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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge – Day 4 Blog

14 March 2017 Chain Reaction

CR17 Day 4

EPIC Day! This was the one we were all waiting for……(insert dreading). Our race director, Tim Chadd, has talked this one up as the iconic day, long with a decent climb, and some spectacular scenery. In fact, 187 kms long and 3000m climbing, including the formidable Dorrigo Mountain of 850 metres over 17 kms.

But first to last night, and dinner/presentations. MC extraordinaire Andrew Hayne, had the honour of introducing the CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, Louise Baxter, who kindly gave up her to time to join us for dinner in Coffs. She reminded us of where our funds go – our contribution enables the Monash Starlight room to be staffed and open all year round. This gives hundreds of sick and ill children the option of getting away from the sterile and often daunting atmosphere of a hospital room or ward to enjoy being what they really want to do – be a normal kid for a few hours. Kids like Gabe, who after being in and out of Monash Hospital with leukemia and getting to know the Starlight Captains so well, was granted a wish to meet his absolute hero, Crocodile Dundee!! Louise showed us a video where we saw first hand the joy that a Starlight wish can give to a child like Gabe, and his parents, Norman and Marshia. The determination of each and every rider in the room to conquer Dorrigo Mountain went up a notch, as well as their desire to raise even more funds.

It was PWC’s turn to present the jerseys tonight. The worthy recipients of each one of the jerseys were:

  • Yellow (KordaMentha) – Sam Grindal – a magnificent climber and in his 4th year as a rider
  • Green (MonJon) – Ren Maiale – a first year rider in the Jellis Craig team
  • Polka Dot (Arrow Constructions) – Emil Foller also from the Jellis Craig team, and a third year rider
  • White ( – Antony Woodley at 56, the second oldest rider, but leading many of the younger riders a merry dance!
  • Black (Mercedes) – Mick Calder team captain of the KordaMentha/ABL team and 3 year rider.

Surprisingly, given the daunting task awaiting the riders the next day, it took until 10 o’clock to clear the dining room. Perhaps the newbies are settling in, and nerves are under control. But never underestimate a “Chain Day” they can bite you from behind if you aren’t fully alert!

Photo: cr_vic_2017_day_4_o-nev-7648

So with a new forecast of a drenching –this time “guaranteed,” we listened to the pitter-patter of constant rain from about 11.00pm until 5.00am the next morning. But true to our luck so far this year, we set off after a hearty breakfast under dull leaden skies. The roads were drying, and we enjoyed a somewhat soul destroying roll BACK south to Raleigh, before moving north-west and our “destination” climb of the day. We rolled into Dorrigo, having only experienced the briefest of showers and then off up the 17 km climb rising a formidable 850 metres. We had been lulled into believing (or had convinced ourselves) that the average gradient for the climb would be 5-6%. In fact, it rarely dropped below 8% on the major part of the climb, which went for over 11 kms.

Some shattered but relieved riders reached the top for a drink stop, and everyone commented on the spectacular scenery, included gushing waterfalls (I counted three) and lush, green rainforest foliage and massive Australian natives. The views of fertile paddocks blanketed in fluffy white clouds were reward for our efforts of scaling the heights of Dorrigo Mountain.

Tim introduced a new twist to a Chain day today, a double-lunch. Yes, we stopped first in pouring rain in a small rotunda in Bostobrick, then battled our way through the lumpy, rolling Clouds Creek State Forest before a slippery, but invigorating descent to Blaxland Creek for our 2nd “sitting.”

Assured that the final 50kms would be relatively flat after 80kms of yo-yoing, everybody was re-fuelled and ready to enjoy a tidy peloton ride to the finish in Grafton. A 500 metre stretch of road construction (read MUD) splattered everyone with…..mud! A job for our mechanics tonight!

In summary, amazing, relatively quiet, occasionally potholed roads, another brilliant job by our support team, and we are over hump day!! It’s all downhill from here (we wish)!!

Distance covered: 187 kms
Metres climbed: 2765 m
Hours in the saddle: 7 hrs. 10 mins.
Riders accounted for: 100%