Loren Rowney: Andy did the introductions. Our initial group included Chas & Drew the videographers, Brad the local tour guide, and my riding buddy for the weekend, Laura Wilson. We checked in to the Mantra, unpacked, kitted up and jumped in the car to chase the sunlight.
We were joined by a few locals who generously talked us through the climb and passed along all sorts of Cairns riding tips and tourist destination suggestions.
- Lauretta: a local paramedic, who is a roadie/mountain biker that runs women’s weekends away on the bike.
- Sarah: a local who loves riding of any kind – triathlon, mountain biking, road riding; she does it all.
- Sue: an Ironwoman, and owner of local Coolwater Caravan Park at the bottom of Copperlode
Insider tip from Sue: after climbing Copperlode, stop in to Elva’s Cafe for a mean smoothie or milkshake to refuel after your effort.
Laura Wilson: The introductions to Sue, Lauretta and Sarah happened on the bike. We were in a bit of a hurry to hit the road because of the waning daylight. The five of us stuck together as a group as we made our way up toward the top of Cooperlode. It was a slow but steady pace up to the summit.
We all had different levels of riding abilities, but it didn’t matter. I love when one person might be fitter than the other, but we actively make the choice to ride together. We dropped in and out of conversation. Sometimes that chatter was quite constant. At other times, we were too puffed too talk.
Loren Rowney: Typically after flying the last thing on your mind is kitting up and riding up a climb; however, Copperlode Dam was the climb earmarked to signal the official start to Roadtripping Cairns. The climb is a local favourite among cyclists, and once we began the ascent it was easy to see why.
Around nine kilometres long, Copperlode averages a seven percent gradient with pitches at over 10 percent. The climb is set amongst the beautiful tropical rainforests that make up Northern Queensland. It was a leisurely ride up the mountain, chasing the remaining sunlight for some good photo opportunities.
As we chit-chatted on the way up, Laura and I got to catch up on our 2014 year. There were ups and downs on both sides of the conversation, and it soon became apparent that this road trip was exactly what we needed.
I had never really considered Cairns as a place to go on a biking holiday, having only visited previously as a competitive runner about 10 years before. However after talking to Sue, Sarah and Lauretta, I knew I would be back in the future, and the road trip had barely even begun.
Laura Wilson: I wanted to stop and marvel at the scenery nearly the entire way up. We had been promised a beautiful view at the top of the climb if we summited before sunset, so rather than stop and take photos as we rode, we focussed all of our energy on making it to the top before the sun went down.
Loren Rowney: There’s just something exhilarating about riding on new roads. That unfamiliar territory. Not knowing what will come around the next corner. How much is this climb going to pitch up? What’s the view going to be like at the top? Are my legs going to survive!? All these questions float through your head as you keep on climbing in to the unknown.
When you finally reach the top, and you realise that yes, it is in fact the top of the climb, there’s a sudden sense of relief and elation! Yes! You’ve done it. You’ve made it to the top. I know it’s silly, but I silently pat myself on the back and smile to myself upon conquering a new climb.
Laura Wilson: The other women we were riding with have done this climb and seen this view quite frequently, but I think with us they were able to enjoy it from a visitor’s perspective. It was stunning, and Loren and I were soaking it all in – and I could tell Lauretta, Sarah and Sue appreciated our excitement. It’s easy to become immune to the beauty of your surroundings, but when you’re with someone seeing something for the first time, it serves as a reminder – like yeah, this is really good.
Loren Rowney: We had made it to the top just as the sun was setting. Chas and Drew jumped out of the car immediately to get the right angles for the shots from the drone. They were running around like crazy while we all stood there, smiling and laughing and talking about all that awaited us the next day. I was especially excited because the descent was up next, which is obviously the best and most rewarding part of any climb.