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
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…
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.