Hurt Locker to Hero: Tom Watson Rides 1,000km for Charity

Just before Easter, I completed a 1,000km Corporate Charity Cycle Challenge across Victoria. It was a gritty week with plenty of time spent in the hurt locker…notably a 220km day across Victorian Farmland, a sprint up to Sky High Restaurant in the Dandenong Ranges and receiving 8 stitches in my big toe (a flip-flop blow-out on some steps whilst running into dinner on the penultimate night!).

Tom Watson Rides 1,000km for Charity

The 45-rider event was arranged by Chain Reaction, an organisation founded in 2007 to raise money for Children’s Charities through corporate cycling events. Since then, Chain Reaction has raised over $33m for charity from cycling events across Australia and NZ, notably the three (VIC, NSW and QLD) annual 1,000km cycling challenges.

The majority of riders work in property or finance businesses and are encouraged to leverage their working relationships to generate funds (alongside sponsorship from family and friends). The March 2021 VIC ride that I undertook raised a record $1.2m for Very Special Kids and The Starlight Children’s Foundation. The charities are hugely grateful for the support and donations provided through Chain Reaction, particularly over the last 12, Covid-ravaged months. And I am personally grateful that Payton Capital agreed to come on board as a significant Sponsor for the event.

Training started in November 2020 with very early starts (in the 4s!) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I’d race up from Bayside to meet the team just North of the CBD and complete a 65km ‘Tour de burbs’ or Col de Toorak, go head to head against other riders on hills beside Kew Boulevard, or smash out speed laps of the Tan – then straight to work!

These mid-week bursts were supplemented with long weekend rides to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, up and down Arthur’s Seat (two or 3 times!) or into the hills around Melbourne. Cycling continued through the Christmas break and right up until mid-March, by which time I was a Victorian bakery connoisseur, an unwitting coffee snob and a middle-aged man feeling very comfortable in lycra!

The week-long challenge started in Melbourne’s docklands and saw us complete a 1,000km circle, down to Geelong, along the Great Ocean Road to Lorne, up through Ballarat and Bendigo, onto the State border at Echuca, returning via Wine Country (Nagambie, Buxton, Marysville and Healesville). We knocked off at least 150km each day, (including a 220km monster on Day 4) and returned to a Hero’s Welcome from friends, family, Charity partners and Chain Reaction supporters at the Hawthorn Velodrome.

A big week in the saddle with cuts and chaffing galore – nearly enough to see me throw the bike onto the following week’s Hard Rubbish Collection! But, little by little, the idea of next year’s cycling challenge (North Queensland in 2022) starts to look appealing. After a few weeks’ recuperation away from the bike, I suddenly find myself riding to work again, contemplating signing up for more punishment next year!

To set out what it means for Payton to be involved with Chain Reaction at a corporate level, I invited the founder, Berrick Wilson (a Real Estate partner at Korda Mentha) to speak to us all at one of our monthly all-staff meetings. Berrick detailed Chain Reaction’s origins (whilst waiting for his newborn daughter to recover from brain surgery, Berrick sat in a Hospital chapel and made a promise to help improve the lives of very ill kids and their families), its evolution into numerous charity cycling events and the benefits of Corporate influence, including improved social responsibility, charitable giving, employee engagement, business relationships, networking and marketing. The team were extremely moved by Berrick’s story and impressed by how much Chain Reaction has achieved.

A huge thank you to all at Payton Capital, the Payton Foundation and many Payton Investors who so generously sponsored and supported me. It is a great event with numerous ongoing benefits to the Charity partners, the corporates involved and all those taking part. Who knows, perhaps next year, North Queensland’s peloton will be peppered with fit, sweaty, lycra-clad ‘Paytonians’!

The true spirit of the ride (along with some spectacular scenery) was captured by the Chain Reaction team who created a video – please take a look.

Tom Watson

Relationship Director, Payton Capital

About the author / Jodie Elg

Jodie Elg – Marketing Director /- An exceptional marketing professional, Jodie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication from RMIT University.

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