TUESDAY OCT 17 / 2017 / by Andrew Talati

The Chain Reaction story - A way to say thank you

Chain Reaction - Womens 300 building string friendships

Chain Reaction Challenge Foundation is a charity that started in 2007 in response from the Founder, Berrick Wilson. A day after his daughter was born she suffered a brain hemorrhage and thankfully survived but Berrick decided that, no matter how many times he said thank you to the Doctors in the hospital, it didn't seem to be enough.

Getting some mates together

So Berrick decided to get some mates together to raise some money for children's charities via cycling and Chain Reaction was born. It's about camaraderie, fitness, confidence, networking and fundraising so it’s the most time efficient pursuit.

Forward thinking

Chain-Reaction Women's 300 cane fields

Generally, it is a 7-day ride that happens across 3 states; Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland but there weren't that many women participating as they self-selected out due to the time or fundraising commitment.

So, Chain Reaction, being forward thinking, responded by starting a 3-day women’s ride in Victoria. And, 2017 is the first time it will be conducted in Queensland.

Getting women on a bike & building confidence

Chain Reaction Womens 300 peloton - bunchIt's a 3-day tour that helps get women on bikes, build their confidence, network and to help raise money for children's charity.

Thrilled about exceeding expectations

Chain Reaction Womens 300 Byron Bay LighthouseDay 1 - Byron Bay Light House 

The initial goal was to get 30 women to do this ride but now they have 48 departing on Friday 6th October from Byron Bay to Brisbane. The team are absolutely thrilled that they have exceeded their expectations says Patrice Sherrie who has been the driver behind the success of the Women’s 300 in Queensland.

Nurturing those scared to take on the challenge

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - Supporting one another

They grew the numbers by quietly putting their arms around those who were a bit scared about taking on the challenge. They said we will support you, we will help you with the training and skills on the bike, and the skills to do the fundraising.

Getting diverse bunch of women

Chain Reaction Womens 300 Start line Byron BayDay 1 - At the start line at Elements of Byron Hotel at Bryron Bay

The initial aim was to get a diverse bunch of women; those participating range from 22 (Patrice's daughter) to 60 years’ old; across a variety of industries so it's a great inclusive group.

We have women from the medical profession, one woman heads the department at a major hospital in Brisbane, and another from Japan is studying oncology; to the property industry covering some of the major developers in Australia; the resource sector, BHP, Rio Tinto; partners in major law and accounting firms; three women from Melbourne and one from Cairns, as well as the Managing Director of the light rail on the Gold Coast.

Steep learning curve - never been on a road bike

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - challenging climbsDay 2 - much cooler but with 135kms and 1600m of vertical climbing going over the Tomewin Climb

It's amazing that one of the women was just 8 weeks from the start and had never been on a road bike or clipped into her pedals. She hopped on a bike on the Friday, got fitted for the bike with the shoes and 12 hours later - at 5:00am the next morning ready to go on the training ride. She has been tenacious and has attended every training session. 

The youngest rider who hadn't been on a bike since primary school had a few lessons before the first official training ride to build her confidence.

I am going to back myself, I'm going to do this

One of the riders who was affiliated with one of the charities was challenged but with someone believing in her 'I think you can do this' was going to back herself and do it.

Mental preparation as well

It's not only about the physical side but the mental preparation as well with people in the group who will encourage you, acknowledge if you have had a bad day on the bike, you learn something from every tough training ride.

The phone call after a ride

If someone is feeling a bit despondent after a training ride, a phone call can give some encouragement, that perhaps I didn't sleep well or have enough food, there are many things.

Hungry for the technical skills

Many women are hungry for the technical skills, no woman says they know all this and are all happy to learn. They have been very lucky with their coaches taking the time to understand the girls by responding to the way that they like to learn and being in tune with their needs.

Phenomenal business benefits through adversity

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - overcome by emotion

The great things are the connections made through the training, the fundraising and continuing on into your business life. There are times when you have been at your most vulnerable on the bike and someone has supported you.

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - Day 1 - the heat taking its toll Day 1 - The rest stop at Lennox Head - some reprieve from the stifling 38º heat (displaying on their Garmins)

You then feel comfortable building a business relationship with them as the trust has happened in a very raw moment, a very real moment and the bonds are very deep.

Connections building motivations

Chain Reaction Womens 300 crossing the finish line BrisbaneCrossing the finish line at Victoria Park in Brisbane

Those connections made on the bike help build the motivation to keep riding and maintain the commitment to continue riding.

Poster girl for time management

She has 2 years’ old twins and a four year old, works full time as development manager for a major developer in Brisbane, plus fits in the required training.

