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2016 Chain Reaction Challenge Womens 300 Day 3 – Blog

13 November 2016 Chain Reaction

Day 3. The finale. After the huge achievement of Mt Buller, we all arrived at breakfast with high spirits and looking forward to our much anticipated return to Melbourne. We all knew Day 3 was the most challenging day with consistent rolling hills, more climbs, and 120km to complete in time to meet our family, friends and charity representatives at Fairfield Boathouse.

As we set off to our starting point the rain came down. With wet weather gear on, we set off for the first 15km on a rail trail out of Molesworth toward Yea. The trail was in great condition with packed gravel and slight undulations through thickets of trees, paddocks of inquisitive cattle and a refreshing change from the road. It was a chance for us to warm our legs into the day with freedom to take it at our own comfortable pace, chatting in small groups and enjoying the quiet without traffic.

Some beautiful back roads took us through the Yea Valley, with gently rolling hills and lush green pastures. The rain continued to fall steadily and our concentration was not as much about the usual surrounding car traffic, but instead about calling the puddles that were rapidly accumulating in the road. A 10km climb saw us break up into a free play section as we tackled the ascent. The rain eased off, allowing us to enjoy a beautiful descent through open fields with great views toward the mountains that lurked toward Kinglake. After regrouping we set off toward the Kinglake National Park. Working together as the well oiled team we had become, we passed again through quiet back roads with changing scenery of treeferns and well running creeks. The rain had returned, heavier than before, and I was unsure at that point as to whether I was becoming more soaked from the falling rain itself, or the spray from the wheel in front of me.

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Kinglake drew closer, the sign to the National Park signalling the commencement of our second and main climb for the final day. A 10km stretch of the Glenburn-Kinglake Road that winded its way through thickening bush with familiar tall eucalypts. Whilst the rain continued we marvelled at the still conditions which made our ascent easier and more enjoyable. What had started as relatively mild conditions at the bottom soon turned to cooler air temperature with lower hanging cloud. The 1km King of the Mountain signs stood by the side of the road, a brilliant blue under the increasingly menacing skies. The final roll into Kinglake saw the rain increase again, my legs feeler colder as the wind rushed past us on the easy roll into the town.

Our lunch stop at the Kinglake Bakery had a seriously welcome open fire. As we refuelled by the fire, clutching our hot coffees, we compared our rain gear to determine who had remained the driest from a very wet 70km of the morning. With the Kinglake descent toward St Andrews ahead of us, there was a lot of hilarity as we all set about “rugging up”. We added extra socks, leg warmers, booties, and in one instance (that would be me) seven layers of jerseys and vests. Berrick did make a comment that we weren’t off to climb Everest, but after reaching our lunchstop, wet and cold, it felt like we may as well have been!

The morning was again a testament to our teamwork and camaraderie. There was a sense of relief, knowing that following a 15km descent to St Andrews we were then only 35km from our goal of completing this years’ CRW300.

The rain had eased, and while the roads were wet, it was as always a beautiful and enjoyable descent to St Andrews. We took on the steady bends at our own pace, applying all the technical aspects of descending in the wet to reach St Andrews safely.

It was incredible to reach the bottom of the mountain range to be met by dry roads and patches of blue sky. The sun had broken through, warming us all to the core and creating a frenzy of “de-layering”. After discussions around the best route back to town, we set off as a bunch for our last 30km.

We rode like an amazing team of cyclists. Here a special mention must go to both Mel Szydzik and Carmen Barry who not only sat on the front for the whole way back, but managed to hold an incredible pace through the undulating terrain of Hurstbridge, Diamond Creek, Eltham and into our old training grounds around Ivanhoe. They worked tirelessly on the front to keep us consistent and prevent the bunch splitting.

