2017 Chain Reaction Challenge NSW – Day 5 Blog
29 March 2017 Chain Reaction
Chain Reaction NSW Ride Day 5 Blog
All of our rides effectively begin with our rider briefing, weather prediction, and jersey awards on the evening before. The Armitage Hotel in Tauranga was our host on this occasion.
But this particular evening was special for the inclusion of an insight into the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute presented to us by one of our support crew, Jane Baric who leads Strategic Relationships for this great charity. It really brought home to us all just how much of a difference our efforts make to so many families across Australia and the world. Funds that we raise don’t just support research but also support the families living through the strains of the experience.
Over the course of this event, Warrick Gard has really established himself as our expert meteorologist. His skills at interrogating digital inputs from his iphone and local weather bureaus have, until today, served him well. Warrick forecast essentially rain-free conditions aided by an improving weather pattern that would perfectly suit our changing location and circumstance. Suffice to say that absolutely NONE of what he predicted eventuated. More on that later.
Every night’s jersey awards are a special moment and revered by all of us. Tonight was no exception.
The Black Jersey sponsored by Mercedes-Benz recognised the efforts of Ed Dockerill. Known for his riding skills long before he joined Chain Reaction, Ed is now on his second tour with us. But his journey, uniquely, introduced our foundation to the Freedom Wheels charity. Both he and his wife are actively involved in this group that helps kids with a disability to also enjoy the freedom that a bike brings to us all. We’re delighted that our foundation’s funds can help them along their way.
The Red and White poker dot jersey traditionally recognises hill climbing talent. Tonight we awarded it to someone who embodies team spirit and helps many others to climb hills long before he seeks that glory for himself. With the strength of an engine, the nickname he’s earned of ‘Diesel’ is apt indeed. David White is well admired by us all and it was great to see him get this cherished award.
The Green ‘Sprinters’ Jersey was awarded to one of four women riders on this year’s tour. Nadia Younan has proved to be one of our strongest and sprinting to the front of the group or the top of a hill has proved to be her speciality. She’s also a great person and a valued addition to the Chain Reaction family. We hope that she and many other women will fill the Chain Reaction ranks in years to come.
Every year it’s customary to award a jersey to a member of our support crew in recognition of the spectacular role they play in making our event as successful as it is. Karen Palmer embodies all of the finest traditions of the foundation. Hard working and dedicated, she has been the Head Massage Therapist on five CR rides and has ensured that a qualified team of Therapists have been able to join us on every one of those. To all of that, she’s just a lovely person and our event wouldn’t be the same without her. It was great to see her receive the White Jersey tonight.
Which brings us, of course, to the Yellow Jersey. Never more fittingly awarded than it was tonight to Alex Mufford. Alex embodies much of what the CR cause sets out to achieve. A great commitment to the team – returning now for his fourth ride. He rides superbly but is also one to recognise the achievements of other riders around him. Importantly this year his fundraising exceeded $10,000. Just a superb effort, and one which recognises much hard work off the bike and something we value most of all at Chain Reaction. Congratulations Alex, your award is so well deserved.
Overnight rain – forecast to clear by our in-house meteorologist – didn’t. Departing the Armitage in bucketing rain and ably escorted with our safety cars, we made our way through the busy peak hour town of Tauranga past Mt Maunganui and onwards along the apparently scenic foreshore towards Papamoa. Thankfully the rain did ease enough for us to enjoy some ocean views which led to the rolling hills of Paengaroa. We must be improving as a team because we were all able to hold a tight peloton through some trying hills, in many cases on wet roads and yet all the time keeping our bunch together and making sure no one was left behind. This took us all the way to the 90km mark.
It was at this point that our major climb of the day began. What was predicted to be a gentle rise through 6km was actually a 20km ever increasing climb to the peak of the escarpment and the hills north of Mt Kawerau.
During this climb rain set in which would last us through our entire afternoon. What was expected to be a brief and cooling summer shower turned out to be a deluge that took us all the way to Rotorua.
A brief lunch at Te Oneroa on the edge of Lake Rotoma was the opportunity for us to take on food and water and for the peloton to regroup for the last 40km into Rotorua. Again our support crew did a great job of ensuring our safety as we hugged the service lane on a busy Highway 30 into town.
Time on bike: 5hrs 51mins