Last night we were reminded about the personal journey of the founder of Chain Reaction, Berrick Wilson and how from an initial ride with a bunch mates, Berrick has been instrumental in Chain Reaction raising over $39 million in 16 years. The ripple effect of these funds on children and their families is unmeasurable. We also take time to honour those amongst who have raised significant funds (because its not just a bike challenge it is very much also a fund raising challenge) and who have also contributed to the event on and off the bike. Last night Dave Southon was awarded the Pure Storage jersey, Mark Otterson the CBRE Polka Dot jersey, Kevin Kuechler the White jersey and Mike Carpendale the LSH Auto Black jersey. Kudos to these riders they have set a high benchmark for the bunch.
And so to today – Yesterday the tension was all about what lay ahead for the week, todays tension was a lot more focussed, how do I survive 160km and 2000m of climbing. Day 2 on paper looks to be the most difficult of the week, its all over the faces of riders, have I done enough training, will I be able to get through this?
Riders “clicked in” to our pedals on a fresh Christchurch morning and rolled out two by two following the ride directors safety car. It wasn’t long before the rain greeted the riders which added to an already challenging day. Fortunately 30 min later the rain cleared and riders were albe to find a rhythm rolling through the flat Cantebury plains drawing closer and closer to the mountains that we knew would be the first real test of hearts, lungs and legs.
At the first drink stop, Tim our ride director warned us it was about to get interesting as we were going to be climbing Arthurs Pass, for the newbies they would shortly work out Tim does not exaggerate as a 15% wall hit us in the face, splintering the bunch as riders found “their happy place” and ground up the hill. Some clime more easily than others but ultimately we all make it. The reward was a vista of creviced mountain caps drapped in low hanging clouds and bubbling turquoise brooks. This truly is a ancient and magic landscape. The Lord Of The Rings references are common in the chat amongst the riders.
A long run across the plateu followed with some riders choosing to test the legs whilst other content to enjoy what mother nature had to offer. Lunch was devoured and riders revelled in the undulating alpine climbing that followed knowing that an amazing decent was to follow then a short transfer to our hotels for the night.
There are two joys of reaching a mountain summit, 1. The climbing is done and 2. You get to descend. In this instance twisting and winding through the western side of Arthurs Pass under rainfalls and rock cliff shelters, bridges that spanned bottomless crevices and saw the bunch emerge on the west cost of the island. A dusting or rain kept things sedate on the decent but all riders reached our rendezvous with the bus that would transfer us to Graymouth safely. Tired but satisfied bodies hauled themselves onto the bus to enjoy a beverage and celebrate a tough but classic day on the bike as we transition to our nights accommodation in Graymouth.
Tomorrow will be another story.
Distance - 161km
Metres climbed – 1979m
Average speed – 28.6