Monday, 25 April 2016

2016 SMIDDY NOOSA CHALLENGE - DAY 4 REPORT



2016 Noosa Smiddy - Day Four

Noosa-Montville-Noosa

Statistics for the day:

Distance: 126 kilometres
Ave speed: 24.5 km/h
Max Speed: 90 km/h
Elevation climbed: 1851 metres
Ride time: 5:08:47
Min temp: 12 degrees
Max temp: 26 degrees


Early Roll Out For Anzac Service
The early start of 5:15am was mandatory as we had a Anzac Day service to attend at Mapleton at 9am. Mr Anderson was extremely understanding in the matter as I think he is coming to like early starts. Mapleton was 56 kilometres away and on top of a very large and pain inflicting mountain that required approximately 10 kilometres of climbing, with the last 2km at 16% gradient. Captain Kev gave Stubbsy the honour of ringing the cow bell and we our departure was back to the normal time of 5:25am.


Now let me tell you today's first 56km's kilometre section of riding was one that you dream of happening and when it does you cannot quite believe your luck. The road service was smooth, traffic was very light, the air had a nice crisp, dewy taste, that we were fortunate enough to breathe into our lungs, and the Noosa skyline presented us with a subdued orange and golden pink sunrise that began to make a most welcome appearance at 6am.

The icing on the cake was the 34 magnificent golden warriors (we were down a few riders) astride their trusty steads in perfect formation and floating through this nirvana of a morning as would a peloton of seasoned pro's that have raced together for a decade. Yes it was a very special morning indeed and we were on our way to pay our respects to the great Anzacs that gave us the freedom we enjoy today.

The climb up to Mapleton - A not so easy affair...
So after a seven-am bladder bursting yellow room stop at the 34 kilometre point at Endiandra Park, where we tried unsuccessfully not to wake up the people sleeping peacefully in their cars and camper vans, it was time to take on the Mapleton Range climb of 10 kilometres. As far as climbs goes, it is kind to the riders in the sense that after each hard climbing section, it gives you a little recovery section in-between. The last 2 kilometres is the business end of the agreement as it kicks up to a 14 to 16% gradient and the mountain takes immense delight in the fact that it sucks the marrow out of your bones, replaces the blood racing through your legs with concrete, and the air in your lungs feel as if they are laced with asbestos! The one saving grace this year was the cooler conditions thanks to a very stiff Southerly wind blowing that promised a quick run home after lunch along the coast road and made for more comfortable climbing conditions. While Dale won the Garmin KOM, he sat out this climb to help the riders that were struggling, as did all the ride leaders in Stinky Dave, Coops and Ben Hola. Andrew Baker was the KOM here but admits that Phil Anderson gifted it to him. Nice gesture by Phil. Tamara Vella also won the ladies KOM. We had the pleasure of having Krista Page in the peloton today and she took out the Garmin Hill KOM but like Dale, opted to sit out and help the riders that needed it. Ni

Big Birds Can Fly and 99% Success Rate
I would like to point out how enjoyable it was to see the big blokes at 90kg plus, who are not naturally built for climbing, complete this mother of a hill. Well done to Jos Lablache, his third time at Noosa Challenge and the first time he has made the climb! Steve Bardsley and Clive Eakin well done to you pair as well. Stephen Cooper got close but that last pinch was just too much for him this time around. It was a most successful number of finishes ever with everyone else making the climb and in the process making Kevvy very lonely.

The 101 year Anzac Service at Mapleton
The Anzac Service started on time at nine-am and finished an hour later. A huge thank you to the riders and road crew for their patience and for attending this very important 101 year service of the Gallipoli landing where tens of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders lost their lives.


Palmwoods Descent
There are two ways back down to sea-level from Mapleton and one called Razor Back is lethal and a dangerous hair raising descent that lives up to its name. This year Killer took us down the safer and much more enjoyable Palmwoods descent. Which was still a great kickarse edge of your pants descent. It was at the top where we had our safety brief given by Geevsey and thankfully all the riders got down safely and the excitement at the bottom was tantalizingly effervescent!

