Inside the Peloton Brisbane 2024 Day 7

23 Mar 2024

Tired bodies filtered into the breakfast buffet to fuel up on the final day of the Brisbane Chain Reaction Challenge 2024. The chatter was decidedly hushed as the blurry eyed cyclists contemplated the day ahead. Well fed, the group assembled at the front of the hotel ready to depart. The thunderous exhaust cracked through the pre-dawn sky as the LSH supplied AMG V8 came to life. The signal was dropped by a blast of the horn and the clanging of cowbells and the riders rolled out.

A short roll through early morning Adelaide and the peloton came across the first climb of the day up to Norton Summit. Best described as a “good morning legwarmer” the 5.5km 5% stretch offers up some spectacular scenery back towards Adelaide and through the valley. Over the crest and into the descent, the feeling of warmth quickly evaporated as the cool autumn air whipped through our lycra clad bodies. The undulating hills rolled on until our first stop at Stirling.

Whilst at Stiriling, the media crew took the opportunity to capture some headshots in the warm morning light. The riders topped up the bidons, filled their pockets with energy gels and then rolled out before the bodies cooled down too much. From Stirling the peloton rolled through the beauty of the hills and orchids before arriving at the German town of Hahndorf. The eager riders in the group assembled behind the lead car ready to roll out after a quick stop putting the pressure on to end the stretching routines that were the only solace of some of the newcomers.

The peloton rolled out of Hahndorf under a canopy of a deciduous avenue, leaves changing from green to amber as the cool air signified the changing of the season. The long stretch north was a mix of rolling hills, challenging ascents, and thrilling descents. Vineyards and orchids continued to flank the roadsides while children excitedly yelled and waved as we passed local schools. The theme continued for the 36km stretch towards lunch but there was a looming dark cloud that also began to gather attention….the Corkscrew.

Lunch was held at Talunga Estate Winery, a beautiful setting and fabulous meal. Negotiations continued with the CR management on how the Corkscrew could be avoided but to no avail. The peloton rolled out and made their way downhill through the jaw dropping Gorge Road. This magnificent stretch offers winding smooth roads and amazing scenery. However, the end of the road was met by the menacing grin of Tim Chadd as he signaled the riders to turn left onto Corkscrew Road.

The group was divided, there were some eager to beat their time up this climb from the day before and there were others in all out survival mode. One common thought across the group was “this is the final climb of the week, just get through this and its all downhill”. If there is one thing that has amazed this author throughout the week it is the strength and determination of the participants. We may not all be the best riders but faced with a challenge, there is no chance we’re backing down. True to form a cadence was set and the riders slogged their way to the top. Many were gasping for air as they crested the summit but all were welcomed with cheers of encouragement from their fellow riders and the support crew.

Taking a right turn from the Corkscrew, the peloton descended a beautiful winding road that was like floating on silk carpet. Every rider arrived at the bottom wearing a smile from ear to ear. Here, we assembled into our teams and paraded the last 10km through Adelaide in tight formation each rider glowing with the sense of pride from what had been accomplished. There couldn’t have been a better way for the riders to conclude the event than to roll in to the square at the front of the hotel to be met by families, friends and the amazing support crew that held us together over the past week! Champagne flowed in celebration as hugs of congratulations were passed around to everyone who has participated. This amazing group of people has just spent the past 7 days, away from their loved ones, putting their bodies to the test in order to raise much needed money for children in need. Chain Reaction is certainly a challenge but, for 2024, the challenge has been conquered.