Sunday, 19 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7IN7 THE FINAL LEG - DAY 14

Kingscliff To Brisbane

Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 139 kilometres
Average speed 26.9 kmph
Maximum speed: 65 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 13 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 32 degrees
Metres climbed: 987
Ride time: 4 hrs 21 min
Wind: Tailwind
Nice Police Escorts: 1

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
Too numerous to mention but many dogs, sheep, cats, cows, birds, giraffes and the odd American Brown Bear.

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh or Cav. You can by following this link to see the excellent very last and final day 14 video into Brisbane http://youtu.be/kHmBS9j9_do

Category Jersey won by:
Captain Kev, for 7 years of loyal service for following my butt around Australia and for 8 years of Smiddy volunteering for nearly all our events on the calendar. Kev lost his Father to cancer and has always wanted to give something back. Well he has well and truly gone above the act of giving and me personally, and everyone at Smiddy and thr Mater Foundation are grateful for it. Thanks Kevvy and I can't wait for our next adventure together one day soon.

Dedication:
This final blog for the Sharky OZ 7in7 is dedicated to Maria and David Smiddy. The Smiddy family was dealt a severe blow when she was diagnosed with a tumour in her Pancreas shortly after this year's Smiddy Challenge ride up to Townsville. Since then she has undergone surgery to have the tumour removed successfully and has been in hospital close on 3 weeks now. Life is not fair sometimes and to hit the Smiddy family with this, after all that they have done for so many people over the years, is just plain wrong! But in typical Smiddy fashion they attack it with their heads held high and remain their beautiful cheery and positive selves. Thank you David and Maria and please know thousands of your friends, family, Smiddy riders, road crew and supporters, are thinking of you and sending you their love.

The Honour of the Cow Bell
Here it is now two days after we finished at UQ pool in what seemed liked a sea of people there to welcome the riders and road crew home to Brisbane. I knew I had this final blog to write, but celebrations, followed by sleep, followed by much eating and catching up with friends and family, consumed all available spare time. So roll out last Saturday from Kingscliffe was set for 7:30am. The ringing of the 100 year old cow bell is a tradition that has started nearly every Smiddy Challenge event and definitely every 7in7 event. To ring it is an extreme honour but one that must be earned. Under no circumstances do you ever ask Kev can you ring it.
Now not once during a Challenge event have I been asked and maybe just once many years ago did Kev get me to ring it in a 7in7 event. So when kev asked me last Saturday to ring these blessed bell, that has touched the hands of so many people, with their own cancer stories, over these past 8 years, his voice broke and that was the end of me. We were both a blubbering mess and as I hugged him we shared tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of pain and tears of a job well done as we got to this point in time by working in with one another and by being the greatest of friends. Thank you Captain Kev, you know I love you mate and will forever be grateful for what you have done, not just for me, but for Smiddy over the years. As I rang that bell I was a happy man as I looked around and spotted Michael and Cathy Jennings, who had spent the night at their home in Burringbar, but returned that morning to see the riders off and lend their support. Oh and the free smorgasbord breakfast offered by the resort may have attracted them as well!

The Border Crossing
After some wise words of wisdom about staying switched on and getting us all home safely from Stinky Dave the peloton rode the short 15km's to the NSW/Qld border crossing at Coolangatta. You see it was here that I asked Killer if we could stop as it was where our journey began back in 2008. That year Scott 'Falcon' May, Kev and myself, stood in that very same spot and asked a passer by to take a photo of us. The journey for Kev and I was complete. Having Falcon here riding the last 4 days and having completed 2 stages of the 7in7, we decided an identical photo, taken 7 years on, was the order of the day. A group shot followed and after Katie Dick and Sarah Crealy did a headstand in honour of Russell Conway, the group remounted their bikes and we continued on our way.

Coffee thanks to B-Rad
B-Rad works for Coca Cola and are suppliers of coffee to many hundreds of establishments around Australia. In every 7in7 event since its inception, we have always stopped for coffee. I asked Killer if he could make it happen on this final day, of course giving the man no notice, but the Kill Man is a magician and managed to squeeze it in on our way home to Brisbane. B-Rad then came in and sorted out the cafe to visit, arranged to pay for all the coffees, orders were taken by Jess that morning and just like that, the peloton rolled into Surfers and downed a coffee that was pre-made for us and 20 minutes later we were on the road again and heading for morning tea. Thank you Killer and especially to Brad for shouting all the riders and crew a well deserved treat. Katie thank you also for sharing your croissant treat with me that accidentally fell into your back pocket from the resort breakfast that morning!

Our Welcome Police Escort
Not long after our last delicious morning tea by our fabulous road crew, the peloton pushed off and were cruising at 38km/h thanks to that mother of a tailwind, we were joined by a police car that stayed with us right up until the inner suburbs of Brisbane were reached. The transformation of the motorists was astounding. How patient and supportive they were; there were no horns, no fingers giving us the birdy, no aggression and passing us and giving the peloton heaps of room. I did not catch the policeman's name but seeing him in action sent so much positive energy through the peloton that our pace increased to over 40km/h for many kilometres. For a good hour we got to feel extremely special and just maybe we are? A huge thank you to that nice man for getting us into Brisbane in the safest manner possible.

Last lunch and Zinc Time
Matty and Anna at Smiddy were busy getting a nice welcome set up for us at the UQ Aquatic Centre. Part of that celebration was encouraging the riders love ones and friends to zinc their faces. So after eating as much of the left overs from 14 days on the road as we could in the space of the 20 minutes we had for lunch, the road crew then covered all the riders in zinc. From our lunch stop it was a short 30 minute ride to the Aquatic Centre and into the arms of our love ones. Steely, Falcon and Myself were invited to lead the peloton in and what a lovely surprise it was to see so many people turn out on what was a glorious Spring afternoon. I left my sunnies on as many of my friends and fellow riders started to congratulate me, due to it being such a bright and sunny day. Oh and okay, maybe to cover the tears that, for the 18th time that day, flowed freely down my pink zinced up cheeks!

The Huddle
We had 15 minutes to catch up with family and friends before a microphone was given to me and my duty of taking on the very last ever 7in7 huddle began. The huddle circle was huge on the grassy grounds of the UQ Aquatic Centre. I invited special people into the middle to acknowledge their contribution. Captain Kev was first in and a round of applause erupted for this great man; a great man that at first sight, sporting a big white Santa beard and until he smiles you would be forgiven to think he is a cranky old man, but nothing could be further from the truth, as all that just hides his true demeanor of having one of the biggest caring hearts on this planet and a nicer man you could not meet.

That is until David Smiddy came on the scene, he may actually even be nicer than Kev, definitely cheekier! Anyway I welcomed David in next, thanked him for being there for us and standing in for Maria who could not get a leave pass out of the Mater Hospital. I know she dearly wished to be there but David's words later had the same effect on everyone present; that of respect and of awe of the strength of the Smiddy family and all that they stand for since the loss of their Son Adam back in 2006.

It was then time for all the road crew members to enter the centre of the huddle and be reminded of just how special those fine human beings were over that 2 week period on the road. Without you guys Smiddy events would be nothing. You guys are just as important as the riders and together we are Team Smiddy!

Next up, all the talented beautiful and incredibly resilient and strong female riders were invited into the middle and received an amazing applause from the appreciative crowd.

Finally the male 7in7 riders went into the centre and their strengths in helping the riders that were struggling was duly noted and acknowledged.