More climbs and more descents keep the riders from falling asleep on their bikes
The run into lunch at Muller Park near Bli Bli had its fair share of ups and downs. Just when the rider group were thinking the climbs were over, our mapping expert had plenty more up his sleeve with some amazingly sharp pitches and the rollers that just kept on coming. For me personally and I hope for the rest of the crew as well, I have to say the past 4 days has been an immense joy that has not only challenged us but rewarded us with its incredible beauty and varying terrain. Nice work Killer, you have done well.

Ben Calls It A Day & Thinking Of You Dawso
The past three days of riding pushed Ben to his absolute limit and his body decided for him that he just had to sit today's stage out. He and his Wife and children still turned up for the Anzac Service and were there at the finish to welcome the riders in. Ben has promised to return fitter and more prepared next year and I can assure you we will all welcome him with open arms. I just wanted to say a special mention to Paul Dawson, who had to rush home to Brisbane as his Daughter is in hospital and extremely unwell. We are thinking of you mate and thank you for the two days you and Sharon rode with us.

Bli Bli And A Interview With Phil
The lunch today at Bli Bli the road crew pulled out all stops and the hungry riders got to eat every leftover from the past 3 days. It was a gluttonous feast and we all left there with tummies so full we would not need to eat for a week. It was at lunch that Geevsey did an interview with Phil and he was hilarious as he regaled us with a few select moments of his racing career in Europe in the 80's. A great group photo with all the riders and road crew was taken here as well.



Tailwind Sent From Heaven
The tailwind home from lunch was so strong that at times actually pedaling was an option but not a necessity. Seriously we covered that last 36 km's at an average well over 32kmp/h. It was a buzz and a tremendous way to finish the tour. All the riders arrived on such a high that hugs and handshakes were the order of the day.

Stubbsy Our Guest Huddle Speakers & The Riders Rock
Krista took over for me and introduced Stubbsy to do the final huddle. The quietly spoken man from WA has looked after us riders, along with Kevvy and Geevsey for the past 4 days. Each year he makes the trek over from Perth to do his bit for Smiddy. We are very fortunate to attract good people like Stubbsy and all the road crew that put up their hands to help. Thanks also to the riders for all the fundraising, the friendships, your patience and for being so humble in what you do. One day a cure will be found and you can all hold your head high knowing you have done something to be extremely proud of.

To the riders I say this one last thing; tomorrow when you wake up and you don't have 40 other people to go for a ride with, and you actually have to prepare your own food, let your mind regress back to the past 4 days and let your memories take over. It will probably be a whole lot less painful that way as you lie in bed, and that way you are not burning up the calories and will not have to prepare any food! Makes sense yeh?

Thanks for accepting my craziness through this blogs and one day I wan't to grow up and be as mature as the lot of you. Until then another batch of Smiddy riders I'll have to unleash on.

Take care and remember; you are all extraordinarily special! Why? Because you cared enough to do a Smiddy event!

Cheers,

Sharky

Sunday, 24 April 2016

2016 SMIDDY NOOSA CHALLENGE - DAY 3 REPORT


Noosa Via Eumundi

Statistics for the day:

Distance: 77.1 km
Ave speed: 25.6 km/h
Max Speed: 70 kmp/h
Elevation climbed: 888 mtrs
Ride time: 3:00:00
Min temp: 14 degrees
Max temp: 26 degrees

More Smiddy Firsts!
How many times can a Smiddy FIRST happen over one weekend? Well let me tell you it seems to be happening on a regular occurrence on this 4th edition of the Smiddy Noosa Challenge. Yet again we have had another Smiddy first and produced the shortest ever day on record in ten years of Smiddy events. Now before you faithful and understanding readers of this very mature blog start thinking that the entire Smiddy clan has gone soft, I can assure you it is anything but.

Why Soften A Smiddy Tour?
What we recognised was that not everyone wanted to ride 200km days in succession, imagine that? So a toned down Smiddy tour at Noosa was our experimental baby and what a huge success it has been. An easy day, followed by a hard day, back to easy and then tomorrow a Mother of all 130km hard day with a 10km climb up to Montville to sort the men from the boys and the calves from the sheep and the bees from the fleas and anyway you get my point right?

The Cow Bell & On Time
So today's ride of just 77km's was by no means a walk in the park with 888 metres of climbing involved on what was meant to be our flat recovery ride. With the honour of the cow bell going to road crew legend Lesley Ray, who has been volunteering for Smiddy events for 8 years now. Lesley was touched to be asked but gingerly rang the bell as politely and as quietly as she could due to yesterday's complaints.

