Day 47: Toowoomba

Day 47 Friday August 26
Toowoomba 170km

I left Chinchilla at 6am. I was shaking with cold before I was dressed, which was not encouragement to ride anywhere! It was three degrees at 7am.

The ride began with 8 kilometres of roadworks and fog immediately out of town, with little room for people to pass me. But I was then directed by the roadworks folk to do the next 8 in the newly done, not yet open lane! So I had my own private roadway, which was really nice.

I made good time to Dalby. The traffic was excellently behaved. It's hard to believe it was the same highway as yesterday!

I am amazed at the way we behave as human beings. What caused the difference between yesterday and today in the traffic?

And then, there was the change after lunch: From Dalby to Oakey the road has an excellent surface, and the verge is really wide -- six, to even eight feet at times. So when I left Dalby, with my legs complaining that they were now expected to do some more work for the afternoon, I did the first 3 or 4 kilometres riding in the verge instead of in the truck rut, which is the normal place to ride.

You'd think there would be plenty of room; I had my own lane, and the cars and trucks had theirs. The road was much better than the other side of town. But people were racing past flat out, right past my elbow, often with their passenger wheels across the white line and into the verge!

Worse than this, because of a slight change in the wind direction, even a small vehicle going past was bumping me around with its wash. The trucks were seriously throwing me around; it was like being inside a towel that was being cracked like a whip. There'd be great shove up the backside, I'd be sucked back in towards the rear of the truck, and then the second wash would shove me towards the edge of the bitumen.

It was only a matter of time before I was going to be sent off the road. This patch of road is really quite dangerous if you run off it, because along with all the usual gravel, grass, timber, and general rubbish which can bring you down, there is a long crack-- an almost 40 kilometres long crack!-- where the road bed is shrinking away from the surrounding soil. Ride over that and there is a good chance the front wheel would disappear down in it, and be snapped off.

That crack runs for kilometres. It makes a tram track look benign!

So when my legs had warned up a bit, I sat back out in the truck rut. And the entire tone of the traffic changed. You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it; I knew something like this would happen, but was quite staggered out how much the behaviour changed!

I'm talking heavy traffic here; getting towards what we see on Highway One coming in from Waterloo Corner Road. It's a race track from Dalby to Toowoomba on a Friday afternoon!

But everybody slowed down, most vehicles moved over to the right hand lane when they passed me, if they could. Even the traffic coming towards me would slow down, often moving onto the verge on their side. How does the simple fact that I sit out about 3 feet further into the road make such a difference? We clearly are an odd species.

I've written more about this here. (Scroll down to "The Key Concept.") And in my opinion, riding in the truck rut is the only safe way to ride on a highway.

It's irrigated cotton and coal country. I had food at Warra, more food at McAllister which has a defunct coal mine, and took some good photos of the silos there.

 The yellow bore pipe coming out of the ground is around 24 inches in diameter! It pumps into the big dam behind, which is used to flood the cotton. I saw a number of these. I'd be very surprised if what goes into the water table from rain matches anything like what is coming out!

The Silos at McAlister

The old coal loader, which ran across the highway to the train. The mine gate is shut and overgrown. I don't think anything coal has happened there for some time.

I was nearly run down in the McDonalds car park in Dalby, which would have been ironic considering all the other traffic adventures. The teenage driver jumping the queue at 30kmh, came back around, and wagged his finger at me! Some folk are lucky I've gained a lot more control over my temper in recent years!

As previously stated, it's a race track from Dalby to Toowoomba. I didn't do much but watch the mirror and the oncoming lane, dropping in and out of the truck rut all the way to Oakey, but made good time. However, Oakey to the outskirts of Toowoomba is a terrible road for a national highway. It's like ripping up a bit of the ancient Highway One at Virginia and dropping it in place for the Southeastern freeway!

The first little climb out of Oakey. Really just a ruffle in the counterpane compared to what I think might be coming!

Today, I also oiled my squeaky from the rain bike chain, after I spotted a huge work shirt on the edge of the road which I could use to wipe it all down!

There is cotton everywhere on the edge of the road here, as it grows wild, having escaped from the paddocks. For miles at a time, the edge of the road looks like someone dumped a doona and ran over it with a slasher!

Cotton, but not litter.

Oakey is home to the Army Air Museum. So how else would you theme your letterbox?

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