Councilor Peter Matic
Peter Matic was instrumental in the opening of Adam Smiddy Park and I invited him along to say a few words. He reminded everyone that the ever growing Smiddy family of supporters, riders, road crew, donors and researchers were just like the Brisbane community. Brisbane was a great place to live and work and go to school in, as the respect we have for one another in Brisbane is like we are all part of the one family. Peter also told the story of the opening of Adam Smiddy park and praised the whole Smiddy and Mater community for their involvement in changing peoples lives through what we do. Thank you Peter for your kind words and giving up your afternoon to welcome us in.

7in7 Final Leg Activities
After the huddle, afternoon tea was served and then we invited all the riders, road crew, families and supporters, to join us to sit on the grass for the very last tradition that we have done on every Smiddy and 7in7 event. The reading of the blog was done by the Birthday girl and head of the road crew, Jess Ebelt, thanks for that Jess and sorry for not giving you any warning as per usual! A live road crew count was done by Tinkerbell, stats by Stinky Dave and the last category jersey was handed out by me to none other than Captain Kev. You all know why so no need to repeat myself there. The guy is a dead set legend!

Special Presentation to Jae
Anna Tate then got Jae Marr up from the Aquatic Centre and presented him with a framed Smiddy Challenge jersey to say thanks for his support for Smiddy events since 2006. Jae, like many many hundreds of people we know, is the backbone of Smiddy and without these fine human's behind the scenes, Smiling for Smiddy would be not where it is today.

Puncture, Puncture, Puncture
How is that on the same set of Maxxis Refuse tyres I can ride from Brisbane to Townsville, 1600 km's in September this year, then one month later ride an additional 2600 km's from Melbourne to Brisbane, over some of the worsts roads in all of Australia, (talking all of NSW here) then in the final kilometre I suffer a slow leaking puncture? It was not until Alyssa was helping me to put my bike in the car that she told me my rear tyre was flat. Unbelievable! It was as if my bike was saying to me; "You are home, you are now resting, you are not to mount me for a week at the least - do you understand Sharky?" In my mind I replied; "Yes Mr Scott bike, that has been extremely loyal and never put a gear wrong all this time, I hear and will obey!" Thanks Matty and Mel from AvantiPlus The Valley, for yet again another fine bike to ride insane distances on!

Last Chance Pizza and Slide Show
Anna Tate, who works at the Mater and is one of the team that works on Smiddy events, had the entire office to herself while the team was away on the 7in7 Final Leg, worked long and hard to deliver that memorable finish for the crew. She also put in time to organise a celebration at the Schonell for pizza, presentations and a slide show. Kev and I were presented with a 7in7 jersey from Matt and Anna, that recognised our 7 years on the road and the slowest ever circumnavigation of Australia ever! It was a last chance to sit around in a relaxed atmosphere and chat with people that you had just spent 24/7 with for over two weeks straight. While I will miss the laughs, the riding, the food, the mateship, the good and even the shitty weather conditions, nothing beats sleeping in your own bed and coming home to someone that loves you unconditionally. Something I have not had for a very long time, but now I do and I could not be happier or more content.

Last words by Sharky
Steely and Kevvy stayed over on Saturday night and the celebrations continued in a much slower fashion. I was good for one beer and in bed by 9:30pm, while Kevvy and Steely showed their professionalism and elitism in consuming many beers and a few glasses of red while retelling stories from two weeks on the road.

I got asked a lot the question; "How does it feel to know you have rode 19,600 kilometres around Australia and in doing so covered every state and territory?" My answer has been, and always will be the same, "This stage of my life will stay with me because of the people!

The journey and the views of this ever changing Australian landscape, that only Mother Nature can produce, while beautiful and immense and great, and have definitely left a permanent stain on my cortex, will always be about the people that have come into my life and made me a better person. To each and every rider, road crew personal, family member, friends, donors, supporters, sponsors and the hundreds of random people that stopped to chat, donate, to offer accommodation, food or water, especially in those early years of 7in7 and 9 years of Smiling for Smiddy, I say a heartfelt thank you. The imprint you have left on my soul will stay with me until my time on this Earth is done and dusted. It is you that have made this trip worthwhile, and at times when it was ridiculously hard, sometimes dangerous and bordering on insanity, I thank my stubborness, for without it I would not have come in contact with each and every one of you and my life would not be changed for the better!

Until my next adventure take care.

Sharky

P.S. Thanks to a few more donations that came in I am now only short $1,062 shy of my target of raising $5,000. If you wish to donate just a few dollars it would be so appreciated. It is as easy as following this link: https://thefinalleg.everydayhero.com/au/mark-1

Friday, 17 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7IN - THE FINAL LEG

Casino To Kingscliffe - Day 13

Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 158 kilometres
Average speed 23.1kmph
Maximum speed: 90 kmph By Kratzo
Temperature Minimum - 10 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 33degrees
Metres climbed: 2401
Ride time: 6 hrs 51min
Wind: No wind all day until the afternoon when we picked up a tailwind into Kingscliffe.
Angry Drivers: 55
Angry pedestrians: 7

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
We were sorry to see Hava leave us today to head home early as her hamstring injury was causing her a lot of grief. Apparently Mr T did a great job filling in for Hava today.
1 gecko targeted by a true killer
5 lizards
3 rats
1 echidna
2 Bongs
1 bag of baby clothes
6 snakes
1 cane toad
Some major bovine drama on one of the descents and we almost lost Melissa to the count.
Also a few major attempts to make some further roadkill of the Smiddy riders by the local loving drivers.

As for that special announcement. After 3 tours as road kill counter and the fact that I am a real animal lover, sharky has rewarded me with the opportunity to change things up. So tomorrow with the help of 5 Smiddy deputies I will count all the things we see that live!

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh or Cav. You can by following this link to see what he has come up with for day 13 http://youtu.be/eD5M8LqiKds

Category Jersey won by:
Ken Woods. This guy is a machine, a real team person, always pushing riders that are struggling, always delivering messages from the team car to the riders, always lending a helping hand. Has done the Smiddy Challenge, Tassie Smiddy and now this final leg of 7in7. A very worthy recipient is our Ken.

Guest Speaker
Tonight was our very own David "Stinky" Colahan, who has done 4 Smiddy Challenge events in a row and now this Final Leg of the 7in7. Stinky told us that his best man at his wedding 28 years ago, of which they have remained close friends, was just recently diagnosed with cancer. Stinky was passionate about Smiddy and the cause prior to this devastating news, and now he is even more so. Thanks mate for sharing with us your reasons to ride with with Smiddy.

Dedication:
Tonights blog is dedicated to all the riders love ones for allowing them to do this ride and supporting them every step of the way. The role the love ones play is just as important as being a rider or a road crew member. They are part of the giant puzzle that is Smiddy. I would also like to dedicate this to all the donors out there that believe enough in our riders to donate and in turn have helped us raised over $200,000 from this year's 7in7 event. All you guys rock and we at Smiddy and the Mater are in awe of everyone to whom this blog is dedicated.