Now something went horribly wrong this morning as at the precise moment Lesley rang the bell I looked down at my watch and nearly fell off my bike in shock, for we started exactly at 6:15am, not one minute before, nor one minute after but spot on 6:15am. What this means is that we now have another Smiddy first to boast about in this blog, and that gets me excited. So I am honoured, although somewhat bewildered, to say this to you tonight; today was the very first time ever in Smiddy history that we have actually started an event at the actual scheduled time. It was down-right scary and is just not on and I pray it never happens again!

We also had a special guest rider who is doubling as our bike mechanic for the next two days in Ben Hola from Brisbane. Thanks Ben for giving up two days of your valuable time.

Sharky's Bladder Story
Now back to more serious blog talk and once on the road our first scheduled yellow room stop was not until 42km's into the stage of just 77km's. Now my bladder has been trained to last up to an hour at the most and 8km's out from North Arm I pulled to the side of the road and I was not alone as two other riders joined me in Stinky Dave, (who sees everything) and the worlds best blog reader outerer (Sharky made up word) in Mark Craig. Not long after we caught back up to the riders we pulled over at our official loo stop. It was here that a rider and a pole got along famously and Steve Bardsley got off his bike in the quickest fashion possible by falling off his bike as he tried to unclip. He was not hurt at all, just his pride and one rider was upset because Steve would not stay laying in the middle of the road until a photo was taken! Ten minutes later as we rolled out for our morning tea stop in Eumundi 98% of the peloton helped get rid of all the freshly cut wet grass in the field by taking it with them in their cleats.

Was That A Monkey Or A Shark In That Tree?
The run into Eumundi was heaps of fun with a few roller-coaster type hills. On one particular fast downhill the group had split up and was greeted with a fallen tree that was definitely a traffic hazard to cars coming the other way. I think Kevvy wondered what I was doing when he saw me stopped by the side of the road and pulling this tree off the road. Kevvy please know here and now that it was not another toilet stop for my old man bladder, nor was I rescuing any fallen Koala's.

The Impressionable Dr Koala
Speaking of Koala's we have a man riding with us and his nickname is Dr Koala, Gary Leong got the nickname, not because he is cute and cuddly like a Koala, which indeed he is, but because he is a Paediatric Endocrinologist and Child Obesity Expert and the name Dr Koala was adopted to get the children to feel more at ease. Gary is a wonderful kind-hearted man and we are so happy that he has chosen not just this Smiddy event to grace us with his presence, but our Challenge ride to Townsville in September.

Choo Choo Photo Shoot
Anyway we all got into Eumundi safe and sound to a wonderful morning tea put on by the road crew. It was here that David Smiddy greeted all the riders and it was not long before the ten girls in the peloton had him posing for photos in the train that was built for kids to play in at the park. Next Phil Anderson got in on the act and I couldn't help myself as I jumped in beside Smiddy and forced him to put his arm around me as I asked him to pretend that he actually does like me... I'm joking okay? Surely by now you get my sense of humour?

Sao Bandit Strikes Again!
It was also here that the Sao bandit struck yet again, even with Krista and Wendy guarding the Sao's as if their lives depended on it. Somehow, even while under extreme scrutiny, 4 Sao's remained that had their toppings removed. Once Sammi Jo found out she was livid and vowed to spend all her remaining savings of 2.2 million dollars, (poor lady is down to her last pennies) on a private detective for tomorrow's stage up to Montville.

Coffee For One Please
The entire two and a bit hours leading into morning tea the ongoing joke (of course started by Geevsey) was that I was to shout everyone coffee for morning tea. When I got to Eumundi I made a bee-line for the coffee shop, I then stooped down real low like I was only a little kiddy, I then gave her my best puppy dog eyes and handed her the only money I had which was $5 and said: "Excuse me Mam but how many coffees can I buy for this as I am obligated to shout all my friends?" I walked out with one coffee. The moral of this story is that I do care for each and every Smiddy rider here and that I did try. Later when I got back to the RACV and pulled out my room key my credit card fell out of my pocket. "Darn it!" I thought, "I forgot I put that in there"... True story.

