Melbourne to Sydney takes about 90 minutes in a pressurised tin can, 9 hours on the Hume Highway in a piston driven machine, or 7 days on a bike…
The first day of a Chain Reaction ride is always the same, it doesn’t matter if it is your first challenge or you are a veteran Chain Reaction rider. The butterflies get out of the cage and start whacking your stomach, with each beat there is a different question; will I be able to keep up, have I done enough training, will my body survive 1,000km and over 14,000m of climbing? Definitely some nervous energy, perhaps some apprehension – evidenced in the noisy chatter, or perhaps the introspective quiet stare into space.
And then our ride director jabs the horn on his lead and moves out. Shoes click into peddles, gears flick, muscle fibres twitch and we are rolling. Chain Reaction has several focuses: safety, fun and raising much-needed funds to help kids - an equilateral triangle.
Day 1 is all about safety. It is a chance for the riders to familiarise themselves with the bunch and the various techniques employed by our support crew that will keep us safe on the road over the coming week, to test tyres and gears and to stretch the legs.
Today’s ride was a sample of what is to come. A team shot at the MCG and then we were expertly escorted out of the CBD by the support team. For the next week we'll be protected front and back by our lead car, our mechanic and paramedic vehicles to the back of us, shielding us from vehicular traffic.
It wasn’t long before lights and tram tracks were behind us and the bunch rolled through Diamond Creek, Nutfield and St Andrews, a popular route for the local Melbourne cycling community. A drink stop and then the main event of the day, the first of our seven major peaks (climbs for the non-rider) for the week. Kinglake is a meandering 7km climb with tall eucalypt and rolling valley views that summits in the Kinglake township. Originally an old gold rush town in the mid 1800’s, and one of the worst affected townships in the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, today it provided a serene locale for riders to recover from the first real effort of the tour. Rolling turns and a final 10km on gravel trails ensured riders had a taste of everything that lays ahead.
The first 115km are in the bag, tomorrow it all gets a little bit more serious!
- Charles Moore
Moving time: 3hrs 58min
Avg Speed: 27.6
Stage 1 jersey winners:
Black (LSH Auto Australia) - Kelly Davey
Polka Dot (Channel 10) - Stephanie Schaefer
White (Dynamic Projects) - Richard Bartlett
Orange (Pure Storage) - Ben Friis-O'Toole