Our day in a nutshell
Rollout was at 6:30 and once again we left at 7am! Cranky Kev came out and got us moving. He knew we had a school visit at Burringbar, kindly arranged by road crew members Michael and Cathy Jennings, and we could not be late, for the little ones were excited about our visit. Today's course that Christian mapped out was as per usual up to the normal excellent standard. Mr T and a few others commented that it was the nicest course they have been on since the start in either Melbourne or Sydney. I would tend to agree although the road surface was its usual crappy jackhammer self. The school visit went over really well with me giving the kids a sun-safe message, while Jess followed up with the fun part of the day by giving 4 kids a chance to zinc 4 lucky riders faces. Killer and his kid won the end product, although Killer and Roger risked losing their eyesight to the overzealous kids and their weapon of choice - the zinc stick!

Angry motorists, angry people!
We all arrived safely into Kingscliffe about 3:30pm, but only because of the great work that Kevin and John and Bella do for us in the rear and lead vehicles. During the huddle I spoke to the group and apologised for the abuse that was given out to them today, from not just the motorists, but even pedestrians just walking down the street as we traversed through some of the smaller country towns that Killer had us going through to keep us off the busy main roads. No-one deserves to be treated with the disrespect that we received today, especially not these fine human beings that are proud to call themselves Smiddy riders and doing this for such a great cause. I felt for poor Kev, Bella and John as the abuse they got today on the UHF radios and the raised fingers and fists in anger were outrageous. I feared for Paula today on the bike when just 25km's from the finish and that motorists that sped past the peloton doing a 100 in a 80 zone and cutting in so close she felt the rush of air on her right side. I could only watch on and do absolutely nothing about it and it frustrated me and made me feel sick in the stomach. As I said to the group I do believe in Karma and maybe one day they will regret their impatience, but maybe not? Anyway I finished by explaining how proud I was of them for two reasons; firstly not one person in our group retaliated or hurled abuse back, and because of the fine job they have done in conducting themselves on and off the road as Smiddy ambassadors these past two weeks.

Just try separating us!
I have just got back to my room and it is still a reasonable early night at 10pm. I am sharing with Steely of course, actually they tried to separate us tonight and I was originally booked in to share with Geoff Honey and Ron was in with Roger Hawley. Thanks Geoff and Roger for agreeing to swap and keeping Ron and I from throwing a tantrum! :) Anyway what a great night we had with Mr Farragio, back by popular demand, as MC for the night. Killer took another well earned night off and sat back and enjoyed the antics that Mick produced. It was a night of celebration for the group as we all realized that it would be our very last night together.

Please see below my highlights for the 2nd last day on the road, which includes some world Smiddy firsts of course!

1. Tonight our first World Smiddy record went to B-Rad and Paula 'Tine Arena' Fleming, who performed a duet with Paula singing, and was actually not bad, while B-Rad played his instrument of choice, the sax and together entertained the group with 2 numbers. A memorable and enjoyable experience that added to the ambience of the night.

2. Road crew front vehicle navigator extraordinare, Belle Stephenson said a few words tonight. She wanted to apologise for the 5km extra added to the route due to a wrong turn and was upset aver it. But as we explained the rider's don't care if we do a few extra kilometres, as one we are getting extra k's on our all important garmin sites, and 2 when you are riding 2600 kilometres in 14 days a paltry extra few kilometres is nothing. She also announced she was inspired, was going to purchase a bike and complete the Midi Smiddy next year! Nice work Belle.

3. Tonight again and and 2nd World Smiddy record when I somehow found the time to write a 2 sentence poem for each person in the group from rider to road crew. It was corny but from the heart and the laughs were plenty as I paid out on most of them, although I did say something nice about my mate Steely in the hope of getting a free feed one day! The awful gut-wrenching thing is that I left one person out, unintentional of course, in Stinky Dave Colahan. I had to add lib and made something up on the spot. I felt terrible but Stinky was great about it. Thanks mate and I will always think of you when I pedal, pedal pedal!

4. Tonight for the final time and we said our thank you's and goodbyes to Michael and Cathy Jennings, who are leaving us tomorrow due to attending a wedding in Toowoomba tomorrow. To have them on this final journey with me for a week has been just plain wonderful. Both possess hearts as big as Phar Lap and the entire group were moved by theor loevely words last night to us. Michael has always said there is no way he could do public speaking, but he did a fine job last night let me assure you of that.

5. While the happenings of today out on the road with the aggression shown to us by the motorists left a stain on my heart, I will still remember it being a positive day. Especially due to that school visit that Cathy organised for us, not to mention the very yummy home baked items that their friend Jan cooked for the group. Another group of wide eyed children were given an important sun-safe message in the most fun Smiddy way possible.

Okay time to go and get some sleep, Ron is snoring as per usual, which will have no affect on my getting to sleep as I am deaf. We are a good together in many ways for life on the road and I guess this is just another shining example.

Well with tomorrow being my last day on the road I am still $1,600 shy of my target of raising $5,000. If you wish to donate just a few dollars it would be so appreciated. It is a s easy as following this link: https://thefinalleg.everydayhero.com/au/mark-1

Thank you and I hope to see some of you at UQ Aquatic Centre at 2:30 tomorrow.

Sharky

Thursday, 16 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7IN7 - THE FINAL LEG

Sawtell Beach To Casino - Day 12

Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 197 kilometres
Average speed: 25.5 kmph
Maximum speed: 59 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 8 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 33 degrees
Metres climbed: 1879
Ride time: 7 hrs 39 min
Wind: Not much wind all day except last 20km's when we had a small tussle with a headwind in Casino)
White Horses: 74
Wishing Wells: 4
Ornamental Windmills: 4
Crappy NSW Roads: All of them!

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
2 Turtles
15 bad smells
2 snakes
2 lizards
3 kangaroos
7 bags of bones
1 Echidna
1 Drop Bear
1 Big Announcement about an announcement that will be announced tomorrow.

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh or Cav. You can by following this link to see what he has come up with for day 12 (Sorry no link at this time, please just do a search on uTube if keen)

Category Jersey won by:
Ron Steel, besides being my best mate for 30 years Ron was one of the original 3 that did the first Smiddy ride up to Townsville, he has since completed 5 Smiddy Challenge events and this 7in7 event will be his third after helping me to complete the Darwin to Katherine and Katherine to Esperance leg when there was just 4 riders involved.

Guest Speaker
Was Sarah Creals, who talked about losing her favourite Auntie to Melanoma, along with two close friends to cancer, leaving behind little children. Sarah also spoke about her own personal battle with skin cancers on her scalp that required plastic surgery. Her first Smiddy event was the 2012 Brisbane to Townsville Challenge. She also completed the 7in7 event last year, and now this final leg to Brisbane. It is her way of trying to do something now so that more kids don't have to grow up without their parents. Thanks Sarah for the energy that you bring to every Smiddy peloton.

Dedication:
I would like to dedicate this blog to the riders and road crew of 7in7. Without you I swear my dream of riding around Australia would not have been possible. From that first year when I rode up to Cape York with my only company being Captain Kev and Cameron Single who rode with me from Cairns, and a fine man by the name of Shane Butler, who joined Kev as part of the road crew. To the present day and the awesome bunch of people that I have had the pleasure of riding with over the past 12 days. Plus of course all the riders and road crew from every year in between. A big shout out to Cap Kev for being as stubborn as I am, but in a driving-support-type-of-way, to see the job through to end for 7 long an hard bloody years. You are one of the strangest but nicest person on this Earth!

