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2018 Katoomba Oxygen Challenge Wrap-up

23rd February 2018 - 40 riders and 5 Peloton Charty Events support staff converge on the Refinery Café in Hornsby for an early start to the inaugural Katoomba Oxygen Challenge. Among them TV cycling identity Mike Tomalaris, kit sponsor BlackChrome Managing Director Mark Bassett, and of course Jon Scotsman and his experienced team of ride captains. Much coffee was consumed around some nervous chatter- 120km didn't faze many, but the profile was…basically flat for a bit then up, up and up again.

Bike checks by Cheesey, a professional event briefing from Jon and then we were away, in 2 groups, to face the day's first challenge - familiar to many - Galston Gorge, before heading on to Richmond. The early kms saw plenty of action with at least 5 punctures and a broken crank, but all taken in stride thanks to solid teamwork between captains and support crew with replacement wheels onto bikes and a captains tow back into the peloton - truly a pro experience! From Richmond on to the KoM of the day, Hawkesbury Heights. One of the most beautiful climbs around Sydney, but with a gradient over 7% certainly testing for some. KoM honours to Matt Clutterham and Stuart Starr - congratulations boys! From there, it just kept going up.

Coffee at Springwood tasted great, with muffins and bananas too. Then onwards and upwards, tracking through the back roads parallel to the highway - much prettier but also harder riding. A brilliant route. Then Leura and finally the breath-taking serenity of the Blue Mountains. Arriving by bike from Sydney to the 3 sisters in Leura with a bunch of mates was a lifetime highlight.

Many commented that it was harder than they thought it might be, but soon forgotten as we languished in the hospitality of Katoomba Christian Convention. Great food and so much of it! Even a beer or 2. Many stories were told as we gathered in the Athlete's Village - so much energy and a fantastic atmosphere. Before we knew it, dinner - more food! An opportunity to recognise the highest fund-raisers ($18,000 in total) and an audience with Tomo - his passion for the sport really shines through and highlights why for many he has been a big part of inspiring them to ride.

After a comfortable night's sleep and a massive breakfast - the ride back to Sydney began. Setting off in 2 groups, the first being chased by the second. The 50km descent down to Richmond is fast, furious and fun…but despite the 2nd group breaking a heap of Strava records the first group did manage to get to morning tea at Maraylya first. Just. A terrific effort by all.

The remaining 30km is picturesque but tough - dead, rolling roads with a couple of nasty pinches and of course back through Galston Gorge for our final KoM fought out between our two group 1 ride captains and two riders for a PR for all four. Many motivated minds trying to outsmart tiring legs. Seeing the more challenged riders make it back over that final hill for their 2nd century in 2 days was reward enough. But by 11.30am we were all back at the Refinery enjoying coffee and, naturally, more food. It seemed like only yesterday we'd left but in that time lots of achievements - people often going beyond what they'd done before or what they thought they were capable of - and many new friends. As always, a couple of days on the bike leading to a lifetime of friendship.

And the true test of success is, of course - would you do it again? You bet!!! An awesome couple of days, demonstrating what Peloton Café Charity Events is all about.

Special thanks to all our sponsors Circle Education, Cycle Republica, Peloton Café and Peloton Events long term partner Blackchrome (and congratulations to Mark for completing the ride with aplomb), to Tomo for really getting into the event, and to our support team for showing ingenuity and initiative in dealing with all sorts - a particular shout out to Stu who, when the need arose, jumped out of the car and onto the bike, took pics, supported everyone and was awarded the Peloton Charity Events Spirit of the Peloton Jersey representing the spirit of the everyone.


Sean "data" carroll
Peloton Events Ride Captain


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