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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge QLD – Day 3 Blog

1 May 2017 Chain Reaction

Day 3 Blog

We had a fabulous ride today.  Starting by the sea in beautiful Crescent Head, an almost two-hour bus ride north of Forster where we slept last night. There were locals taking their boards out, Council workers trimming the grounds, and children playing on the shore; it was a picture perfect Australian postcard.

We moved north again, of course.  We followed the Macleay river for maybe 20 kilometres. On our left, the river water ran deep and quiet. And on our right, there were cattle yards, and dairy farms with Fresian cows grazing, and cattle dogs trying to get at us, through (happily) secure fences.

We have been hoping for a strong Southerly to take us home, but it hasn’t come yet, and we spent most of the day riding into a gentle but ever-present headwind. The group has become better and better at “sucking the wheel” – drafting behind the rider ahead – and we were able to ride at about 30-34kms per hour over some flat ground.

We hit some rolling hills, but they were gentle compared to yesterday and today. We stopped at Smithtown which seemed to be the home or the storage facility of Nesquik and Milo. Certainly quirky to find a silo painted green in the company colours, though slightly less bizarre than seeing some of the fellas pushing the rather-short Michael Byrom in a playground swing as we took a break at the local cricket field. Very picturesque anyway, with a perimeter studded with old Camphor Laurels.

We rode through some tiny towns with odd names like Clybucca and Algomera before we turned east towards the coast.  We crossed the Nambucca River at a place called Macksville which was very pretty, but we rode on till we hit the coast proper at Nambucca Heads.  Chain Reaction had organised lunch for the group at the local RSL.  It was just what we needed.  Lots of meat and potato and salads.  There were a group of riders who have apparently been suffering for a couple of days because of the lack of quality coffee, but they managed to find a little place with the right sort of beans, and the monster was appeased.

After lunch, we headed away from the coast again. We rode north through little towns called Valla Beach and Raleigh on our way to Coffs Harbour. We pulled into the Coffs Harbour velodrome about 20 kilometres out of town and did a couple of quick laps just for fun before making sure we got back out on the road.  We have a routine each night of treating needy bodies with massages, and then winding down before the team dinner at 6.30pm, but the day was drawing out, and Tim and John were pressing us on.

The last hill, on Richmond Drive in Coffs, was enough to get the hearts jumping. 49 riders going up a slope which was more of a wall.

Photo: cr_qld_2017_day_3_o-nev-15656

The single most moving thing over the last 24 hours has been the speech from Ash Hutchinson.  He has been a world quality rider since at least 2006, but he has been coming to Chain Reaction rides in a supportive role for about 7 years.  In fact, he was in the first Queensland ride which started from Forster.  He told his own very personal story last night at dinner. He and his wife have recently had a little boy, Charlie, but he has been very sick.  When he was in hospital in Melbourne, the staff wheeled out the particular machine that their boy needed so badly, and Ash saw that it had a ‘Chain Reaction’ sticker on it – it had been acquired with Chain Reaction funds.

To the awards, presented by the Gowdie/PwC team (who were almost as good as Hutchies) with the jerseys being awarded as follows…

  • Yellow – Peter Burchard from Limitless/McDonalds
  • Green – Mason Cowle from Excel/Tessa
  • Polka Dot – Mark Russo from Limitless/McDonalds
  • White – Louise Beckman from Excel/Tessa
  • Red – Matt Beasley from Limitless/McDonalds
  • Black – Karl Butterfield from KordaMentha

We have a big day tomorrow. 187 kilometres in distance and 3000 metres in elevation, up the mountain at Dorrigo.  Crew have gone to bed early in anticipation.  Quietly apprehensive, but can’t help thinking that everything gets better as you get closer to Queensland!