Smiddy Saves The Day
So now that we had David Smiddy as part of the road crew some control was finally instilled into the troublesome road crew. I like Smiddy for his calming influence and how he can get everyone to step in line and get the job done. How we got through the past two- and-a-half days without him I will never know. So David, a big welcome to you and in all seriousness thank you for taking your role so seriously! :)
Back Before We Knew It
Morning tea done and dusted and one last 3km climb up to a giddy altitude of 159 metres, followed by a whooping seat-of-your-pants decent that saw all the riders grinning with that adrenaline rush that only riders will understand. After the regroup we were on our way and a scant 15 minutes later we were all back at the RACV resort, some of us in mild shock at returning before 10:30am! The huddle was taken by three ladies that are thick as thieves and inseparable as only close friends can be. Thank you to Rae Faulkner, Karen Short and Lesa Beasley for stepping up after I gave them far too much advance warning and for sharing with us your reasons for riding and being part of the Smiddy peloton for Noosa 2016.

Family Time Or Crazy Time?
This year's event has attracted many family members that have come to stay with their Smiddy rider and it is for this reason as well that we have thrown in two shorter days. The remainder of the day was theirs to do as they wish, although road crew did put on a great barbecue lunch down by the water at Noosaville from 12:30pm. Quite a few turned up for this while others headed to the beach, or went shopping or just lazed by the pool at the resort sipping on cocktails while the kids tried to empty the pool. Other crazies, who will remained unnamed, went for a 2 hour walk while dressed in ridiculous show pony outfits. But each to their own I say... Right Smiddy?

Kevvy Has An Afternoon Kip
As I write this blog back in my doing-it-tough-for accommodation room at the RACV resort, Kevvy is asleep in the other single bed. He is snoring now and not so long ago started talking in his sleep. Because of my poor hearing I could not quite catch what he was saying but I did pick up the word Red and the word Glass. If anyone can help decipher please drop me a line.

Yacht Club Celebrations
Tonight the normal Smiddy celebrations continued, only this time at the Yacht Club at Noosaville. All the usual Smiddy traditions ensued that included the Road Kill count by Jeff McKeon. Stats by Stinky Dave. Blog reading by Shark and Co in Jim Ramsay, who was given plenty of notice so that he could prepare. No Need to thank me mate.

Guest Speakers On Night Three
Our guest speakers were John Daly and Tamara Vella, who both shared their reasons why they ended up on their chosen Smiddy journey. I wish I could reproduce each speakers words in this blog but as I can't please know they are inspirational and remind us all the real reasons we are onboard these events. We all love riding out bikes but their stories remind us all that a bigger picture is at stake. Hearing these guys and girls share their innermost painful stories is both heartbreaking and enriching. If they can do it anyone can!

Geevsey Interview With The Champ
Tonight was Phil Anderson's time to tell his journey of a professional cyclist to charity cyclist. Geevsey did the interview as we sat and absorbed every word the great Skip had to say about his stellar career. We are indebted to Phil for donating 4 days of his time each year to join us in the Smiddy Noosa Challenge and help inspire others to raise funds for research.

Special Category Jersey Goes To:
And lastly the special jersey presentation tonight went to Clive Eakin, Phillip Good and Allan Rielly. All three guys represent the quiet achievers in the peloton, they just get in there and get the job done with as little fuss as possible. Clive also came on late to this event thanks to Phil's encouragement and all three have surpassed their fundraising total of $2k.

With one day remaining of this tour I have one more chance of getting a blog to you that is under a thousands words. On this shortest of days I failed you badly by writing spot on 1974 words!

Until tomorrow, take care.

Sharky.

That's now 1983 words.

1984 words..

1986 words...

1988 words....!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

2016 SMIDDY NOOSA CHALLENGE - DAY 2 REPORT


2016 Noosa Smiddy - Day Two

Noosa Via Kandanga & Cooroy


Statistics for the day:

Distance: 145 km
Ave speed: 24.4 km/h
Max Speed: 74.1 kmp/h
Elevation climbed: 1883 mtrs
Ride time: 5:55:00
Min temp: 14 degrees
Max temp: 30 degrees
Road Kill: 5 cane toads, 1 possum, 1 kookaburra, 1 duck, 2 snakes, 1 turtle, 3 bag of bones and some random smells, 1 lizard, 1 goanna.



