The 2019 Chain Reaction Challenge Queensland seven day ride is done. Another record number of riders from Queensland joined the event this year pedalling from Canberra to Melbourne, over legend country. Generous donors and sponsors left more than a million reasons for all of us to keep riding where the brumbies snort and grumble and pound over mountain turf and where the Kelly gang once roamed to its destiny at Glenrowan.
It was fiercely cold for sunny Queenslanders when we curled our way to the top of Mount Hotham last Tuesday, to the clear and blustery air on the mountain from forests that grow from the valley floor and adorn the steep slopes of Mt Feathertop above Harrietville. The descent, long fast and chilly, marked the turning point of the ride. There was a perceptible change in the peloton, harnessed it seems to a change in weather with the advent of a new front moving in. A change in wind direction, breaks in the cloud unmasking a pale sky and yellow bands of light hint that the wet blanket of cold drizzle from the previous day would be gone. Westerly gusts dried the air and the peloton blew its own sigh of relief as the hardest point of our climbing was over.
For many, climbing Mt Hotham was the test piece, a haunting and higher ride than many chain reaction riders from Queensland had experienced before. Mt Coot-tha may be our mountain but numerous ascents of that steep hill will never shape the perspective of a true mountain ride:
Rug up and ride,
Grit teeth that may chatter
And get to the top- quickly,
To be sure,
As chair of the Queensland organising committee, prone to cautiously optimistic views about the continuing success of a charity ride, I’m delighted to see that we have delivered an event that, by all accounts, has met every expectation. Too many thanks, to too many people, are due but I hope this closing note says it all.
This was the exemplar for a Chain Reaction event. Seamless logistical support. Envious professional videography and camera work. Preparation and training from dedicated professionals in the cycling game. A hard but rewarding training routine of more than 4 months. All wrapped up and delivered, with panache, to a bunch of super, highly talented individuals, who one might easily expect to be bit of a handful to manage.
The greater the number of events we hold, the more experience we have and with experience comes maturity: in this case the maturity to maintain a culture of shared values and commitment that is so important to our charity. On this ride everyone involved worked assiduously to support our Foundation’s goals and aspirations. It was always going to be a challenge to maintain our composure and the impetus after the huge success of the New Zealand trip last year. We are a special charity and attract super achievers. Super achievers do not complain, they just get on with it. Their legs may be weary and their brains numbed by the cold, black bitumen, but not one person stops to curtail the journey. The early days are painful and the routine is rigorous.
And then, surprisingly quickly, it is over.
That is the story of this week on the Chain Reaction Queensland 2019 ride. The early hesitation and foreboding has left riders now but I know much remains . What will linger will be many different things for many different people, as the weeks go by from here.
I tried to think what that will be for each of you, as I lay in a soft bed after the ride was over, some flickering Melbourne lights peeping through a draped and darkened window. For me, in the immediacy of the ride, it emerges as the warming sun that creeps across an upturned brow and lingers. For a brief moment, my eyes flicker, as the body starts to surrender to the sleep that is quickly approaching. Those small dark holes, some of the minutes in some of the hours of earlier days, are now full and I will not fall into them. And so my thoughts wander, to a misty mountain morning, as the truck of dreams disappears down the road and my lullaby is the muted ring of a distant Killarney bell drifting over the hilltops and into the swaying trees.
Chain Reaction 2019 Qld Organising Committee