A wrap of the day in 200 words
Another 200 kilometre day stretched out in front of us as we rolled out smack bang 30 minutes behind our scheduled 6:30am leave time. As body's tire so do minds, and getting up and getting ready gets that little bit harder each morning. The crew are exhausted but 3 days of riding still beckon. The stage today from Sawtell Beach to Casino looked easy on paper after what we had been through these past 11 days. But as always, nothing is as it seems and the never-ending rollers kept hitting us low and hard. For me personally, the last 4 days of riding I have touched on some of the best form I have felt in years. But as per usual, this accounts for nothing in this game of endurance riding. 11 days of hard riding behind us and the late nights came crashing down on me today. I was unusually quiet in a hope-nobody-notices-type-of way, and of course everyone noticed. But as I found out I was not alone as many of the crew were in the same boat.

But somehow we got through another long and arduous day, thanks in part to our incredible road crew and their fancy dress antics and boundless amount of infectious energy. And of course to the stubborn riders, who are as determined as I am to see this journey through to the finish in Brisbane. Anyway we get into Casino and the honour of the huddle went to the two Brothers, who I should point out are actually not Brothers, but they should be as they are inseparable in the peloton and both share the same brute force physique. Toddy and Chambo started this journey as strangers and have become good mates over the past 5 days on the road. Thanks lads for doing that for me.

So now onto a few highlights from today to finish.

1. At afternoon tea all the road crew were decked out in the fancy dress attire and cheered the riders in. They are a welcome sight anytime but especially then as the NSW roads were taking their tole on us, and along with it being hot, we were all ravenously hungry - imagine that? Smiddy riders being hungry! The yummy cups of fruit salad and custard were devoured instantly. Thank you beautiful road crew.

2. Killer needed a night off from being the MC tonight so good old Mick 'Farragio' stepped up to the flat and delivered a fine performance. So fine in fact that Killer might get another night off tomorrow whether he wants it or not! Nice work mate and most appreciated by all the team.

3. An update on Russell Wilson after I spoke to him last night. He is still in Tamworth hospital and sounded better but he has yet to convince the doctors to release him. I know he is getting better when he jokingly said that in the morning he would be jogging by his bedside when the doctors were doing the rounds in the hope they would release him. He really wants to be there for the finish on Saturday he said and wanted to convey to the riders and road crew a good luck message.

4. Last night after the proceedings at the Bottlemart Hotel in Casino, Steely was working on his computer at the desk in the hotel room, while I was sitting on the bed working on this blog. It was 11pm when Ron shook me awake. He said he had fallen asleep at the desk, did the old head nod thing that wakes you up, turned around to tell me he was going to bed and noticed I had fallen asleep at the keyboard. I set the alarm for 4am and am now finishing this blog after a short but good 5 hours sleep.

5. I asked my good friend Katie Dick to write a few words of her experience over the past 12 days. It has been a pleasure hanging out with you Katie and showing me the stuff I knew you were made of.

A day on the bike - Its a funny thing. After a good feed and good sleep, each morning you are able to wake up feeling fresh. Sleep seems to be the best medicine in a trip like this. sadly this feeling doesn't last all day. The highs and lows come and go like the storms that pass through the snowy mountains.

After 12days on the bike fatigue has set in. Up until now each day has brought on a different pain and a new joy. For me i seem to only be able to concentrate on one at a time. First I focus on the amazing sunrises. We have seen some beauties. It is such a peaceful time of day. It's you, your mates, your bike, and nature at its best, with the whole day ready for you. Then you start to feel your body and how it is reacting to this endurance event. For me, it was the knee, then the achilles, then the bum, now the quads are screaming out with the lactic acid build up as genuine fatigue has set in. But the great thing about this event, is that you keep going no matter where your head is at. Everyone has moments. Ups and downs, and as you roll past one another, you start up a new conversation, or look up off the road and see this amazing landscape we have the pleasure of witnessing, and with this a new lease of energy is drawn upon.

Today I wanted to sit with kevie. He was just 20m behind in a comfy van. It would be so easy to 'tap out', and say im done. But you don't. The encouraging words from the riders next to you give you strength to keep going. A few noticed my pain and straight away offered a gel to keep me going. The simple coping strategy on this ride is; food, food, food. And to believe that you can and will keep going.

Id also like to say a big thanks to sharky for believing in me and all the riders on this trip. I meet him years ago when I joined UQ Triads. He was my triathlon coach. I was a social athlete, never sacrificing too much fun for training, but he saw my potential. And through little comments here and there has always given me the confidence to enter races/events I never thought possible. This is one such adventure. Without his encouraging words and genuine belief in what is possible for each individual I know I would not be the person I am here today. And I love this adventure, and I love that goals/dreams do come true - by sat 3pm we are all proof to that.

Have so much more to say, but not tonight as sleep is the best medicine. So goodnight, and I hope tomorrow is another cracking smiddy day.

Katie

Thanks Katie for those words and finally this blog is done. I have added the information below if any of our supporters would like to attend our function and finish celebrations on Saturday please read the information below.

Cheers from Sharky

Hundreds of people, thousands of kilometres, hundreds of thousands of funds raised for cancer research; Sharky's Oz 7-in-7 has certainly been an epic adventure that will finally come to an end next Saturday the 18th September.

We'd love you to join us and the rest of the Smiddy family as we cheer in Sharky, Captain Kev and the Smiddy peloton as they complete the final stage of this journey of friends.

Join us at UQ Aquatic Centre, St Lucia, Brisbane, from 2pm. Be part of a very special Smiddy huddle and enjoy afternoon tea with some great people.

Celebrations continue at the UQ Pizza Cafe from 5pm where we will enjoy a light supper and a beverage or two, as well as some very special presentations. Tickets for the supper are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available here>>>

Zinc up for Smiddy - as you know we're passionate about sun safety and one of the iconic images of the 7-in-7, is that of Kate and the boys zinced up to the max as they made their way down the West Coast. Show your support for Smiddy by zincing up Saturday.

Supporting the peloton - as with all Smiddy events the 7-in7 is being conducted according to strict police guidelines. With this in mind we ask that riders or vehicles do not join the peloton as they make their way into Brisbane. Of course cheers, signs and banging pots would all be hugely appreciated.

If you have any questions or would like any further information please contact Anna on anna.tate@mater.org.au.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The Smiling for Smiddy Team



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 - ThE FINAL LEG

Armidale To Sawtell Beach- Day 11

Stats now by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance:  185 kilometres
Average speed:  24.6 kmph
Maximum speed:  77 kmph
Temperature Minimum -  1 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  29 degrees
Metres climbed: 3066
Ride time: 7 hrs 33 min
Wind: Tailwind all day (We needed it after yesterday's hell day on wheels)

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
2 Turtles
15 bad smells
1 snakes
2 lizards
5 kangaroos
5 bags of bones
Tinkerbells Gloves that fell out of his back pocket.

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh or Cav. You can by following this link to see what he has come up with for day 11 http://youtu.be/SDdSyIxnODE

Category Jersey won by:
John Curran for keeping the riders safe with his expertise driving the front vehicle. The amazing thing about John is that he is here not only to support his Wife Janet, but drove his own vehicle all the way from Townsville to Melbourne and now back to Brisbane over a two week period. When the event finishes he and Janet still have to then get home to Townsville. The riders all agreed that you were a worthy recipient John.