Roll-Out and Jo Stewart Makes a Welcome Return
We all know Phil Anderson was extremely excited about the roll out today being at the merry time of 6:15am. But someone even more excited was a blast from the past in Jo Stewart. Her last time in the Smiddy peloton dated back to 2009 when flexi-teller machines and street-lights were first introduced to Queensland! Or thereabouts... That event was called the Half Smiddy, and it was a grueling and torturous 5 day event that took in over 15,000 metres of climbing and 900 kilometres throughout Northern NSW and South-East Qld. It has taken this long for Jo to recover and she was welcomed back into the peloton the most honourable Smiddy way when Kevvy invited her to ring the cow bell to start day two's epic 145km hilly stage. Jo has also been a loyal sponsor to Smiddy for 9 years through her business Tineli Clothing. So if any of the riders have any complaints about the bike kit Jo is happy to answer any of your queries.

So let's hook in and get to the fast facts from today's ride. Basically we left right on time at 6:25 for our scheduled 6:15am start. Jo's bell ringing woke up all the non-riders at the resort and we were on our way and left the carnage and anger to be directed to our beautiful understanding road crew. Nearly six-hours riding time later we rolled back into the RACV resort and proceeded to wake up all those same people again that were taking their afternoon kip with all the celebrations that only a huddle can muster... It was the least we could do.

So that's it in a nutshell, and for the record a few memorable moments may have happened throughout today, and that is best captured in my highlights package below.

Sharky's Highlight Package Extravaganza Bonanza

1. Just for fun Killer mapped out today's course to take us up the same 3km KOM climb as yesterday. This was so much appreciated by the riders, especially those that love to not climb steep mountains. Now the comment of the day definitely goes to Andrew Baker, who as we know collected maximum points yesterday for this climb. Only this time he got his butt spanked by Dale "Gorgeous" Heaps. But according to Andrew's logical conclusion that Dale is actually just a mediocre ride leader then that cancels him out from being a contender in KOM points.

2. Yesterday I forgot to mention old mate Rob 'Sparky' Bright left home without his helmet. But thanks to the generosity of Geevsey, Rob got to wear his sweaty old helmet that dates back to the 70's and was more like an old hair-net than a helmet. The local bike shop that Jo and her husband Greg owned picked up a sale that afternoon of a new helmet. While Rob was welcome to continue wearing Geevsey's helmet and I know he was too polite to say this, but we suspect the smell of Geevsey's helmet was just too overwhelming.

3. While we are kicking the man while he's down lets keep the ball rolling with yet another Geevsey/Stubbsy double act when they decided the riders need more hill training as they drove right past our scheduled loo stop at Cooran. What will day 3 bring?


4. Back to Andrew Baker again, who was egging me all day today to pay out on his mate Sparky about the helmet. Well it's your turn again sorry my friend and for the life of me I still cannot believe you actually confessed this to me yourself. You see on that KOM climb, Andrew was astounded when Dale told him this was the very same climb that they had done yesterday. He questioned Dale repeatably, "are you sure mate?" And was not convinced until he verified it with 16 other riders that it was indeed the very same climb as yesterday.

5. I believe that in the women's KOM that is was a dead heat for 1st between Tamara Vella and Jo Stewart after an agreement was made to split the $1 million dollar cheque.

6. Morning tea was at 70km's at a town called Kandanga. The riders were fanging out for food as it had taken us three hours of hard hilly riding and two million calories were burnt, and that was just by the female riders! It was near mass hysteria as riders scrambled to get off gloves, bike shoes and helmets and get their hands washed before being allowed to touch the food.

7. Morning tea again and it was here that my day bag mysteriously disappeared. Miraculously it was later located hanging from a flag poll at half mast. I have no idea who the culprit was of this immature act Geevsey.

8. At morning tea Sammi Jo was bewildered as to why a few odd sao's were without their usual tomatoe and cheese toppings. At first she thought her beloved road crew had inadvertently missed them. But as it kept happening she quickly cottoned on that one of the cheeky riders just does not like sao's but likes the toppings. To date no-one has owned up but detective Sammi will not rest until the culprit is caught.


9. Lunch today was held at Cooroy 124km's into today's stage. The road crew went all out as each rider was rewarded with their very own Chicken Noodle Lunch Box. Very yummy and appreciated by all.

