you off the road. Some give a metre or so room, some don’t.
In 2014, a truck tried to pass a group of cyclists in Townsville; unfortunately he struck them, killing one and injuring two others. Popular cyclist Sue Bell was killed. Bell’s death led to the introduction of new laws to protect cyclists, where motorists are now required to give at least a metre distance when passing cyclists, and a metre-and-a-half where the speed limit is higher than 60km/h. The driver was jailed for 3 1/2 years.
Sue Bell’s Memorial Ghost Bike
I stop at all memorials and ghost bikes and say a few words, as I have been very close to being one several times. I think I would like it if people stopped.
I wish so much I could stay in places like this. Being a scuba diver, the No. 1 dive site in the world, the Yongala, is just 30 minutes offshore from Ayr, just south of here.
Red bellied black snake. Alive and deadly.
My next major city will be Mackay, about 400 km south. The elevation gain is only 800 metres of that distance, which shouldn’t be too bad. The consistent strong headwinds out of the southeast are starting to become not only annoying, but draining physically and psychologically. But … it’s easier than dealing with cancer!
I am a firefighter and cancer survivor circumnavigating the globe for cancer research. I am currently crossing the Australian continent. The posted blogs are my personal opinion and thoughts. Please visit www.firefightercycle.com, twitter @copsfire, or RSS feed here.
I am a fire captain and cancer survivor.
In memory of the
FIRE FIGHTER CYCLE