Day 30: Cairns to Port Douglas - Flying Solo Gear Company

Day 30: Cairns to Port Douglas

Posted by Amanda Chan on

  • Distance:  194km
  • Temp: 30-33°C

To self-celebrate entering the final year of my twenties and the bonus of having a brand new chain, I decided to finally go for a quick spurt in the hills unloaded. It would be my first twistie run without cargo since being in Melbourne, so I was very stoked.  Square tyres weren't about to ruin my day!

Cairns lookout

After 3 shots of espresso, we went sailing down toward Innisfall to hit the Gilles Ranges that everyone keeps talking about. Despite the traffic and roadworks, I had a pretty good time going up.  I am by no means a superbike champion, and my cornering skills are average at best. But after warming up, I started to get the feel for leaning the bike. 13,000km of straight roads does something to your ability to actually ride your beast properly.  Besides, I wanted to finish the rest of the trip in one piece, so I took it easy.

Melbourne riders, it was like Reefton Spur but shorter and higher up. The scenery was breathtaking at the lookout point and I got to meet three other friendly riders along the way. The cars on that route weren't as irritating as I suspected they would be. I reckon they are locals who know the road. I was cautious on the way up but decided to have a decent spin on the way down. 

About 8-10km into the ride, during a right corner, I felt my right foot press through toward the ground. I thought I slipped off the peg so I went to put my foot back it. In the meantime, the bike made a sharp lean toward the ground, almost lowsiding into the cliff face. I stood Sheba back up and had to get her over for a left corner. Now the pressure is on the left foot. So, I used this opportunity to prod around with my right big toe. Nope, my right footpeg has definitely fucked off into oblivion. 

About 10 corners later, I came to a short and straight clearance that allowed me to look down long enough. Gone. Bloody gone. 

There was nowhere to stop on the way down as the cliff was on my right and a rock wall to my left. I balanced my right toe on the lever of the rear brake, making sure I don't accidentally lay the rear brakes down. Then came the real stuff... (near the head of the red arrow)



FML. You don't know how easy you had it until you go downhill through that without a footpeg. My hips started to cramp because of all the internal rotation trying to keep my toe on the lever so I gave that up and let it hang. I'm short so in the straights my legs can hang down without touching the ground. In the corners I reached back and gently rested my foot on the exhaust.

Missing footpeg

I made it to Cairns and pulled over at the first opportunity. The bolt was still there so with high hopes we limped back to Wayne Leonard's in the city.

At that point I had no idea how I didn't lowside my bike over the edge of the cliff. The employees at Wayne Leonard tried their best to search for a peg but I suppose having a race peg (doesn't flip up, it stays bolted on) wasn't a common product to stock. None of the other bike shops seemed too interested in putting effort into a footpeg. One of the Wayne Leonard mechanics decided to use a 10mm footpeg and push a 8mm nut through it. Then he bolted the whole thing to the bike. It seemed to work so I set off to Port Douglas.

queen bed

I didn't make it 500m without it feeling loose. So, I kept my right foot firmly pressed onto the peg and didn't move it once until I got to the hotel in Port Douglas - an hour of 50kph curves up the East Coast. At the hotel, I reinspected the footpeg and it came off easily in my hand. Well then. I put the peg into my pocket and unloaded the gear.  It was getting a but late and the sleepy town didn't have a hardware store.

Port Douglas is a beautiful place. It's a popular tourist destination for divers, snorklers, beach goers, hikers, and people wanting to get away. My birthday was sufficiently filled with bike shenanigans so I parked Sheba and walked down the road for the best seafood platter on the face of the earth.

Day 31: Footpeg Repairs  

Footpeg repairs

Ill keep the holiday detours separate from this blog so that I still retain a teeny bit of privacy. But the following 3 days were some of the best of my life. Being away from the daily comforts of the city will make you appreciate the little things in life. Even things like accessible water and clean clothes feel substantial these days, and I haven't really been roughing it for the most part. I didn't start this trip to go sightseeing. I'd have to have more time and a bigger budget to do that properly. In short, I wanted to do this trip so that my experiences afterward will seem easy compared to what I've been through. It's a personal growth adventure. 

Repairing the footpeg was easy because there are no moving parts. After getting a $1 M8-130mm bolt and a few $0.10 nuts from a hardware store 30km away, I went back to Sheba who was happily parked in an underground carpark. Under the air conditioning output. This made a hot place hotter.

Footpeg repair

I slotted a hex key inside the iron bar from Mount Surprise to remove the tightly bolted rear sets. I then put the left peg onto the right for aesthetic reasons, then used the original left side spacer to extend the footpeg just enough. Then I put a bit of superglue around the bolt and twirled the nuts on. It wasn't hard but the nuts I bought didn't fit in any wrench I had with me, so I had to do it by hand. This is never a good thing but I'll be sure to check it at every stop. It seemed sturdy as it started and I felt assured I could make it back to Melbourne on it.

Footpeg repair

I think one of the greatest things I learned on this trip was not to panic or complain if something goes wrong. The answer will come to a quiet mind because a quiet mind is one that will listen. If something goes wrong 150km from civilisation, that problem will still exist whether I'm angry, sad, frustrated, or optimistic. When problems do happen, I have to remind myself that there's always a way. Traveling alone makes you realise how much you need to depend on yourself.  It's a life lesson I intend to keep close for the rest of my life.

Sunset in Port Douglas

Holiday time! I'll continue blogging on Day 34. Thanks for coming with me on this journey!


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