2021 Sydney Challenge Day 4 - Port Macquarie Big Loop

27 Apr 2021

After Day 4 finished, we are now 520 kilometres into the 1000km challenge. Starting from the Rydges hotel at 7 am, we rode down the scenic southern side of Port Macquarie past Lighthouse Beach and Bonny Hills before a drinks stop at Northhaven.

We then turned off towards Wauchope, and as we passed Bago, 'Freeplay' was called, and the sprint was on for everyone, which saw some beautiful smooth descending tarmac and some longer subtle hill sections.

We arrived in Beechwood at a fully stocked drink stop, prepared by the Chain Reaction Support Crew to refill the bottles and get more bananas. A new challenge was announced, riding in team formation for 25 kilometres. In our Teams, we made our way west through the Pappinbarra state forest and Hollisdale until the end of the tarmac. Team Kordamentha had Torty, Warrick and Jobbo setting the pace, so it was no surprise that we had to pull up behind the other groups with a few kilometres to go.

Released from our teams, 'Freeplay to lunch' was called, and the sprint was on for the A grade riders.

Everyone had to deal with some challenging conditions, so we had at least half a dozen riders pick up punctures on the way back. Mechanicals were expertly managed by the Chain Reaction Mechanic Luke. It was survival riding at its best as there were a lot of fatigued legs at lunch.

One of the outstanding things to observe was the amount of damage to the Pappinbarra River. Literally, millions of adult trees along the banks have been destroyed, and you can tell there has been 4-6 meters of water through all these gorges and creeks. The amount of water funnelling through these valleys must have been immense. You have to think that many of these people living in rural settings and farming are so exposed to the elements.

A weary set of riders hauled ourselves onto our bikes at lunch for a fast 30 kilometres back into Port Macquarie, which was a smooth return with our passage expertly guided. We were treated to a perfect autumn evening looking over the Port Macquarie foreshore and the lovely Pelican Point.

Like all endurance multi-day events, the body goes into a bit of shock on day three or four. Many of us C graders struggled with the Dorrigo mountain climb on Day 2, and it's hard to recover with 150 kilometres cycled per day for the two days following. Everyone is grabbing as much sugar and carbs as they can.

The massages are cranking at the end of these rides, but there are other tricks of the trade we have been sharing and experimenting with including, pickle juice, theraguns, saltwater swims, epson salt baths, magnesium cream or powder and numerous other recovery techniques.

I would like to think that this was 'hump' day, but I am questioning my ability to get the legs back to anything close to normal by Friday. I think we have to fuel up, get as much sleep as we can. Managing yourself on the bike is super important. There is no point in busting yourself up on a free play session if you are then going to lag in the group sessions, so a few of us were pretty tentative before lunch.

I don't even want to consider the physical outputs that the pro-riders endure that have to do 200 kilometres plus that involve sprints, challenges etc day after day on the Tour. I have more appreciation now for the reasons they say it's the hardest race on earth.

At dinner on Day 4, the following Competition Jerseys were awarded.

  • Orange 'Leader's jersey', sponsored by Pure Storage, went to Michael Alp of the KordaMentha Team.
  • White 'Young/New riders jersey', sponsored by Dynamic Projects, went to Christian Happich of the BaptistCare HopeStreet Team.
  • Green 'Sprinter's jersey', sponsored by Domain, went to Garry Armsworth of the 121 Castlereagh Team.
  • Black ‘Spirit of Chain Reaction Jersey, sponsored by LSH Auto went to Paul Butler of the 121 Castlereagh Team.

Blog written by, Michael Alp of the KordaMentha Team.