Brisbane Valley Rail Trail on an E-Bike
Guest blog by Emma Briggs
I am definitely not the sporty one of the family. Generally, the only place you’ll find me riding a bicycle is around the corner to the shop. However, during our favourite cycling blogger’s recent extended stay in Esk, Gionny saw a flyer for the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. This covers 161 km of disused railway line. Now cyclists, hikers and horse-riders follow the track through rural Queensland’s bushland and farming country. Perfect for Gionny, but when he read that mountain biking on an e-bike was possible on this trail, he also thought of me.
It may surprise some of you to know that Gionny has a partner. I notice I have been carefully erased from all his blog posts. Nevertheless, I’m almost certain that I do exist. For avid readers, I was the one summoned on a five-hour round trip to rescue him from Esk when he fell sick after cycling for several days through accurately-predicted torrential rains. If only someone had warned him that this was a possible outcome!
I was also the one who successfully smuggled vodka onto a cruise in mouthwash and saline containers. It was I who was dragged around Brisbane to take photos of Gionny on a lime scooter. Anyway, my name is Emma and I’m writing this story as evidence that I am real.
I’ll probably never be fit enough for mountain bike touring, but thanks to modern technology, I discovered I’m e-fit enough to e-cycle for 200km in three days!
It’s a miracle! I experienced the beauty of the outback, the adrenaline rushes and the aches and pains, without the need for any tiresome training or protein powders.
The bike had four modes: eco; tour; emtb (electric mountain bike) and turbo. I could keep up with Gionny on his old-fashioned human-powered mountain bike using eco, or sometimes tour up hills. In my defence, I do feel compelled to mention that I was the one carrying the backpack. On occasion I even turned the power off! This was mainly because I was terrified of the battery going flat at the base of some mountain we needed to climb. With a range of over 100kms, I needn’t have worried though.
The trail was generally not too challenging, although you did need so much concentration for the rough terrain that it was often difficult to appreciate the scenery. Just when you were feeling comfortable, however, warning signs would appear. Suddenly, the track would drop away down a steep gully, where presumably a bridge used to be.
As we stopped to read the first of these signs which advised cyclists to dismount, a gang of teenagers whizzed by at breakneck speed, hurtled into the ravine and pumped back up the other side with ease.
“Ok, that’s how you do it,” we thought.
Our procedure looked a little different.
Gionny had to dismount half way up, but at least he didn’t fall off the bike. I, however, crashed into the bushes several times on the first day. Once I tumbled (elegantly, a bit like a gymnast) into a ditch. The good news is that by the second day I’d stopped falling off, and by the third day both of us could stay in the saddle all the way through the frequent gullies. Most of the time.
We met quite a few fellow travellers on the trail, and in the pubs where we spent the nights. It was a diverse crowd. There were serious athletes who loved to talk about how many kilometres they’d covered and compare stats and gadgets. There were super-healthy families, with kids in lycra and no body fat to be seen. There were fit old men, travelling solo and keen for a chat. There were skinny hikers arriving late at the pub and collapsing exhausted at the table. There were horse-riders trying to hide their disdain for those on wheels.
And then there were those of us on e-bikes: middle-aged or ancient, chubby or obese, but always ready for adventure and a beer or two at the end of the day. Or at lunchtime.
After hours in the saddle, sore, scratched and dirty, there was nothing better than sipping a beer on the verandah of an old Queenslander pub. I can’t say the publicans out there have quite mastered the culinary arts, but the beer was cold, the hospitality was warm and the architecture was charming.
I had the best night’s sleep of the trip at the Linville Hotel, so it was a surprise to learn in the morning that the building was supposed to be haunted. Actually it wasn’t so surprising, as the stories were conflicting and would never hold up in court. The ghost was Woodsey or Garradunga or a crying baby, and there was something about a suicide, or a temporary morgue, or a hospital. Hmmm.
I also read an old legend about the pub being moved from a previous site by a bullock train, and serving beer during the transit. I don’t know about that, but the comfy bed recharged my battery while downstairs my bike was in a room with racks and sockets, recharging its far more important battery.
We finished our journey back in Esk, which made Gionny a little twitchy. He relaxed somewhat when we found a motel without rodents or toilet surprises.
Finally I had a glimpse into Gionny’s cycle touring world and felt what it was like to pedal through the countryside all day for three days straight. And I didn’t have to develop any leg muscles. Mountain biking on an e-bike means equal opportunity through technology. I’m all for it!