Dedication:
Russ will not be reading this as he is still in Tamworth hospital and it has been confirmed that he has pneumonia. His wife Carol is driving from Brisbane to be with him until he is released and will then drive him home. Everyone is so busy on this tour and so tired that things get left undone. In one moment of clarity yesterday, after we were hit with that sleet storm and we rolled into afternoon tea, I had 30seconds to send off a text message to Russ to say we were thinking of him. I feel bad actually admitting this but I then promptly forgot about Russ as the fatigue and stress of being on the road for 10 days, and the possible threat of having to abandon the stage due to failing daylight consumed my mind. We were so late getting in last night that we did not get to sit down for dinner until after 9pm. For the majority it was after 11:30pm before we hit the sack. And that was for the lucky ones. Blog writer Mel, road crew Wendy, Michael and Cathy doing the riders  washing up until 1:30am and all other road crew members rushing about with their particular duties to be performed up until midnight and then up again at 4:30am to do it all over again! Anyway Russ was doing all that and doing it while he was crook and thinking his health issues will eventually pass. Well as we know it didn't and that is why I dedicate this blog to Russel Wilson. As I sit here and start to write this the clock is telling me it is already 10:30pm. I am bone dead tired and so do not feel like writing, but for Russ I will get this done.

Firstly I wanted to thank Mel for writing last nights blog that I know she did not finish until 1am. You are awesome and thanks to you I got 5 hours sleep last night.

A quick wrap of our day
So today was like any other day on the bike where we biked insane distances, ate continuously and non-stop throughout the entire day and halfway into the night, as if it were our last meal each and every time that food was stuck in front of our face. Killer found some more incredible roads for us to go up and down over on a course that resembled a 186 kilometre roller coaster. Of course he threw in some classic 'I-hate-cyclist -jackhammer-vibration' roads that would rattle you and your bike to the core, which helped to keep the peloton awake, all a part of the safety planning the Kill Man assures me! We actually did something out of the ordinary today and made a side visit to Ebor Falls, which thankfully had some water running over them and all who saw were impressed.

We froze on roll out as the temperature nudged just 1 degree. Everyone was fully kitted out in all their Winter gear and for the first 4 hours not one person removed one stitch of clothing. For the first 100 km's along the tourist road called Waterfall Way the elevation we were riding at remained above 1000 metres and as high as 1300 metres. It was bloody cold any time we stopped, whether for a pee or for morning tea. Short breaks and keep moving was the theme of the day. Finally once the real descent started after the 100km mark we found warmth in the air as we got down to 700 metres of altitude in a lovely town called Dorrigo. It was here where the road crew had found a lovely park in the warming sunshine where the riders relaxed for the first time all day. After eating the road crew prepared feast I was still hungry and wandered off into town and brought a coffee and a curried meat pie. I don't eat meat pies often but this one went down a treat. I then re-tasted it for the next 2 hours as it insisted on revisiting the inside of my mouth.

How weird is cycling? We bust out butts for two days to get to an altitude of 1300 metres, then in the space of less than an hour's riding time we are back at sea level. The reward just never seems enough, but then that is human nature I guess, we will always want more of a great thing, and for a cyclist nothing is greater than descending a mountain with your buddies.

Tonight the road crew and some of the riders who got in and helped, prepared a barbecue gastronomical delight at the Sawtell Beach Holiday Park community area. It was supposed to be for anyone but our sheer numbers ensured that we had the place to ourselves, especially once Killer got up and began to speak. Was it something he said? We were a bit behind with the reading out of the blogs due to last night cutting it from the program in an attempt to shorten the proceedings, so tonight Bella read out my blog from Day 9 and Melissa got up and read out her blog that she dedicated to her Husband from day 10 on the road.


It is closing in on 11:30pm, gotta finish this as thoughts are waning.  Steely has just finished working on Kirsteen's bike, who couldn't get her bottom gears today and was trying to spin down the hills at 200rpm! The hidden cables presented a timely problem; getting them out was the easy part but getting the new cable through proved difficult. But the Steel Man soldiered on as giving in is not part of his nature. He knows I am tired and just made me a cup of tea to keep me awake. Such a great mate. These Smiddy tours are something that can only ever be fully appreciated by being part of the team, whether as a rider or road crew. My good friends Michael and Cathy are here for the first time and doing this last week out of the goodness of their big and beautiful hearts. They have read every blog I have ever written on Smiddy and this journey of mine around Australia. They are one of my biggest supporters and along with Steely, two of my closest friends. They said to me tonight that it is unbelievable seeing a tour like this from the inside. Their admiration for the riders and their fellow road crew members continues to grow and they are truly in awe of what we are doing for a full two weeks on the road.

I tip my hat to the all the road crew, especially Captain Kev, and each and every rider that has been part of this 7in7 event over the past 7 years. I thank you all for coming on board for your own reasons of course, but along the way for helping me to complete my goal of riding around Australia. Your involvement in this final installment truly has been a gift that I will treasure for a lifetime. You all should feel justifiably proud, as without you we would not have raised over $400,000 for cancer research through your efforts of competing in a leg of the 7in7 these past 7 years.

Okay that's enough for now, just shy of 12am and this blog, just as is my brain, is done!

Cheers,

Sharky

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Sharky's OZ 7 in 7 Day 10 - Gloucester to Armidale

Sharky's Oz 7in7 The Final Leg

Gloucester  To Armidale- Day 10

Guest author Melissa Speare

Stats now by David 'Stinky' Colahan

Distance:  224 kilometres
Average speed:  22.4 kmph
Maximum speed:  76 kmph
Temperature Minimum -  10 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  36 degrees
Starting metres -78
Highest point - 1315 metres
Metres climbed: 3561 m with 1 category one climb and 2 category two's
Ride time: 9 hrs   59min
Wind: Cold reverse tailwind turning late in the afternoon

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle

Potential rogue cows
30 bad smells
3 snakes
2 lizards
8 kangaroos
15 bags of bones
6 turtles 3 still alive thanks to Diesel and the road crew
15 bags of bones
1 dog
Special mention must go to Diesel who diligently keeps us safe avoiding 38 run over Smiddy riders.


Video by Liam

Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Kavanagh or Kav        
 you can by following this link to see what he has come up with for day 3 http://youtu.be/SDdSylxnODE 


Category Jersey won by:

Kirsteen Masson has been onboard with Smiddy for the past few years.  She is a beautiful lady; a strong yet quiet achiever who gets in and does what needs to be done without a fuss.  Always with a kind and encouraging word, spoken in her beautiful Scottish accent, it's an absolute pleasure to have Kirsteen riding with us.

Dedication:

I'd like to dedicate this Smiddy blog to my husband Pete, who, whether he knows it or not, kept me pedaling up and over that darn hill today.  Your strength was my strength keeping me strong and focused and looking ahead to the crest and beyond.

A day of gratitude

Waking up for a 6am rollout is a bit of a dream departure time, doubled with knowing that the publican at the Gloucester hotel is getting up especially early to tend to our coffee whims - Smiddy life is looking pretty good.  Thank you Adrian for spoiling us. 
On the down side, the expected weather forecast for today was wet wet wet, so on going to bed last night, I shut my eyes and threw my request out to the universe..."if it must rain tomorrow, please can we just have a dry rollout" And wouldn't you believe it...the gods came through and a dry roll out we had.   At least for the first 10km until the heavens opened their doors and the rain came down in buckets.

Not for long though.  No sooner had we made the right hand turn onto Thunderbolt Way the rain cleared leaving pleasantly cooler conditions that we had experienced the past two days.

Hey Dad, we made it!
Now Thunderbolt Way is a significant section of todays route.  A section that my dear dad had warned me of, as he has on many occasions has driven this road with caravan in tow.  As you can appreciate, Dad has concerns as to how we are going to ride a bike up this hill, given his experience in a car.  I try not to freak out and just give him Kevvy's phone number.

