Campus to countryside


The Ipswich 100 is an annual community ride with less bustle and more scenery, writes 2015 participant Scott Charlton.

After a very early alarm, it proved to be an easy 40 minute drive west from Brisbane to the start of the Ipswich100 cycling event. Friendly marshals waving torches to direct participants into the car park at the University of Southern Queensland’s Ipswich campus were a sign of the great organisation to follow.

At the start, we lined up into coloured zones, matching the pre-supplied wrist bands which had been allocated based on anticipated average speed. The usual “Slowing!” and “Stopping!” settling in period typical of the first 10km of mega-scaled events was happily absent as we slipped away into the emerging daylight.

My early trepidation in setting off in the first wave, for the 100 mile version, quickly dissipated after chatting with cancer survivor Rob, full of life and cheerfully pedalling away. By this time, houses had been replaced by quiet country roads and we were well on the way to Rosewood, the first of several charming country towns to be experienced along the route.

Guided by the ever present yellow directional signs, I was shortly afterwards chugging up Mt Walker, the first major hill of the day. I allowed myself a brief moment to savour picking off some stragglers falling off the back of groups which had whistled past me previously, before resuming focus on the road ahead.

An absence of cars for long stretches at a time heightened one’s appreciation for the beautiful rural scenery revealed at every turn. Even as a confirmed city dweller, I thought the offer at one
particular roadside stall of three hay bales for $10 represented great value.

Had the announcer at the start line earlier been serious about having connections “Upstairs” when talking about the day’s weather? If so, I was grateful for the cloud cover which took the edge off the sun for big parts of the morning.

Some 60km into the journey, I passed a major turning point, being the start of an additional loop which differentiates the 100 mile and 100 km versions of the event. Typical of all major intersections throughout, there was a safety-vested marshal supervising proceedings. Was it my imagination or was there a small shake of the head and a rueful smile on his face as I rolled by?
Exclusively the domain for those seeking maximum challenge, this section lived up to its promise. To start with, some gentle rises gave plenty of variety to the views to be enjoyed of Lake Moogerah, while cranking up the steady rise of Mt Alford was amply rewarded by an exhilarating runway straight down the other side.

It didn’t take long for a pattern to emerge—a long, steady grind in the saddle up one side of the hill, followed by an all too brief roll down the other side.

Satisfied with my pace, I pulled into the designated rest stop at a park in central Boonah around the 4-hour mark, gratefully refuelling with the freshly cut watermelon on offer. This proved to be a good call, as almost immediately upon leaving the township I encountered the first representative of the so-called “Dirty Dozen”, a tightly compacted set of big rolling hills that dominated the next 10 kilometres. It didn’t take long for a pattern to emerge—a long, steady grind in the saddle up one side of the hill, followed by an all too brief roll down the other side. My residing memory is being quickly deposited at the foothill of the next climb, while still gasping from the effects of the previous one!

Having alternated positioning on the road with them several times, it was here that I bid a final farewell to workmate Steve and the buff-looking group in black Q-Medical kit he’d faithfully tagged behind all morning. My solitary toil was interrupted briefly by a friendly pat on the shoulder as an ubercyclist sporting a red wrist band passed by at a good clip. As the wearer of a more modestly coloured green band, I could only imagine the reason he’d been behind me thus far was due to sampling the hot cross buns and chopped banana available at rest stations I’d elected to pass by.

Finally, I nodded wearily to the marshal still on duty at the turnoff I’d passed by earlier in the day. He smiled encouragingly back at me as I embarked upon the last leg back to Ipswich.
By this stage, the cumulative effect of the hills and the distance was causing a noticeable drop-off in my speed, so I wheeled into the final rest stop at the tiny township of Peak Crossing. While downing yet more melon and savouring the pleasure only a cyclist can get from room-temperature Powerade, I appreciated being able to top up from the sunscreen on hand and listen to the friendly banter around me.

Progressively, the roads got bigger and the cars more plentiful as we pedalled into the outskirts of Ipswich. Happily, wide roads and bike lanes in some places meant that the passage back to the
starting point was negotiated safely. As if the directional signs and witches hats weren’t enough, cheerful music booming out and the unmistakeable smells of a sausage sizzle proved to be worthy beacons as I entered the University driveway and slipped under the finishing arch. Wearily dismounting, I waved to the small platoon of organisers who had gathered to generously cheer in each finisher.

Sitting quietly on the grass in the shade, it was good to catch up with Ross, another work mate who had given up his Sunday to put out those yellow signs that had accompanied my journey. In hosting this ride, Ross tells me that his Lions group raise a considerable amount for charity each year. As it has some significance to my family, I appreciated seeing Epilepsy Queensland listed on the Ipswich 100 website as one of a number worthy causes that would benefit from the event.

As I made my way back to the car park, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful grounds and architecture that make up the University. Previously hidden in the dark, the campus was indeed a perfect setting for the end of a very enjoyable day.

As an event, the Ipswich 100 punches above its weight. It features a great course, it has event merchandise on sale, ride numbers are issued and there is an official photographer on duty.
So, if you’d like something to bring your New Year cycling goals into focus, give the Ipswich 100 consideration. Doubtless due to the constant supply of rolling hills, I found the ride to be the most challenging of the century rides I’ve completed. Armed with another two months to prepare and the knowledge of what’s in store, I’m planning another assault on the “Dirty Dozen”!

Quick facts
Ride length: With five different distances (169km, 100km, 50km, 25km and 5km), there’s something on offer for every rider.
Date: The 2016 event will be held on 17 of April, around the same time as it’s held each year.
For more information: Visit the website or the event’s Facebook page

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