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2017 Chain Reaction Challenge Victoria – Day 7 Blog

19 March 2017 Chain Reaction

CR17 Day 7 –Gold Coast to Brisbane “The End”

Twenty Million Dollars. It’s a big number. It’s also the amount of funds the Chain Reaction Challenge Foundation has now raised over 11 years. The Chain Reaction Challenge Foundation has a purpose. It organises rides in the three East Coast States to raise funds for sick children. This year’s Victorian ride concluded on Friday in Brisbane. But it’s fundraising will continue, and with over $825,000 raised at the conclusion of the Ride, we hope to see that number continue to grow over the next few weeks. For those still planning to donate, and to those who have, the reason why you donate and why we ride, is clear and simple…so is the process to donate. Try it!

Our final night at the Mantra in the Gold Coast grouped us together for our “last supper.” Our week-long Master of Ceremonies, Andrew Hayne, kicked off proceedings by highlighting the significant contributions of some of the support crew that had not been recognised formally to date:

  • Dave McKenzie is a former winner of a stage of the Giro de Italia, and more importantly our trainer over the past 4 months. He joined us as a “neutral” rider during our week and is an all-round good bloke, who has a story for every occasion. As most of us in the peloton are amateur and occasional cyclists, it is fantastic (and sometimes even instructive) to hear Dave’s stories of his past life as a professional cyclist on tour, both in Australia and Europe.
  • Jarryd Jones and part-time massage therapist/part-time mechanic Johnny “the Swanny” Wurtz combined as our incredible tech support crew, no task too tricky, touchy or tough for them. Our bikes have been ridden over some treacherous terrain over the past 7 days, and these guys have provided the “Grand Tour” experience of a speedy wheel change for a flat tyre, immediate repair of slipping chains whilst driving the rear support vehicle, dealing with frustrated motorists behind us who fail to realise the immense good that Chain Reaction does, and on occasion, having to deal with more serious issues affecting either bike or person during the ride. Finally, when we are “refuelling” at the end of a long day they are inspecting, repairing and even cleaning our beloved bikes.
  • Pat Jacobs, our ever-running, ever-friendly “ProTeam” truck driver, was there whenever needed, and transported our bikes and bags to and from various venues.
  • Julia Allen, our Physiotherapist from long-time supporter of the Victorian ride, Pure Physio, an A-grade netballer, and a sensible sounding board for any annoying niggles.
  • Cindy Carle, our qualified Medic, and third support vehicle driver, who matched wits with following vehicles, whilst also looking after any ailments that might descend upon a member of the Peloton. Luckily her services were sparingly called upon!

With the 5 teams having all presided over proceedings in previous nights, we had a fresh surprise for our final night, Johnny Wurtz and Jarryd Jones two of the most loved and respected blokes in the support crew (see above!) stepped up and forward, to guide us through the final night.

They kicked off by firstly thanking the riders and complementing them for all their efforts and perseverance over the past week. It is good to hear that kind of stuff from guys that know their stuff! They then thanked a few people that are usually delivering the thanks. Unsung champions such as

  • Andrew Hayne, former (and future!) rider, recovering from a back ailment, but cherry-ripe for next year’s ride has been a smooth MC during the evening and an impressive soigneur during the day.
  • Chain Reaction’s CEO John Ward who, with Tim Chadd, orchestrated the peloton from the lead Mercedes.

So to the last jerseys presented for this year:

  • Black – to Dave Earl, the PWC team Captain and an all-rounder leader in the peloton;
  • White – to Kel McCulloch, a first time rider and late inclusion in the PWC team, who, by his own admission due to the late-call up, started the tour underdone, but got stronger everyday, and by clever fundraising has over $10k to his name;
  • Polka Dot – to Marcus Tierney, a first year rider who has embraced the Chain Reaction ethos both on and off the bike
  • Green – to Birthday Boy, Tommy Hayne, the strongest rider amongst us on the climbs this year. He turned 20 on our last day, which was also St Patrick’s Day, it’s a good day to be in green!
  • Yellow – to Andrew McCann, the Jellis Craig Team Captain, prodigious fund-raiser, and silky smooth rider, his rye smile and quick wit keeping us all on edge all week

Photo: unnamed-2

The Final Days Ride
So it came to pass that all good things must come to an end. An 8.00am roll-out was greeted with smiles and relief. We usually start our roll-out at 7.00am, which requires us to be fed, lycra’d (is that a word?), and properly helmeted, gloved, shoed, resourced with water and snacks and finally with our steed in tip-top condition – all just as the sun is poking over the horizon.