As we turn out onto Thunderbold Way we are treated to clearing weather, gentle rolling hills, beautiful countryside which varies from bushland to farms complete with running creeks and eeeaww-ing donkeys.
I now wonder if the donkeys were having a lend of us knowing what lay ahead.

With morning tea scheduled for a stop after the climb at a tiny town called Nowendoc at 76km, we have a quick pee stop and refuel roadside where Killer re-iterates the climb plan detailed the night before.  A 7km climb with a gradient ranging between 10-15% - oh! and there is no where to get out once you start.  Its a cracker!  Holey moley!!!  Killer continues.  "If you're not confident that you're up for the climb, now is the time to decide whether or not you take the express to the top with Kevvy"  Eeek!

So, decisions made, bikes and passengers loaded and riders fueled, we wave at the passing logging trucks and caravans ready to follow them up Thunderbolt.

So, the 7k climb starts at 43km and finishes at 55km.  I'm no rocket scientist, except when it comes to knowing when our moment of misery is due to finish.  When I get to the 4km mark, I cheerfully mention to Todd that we are over halfway, which was met with a grimace and a groan.  Another km and we come to a whopping descent only to crest another incline.  Surely thats it! It would seem not. 

With stage 2 riders at day 3 - fatigue and soreness has set in, along with the accumulated fatigue of the riders who have continued on from stage 1, it would be easy for the riders to be in a world all of their own but instead take in the views, hear the laughter, the labored breathing and the intermittent chit chat, we get to the crest of the hill.  Open arms with crew and riders to keep each other warm after stage one of the thunderbolt climb.  Its only then that many of us check the day card to realize we have another 20k of up and down until we arrive at morning tea.  Onwards we must forge.

With another Smiddy first in the making - morning tea at 76km, 5 and a half hours before anyone so much as gets a sneak at a sao!  As we all roll into Nowendoc Hall, the crew quickly feed and water us and send us on our way, as by now we realize we are behind our daily schedule by oh, only an hour or so.  

Back on the road and wouldn't you know it...a headwind!  Who would of thought!
But you know what, this amazing bunch who have only been riding together for the past two days, pulled together and worked those rotations with such style and pizzaz, you'd think they'd been working at it for years.  Each and every one rocked that peloton today and we made it.

Now given the late morning tea, its only fitting that lunch too would be later than usual.  143km in, the support crew have set up our lunch stop at Walcha.  A cold cold cold park.  Sandwiches, hot chips and a friendly hug.  Warm jackets, towels and gloves.  

It's here that Jess calls the group together to let us know that Russell, our road crew member since we left Melbourne at the beginning of this 7 in 7 journey, has been taken to hospital.  Russell has been struggling with a flu and cough for the past 12 days which has  unfortunately turned for the worst, leaving him with a terrible chest infection.  Russell, will be unable to rejoin us for the rest of the trip, however we hope to see him on Saturday when we roll into UQ.  Get well soon Russell, you will be missed.

30minutes and Kevvys whistle blows letting us know that we will be rolling for the afternoon session in 5 minutes.  
With the weather looking to turn towards something of what we may have been hopeful to avoid, the wet weather and cold weather gear comes out.  As we prepare to mount our bikes to get to the task of the final 80km of what has become yet another epic smiddy day the group is asked to listen for a moment as Sharky gives us a quick brief of what lays before us.  

You see, with the days distance of 226km, the long climb this morning taking a little longer than anticipated and headwinds, it was now 3.30pm and we have 80km to go.  It didn't take much to work out that we were going to have to hot tail it to make our destination by nightfall.  Enter Sharky for a short but direct motivational speech.  "Guys, if we want to get to our destination by dark we need to work really hard and hurt ourselves or we won't make the end of the stage.  Right now we are at risk of not finishing the stage!"  
Ah well, in my book and every other Smiddy rider here, that is simply not an option!

Revved up and prepped for what may lay ahead we all dutifully take on the task at hand.  I kid you not!  Through rain, wind and sleet the riders push through the first 15km of the afternoon stretch.  Then like a switch was flicked, 178km and the rain and sleet stopped and the wind shifted to our behinds.  As Sharky pedaled past me, he looked at me with his big shark like grin and said "Mel, Adam's looking after us.  He'll make sure we finish this stage".  Moments...

From that point on, as the peloton hung on tight and pushed through hard and fast pace lining, loving the free speed of the smacking tailwind, knocking off 40km and refueling before a quick stop in Uralla to regroup with the incredible riders who so selflessly sat out the last section helping to ensure the pace could be maintained and that Sharky made the nightfall cutoff.

With only 35km to go, the day finished as it began with beautiful scenery, peloton chatter and a few gentle rolling hills.  Finally rolling into the Armidale Caravan Park at 6.51pm, the smiles, the tears, the laughter, hugs and stories of crew and riders - the gratitude of what we know and love as the Smiddy Huddle.

Today was one of the toughest days in the saddle for any Smiddy rider.
With 224km and over 3500m of climbing, whether you're a seasoned smiddy rider or this is your first smiddy adventure, it was an absolute cracker. 

The strength and humility of each and every rider out there was nothing short of inspiring.
I can't wait to ride downhill with you all tomorrow

Goodnight
Mel 
X

Monday, 13 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7IN7 - THE FINAL LEG - DAY 9


Cessnock To Gloucester - Day 9

Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 176 kilometres
Average speed: 26.1 kmph
Maximum speed: 69 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 10 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 36 degrees
Metres climbed: 2264
Ride time: 6 hrs 43 min
Wind: No wind for most of the day until the 'Super Storm' hit at 12:30pm and initially was behind us until the infamous lefthand turn at the t-junction before lunch and bam 1000km/h headwinds (No Exaggeration)

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
Rogue sheep - potential road kill, bunch of stuffed animals in a tree trunk, Tinkerbell's bidon - again! 120 bad smells - including Roger, Stinky Dave and Hava, thanks to our sponsors Megaburn. 2 snakes, 3 lizards, 2 kangaroos, 3 cane toads (means we're getting closer to Qld!) and 1 flat black cat which is surely good luck!

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh, or Cav, you can by following this link to see what he has come up with for day 2: http://youtu.be/CxSRqtE_5EU

Category Jersey won by: Geoff Honey, for 3 years of amazing support for Smiddy through 3 Smiddy Challenge events and now this final leg of my 7in7 journey. Geoff has raised in excess of $20,000 for Smiddy and is a great ambassador for Smiling for Smiddy and Mater Foundation.

Guest Speaker tonight was Mark Trembath; Mark spoke about his journey with Smiddy since his first introduction in 2009. Also how up until now he had never been touched by cancer or knew anyone with cancer. Well that all changed when his mate Paul, from Brisbane, was diagnosed with an incurable cancer not so long ago. Mark is riding for Paul now and we are so fortunate to have Mr T in the peloton.

A Smiddy Easy Day Coming Up - NOT!
On paper, today's 169km day, looked like an easy day was on the cards. One look at the day card and the course profile showed hills no higher than 206, with the majority of them under 150 metres of altitude. We were all planning on a relaxing afternoon once into Gloucester with a couple of extra hours up our sleeves. But as per usual, with the best laid plans, nothing is as ever as it seems. Roll out for our 9th day on the road was scheduled for 6:30am and full credit to all the riders who were ready on time as we hit the tar right on schedule. Kevvy and John were suitably impressed.

