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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge QLD – Day 4 Blog

2 May 2017 Chain Reaction

Blog – Day 4:  The One We Were All Waiting For

The SAS reckons that when you think you’re completely spent, you’ve probably got about 30% capacity left.  Some of the riders learnt the truth in that today because we had a seriously tough challenge but, late in the day, they found something  extra in themselves. But more on that later… first to last night’s presentations in Coffs Harbour.

It was another great presentation evening and a lovely venue.  It was AEIOU’s turn to speak and the highlight was probably learning from Dr. James Morton about the work that not only the AEIOU Foundation does but that James also was instrumental in the successful fundraising of another charitable organisation, The Leukaemia Foundation. He truly is a humble and generous man, and we are fortunate to have men like him involved in Chain Reaction.

Jerseys were awarded as follows…

  • Yellow – to John Barton from Hutchinson Builders Team
  • Polka Dot – to Damien Atkinson, also from Hutchinson Builders
  • Red – to Jarrod Villani from Gowdie/PwC
  • Green – to Victor Borzillo from Excel/Tessa
  • Black – Kirsten Pike from Gowdie/PwC
  • White – Terry van der Velde from AEIOU

The Ride

We left the Annuka Beach Resort in Coffs Harbour at 6.45am. Well, actually, some of the riders were somehow a little tardy, so they got treated to some tough love and had to catch the group.  We rode south along smooth, well-surfaced roads back to a town called Raleigh (which, as you can imagine, was kind of disconcerting because we were trying to get north) before we turned west through beautiful forests and dairy farms, and reached the lovely town of Bellingen.  It looks like the set for a 1950’s Australian movie.   Lovely river on the approach and then a town with a picturesque, and yet busy, high street.

We were heading to a town called Dorrigo which is situated on the top of some tablelands. There were rolling hills into Bellingen and some of the riders may have gone a little hard, a little early, when they thought we had already reached Dorrigo Mountain.  But people sorted themselves out into single file as we got close to the true ascent.  Not a lot of chatter and it kind of felt like we were all intent on sneaking up on something that was slightly confronting.

The mountain rises 840 metres over 13 kilometres, and the gradient is unrelenting. We spread out, but there was a heap of burn as we climbed.  There had been a little wager back at Bellingen.  One of the boys bet another that Boy 1 could get up the mountain quicker than Boy 2, even if he was assisting the oldest rider from the peloton. Flurry of bets at Belligen (all being paid to the charities of course) and the lawyers in the group set to agreeing on the rules of engagement. Needless to say, there has been a winner but an appeal has been lodged, and the final result is pending… But watching the race unfold was a useful distraction.

Photo: cr_qld_2017_day 4_haripin

When we made the top, we rested briefly in Dorrigo, famous for trout fishing and the World-Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park. Then we took the Waterfalls Way through the Tablelands, up and down through spectacular farming country and big mountain views. Admittedly, there is a limit to the extent you can enjoy those things when you are travelling at up to 70 km per hour on the descents, or breathing hard on the ascents, whilst trying to stay the optimum distance from the rider ahead.  But we saw some fabulous views and maybe we sensed the rest.

We had travelled 90 kilometres  from Coffs Harbour to Dorrigo with the difficult ascent, but then we did another 60 kilometres to a stop outside Nymboida.  There were some steep climbs along the way, and many of the riders looked seriously exhausted by the time we stopped there.  A couple of them were just lying down, exhausted, in the afternoon sun, (which isn’t something even dogs do) and  there were some plaintive groans across the group.

But full credit to all.  A ham wrap, some cake, a fruit juice, maybe even some work from a masseuse, and we were all good to go in 15 minutes.  We rode in a tight formation from Nymboida, 2 by 2, wherever possible, down a gentle, but consistent and kind, slope all the way into Grafton. we crossed the famous double-decker bridge (rail below, cars above) over the Clarence River as peak hour traffic was coming our way.  Traffic jam, motor bikes, cars tooting, rusty old bridge with a guard house in the middle; somehow it felt more like South East Asia than country New South Wales.  But we have learnt to expect differences here.  When we went to the RSL in Nambucca Heads, they had no problem with the riders keeping their boots on, but they said that the locals would get seriously cross if people didn’t remove their hats. And some of the boys went to a pub in Maitland where there were screens showing every type of sport known to humans – including one where you could gamble on artificial/electronic dog racing…

Its only 8.30pm but nearly everyone has gone to bed.  There is a serious pleasure in finding your pillow after a long day riding with a backlog of memories from exotic country.