2016 Chain Reaction Challenge New South Wales Day 7 – Blog
20 May 2016 Chain Reaction
It’s fitting that the final day of this year’s ride is the most spectacular. The peloton had the privilege of a police escort along the length of the Captain Cook Highway from Port Douglas to Cairns. On a busy stretch of road at the start of the tourist season it is reassuring to be accompanied by North Queensland’s finest. Sandwiched between two police cars also meant that riders in the peloton were able to concentrate on riding and occasionally relax just enough to take in the views out towards the Reef.
Leaving the hotel for the final time this wear the competition jerseys wearers. Alex Pascoe and Dean White wore the Dexus Green Jersey, with Matt Faddy the UBS Polka Dots. Joye Monaghan and Andrew Crawford shared the EY White Jersey and the peloton rolled out under the leadership of Dean Cleary in the Scentre Group Yellow Jersey.
Last night as additional jersey was awarded, however to a support crew member rather than a rider. In recognition of his leadership among the support crew, and with this ride being his fifth Chain, Dean Hansson proudly stood on the start line in front of the bunch wearing a special Dexus Green Jersey.
Today’s stage was certainly not a gentle procession back in to Cairns. Like a lot of coastal roads, the Captain Cook Highway is a bumpy stretch, filled with punchy rises and flowing corners. To make it easier for traffic to pass, it was vital for the peloton to be as tight as possible – for all riders to ride as one.
After much practice over previous days, everyone pulled together and rode as a unit. It was appropriate way to start the final day, and a suitable metaphor for Chain Reaction.
There are a number of similarities between a professional bike race and Chain Reaction, such as the logistics, and the level of care and attention riders receive. However unlike the Tour de France, the last day of this year’s ride was not flat.
Upon arriving on the outskirts of Cairns, the bunch turned right and started climbing the 17kms up to Lake Morris – a final sting in the tail of this year’s ride. And, as if it to make it as difficult as possible, almost as soon as riders turned left onto the climb, which weaves through the rainforest from sea level to an elevation of 500 metres, rain began to fall.
Despite wet kit and slippery road, the peloton made it to the top in good spirits, understandably excited by the proximity of the finish.
The road down was still damp wet, although the lower sections had already begun to dry, as riders successfully navigated every bend. After a quick regroup at the base, it was back to the foyer of the hotel we left 7 days prior.
It’s hard to sum up the finish line. Each rider goes through a full range of emotions. It’s chaotic, a frenzy of activity. Riders embrace each other, and go through a full range of emotions, no doubt brought on by the enormity of the week. Some of a greeted by partners and families that made the trip up to Cairns to welcome them home, others hurriedly pack bikes in boxes before taking a taxi to the airport.
And now the peloton heads homes. Riders now have to readapt to domestic life, reintegrate into the families. A week away cycling is just as hard on the partners and children left behind, to them we say thanks for keeping the home fires burning.
It has been a privilege to ride through such an amazing and different corner of Australia while raising much needed funds for research into congenital heart disease. At the time of writing we have raised $658,000, but donations will remain open for some time. Help us reach our target of $700,000.
Today: 98kms ridden with 2000 metres of climbing elevation.