The first 30km's we were rolling along like a pro peloton on super smooth roads with the thought of getting this done and dusted and arriving ahead of our schedule. It was a fast first 15km's that was slightly downhill. But like all dream starts, they tend to never last for long, and so was the case when the rolling climbs started in earnest and continued on throughout the entire day. Our 30km/h average speed at the start quickly dropped back to a 26km/h average and the suffering set in for the day.


Give me a goat track any day
Now I will ask you to regress back to my blog yesterday and do you recall my dislike of NSW roads? Well that first 30km's out of Cessnock, I was prepared to eat those nasty words I wrote yesterday, as today those roads were hotmix smooth and obviously built by a road builder who was a cyclist. But I said nothing just in case our good fortune did not continue. And so it was, and once again, throughout a very bumpy, jarring and jackhammer type day, we were witness to roads that resembled 100 year old goat tracks. I can now honestly say, that NSW road builders, not only do not have pride in their work, but they really hate cyclists.

Mother Nature sends a cooling shower!
Now with my winge out of the way it is time to move onto the moment that the heavens opened with the force of a mini tornadoe as we were coming into lunch. From morning tea at Paterson you could feel there was a change in the air for the next 30km's. The clouds went from light and fluffy, to mean and dark and thankfully not green. Then the wind began after our toilet stop at Dungog, gentle cooling at first and miraculously behind us and pushing us along at a nice clip. Then we got to the biggest climb of the day that went up to 206 metres, regrouped at the top, descended like madmen at a go at your own pace expression session, regrouped at the bottom and then pushed off into a tailwind that was so strong it was pushing as along on the flats and we were averaging 50km/h! It was exhilarating stuff. All the time the clouds were getting darker and more threatening and as we approached a t-junction my immediate thought was if we turn right we will steer away from this storm, if we turn left we are are doomed! Then John turned on his left blinker! Shit!

Get me out of here!
Five minutes later the drops started and they were big an heavy but sparse enough that if you wanted you could have dodged them. Not 2 minutes later the wind surge was strong enough to bring our speed back to 8km/h and the rain have turned into a torrent of water. Just picture someone with a hose spraying your face as hard as they could inside a wind-tunnel, now throw in some pretty darn scary lightning and thunder, 33 terrified cyclists, (except for Roger who was grinning like a Cheshire cat) in tight formation trying not to bring each other down but staying close for protection. There were huge gum trees by the side of the road, these trees are also known as suicide trees, for to sleep under one encourages them to drop their branches, that weigh up to a ton, on the sleeping person below. I was looking at the wind gusts bending those branches sideways and praying that they would not break just as we were going past them. There was no where to stop safely so Christian, Kev and John made the call to keep going to lunch which was just another 5 minutes away in Stroud Road. It was the right decision and thankfully we all made it safely to our very worried road crew, who by some miracle, had lucked onto a verandah which was still open to the pouring torrential rain and wind but miraculously a gust of wind blew the doors open and Jess said she took it as a message from Adam Smiddy that it was okay to use the premises! Thank you Adam!

For the rest of the afternoon the threat of rain was there but never materialised thank goodness. One scare for the day was well and truly enough. We still managed to arrive ahead of schedule and Gloucester was a welcome sight for the relieved and well run in riders.

Here a few mentionable moments from today's ride:
1.Our 169km day turned into a 176km day thanks to our super navigator in the front vehicle, Belle Stephenson, deciding to miss the left hand turn at the bottom of the big descent so as we could have a refreshing shower. You see had we turned left where we were supposed to we would have arrived into lunch before the storm hit. But body hygiene is important to Belle and we all understood...

2. For 9 days now Roger has been telling the group about his record breaking Audax ride of 770km's in 72 hours. Each and every time he starts the story with "Four weeks ago". Riders now know when he speaks those 3 words to politely excuse themselves and ride as fast as they can away from Roger...!

3. The road crew had originally set up on the verandah of that hall for lunch that was supposably closed and locked. The wind and rain was still wetting everything as it blew in like Forest Gump sideways rain. Then that gust and the doors blew outward nearly knocking Jess off her feet. Jess was not arguing with this gift from the Gods and immediately rallied her troops to get everything inside before the riders arrived. Nice work Jess and road crew. It was so appreciated by the soaking wet and cold riders.

4. Still at the hall and all the road crew were so concerned for us riders and fussing over us like never before. My friend of 37 years, Cathy Jennings, hugged me and began to cry. Her tears were of relief and also of awe as each and every rider trudged through those doors and not a complaint could be heard. All we felt was immense appreciation for our fabulous road crew. Cathy opologised later for getting upset. I explained that no apology was necessary as it was beautiful that she cared enough to show her emotion.

5. Back to Roger again, for years I have wondered why his laugh is so familiar. Today rolling out of morning tea it hit me. His laugh and voice is a dead ringer for John Jarratt, who plays the roll Mick Taylor, a backpacker serial killer in the Australian movie Wolf Creek. That was a nice mentionable moment wasn't it?

6. When that storm hit and just as we passed those trees I was worried about, a tree came down on the other side of the road. The first car swerved and avoided hitting it, the second one slammed on the brakes as he could not swerve due to Kevvy being there in the rear vehicle. A third car brked hard and slid into the rear of the 2nd car, while a 4th car, towing trailer slid off the side of the road to avoid hitting the 3rd car. All this happened without the peloton seeing it but Roger and Kevvy, who were at the back of the peloton. Although some of the riders heard it against the roar of the storm. Scary stuff that I only found out about once safely in that hall that was our haven.

7. The honour of the huddle went to rider Joy Yip and her husband Geoff, who is part of the efficient road crew. This lovely couple are from Papua-New Guinea and living in Australia for a year. They came on board due to a fellow Smiddy rider who was originally meant to ride but had to pull out due to injury.

We have a huge day tomorrow of climbing over the Barrington Tops Range, which is part of the Great dividing Range. The bartender thinks there is no way any of the riders are capable of making it to the top as told to me by road crew member Mick Jennings. I am pretty sure we will prove him wrong, even with the forecast of rain and an average gradient of 10% with pitches of 15% for the 7km climb!

Until tomorrow,

Sharky

Sunday, 12 October 2014

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 THE FINAL LEG



Northryde Sydney To Cessnock - Day 8

Stats now by David 'Stinky' Colahan with Bretty now home in Brisbane.
Distance: 193 kilometres
Average speed: 26.2 kmph
Maximum speed: 60 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 9 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 37 degrees
Metres climbed: 2369
Ride time: 7 hrs 20 min
Wind: Very light winds in our face late in the afternoon

Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
2 snakes 18 bad smells, 1 cows head, 1 blue tongue lizard

Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh, or Cav, you can by following this link to uTube. http://youtu.be/etYQnATBBQK

Category Jersey won by: Mick Farrag
Mick gets the jersey for being a team player for the past 4 years of Smiddy events and for two years of completing the 7in7. Always the first to put up his hand to help out and even after 7 days on the road for this event was still seen to be pushing riders that were struggling. Mick, along with Melissa Speare, was also instrumental in helping me to complete the 100km leg that was missed in Tassie last year due to wild storms that ripped the state apart.

