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2016 Chain Reaction Challenge New South Wales Day 2 – Blog

15 May 2016 Chain Reaction

#CRNSW Blog Day 2 – Cairns to Innisfail

A big part of the Chain Reaction is the daily jersey competition. At the end of each day’s riding and after the bunch has had a chance to enjoy dinner, members of the organising committee present four jerseys to deserving riders.

In professional cycling a series of jerseys are awarded to different competitions within a race. These can change from race to race, however in the Tour de France the polka dot jersey represents the best climber, the green jersey is awarded to the fastest sprinter, the white jersey goes to the best placed rider under the age of 25 and the yellow jersey for the race’s overall leader.

While not a race, Chain Reaction follows this tradition in awarding four jerseys to riders recognising their efforts in fundraising, throughout training and overall contribution to Chain Reaction.

Last night saw the presentation of the EY sponsored white jersey to Josh Itkowicz. This is Josh’s first Chain Reaction, and he conducted a fantastic fundraising campaign raising nearly $9,000 before the ride begun.

The Dexus green jersey was awarded to Michael Sheffield. As well as being a dedicated cyclist, Michael is a dedicated fundraiser and a generous supporter of Chain Reaction, having ridden every New South Wales ride since inception five years ago.

The UBS polka dot jersey was proudly worn by Alan “AJ” Jones, a rider who, despite this year being only his second ride and being still relatively new to cycling, is fast being a symbol enthusiasm and commitment within the peloton. AJ earned the jersey by attending nearly every training session, despite living on the opposite side of the city, juggling his business and five children.

The first Scentre Group yellow jersey of this year’s ride was awarded to Chris Georgas, a rider participating in his first Chain Reaction. In the lead up to the ride, Chris has taken to fundraising like a duck to water raising over $16,000 through a large number of donations from personal and professional connections.

It is also Chain Reaction tradition that the competition jersey wearers start the day at the front of the bunch, and under their guidance the Chain Reaction peloton headed south out of Cairns.

Today’s destination, Innisfail, has an annual rainfall of 3.5m and a frequent contender for the Golden Gumboot – the prize for the wettest town in Australia. Mercifully for the peloton, only a passing shower or two were felt throughout the day, which had the welcome effect of cutting through the heat.

After warming up for about twenty kilometres to the south of Cairns the peloton was happy to leave the Bruce Highway and turn inland to the long climb up the Gillies Range Road. Some shot straight out the blocks, determined to take the KOM – kudos to Michael Sheffield for getting to the top of the climb first, and showing that green jersey is no barrier to climbing prowess. Others favoured a more measured approach, enjoying the view and conversation at their own pace. The latter seemed the more sensible approach given the 130kms or so left of rolling roads across the tablelands to follow.

Photo:

Despite the name, the top across the Tablelands proved to be anything but flat. In fact, the riding up to lunch was more of a series of almost endless rolling hills, which after an energy sapping 16km climb took their toll.

After a big morning, lunch at the stunning Milla Milla Falls was very welcomed and riding and would have to rate as one of the most spectacular Chain Reaction lunch stops in memory. In fact, it was refreshing to see the natural beauty of the area preserve in such a picturesque setting.

After lunch, things improved. The road, while still undulating, headed downwards as riders rode at their pace to the final drink stop off the day. Kudos to Dave “Diesel” White for setting the pace and towing the grupetto during this period. The descent back down to sea-level was welcomed, partly for the chance to relax a little, but also for stunning vistas that flew past. However, it did bring some nervous chatter in the bunch about the prospect of heading straight back up first thing in the morning.

Today it was the combination of the length and hills that took its toll and no doubt some of the new riders now appreciate what’s in store for the rest of the week. If anyone was under the illusion that Chain Reaction would be easy, they will be having second thoughts tonight.

Tomorrow it’s straight back up today’s descent to the Tablelands, and onwards to the luxury of spending two nights in Tinaroo – a first for a NSW Chain Reaction. Bring it on!

Distance: 165km
Metres climbed: 2250m
Average speed: 28km/h
And for Strava lovers; it was a day of epic suffer scores.

You can see all the photos from today on Facebook and Flickr.