Every Chain Reaction ride holds the promise of a great day ahead. But it’s not often you get to ride from Adelaide deep into the heart of the Barossa Valley with an intention to finish with lunch at a great vineyard.
Perhaps the best part, though, was that we departed Adelaide motivated by the courage and achievements of the work that the Starlight Room has achieved in their THIRTY years of operation in Australia. Monique from Starlight and her special guest Kim inspired us all. Kim’s personal experiences of a family’s pain made easier by the selfless work of the Starlight Children's Foundation really put into perspective how the work we do has helped those who do, for the time being, only dream of being able to ride a 100km in a day. Dry eyes were in short supply.
Our ride today tantalized with a slightly shorter overall length (108km), an initial climb on fresh legs and then what looked like a net descent to our destination. As usual, both Mother Nature and the deceptive nature of ride maps had other ideas. What panned out was something like this:
- A spectacular climb through the shaded cool valleys of Montacute Road.
- A ridge line of (mostly) quiet hills as Montacute transitioned to Basket Range Road and some of the best rollers around
- About this time we turned north. Also about this time, the dreaded, dry, northerly wind responsible for the current Adelaide heat wave set in.
- Our next 70km would be into the searing heat of a block dry 30 knot head and side wind.
- The hills continued to challenge us, and then we were on it…CHECKERS!
- Checker Hill Road! – 101m to climb in 1.3km – gradients maxing at 17% - averaging at 9.5% - three different pinch points – but all of us kicked it. One of those truly great Chain Reaction moments.
- There was still work to do though, and now the 34 degree unseasonal heat wave conditions really kicked in.
- The rest of the ride was just a battle of endurance. Cramps and exhaustion started to take a toll but with a bit of sag wagon assistance everyone was able to keep riding and we all rolled into our destination at Lyndoch as a complete group.
Today’s ride was a demonstration of our support crew at their absolute best. Despite the trying conditions we went without a hitch but rides like that in these conditions don’t just happen. They’re the result of weeks and months of endless planning finally delivered by true professionals.
Our support crew are fantastic. Food, drinks, and nutrients are laid out in an instant, no request is any trouble, bikes and bodies are attended to. They would each hate to be singled out for special attention so I will talk about their achievements and not those who are responsible. Here’s some samples of what we were lucky enough to experience.
- Every day the ride director considers the circumstances of that day and the safety of all involved. Immediate decisions are made, and changes result if necessary.
- Tail and lead cars direct and follow us for every second of every leg.
- Mechanicals are fixed or replaced without interrupting the flow of the peloton. The affected rider is either driven back, or will catch the peloton back up in minutes.
- A medic and support crew of masseuse take care of everyone’s well-being, aches, pains, nutrition, and remediation at the end of a day that’s going to be followed by another day ahead.
- A media crew take some great photos and videos and show everyone some angles on our rides that we were never aware of, and finally,
- Our ride and foundation directors are there to make sure that everything they’ve planned across the year, are actually delivered, and also, to work out what can be done better next time.
Together they ensure that we ride without delay, mishap, or mechanical fault, and they do that with a smile and over the years become second family to the regular riders. Pure class, the lot.