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2016 Chain Reaction Challenge Womens 300 Day 1 – Blog

11 November 2016 Chain Reaction

Day 1 of our much anticipated 2016 Chain ReactionWomen’s 300 (CRW300) began when a bunch of 19 dedicated women arrived at Total Rush in Richmond at 6am this morning. Our nerves and excitement were palpable as we all came together for a quick breaky and briefing before starting our journey. 19 dedicated women from varied professions and backgrounds who had trained so hard and so consistently over the past three months arrived this morning as a united front in our trademark jerseys of hot pink and blue.

The eye-catching colour scheme of our kits was enhanced by the logos of our equally dedicated corporate sponsors whose financial commitment has meant that the CRW300 is again a reality. Thank you to ISPT, Herbert Smith Freehills, KordaMentha and Crema Constructions for your support of this exceptional ride. We all wear these jerseys with our hearts on our sleeves; working together with the common goal of raising valuable funds for this year’s chosen charities, Southern Cross Kids Camps and Freedom Wheels.

In true CRW300 tradition we had a fantastic start to the day with our first jersey presentation. It was great to see Juliette Messent and Bree Knoester recognised as two new riders who have taken the team by storm. Both have shown such admirable characteristics of guts, determination, overcoming their self doubts and fears and have developed into very impressive cyclists within the peloton. With the jersey presentation complete and formalities over, we were ready to roll.

 

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What most people probably don’t appreciate is that our commitment to the CRW300 started way back in August, when our first training sessions began at Albert Park Lake. As a group we have two common passions – cycling, and a sense of caring for those children whose road has been harder than our own. While we all have an underlying enjoyment of cycling, the true commitment we have to our charity partners is demonstrated by our dedication to the training programs which happened every weekend, and one weekday morning over a period of three months. We have all made sacrifices of some nature to become involved in our mission of supporting kids who need it. We arrived in August as individuals, and today we showed that we have become a strong and united team and one that has all ready exceeded our fundraising goal of $100,000 by $35,000 as I write!

As our newly branded bus proudly rolled out of Richmond at 7am we were blessed with blue skies, brilliant sunshine and perfectly still riding conditions (very unlike what we’d come to experience in training). Our drive took us to Seymour where Day 1 officially kicked off at Kings Park. If we hadn’t already had enough time for a chat in training, the hour-long bus trip provided further time for us to really get to know each other. The group is made up of a great mix of ex-professional cyclists, those who have raced, those who have only recently purchased a bike, and those who are up to their fourth CRW300. There are also two cyclists in the mix who have completed the seven day long (1000km) rides! One of them – Renee Nutbean – has completed five long rides and is now firmly installed as our ‘Super Coach’.

During the trip up to Seymour, we spoke about our strengths and weaknesses, fears and anticipation and the sense of achievement that has underpinned our training commitment. It was also an opportunity to reiterate that this event is not a race but rather a coming together of an amazing group of women in a common cause. It’s fair to say our spirits were high and we were ready to go when we arrived in Seymour.

The first 40kms saw us ease into a comfortable pace as we rolled through some gently undulating roads that stretched like a ribbon under canopies of huge old eucalypts and dissecting rows of grapevines. We passed the well known Michelton and Tahbilk Wineries as we cycled alongside the Goulburn River. The beautiful early morning developed into a truly beautiful day. We enjoyed still conditions, clear blue skies, sunshine, and the most beautiful scenery – a lovely reward for all our hard work in the lead up to the event.

 

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By 10:45am we had reached our first drink stop at Avenel. We were fortunate to reach the War Memorial in perfect time to join in a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day as well as to see the local school children place a wreath of Australian native flowers at the base of their local memorial. I am not sure what others were thinking about during that minute of silence but for me, standing amongst this group of women in the sunshine, I thought about those who had gone before; those who were strong and determined in their fight for our freedom and way of life. I also reflected on the efforts of our little group and our own determination to help provide in some small way for those who don’t have the same freedoms and luxuries that we do in our daily lives. I sought to remember more frequently, that there are so many children out there who deserve to benefit from our efforts. The funds we raise can help them enjoy a better life that includes love, care, support and the freedom just to be kids.

 

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Back on our bikes we continued on our way toward Ruffy, our lunch stop at the 88km mark. We passed over the Hume Freeway and onto a quiet back road lined with horse studs, with views spanning out over the Strathbogie Ranges. Pastures were green and lush, dams were full to overflowing, spring flowers were out, and the views to the horizon were just spectacular.

The highlight was definitely the last 17km on the Longwood-Ruffy Road. The road started a gentle steady incline, through beautiful wildflowers of yellow and purple. There was still evidence of the bushfire that ravaged the area 12 months ago, with stark white tree trunks standing out against the backdrop of the deep blue sky. At the top of the 6km ascent we were rewarded with the landscape opening up to incredible views back toward Seymour, green as far as the eye could see with gently rolling hills, granite boulders in the foreground, and a black winding passage of road enticing us to see what was around the next bend. The pace was relaxed as we rolled into Ruffy and we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Ruffy General Store under the shade of trees in the garden.

 

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It was an odd feeling realising that there was only approximately 25km remaining after lunch (happily 10km of that turned out to be a very fun descent). While we were excited to get back on our bikes to soak up more of the tranquillity of these picturesque quiet back roads, ultimately we were all pumped to reach Yarck, our final destination for the day.

To have completed Day 1 with 112km and 750m elevation of climbing in an average of 4hrs 15 minutes with relative ease and to be smiling at the end of it felt amazing but being a day closer to completing this year’s CRW300, meeting our charity representatives and knowing that we have made a difference to children that need it the most, well that was gold. Bring on Day 2!