If you have not been to Bright, you must find an excuse. It’s an exquisite alpine oasis (if there is such a thing) nestled in a valley between Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo – but we’ll save those treats for days 4 and 5.
We entered Bright via a long gentle descent and were treated to a fabulous chestnut lined boulevard as we made our way to the centre of town and then on to our accommodations for the next two nights. Speaking of the final descent, what a highlight it was – fast and dry, our group riding as single peloton at pace, with picture postcard scenery on each side and a lone local, videoing the peloton on his iPhone as we sped past his front gate.
Of course, before we pulled into Bright, day 3 provided plenty of challenge without even worrying about what lies ahead.
Our day began with an early rise, a fabulous pub breakfast in Corryong then an hour in the coach for our departure point at Tallangatta. Tallangatta is one of those towns, like Adaminaby, that has two incarnations over the years having relocated because of damming – the Snowy Hydro in the case of Adaminaby, and the Hume Weir which is part of the Murray River, water management engineering in the case of Tallangatta. While we didn’t have the opportunity of reviewing the former location, the new (post-1954) location was pretty special, with Hume Weir on one side and rolling hills on the other. Our brief stay consisted mostly of donning rain jackets, winter gloves and booties as the rain and the temperature began to fall. This became the primary theme of our day – wet and cold in equal measure!
Even though most of our group have every variety of wet weather gear, there is no keeping the water out when the rain is as constant as we experienced today. The other factor that contributed to an increased level of difficulty was the ever-present wind. Whether in our faces or across us, and just occasionally, at our backs, it was a constant companion – adding wind chill to the already cold conditions and making working as a team even more vital than ever as we shared the hard work of sheltering each other.
Our morning included the first decent stretches of relatively flat road we have seen this tour – a few gentle rollers but otherwise nothing too daunting. It is likely all your riders were looking forward to what, promised to be the ‘easiest’ day of our week. The conditions, however, had their say - the cold began to wear us down and the wind ensured that the flat roads began to present a significant challenge in their own right and the long stretches between breaks brought fatigue into the equation for many of our number.
Whilst there were some flat sections today, we also had our share of rolling hills, and two significant climbs – one before lunch, one after. The pre-lunch climb was a ‘relatively friendly’ but a wet (and cold) 8km ascent of Lockhart’s Gap. The one after lunch was enjoyed by all as the weather finally cleared as we climbed from Mt Beauty up and over Tawonga Gap before our descent into Bright. The scenery was stunning, both on the climb and from the lookout at the saddle, where we would turn downhill and scarper into Bright.
Enough of the ride. It might at times appear that many of our peloton are bicycle obsessed – there is some truth to that accusation. After all, we riders spend many hours training in the lead up to events and most of us spend more than we should at bike shops all with the support of our families (thank you!)). BUT... there is much more that attracts us and keeps me, and many like me, making the return journey to Chain Reaction.
It is the camaraderie, it’s the health and fitness benefit and, of course, it’s to support the great work our charity partners do. For your blogger tonight, however, some of the most special moments are the unplanned and spontaneous conversations that happen along the way. We share moments, on the bike, at the massage table and whilst breaking bread and refuelling. In these moments we learn a little about each other, we share anecdotes and we reflect: we learn about the adversities that some of us have overcome and more often than not, we realise just how damn lucky we are. Lucky to have the opportunity to participate in such a superbly run event, lucky to have healthy children, lucky to have wonderful friends and family and fantastic support when challenges do come our way.
Of course, these moments build friendships, but they also remind us all why we ride – and why we support our charity partners and families who have not necessarily enjoyed the same luck that we have.
The evening presentations from teams thus far have been thoughtfully prepared, and congratulations to Sunkids last night, and Limitless McDonalds, who had the thankless task of being billed as presenters on night one.