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We rolled into Fairfield to Tim’s congratulations that we all worked like “pros” with seamless two by two riding, being able to single up quickly and seamlessly, then move back into two perfectly ordered rows as we negotiated the increasing traffic toward the city. We all laughed when we had to unclip at our first set of traffic lights in three days and lamented the freedom of the quiet open country roads that Tim had so impressively mapped out for us to cycle.

We made a short stop to regroup just outside Fairfield Boathouse. This was an opportunity as our own group to congratulate one another, and to say our thank yous for an amazing three days. We ordered ourselves for the roll into the Boathouse with the pink jersey recipients of the day leading the bunch.

The jersey bearers for the last day are the two highest fundraisers as is tradition. This year it was fantastic to see Jocelyn Dussuyer recognised for her incredible efforts in fundraising. Jocelyn not only raised substantial individual funds, but was instrumental in leading the ISPT team fundraising during which she stated “she wouldn’t ride Mt Buller for under $25K”. With an awe-inspiring achievement of over $27,000 raised at the time of the ride, Jocelyn saddled up to tackle Mt Buller with the same guts she had used to bring about such impressive donations from her ISPT corporate networks. Jocelyn’s story is one of an individual who has juggled full time work, two young children, a household to run, plus commitment to training and has still managed to dedicate the time and headspace to raise money for kids in need.

I was the other jersey recipient for the second year in a row having raised $6K. This for me was not about personal kudos, but an opportunity to instill and pass onto the new riders for this year that it is possible to raise funds for a second year. I felt compelled to share my story with the girls during our jersey presentation that equally for me it often felt like a lot of hard work on top of running my own physiotherapy business. But meeting the likes of Peter Lusk, hearing the stories of the kids who would benefit from Southern Cross Kids’ Camps and meeting families who have been recipients of a bike from Freedom Wheels reminded me in times of doubt that all the fundraising efforts were worth it. It was an interesting feeling receiving a jersey myself, as there were many other women in our teamthis year that would have made worthy recipients. I had an overwhelming urge to cut my jersey in half and see both Carmen and Mel bring the team into the boathouse after their awesome work in leading us back in the last 30kms.

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Reaching the boat house was, for me, no less special than when we arrived 12 months ago. The sense of achievement is incredible. I found the emotion of completing the event following three months worth of dedication, personal sacrifices and training equally as present. The excitement of hearing that we had raised $137,000 (and counting) to go to these two very special charities gave me the same sense of pride. To look around at the 11 new riders this year and see their smiles, the congratulations from their families and friends and the massive excitement at having achieved something many of them did not think possible a few months ago brought a smile to my face.

To have many fantastic women from previous CRW300 rides come to cheer us on at the finish line was a testament to the friendships that are truly formed from this event. A thank you from Chain Reaction CEO, John Ward, was a fitting end in acknowledging the incredible work of the support crew that tirelessly focussed on our safety. Tim Chadd once again shone as an absolute asset to the Chain Reaction Foundation. Our ever dependable Jarryd Jones ensured our bikes were mechanically sound and as always changed a flat like we were pro’s. Having Kieran as our resident doctor, Pat to ensure our luggage and bikes were safely transported, and Allan our bus driver tolerate the smell of Goanna oil on the bus made the weekend all the more enjouable.

Renee Nutbean also deserves absolute acknowledgement. As an incredibly humble individual, she will claim that it is us who have done the hard work. What Renee may not see is that she has brought confidence to those less confident, she has brought skill to those less skilled, she has demonstrated that things are possible we may not have believed possible and she has absolutely instilled in us the value of everyone doing their little bit for an amazing outcome. This rang true for us as individuals, as a peleton and as fortunate women who could make a difference in our fundraising to “Support Kids In Need”.

In closing this year’s CRW300 I want to draw on a statement made by Peter Lusk from Southern Cross Kids’ Camps as he thanked us for our efforts. Peter stated that true giving is the ability to serve others. This weekend 19 absolutely incredible women came together to do just that.

Thank you to every single one of you. You have brought hope, opportunity, unity and showed humanity toward many who never would