2017 Chain Reaction Challenge QLD – Day 7 Blog
9 May 2017 Chain Reaction
Blog – Day 7 – The Final Ride
The gang from KordaMentha presented on our final night, and Berrick Wilson the founder of Chain Reaction flew up from Melbourne to meet our group. We ride on to Brisbane on the final day, and we are stopping at the Chandler Velodrome on the way for a team time challenge, called an Italian Sprint. There was some rather spirited bidding over dinner, to see who could acquire the team mechanic, Jarryd Jones, who turns out to hold the record at the Velodrome (amongst his other skills). And in the end, $16,000 was raised for the charities in about 20 minutes, under the hammer of our man Paul Wilson.
The Jerseys were awarded as follows…
- Yellow, sponsored by The Courier-Mail – to Steve Morris
- Polka Dot, sponsored by APN – to Paul Cavalucci
- Red, sponsored by Nova – to Luke McKew
- Green, sponsored by Transurban – Peter Beckman
- Black, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz – Ash Hutchinson
- White, sponsored by The Star Casino – Jeremy Chenoweth
The team members for KordaMentha spoke about why they do Chain Reaction. There were common themes that it provides a personal challenge, that it means they focus on helping people outside their own respective patches, and that it forges friendships that will sustain them well into the future. Those themes are true for all the CR Riders and for the support crew, and we hope that continues for years to come.
The Final Ride
The day started, of course, at Mantra Sun City in Surfers Paradise, which had very generously donated our accommodation. We were all conscious that there was only about 100 kilometres left to ride before we reunited with our families at the Victoria Park Golf Complex and the mood was rather buoyant. Tim Chadd had given us some stern warnings about the onerous scheduling for the day and we set off at 7:00am sharp.
We rode to the Nerang Velodrome where the teams competed in an “Italian Sprint”. There were eight teams, each with four members, and everyone rode furiously. Full credit to those who rode hard despite some early finishing celebrations the night before… In the end, the final was fought out between the McDonalds/Limitless Team and the Gowdie/PwC Team. When you understand that Ash Hutchinson, a former world champion, was only the second-best rider on the Gowdie/PwC Team, we think you can guess the result … however in true Chain Reaction fashion, a 7 second handicap was afforded to the Gowdie/PwC team which allowed McDonalds/Limitless to just edge out for the win by less than a second!
The day did not unfold quite like the happy procession many of us had anticipated. We were riding north when suddenly we veered east and then came face to face with Mt Cotton. There were some steep, pesky hills which, of themselves, would have been no problem for the veterans of Dorrigo but, rather cruelly, they ended with 300 metres up a hill with a 20% gradient. It is hard to communicate the animal grunt you need to master that beast.
We travelled on to the Anna Meares Velodrome in Chandler on the south of Brisbane where Cori organised just about every possible permutation of team photographs. There were photographs by teams, photographs by award jersey, photographs of support teams and even photographs by bike brand. She also organised a photograph of all the Italians (which caused some small kerfuffle amongst those who, based on complex if questionable ancestry, thought they might have been included) and photographs of all the bald riders (which caused some kerfuffle amongst those who thought they might have been excluded…).
Michael Tritton had an inspired idea at about this point. He suggested that, when we reached Vic Park, it was likely to be hectic with family and friends, and that perhaps this would be a good time for the support team and the riders to say goodbye to each other. So he asked us to form two lines and then, like footballs teams, the lines walked slowly past each other and exchanged best wishes, thanks and lots of hugs. We hope this ritual becomes a Chain Reaction tradition.
From Chandler we were joined by a police escort. The riders hadn’t quite appreciated how fantastic that would be. The officers didn’t just ride ahead. They conducted a “fire and movement” manoeuvre so that, whilst some of the motor bikes accompanied the peloton, others would go forward to close off every intersection and ensure that we rode through without interruption. There was a glorious southerly at our backs, and between the wind and the escort, we set a cracking pace from Chandler to the City.
We rolled into Kangaroo Point and had the very special privilege of riding across the Story Bridge with the lanes closed off by the escort. One of the bloggers had the pleasure of riding with the “road guy” in the peloton, Wes Ballantyne, who pointed out that the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where we started, and the Story Bridge, where we were finishing, were both designed by the same man, a Queenslander called John Bradfield.
We drew into All Hallows’ School, adjacent to the Story Bridge, for a photo opportunity to close out our Bridge to Bridge adventure. As the riders entered the grounds, there were 1500 hundred students lined up overlooking the Bridge and, just at that point, they burst into song and dance. It was a magic moment. Here we were on this beautiful early May afternoon by the Brisbane River, at a school were many of us had daughters or nieces. We were already excited that the ride was finishing and that we were drawing close to our families and then, somehow, the euphoria of the dancing and singing matched and resonated with our mood perfectly. We saw many riders visibly moved and, if you watch the video on the website, it goes a little way to catching the joy.
We rode on with our police escort over the last two kilometres to Victoria Park. Like every other finish to a Queensland Chain Reaction day, we hear the Lindores’ cow bell ringing us in but this one was special – with our children, wives, mothers, fathers, friends and sponsors all there to greet us. A huge thank you to Nova for sponsoring the final festivities and providing food, drink and kids’ entertainment over the finish line.
As the bloggers, we want to say that this adventure has left the riders with a fabulous backlog of memories: hills, valleys, small country towns, waterfalls, fences, beaches, tablelands, rivers, and lots of smiles. The group achieved everything it set out to do: 1,000 kilometres long; 13,000 metres of climbs; and, most of all, well over $1 million in fundraising so far.
Beyond all that, we will remember that we achieved it all in a spirit of camaraderie, style, good humour and generosity that reflects the fabulous work of AEIOU Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.
I’m very grateful to my Hutchies team members John Barton and Damien Atkinson for taking up the further challenge of writing the blog every night after a long day in the saddle. They were the perfect choice, for between them no one else spoke or wrote more words than they on the whole trip. I think, if you are a rider, you’ll agree that they captured the spirit and the mood of the 2017 ride. As a reader, I hope you enjoyed the armchair ride.
At the very start, in the first blog, I posed the question of why one would take on so many rides? If you have done the ride now, you know the answer.
If you have read the blogs, seen the pictures and thrilled at the videos, you know the answer.
Combine charity, companionship, character and care in single journey on two wheels, on a skinny seat, through some of Australia’s best country, and you’ll know just how compelling that is. It’s what we, who are part of this thing called Chain Reaction, find so alluring and the raison d’être for time on a bike.