2021 Sydney Challenge Day 2 - Coffs Harbour to Dorrigo return

25 Apr 2021

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Standing on the dark, quiet beach, the sun rising, red to orange behind the long distant clouds, Charles Moore’s solemn voice leading us as we commemorated the fallen ANZAC soldiers.

And then the sprint to breakfast to load up before day 2. A 154km route taking us out of Coffs Harbour with a long route to Bellingen and then the 17km 823m climb(/crawl) up to Dorrigo for lunch, with an undulating surface rolling underneath most of the way back to Coffs.

As one of the first time Chain Reaction riders, this was the first big challenge. Twenty-seven first time riders are ranging from Avi, a new cyclist but with 3,000 km in training to prepare, Freya, our resident triathlete, Daniela, probably the most impressive, having only got her first bike in January, Alpy the man-mountain ex-rugby player, all with their own story for getting here.

Nervousness was probably the main emotion as we prepared to roll out. “Do I have my gloves, have I eaten enough, do I have enough food, have I eaten too much, will I hold people up, will I make it up the hill, will I survive the downhill, did I use enough chamois cream, what happens if I use too much?” Those thoughts quickly leave our minds as we roll out of the hotel and have to tackle the two short but steep hills straight out of the hotel. As I drift quickly to the back, all I can do is hold on and hope it gets easier.

And it does, the 50km ride to Bellingen was a stunning mix of shaded woodland, rolling hills, steep descents and, lots and lots of potholes.

And lots of chat. The hours are punctuated by chats with your riding partner, shouted instructions from the unofficial leaders “ease up, pothole left, pothole right, twos, single file, slowing, faster, car up, be the ball!”.

The chat helps the time pass, and soon we are starting the long climb to lunch at Dorrigo. The peloton quickly breaks up as everyone finds their own pace. The quicker riders pace ahead whilst the rest clunk around to find their lowest gear and settle into a slow, consistent rhythm we will need to keep for the next hour and a half. We pass waterfall after waterfall on the well-named Waterfall Way.

The next question that pierces my mind is, “will lunch be over when I get there?”. The support team cheers us along with encouraging words, “only 2km to go” 3km goes, and they shout “3km to go” now I am worried. But we get there just as the Dorrigo ANZAC day commemoration starts, and there is food left!

Lunch ends, and we all realise that a big burger and chips may not sit well for the next 65km home. Fortunately, it is mostly downhill, and we stay as a group, albeit the chat has dialled down a few notches as everyone focuses on their own pain and getting home.

We coast back to the hotel, and then the pressure starts again. Quick shower, washing in the bag, where am I in the queue for a massage, do I have time to write this blog?

As the admin is done, we finish the day back at the beach for a quick surf, and we start to think about what is for dinner and instore for day 3.

Tonight at dinner, the following Competition Jerseys were awarded. 

  • Orange 'Leader's jersey', sponsored by Pure Storage, went to David Southon of the Aliro Team.
  • Green 'Sprinter's jersey', sponsored by Domain, went to Andrew Blake of the 121 Castlereagh Team.
  • Black ‘Spirit of Chain Reaction Jersey, sponsored by LSH Auto went to Thomas Griffiths of the BaptistCare HopeStreet Team
  • White 'Young/New riders jersey', sponsored by Dynamic Projects, went to Robert Bertuzzi of the Aliro Team.

Blog written by, Neil Hayward of the KordaMentha Team