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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge QLD – Day 5 Blog

3 May 2017 Chain Reaction

Day 5 Blog

Maybe it was a cunning strategy by management, but the 145km ride from Casino to Byron Bay, with the 1900 metres of elevation was a treat compared to yesterday. The hills today were so much easier to cross because we rolled along so that, for almost every ascent, we were treated to a magic descent soon after.  A little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt.

We finished the day riding into spectacular Byron Bay feeling like we were almost back in Queensland. But before we could enjoy the sweeping panoramas from Coopers Shoot Road looking out across Byron Bay and the Pacific Ocean, we had ride to a diverse cross-section of Australia to traverse.

We awoke in Grafton having enjoyed the hospitality of our friends at the local Quality Inn. Our nightly ritual of dinner, de-briefing on the day’s ride and team presentation was hosted by Excel/Tessa – and a fabulous job they did indeed, sharing personal stories regarding their involvement with Chain Reaction and finishing with a custom version of the R.E.M. classic, ‘Everybody Hurts’ which was particularly fitting given the gruelling day we had all endured.

Jerseys were awarded as follows…

  • Yellow – to Michael (“Mitsubishi”) Tritton, from Limitless/McDonalds
  • Polka Dot jerseys to David Chiang from AEIOU and Chris (“Zombie”) Battersby from Hutchinson Builders
  • Red – to Don MacKenzie from Limitless/McDonalds
  • Green – Peter Sherrie from Excel/Tessa
  • Black – Derek Butterfield from Hutchinson Builders
  • White jerseys to – John ‘Coops’ Cooper from and Patrick ‘Sparrow’ Kortum from Hutchies

 

Photo: cr_qld_2017_day_5_o-nev-3645

The Ride

Our morning began with a short bus ride up the Summerland Way to Casino where we began the day with a few warm up laps on the local asphalt velodrome. From Casino we headed north to Nimbin. Many of us have not travelled to Nimbin previously, and it is certainly a distinctive town. Austin Pick perhaps sums it up best; “It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades.” Strange place? Indeed it is, with permaculture, sustainability and self-sufficiency wrapped up in cannabis counterculture. It has been called the drug capital of Australia, but locals prefer to describe their lifestyle as a social experiment or an escapist sub-culture. It is home to the Aquarius Festival, a large gathering of university students and practitioners of alternative lifestyles. Hippies, if you like. When Nimbin had a dairy industry, in the early 1960s, the population was 6000. It’s down to about 400 now, so alternative lifestyles have yet to catch on in a big way.

From Nimbin we headed into the hills. As if the climbing wasn’t a sufficient challenge for our peloton, the heavens opened and we had half-an-hour of torrential downpour to deal with as well. When we pulled into our next drinks stop we were a bedraggled bunch, cold and soaked to the core. As the afternoon wore on, the sun shone and we all dried off before enjoying perhaps our best lunch of the tour so far at the Eltham Hotel, were Lorraine and her team put on a sensational spread of salads, savoury muffins, wraps and treats. Lorraine had also gone to the trouble of holding a raffle and made a donation to the cause as we were leaving – community spirit in action. If you’re ever anywhere near Eltham, make sure you stop in – Lorraine will be sure to look after you.

Speaking of the great service we received in Eltham, it’s perhaps timely to pause and reflect on the wonderful service and support our group has received all week from our wonderful group of volunteers travelling along with us. A ride like this doesn’t just happen. It takes a full-year of arranging and a small army to bring to fruition. In no particular order we would like to recognise the following…

• ‘JJ’ (Jarryd Jones) – our travelling mechanic and driver of the first of our support vehicles. He spends his day trailing our group, helping to keep us safe and is on hand to assist with any mechanical issues that arise (as they inevitably do). Without ‘JJ’ more than a few of us would have been unable to get to this point in the ride.
• Paul Wilson and Tommy Hill – two of the nicest blokes you’d ever want to meet who are in charge of hydration. These lads ensure that we have plenty of water and other essential fluids when we’re on the road. Their passion and enthusiasm for us and the ride is inspiring.
• Veeral Patel and Ryan Sheridan – who we can all thank for capturing wonderful images and video of our ride and the amazing scenery through which we have travelled. Their skills are world-class. It has been an absolute pleasure to have them journey along with us. Their efforts will ensure we can remember some of the magic moments in vivid detail for years to come.
• Scott Fraser, Lulu Jules, ‘Gorgeous’ George Magoulias, Kate Sidebottom, Melisa Donovan, Katie Byrom and Hannah Chapman – our physio-therapist and massage therapists who have laboured with skilled hands to keep us on our bikes, working hard on tired bodies, tight muscles and strained tendons. They have kept us going and given us something to look forward to every evening after our rides.
• ‘Nashy’ (Alan Nash) – who proudly drives the simply stunning pro-team cycling truck for Chain Reaction
• Christine Burnie from AEIOU and Sue-Ann Dunning from Ronald McDonald House South East Queensland, who have selflessly thrown themselves into any task that needs doing, but importantly have attended to the rather unattractive task of washing our kit each night
• Cindy Carle, a paramedic with 20 years’ experience, who has bound together some tired, broken bodies, day after day, and then backed up to drive the second support vehicle
• Belinda Drew, who in the real world, is the head of People and Culture at KordaMentha, but has come across to organise all the logistics on the ride, and somehow manages to boss us all around without ever offending anybody, and always making sure that things end up where they should.

On behalf of all the riders, we’d also like to mention the full time Chain Reaction staff, Cori Wilder, Tim Chadd and John Ward. It would be very hard to do justice to how efficiently they manage to organise the support, deal with some big personalities, make sure the riders stay safe and communicate to the donors the importance of the work done by the charities.  There may have been some mixed feelings yesterday when the ride was at its toughest, but we are all very proud to show off the work of Chain Reaction to friends, families and donors, because of the quality, integrity and professionalism they bring to the event, year after year.

 We started hearing rainbirds, and curlews today, in place of bellbirds, and we found ourselves explaining to the southern support staff bits and pieces about scrub turkeys.  We are looking forward to crossing the border and, most of all, to catching up with partners and children.