Off we set up through Southport to weave our way around the Pacific Motorway, on the quieter back roads. But such a necessary route (we are not allowed on a motorway!) requires negotiating countless roundabouts (I’ll estimate 30 on the way to Brisbane) as a 50-70-metre-long “vehicle”. The sun had made a welcome return, so Tim had a little surprise for us, a team challenge around a velodrome some 12 kms into today’s journey. Initial reluctance turned to adrenalin fuelled “game faces” from many riders. Whilst we didn’t see tear-drop helmets or skinsuits, this became a battle royal! Teams of 4 raced against the clock for 4 laps of the velodrome, a gut-retching super-fast format of racing, with the two fastest teams racing each other for the prestige of the fastest team on the track. In the final, after MarshallWhite was pipped by .04 of a second into 3rd place, Jellis Craig’s “A” team was pitted against LendLease/White & Case. The latter had “purchased” two available and talented “neutral” riders in an auction to raise even more funds, so it was, with both Dave McKenzie and Jarryd Jones in their team, the LL/W&C team got home in a last gasp dive for the line by Jarryd.

Now the sun had well and truly risen, and our Garmin’s started to show temperatures more akin to the Arabian desert, yes, as we wound around the motorway and the outer suburbs of Brisbane temperature readings were shouted out by riders –“38”, now “39” then into the 40’s before topping out at 43.6, just after we had completed the Mt. Cotton climb, which included a 24% “wall” of 80 metres, after having climbed for 3 kms @ 9 and 10%. True to form, just as our tyres were starting to melt and stick to the road, the weather produced another turn for us. In the space of 5kms and 10 minutes, clouds built up, thunder cracked and we were bombarded with torrential rain, as the temperature dropped to 23 degrees. Into and across Brisbane we rode, now with a police escort to get us through the multitude of intersections, to arrive at our final destination, the Victoria Park Golf Club on the banks of the Brisbane River. This time the weather gods were on our side, and the sun came out for the greeting of family and friends at the Golf Club carpark. This final roll-in is always an emotional time, particularly for those riders greeted by their spouses, and young sons and daughters, many carrying hand-made signs of congratulations. The sweat and sunscreen often masks a few tears on the faces of many of the riders.

So many people have made this year’s ride one to remember for all the right reasons. Many of our support crew have already been thanked on this blog. Final kudos and our heartfelt thanks for all that they have done on this ride is saved for:

  • Our Media team of Cori Wilder (Marketing Manager), Ryan “Drone Man” Sheridan (Videography) and the bubbly, effervescent Veeral Patel, our professional, talented and entertaining Photographer;
  • Our Off-bike Director, and dare I say it “Mum” for the ride, Kristi Ingrilli. She has co-ordinated food, accommodation, and the myriad of logistical nightmares that arise on a ride such as this with aplomb, calmness, and a big dash of humour. We’ve loved your work Kristi!
  • Finally, to our Event Director, TIM CHADD – yes, capital letters for a capital job. Tim has planned this year’s ride, dealt with every possible issue that arose with care, consideration, and a firm hand (we sometimes need it!). An event like this needs a strong professional co-ordinator. Tim has been a key member of Chain Reaction rides in the past, and the last two years, as a true Event Manager, he is unsurpassed in his field of expertise.

Talk of next year was rife amongst the riders over the last two days, such was the bond of friendship and respect that developed over the week. If every Chain Reaction ride is as successful, both on and off the bike, then the sustainability of Chain Reaction mentioned in the first blog of the week will be assured. Until next year……

Distance ridden: 115.4 km
Metres climbed: 1.057m
Time on bike: 4 hrs 14 mins
Range of temperature for the day 21 degrees to 43.6 degrees