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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge NSW – Day 2 Blog

26 March 2017 Chain Reaction

Day 2 started with a sense of foreboding as weather forecasters, and amateur cycling meteorologists conspired to predict rain across our first sighting of the Hauraki Gulf and this year’s first full day Chain Reaction 140km+ experience.

Thankfully the gods held off – for the most part – but more on that later.

With the nervous tension expended in our ride around Auckland yesterday, today’s start was a much more controlled working of the CR Machinery. All riders were on time, bags were packed, the support fleet was moving, and so was the peloton.

As many of you will be aware, we present 4…..wait, now 5 jerseys each night. Unlike the Tour de France, they are not for the best performers on the bike, but rather acknowledge outstanding efforts in fund-raising or special efforts during the lead-up to and during the ride. They are sponsored by 5 organisations that have provided material financial support to the ride. Charles and Phil stepped up to present the jerseys as follows:

  • The Mercedes Black jersey – to a rider we wish could be with us but after doing all the hard work and fundraising, had to pull out at the last minute under doctor’s orders – Chris Pratt – we miss you buddy and hope everything is going well back home.
  • The EY White jersey – traditionally given to a young rider was this year awarded to a man who in his soul is eternally young, whilst also raising over $5k. He’s also suffered two false attempts at Chain Reaction being stopped by injury both times. From JP Morgan, Mark Davison
  • The Shopping Centre Council Green jersey, this year went to one of our Chifley Highriders, Paul Challita. Paul’s definitely establishing himself as one of the characters of the peloton. He wore the jersey proudly and kept it present at the front of the peloton throughout the day.
  • The Chifley Polka Dot jersey went to another rider new to Chain Reaction, joining us from the team at Foodco, Suzanne Blackborrow, took those polka dots to the front of the group, and on the longest of climbs and well, pretty much smashed it! A legendary effort.
  • Finally and most importantly…….The Westfield Yellow jersey given to the rider who achieves the highest fundraising. Now on his third Chain Reaction, Andrew Harvey rode out in the yellow, having raised more than $16,000 from a total 150 sponsors. Andrew’s tips on HOW he does it: Organise your database. Craft your own request email that doesn’t follow the usual scripts. Send out a (LOT) of emails (in his case, 400). Send every donor a brief but personal ‘thank you’ message. Finally send group messages to sponsors to let them know highlights of the ride and to let them know how much fundraising they were a part of. Yep, it’s hard work, but in Andrew’s eyes it’s the least we can do if people are going to support us with their hard earned cash.

Photo: Day 2 2017 CRNSW

The Ride
Heading east across Auckland our four jersey holders took control and leadership maintained a healthy pace for the peloton until the city skyline became faint spec behind us.

Hills were never going to be far away, and sure enough, things started to get interesting on the Whitford Road. Undulating continuously for ten or so kilometres, a hill climb pecking order became established for the first time on the ride.

That pecking order would be put to the test as we moved through the Hunua Ranges dodging abundant evidence of record rains that had fallen in the region just two weeks ago. Thankfully, enough time had passed for roads to be cleared, but we could count the earlier landslide sights by the dozen. Careful riding was now required. Roads were slippery, cambers negative, speed had to remain well controlled, but thankfully we survived a tense stretch.

Lunch brought us a spectacular view across the gulf to what will be tomorrow’s nemesis, the Coromandel Peninsula. But with that view, came a clear line of sight to the weather we had so concerned ourselves with earlier on. Rain was definitely falling, and it was heading our way. A decision was made – ride quickly – and try to head it off. So a pace line was formed. For those not familiar to cycling a pace line is where the peloton works collectively continuously rolling off the front to maximise speed. 20km was dealt with at an average speed of close to 40km/hr.

Despite our best attempts, the rain eventually did fall upon us. For a while, horizontally, in a brutal cross wind that invalidated all attempts to maintain our pace. However, we literally dug in and struggled through it, emerging about half an hour later, into clearing skies and the salvation of our overnight rest stop, Thames.


Tomorrow is a new day, and one that will see us cross the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s hard, and high, and there will be rain again. Tune in again for what will be an interesting blog for sure.