2016 Chain Reaction Challenge New South Wales Day 4 – Blog
17 May 2016 Chain Reaction
CRNSW Blog Day 4 – Tablelands loop
Tinaroo provides a home base for two nights on this year’s Chain Reaction Challenge. A small town, with a population of just 266, Tinaroo is probably best known for its eponymous lake. Constructed in the 1950s, the man-made reservoir is three quarters the size of Sydney Harbour and provides irrigation, hydroelectricity for the region. It also provides some of the biggest Barramundi found in the country. After being initially introduced illegally, the population has thrived without any natural predators and brings tourists to the Tablelands.
No time for fishing on Chain Reaction, as this morning riders were up early for the 7am daily departure.
Today marks the point at which riders passed the halfway mark of the ride and was another long day for the bunch, 165kms long to be precise. The distance coupled with the continuing unpredictable weather of the past few days continued, with riders experiencing short shower bursts, blue sky, the occasional gust of wind throughout the day, meant that the significance of the ride was felt by riders.
Leading the peloton out from Tinaroo was Andrew Harvey in the Scentre Group Yellow Jersey, Ed Dockrill wearing the EY White Jersey, Warrick Gard proudly sporting the UBS Polka Dots and Paul Wilson in the Dexus Green Jersey.
The first real challenge came in the form up lead up to the climb from Atherton to Herberton. In some pro races the hardest part of a climb isn’t the climb itself but the race for positioning to start the climb. The goal is to start the climb at the front of the bunch and launch an attack from there. This morning, a handful of riders from UBS riders followed this strategy, attacking well before the base of the climb and establishing a significant gap between them and the rest of the bunch. One rider, Alex Mufford, fought bravely against their team work group’s collusion and managed to pull the formidable UBS train back by the time the road headed upwards. Chapeau, Alex, for this hard fought effort.
The climb itself was sharp, but mercifully short, not quite as exciting as its lead up.
Midway through the ride the peloton crossed the main road through the area and headed up the narrow Old Palmerstone Highway. Here, among the highest part of the state, the weather was at its most unpredictable. Pockets of sunshine were pushed away by gusts of wind and passing showers, all of which seemed to be stitched together by the occasional rainbow.
The wet road surface meant that extra attention was needed on each bend. Kudos to Lakey for his impressive bike handling – skilfully negotiating each descent as if he was back on his downhill bike.
The variations of weather, terrain and scenery, just in this short section of road, created a real sense of adventure and achievement, as if the whole seven days had been condensed into 25km of rolling hills.
After lunch, and towards the end of the day’s loop, the peloton stopped at the Yungaburra War Memorial. Established by the Tablelands community after the funeral of Private Benjamin Chuck – a young serviceman from the area who was killed in battle in Afghanistan. The memorials pays tribute to all the 41 Australian soldiers who lost their lives serving our country in that theatre.
41 Illawarra Flame trees line the memorial’s path and form an avenue of honour that leads to the shores of Lake Tinaroo, creating an evocative and moving environment. It can be hard to silence the Chain Reaction peloton – 30 odd competitive and adrenaline fuelled cyclists – but the memorial’s presence and gravitas meant that everyone present experienced their own moment of silent reflection.
Perhaps it was this experience, coupled with getting through the terrain and conditions, that reminded just how privileged we are to be riding a bike around Far North Queensland for a week.
In all, a challenging, yet highly rewarding day on the bike.
Metres climbed 2000m