Guest Speaker tonight was Andrew Chamberlin, who is one of the new 15 riders to be joining us for this last leg. Andrews reasons for being apart of the ride is in loving memory of his mother who lost her battle to mesothelioma almost 12 months ago. Her attitude of keeping balance and enjoying life to the fullest inspired Chambo to take on the Smiddy challenge to raise awareness that simple life choices like not smoking and wearing sun screen can help prevent cancer.

Our updated road crew for this final stage into Brisbane
Well after a nice 2 days in Sydney the crew were bolstered in numbers by new riders and road crew. The road crew that left were replaced by Cathy and Michael Jennings; two very good friends of mine of 37 years. They have supported and followed my Smiddy and 7in7 journey since the start and have always said they would love to do road crew one year. Well as we drive right past their place in Burringbar NSW on day 6 it was decided that this is their year. Wendy Muir from the Mater Foundation has come onboard to replace Nicole, Geoff Yip is here to not only road crew but to support his Wife Joy, who is riding this final leg into Brisbane. Belle Stephensen, a good friend of Jess Ebelt, has kindly filled in for a road crew member that pulled out at the last minute. Besides all these beautiful people we have all our originals in John Curran, driving the front vehicle, Kevvy bringing up the rear as per usual, Sammi Jo as our masseur, Russell Wilson, our best directions and hand sanitizer man, as well as Ron Steel as rider/mechanic and Jess and Christian from Smiddy. A big welcome to the new and old road crew members.

Fresh legs for this final stage
As well as new road crew members coming onboard we have 15 new riders joining us in Mary-Anne Elkington from Sydney, Paula Fleming, Hava Mendelle, Kylie Adair and Joy Yip of Brisbane and Tara Preston from Canberra. The new guys riding are Shane Isbester, David Colahan, Julian Wojcieszuk, Andrew Chamberlin, Liam Kavanagh, Ken Woods and Todd Linford, all from Brisbane, while from Sydney we have Scott Morphett and Geoff Honey. Thanks guys and girls for being part of this final stage into Brisbane of my 7 year journey to cycle around Australia.

How the day panned out
Roll out at 6am was a quiet affair with Katie Dick being given the honour of ringing the famous Cow Bell, which has been in Captain Kev's family for over 100 years. Kev picked Katie, as her parents, who were meant to road crew the entire two weeks, had to end their journey prematurely on day 3 due to ill health of her mum Elizabeth Dick. We were gifted with perfect cycling conditions for the majority of the day with low temperatures in the mid 20's and virtually no wind until the afternoon session. What this meant was that we made good time and eventually rolled into our finish at Cessnock a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule. The only hiccup in a perfect day was from afternoon tea to the finish the temperatures climbed into the mid 30's and a few riders began to feel the effects of a nearly 200km day and slight dehydration. But we got everyone in safe and sound and except for Kratzo, who is still not feeling 100% health wise, all the riders completed the entire day. Poor Kevvy was sad as no one wanted to spend time in the van with him! The day ended with a yoga session thanks to the lovely Katie Dick and then it was a mad rush for the 3 showers at the Caledonia Hotel that was built in 1912. '

Sharky's top ten highlights from day 8 on the road

1. Our small peloton of last week of 20 something riders has now grown to 33, with 15 new riders bringing to the group renewed enthusiasm and work ethics. What this means for the 18 originals from week 1 is more places to hide in the peloton and less time on the front. Also new speed dating conversations, new friendships and news from the outside world.

2. Paula Fleming created Smiddy history today when she slept through her alarm, missed the start, and only thanks to the quick actions of our esteemed road crew was she driven to us at the 32km section where we had stopped for a toilet and drink break. Never before has a Smiddy rider missed the start of an event, although it has happened in a training weekend, which does not count, so Paula now holds the world record for this embarrassing moment!

3. A Hawaiian theme was the order of the day for the roll out today. You see, our good mate, Kate Warren, fellow Smiddy Challenge and twice 7in7 rider, was racing the Hawaiian Ironman for the very first time today. Sarah's husband Scott was filtering through results for us throughout the day. It was kind of cool knowing that while we were at it riding all day, Kate was at it completing an Ironman. As I write this she has finished but not sure of times or placings. Nice work Kate you legend. Funny side story to this was I had forgot about Hawaii being on today and when asked to wear a skirt and boob cups by Melissa I just did as I was asked. It was only at morning tea that Mick informed me about Kate racing.

4. Ken Woods, who has ridden Smiddy Challenge, Tassie 7in7 and now this final leg into Brisbane, is one of the strongest riders in the Universe. So strong he once won the Earth to Mars endurance event. Anyway the guy was giving the honour of taking the day 8 huddle for his efforts today in pushing Janet and Wendy, sometimes both at the same time! His crowning moment was pushing Janet up todays' longest climb of 5 kilometres. This young fella is strong!

5. How nice was it that Adriel Cahir, Paul Hogan and Tony Smythe, 3 riders from the first weeks ride from Melbourne, turned up this morning to see the Smiddy crew on their way. Thanks guys, it was noticed by all and appreciated. Also great to see Maddog, Nicole Bourke's husband, and the big man John Leyshon, there to see us off.

6. Russel Wilson came into this event a man that did not do hugs. Well not is he now giving out hugs to all and sundry but the big fella was convinced that it would be a good thing to wear a Hawaiian skirt for the day. Good to see you coming out mate and there may be a spot for you at the Mardi Gras next year!

7. Russell again and new road crew member in Michael Jennings for rescuing my helmet at morning tea. It fell down in behind an old tank that was surrounded by a 8 foot brick wall, which required Kev's step ladder and a huge stick to fish it out. Thanks lads, much appreciated.

8. NSW roads are amongst some of the worst roads I have ever cycled on. Today all 33 riders got a taste of those said roads and I think they will whole heartedly agree with that statement. Seriously the roads today were so bad that we all agreed that back on day 6 when we did the big 257km day, that the 17km's of dirt road were in better shape than todays poor excuse for a road. I was quietly amused when every now and then the road builders would put in a stretch of smooth bitumen for 100 metres and then go back to the same crap roads. I have a theory; NSW road builders hate cyclists, they laugh when they build those smooth sections, as if to say "hah, hah, this is what we could have done if we wanted, take that you lycra clad poofta's!" Which is what I have been called when waiting for a red light to change in Brisbane on the odd occasion.

9. Slippery Dip Smiddy World Record
Sarah 'Cereal' Crealy and category jersey winner, 'Mick 'Farragio' Farrag are out to set a new Smiddy record of engaging themselves on every slippery slide that we pass over this 14 day adventure. To date, this entertaining pair have been down 3 in total and I checked the Guiness Book of Records and can confirm that they are only short by 1203 slippery slides. I know they will not give in and guys please know that we are rooting for you and not laughing behind your back.

10. Finally Farragio is in all the news today and this final mention is for being the first rider of this second leg of the final leg to take a tumble exiting morning tea. Captain Kev and Mick were doing a little argy bargy and Kev accidentally pushed Mick too hard and down he went. All was forgiven as Mick got up so quick that I was not able to get a snappy with my camera, and he gave Kev a hug and carried on. Mick of course had his Hawaiian attire on and his only concern was the dirt collected on his skirt.

Well that's enough for this blog and I will finish by telling you I have set a small Smiddy world record myself by finishing this blog spot on 9:00pm, which is good for me as I am usually still going at 1:00pm. Oh and a huge thank you to Chris for coming in on his day off to feed us deep gutted barsteds a cooked breakfast!

Until tomorrow.

Sharky