3:30am early morning training shifts

One woman who is also a mum with a full-time role in HR, was able to fit in training because her husband now starts his riding at 3:30am in the morning so she can start her training ride after he gets back.

Regret not doing the ride

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - near Macadamia Castle Byron BayDay 1 near Macadamia Castle - Byron Bay

For some women who couldn't commit to the ride at the time now really regret not signing up as they see the girls on so many digital billboards in Brisbane, (APN has supported the promotion of the ride) or seeing them on the training rides around town.

A women’s only peloton

Chain Reaction Womens 300 Spectacular scenery

It's not often in Brisbane that you see a women’s only peloton, especially one that doesn't look like pro riders, but they are projecting it as being attainable. They ride past many people who say ‘I can do that’ and those in other social networks are hearing about the ride too.

Skills increased remarkably

From the first training session where many had never ridden a road bike, to now where people click in and push off knowing how to confidently and safely ride in a bunch while riding smoothly to conserve energy in a 300km ride – it’s proof that the training program has paid off.

Really nervous but excited

There were a few very nervous girls within the group (which is understandable) but at the same time very excited as it's a challenge they haven't done before.

Setting a huge fundraising target

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - supporters finish line Brisbane Day 3 - Finish Line

Initially the target was $250,000 but at the time of the interview (the day before the start) they were sitting at $370,000 and have since raised that to $428,000 for Hummingbird House and The Youth Advocacy Centre.

For Hummingbird House, Queensland’s only children’s hospice that provides end of life care for children, it will allow them to stay open every day of the week as they only receive small amounts of government funding. This is an enormous help to what services Hummingbird House can provide to the families for the kids that are in palliative care and dying; it gives them a beautiful environment to create some special memories.

Corporates getting behind the women's ride

Chain Reaction Womens 300 -winning jerseysSponsorships of the winning jerseys

What Patrice has found that supporting the women is a really good business model for a company to get behind. The networks that the women represent are just as strong as a male dominated peloton, and the women will work extremely hard to ensure that the company behind them is well leveraged and providing good value for their sponsorship dollars.

Supporting those worthy of the sponsorship - Champions of Change

Some companies are championing the endorsement and mentorship of women specifically that extends past their everyday work existence but also happy to remain gender neutral and support those people worthy of the sponsorship.

The hardest moment puts things into perspective

The women know that while the hardest point of the ride will be over for them, for the families of the kids who need Hummingbird House their battle is never over. So, when the peloton is doing the Tomewin Climb and their legs are burning, that pain is only short-term as it will be done instantaneously and this comparison helps to put their own lives into perspective.

Only one ride away from a good mood

Chain Reaction Womens 300 Life long connections

Patrice highly recommends for women to learn some bike riding skills, build their confidence and then they will only be one ride away from a good mood.

Getting to the start line was a celebration

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - start Brisbane - WoolloongabbaDay 1 In Brisbane at Woolloongabba (awarding jerseys for Day 1) before heading on the bus to Byron Bay

Sport is my nemesis

One woman had always struggled with sport as a kid but is a tenacious person in her business life. When she crossed the line over the summit she was air punching as the entire group was cheering her on knowing her journey of overcoming a major challenge.

Awarding jerseys each night

Robby McEwan presenting jersey - Chain Reaction Womens 300Jack Bauer presented jerseys Friday night (Day 2) and Robby McEwan Saturday night (above for day 3)

Each night an announcement is made who will wear the yellow (fundraising leaders), green (quick out of the blocks to achieve fundraising or recruiting targets), white (best new/young rider) or black jersey (demonstrates the values of Chain Reaction) the next day to lead the peloton.

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - Yellow jerseys leading

And like the Tour de France, those wearing the jerseys makes a huge difference to their riding.

Very privileged to have a World Champion

Katrin Garfoot Chain Reaction Womens 300Katrin was a valuable part of the peloton helping the riders and now has 47 brand new fans.

Katrin Garfoot, who competed in the 2017 UCI World Championships winning a bronze medal in the time trial and a silver in the road race, had just flown home and attended a pre-ride briefing before joining the women on the 300km ride.

Need our weekly fix after the ride

With such an amazing transforming experience, the women were asking how do we stay in contact as we need our weekly fix?

Helping other woman overcoming their fears

Chain Reaction Womens 300 - Police escort to finishDay 3 - Police escort to the finish

Now there are 48 woman who can say that they have done it, these are my fears and I have overcome them and built up my skills so why don't you have a go.

For more info or to get involved in 2018