Newcastle Challenge – the wrap up


It rained, but no amount of inclement weather could dampen the spirits of the Newcastle Challenge riders today. Guest blogger Anthea Hargreaves explains.





Elated riders cross the finish line at Nobby’s Beach Reserve in Newcastle

The skies may have been grey, but the weather was as warm as the greetings from the riders as they rolled up to the start line this morning.

Today was the first ever Newcastle Challenge – a 160km ride between Gosford and Newcastle. Some riders were too excited to notice the humidity and threat of thunderstorms.

These riders included Todd Clarke and his mate John who were “pumped” for the day ahead and grateful to be among the 200 riders who were able to take part in the ride (a limit was put on rider numbers by authorities in New South Wales).

Following a quick briefing and an impromptu ‘three-cheers’ for Bicycle Network (who organised the ride), the event started without a hitch.

Riders departed (in bunches of 20) from 6.45am – ready for the challenge that lay ahead.

The 160 kilometre route from Gosford to Newcastle included the lactic acid building, muscle-burning climbs of Dog Trap and Wiseman’s Ferry roads – and these were made all the more difficult with slick conditions. From midday, riders dripped across the finish line (literally thanks to the incessant rain which followed them). The final rider crossed the line just before 5pm.

Willem Henskens, who finished in the top 50 riders, had brought along a huge bunch of supporters with him and received one of the biggest cheers as he crossed the finish line – wearing runners, not cleats, and newly purchased knicks.

Mr Henskens told this blogger he only brought his padded bike shorts for the Newcastle Challenge – his first challenge ride.

“They’re much more comfortable than my footy shorts,” he commented wisely.

With a successful day over, all that is left to do now is pack up and of course, start planning for the ride which will be back again next year.

The action from the day was captured by some of Ride On’s photographers.

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