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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge Victoria – Day 1 Blog

10 March 2017 Chain Reaction

Sustainability, Renewal – both are needed to make Chain Reaction Victoria what it is and what it will continue to be.

Sustainability – entering its 11th year, the Victorian ride this year embarks on a new route, that may just have some memories for those that were on the 2010 ride from Port

Macquarie to Noosa. Memories of rolling hills, superb lush green paddocks, old growth forests and crashing ocean views should be on the agenda.

But back to sustainability, no event like this can last without the vision and dedication of those that give their time freely to ensure the longevity and success of this event. From a kernel of an idea in the grateful head of Berrick Wilson in 2006, the support of those that he “tapped on the shoulder” to help, the dedication of the current and past members of the Victorian Committee, and the efforts of the Riders from 2006 to today have ensured this event sits proudly on the charity events calendar each year.

But like an old growth forest, you need rejuvenation and renewal to ensure the survival of the eco-system. Equally Chain Reaction Vic needs new blood, to ensure its strength and sustainability. This year we welcome 15 new riders to our group of 35. Additionally, a handful of riders return after a couple of years break. Sustain and renew.

 And so it was that we travelled up to Sydney yesterday, to the North Shore Harbourside to marvel at the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House from our rooms, grab a meal at the local pizza joint, or the Greenwood Hotel where the hard choice between Parma, Pizza and Pasta had to be made. Our bodies also need sustenance and renewal!

As always 1st day eve nerves are settled in different ways, some hit the sack early, others need a few settlers before rolling to bed. Each to his own….

Photo: Day 1 Web_1

A perfect “Goldilocks” day greeted us – not too hot, not too cold, just right. Kristi Ingrilli and Kelly Lavender from Very Special Kids and Starlight Children’s foundation ensured we were greeted with smiles and in Kristi’s case, a firm direction of ‘what goes where.’ No gilets needed as we lined up for the mandatory iconic shots of the riders in front of the Bridge. We had support from a few locals including Louise Baxter, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, who was even on hand bright and early to wish us well. Then we commenced the challenging exit of Sydney’s busy, winding, cracking roads through Killara, Pennant Hills and Hornsby, until we were freed from the shackles of suburbia to enjoy the delights of the roll down through Berowra and across the Hawkesbury River –I defy anyone not to sense the wow factor of that part of our travels today.

Up through the Central Coast we were now enjoying rolling farm land and particularly vibrant green fields – we stayed on the Old Pacific Highway, criss-crossing the busy motorway, clearly the area around Mooney Mooney Creek missed the memo about NSW Bushfires. A short freeplay session climbing out of the Creek area saw the tough men of the peloton stretching their legs and sussing each other out. A group of 5 arrived first at the designated stop, with Dave McKenzie, our resident on-ride support, keeping an eye on the challengers for “King of the Mountain” in later days. Who was foxing? Who had early signs of good form? Most of us had no idea as we struggled up behind!

We then began diverging from the Pacific Highway, and the north-westerly roads took us deep into the rolling farmlands of the central coast.  

We arrived at lunch with 100kms under our belts, and ready for some tucker.  The Mangrove Mountain Golf Club was the venue of choice, and we negotiated through the front bar enviously watching the Club members devouring burgers and chips, before we moved into the back room for water, Gatorade and healthy nutrious wraps (……).

With the sun shining, and a light breeze in our faces keeping the temperature down, we were now in a rhythm, and general high spirits emanated from the tight peloton, particularly when the undulations made way for a final smooth continuous decent into our stopping station for the day, Wollombi. A big day in Wollombi, as an outdoor wedding was all set-up, and clearly the locals were preparing themselves in the pub beforehand. They were perplexed when the “lycra crowd” jumped off their bikes and into a waiting bus!

Yes, the new Chain Reaction truck, now a permanent member of the “Chain family” enables our bikes to be transported to appropriate overnight venues, and so we jumped onto the bus, with tired but satisfied legs, for the hours trip to Maitland, and our first night’s accommodation.

Our support crew did not miss a beat for the day, and many remarked what a classic “Chain Day” it was —- some tough rolling hills, pinches, rollers, a few short walls, which culminated in over 1800 metres climbed. Already a strong bond is forming amongst the riders of this 11th peloton, some meeting each other for the first time, which augers well for the week ahead. We need to support each other through the “dark” hours (sometimes days) as my reading of the course outline suggests some even tougher days ahead.

Distance : 145 Kms
Metres Climbed : 1843 m
Time in the saddle : 5 hrs 22 mins