2021 Melbourne Challenge Day 1 - Welcome Back, Chain Reaction

20 Mar 2021

The first day of a Chain Reaction ride has a unique and wonderful vibe, and today was no different. What was different today was that this is the first post-COVID Chain Reaction ride, after all of last year’s rides except the first was cancelled due to the pandemic.

We gathered on a spectacular, still and sparkling Melbourne morning in the Docklands. As well as the standard new rider butterflies and old rider bluster and banter, there was a careful, particular and entirely new order in the way the drinks, sunscreen, bananas, yoghurt, gels and bars were laid out. Paramedic Cindy Carle and doctor Thu Dang took temperatures and vital statistics as a condition of each rider rolling out.

Tim Chadd, ride director, welcomed all - riders and crew - with the very gratifying news we’d cracked the $1 million mark in sponsorship and donations, revving us up to raise more from our generous supporters as the week progresses.  He then laid down a few rules, supplemented by Dave McKenzie, super coach, after which we rolled out through Docklands and Footscray, spinning along the esplanades of Williamstown with Melbourne shimmering behind us, across the bay, like the Wizard’s Emerald City.

Wending our way along flat roads through the vast market gardens of Werribee and past the zoo, we had a warm wind at our backs: perhaps the most genteel start in my 11 Chain Reaction rides to date. Changed traffic conditions had us streaming briefly along the Geelong freeway, dodging strips of shredded tyre, pebbles pinging from under hard-pumped tyres into others’ carbon rims and spokes, before we turned towards Little River and a short, leisurely climb past basalt boulders up to our lunch spot perched in the You Yangs, overlooking the brown Western Volcanic plains.

After lunch we high-tailed it into Geelong, wind-assisted again, past the refinery and Geelong Grammar, languid pelicans soaring above us, our 54-rider peloton - the largest, longest ever for a Victorian Chain Reaction ride - snaking its way into the Novotel car park where the riders’ bikes were swallowed into the Chain Reaction truck for the night and our travelling caravan into the hotel for check-in, massages, post-ride chat and our first tour dinner, bound to be a raucous affair.

There are lots of new riders this year and some celebrated returners. You can feel the excitement. It’s going to be another great Chain Reaction week....

At the evening presentation the peloton heard from our Chairman and Founder Berrick Wilson. He guided the group through Chain Reaction's origins and value, sharing his powerful story.

Following this, we also awarded the competition jerseys. 

  • Navy sponsored by Porter Davis went to Jamus Campbell of the Camlen / Bell Team
  • Orange leader's jersey, sponsored by Pure Storage went to Rhett Simonds of the Cameron /  Simonds Team.
  • Polka dot,’King of the Mountain’ Henley jersey went to Ben McKie of the Lendlease / Slattery Team 
  • Green "Sprinter's jersey", sponsored by Domain went to Adam Gandolfo of the KordaMentha Team
  • Black,  "Spirit of Chain Reaction" LSH Auto jersey went to Mitch Armstrong of the Marshall White Team

 We can't wait to see what Day 2 brings.