10. Doing it tough today were Jennifer McMinn, Steve Bardsley, Stephen Cooper, Jeff McKeon, Kris Ramsay, Cameron Gilchrist, Michael Cooper, who had a Migraine and Lesa Beasley. All needed time with the soothing Captain Kev, but all regrouped after lunch and got the job done.

11. Ben Inglis today was voted the sweatiest man on any Smiddy tour ever. And for that he was awarded getting paid out in front of everyone today during the huddle. Congratulations mate, a fine achievement!

12. Ben again and tonight was awarded the special category jersey for completing today's stage while under most duress, at times having to walk up some of the climbs but refusing to give in. The poor guy was sweating so much that at one point he passed a dried up river bed and it filled so quickly with his sweat that a flash flood nearly ended not his life but half the peloton. Yes Ben totally earned today's award.

13. Congratulations to the following riders for completing their longest ride to date, Mathew and Kate Vella, Rae Faulkner and Cameron Gilchrist.

14. The Brother duo of Michael and Stephen Cooper who did a splendid job of taking on guest huddle speakers and sharing their reasons why they came to be in a Smiddy event.


15. I am happy to say that Dominic Sullivan was so blown away from the groundswell of support from all the riders and road crew yesterday, that he logged on last night to enter the Smiddy Challenge ride to Townsville but did not commit because he said he left his wallet at home! Why does that sound familiar?

16. Geevsey was spotted today actually wearing his mandatory fluro vest for a scant 35 seconds at one of the regroups.

17. Most improved Smiddy girl rider goes to Belinda Grimwade. This young lady did the Challenge event up to Townsville many years ago and needed a lot of pushing. What happened to that girl? Belinda is so strong now that soon she will be the one doing the pushing. Nice work Bel!

18. Our guest speakers tonight were Tony Halfhide and Lesa Beasley. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your stories of what brought you to Smiddy and reminding us all how important this whole journey is in giving hope to those that need it the most.

19. Phil Anderson today shared with a select few riders, most of them women, his very secret pro-athlete way of resting one leg on the rear wheel while stationary. This famous stance dates back to the 80's in Europe when he first earned his nickname 'Skip' as the French found his real name to hard to pronounce.


20. And last but not least one last chance to pay out on our mapping expert, especially as he is not present, but is hopefully reading these blogs, Christian 'Killer' Killeen, was the most popular person in the world today when we turned onto a 3km dirt road, which was immediately followed by a 2km climb that not even the crazy organisers of the Giro in Italy could have conjured up. It was here that Ben was spotted walking and causing flash floods. I have a sneaky suspicion that Killer was laughing inwardly when he added that to the route when there was a perfectly good hot mix road that we could have used. Nice touch mate!


Whoops I have inadvertently, once again written far too long a blog. Oh well with tomorrow's stage another Smiddy first of just 77 km's surely I have a chance to redeem myself and keep the words down to under a thousand?

Until then.

Sharky

Friday, 22 April 2016

2016 NOOSA SMIDDY - DAY 1 REPORT

Noosa Via Cooran and Lake Macdonald

Statistics for the day:

Distance: 107 km
Ave speed: 25.6 km/h
Max Speed: 82 kph
Elevation climbed: 1020 mtrs
Ride time: 4:10:01
Min temp: 22 degrees
Max temp: 33 degrees
Road Kill By Jeff McKeon 1 bag of bones, 1 possum, 1 snake, a dead car, 4 bad smells and 3 unknowns.




A LATER START
Welcome to the 2016 edition and fourth annual running of the popular Noosa Smiddy Challenge. Now you all know I love a Smiddy first and in this case it was the first time that on the first day of the Smiddy Noosa Challenge, we rolled out of the RACV Resort on day one instead of from Brisbane. And get this... We did not start until 9am, another Smiddy first. Most of our days start at 6am or 7am at the very latest. The later start allowed those riders that lived in Brisbane the chance to drive up in the morning. Now the great Phil Anderson is once again onboard for the Noosa journey, his fourth year in a row with us and Phil openly admits the toughest thing about Smiddy events is the early starts.

PHIL LOVES AN EARLY START - NOT!
Phil stayed with Alyssa and I on the Wednesday night in Brisbane and we had him out of bed at 4:15am for a 5:30am river loop with some guest riders that started from Smiddy Park. So we were off to a bad start, but let me assure you we are back in the good books thanks to a day lounging around the RACV resort pool at Noosa, and without a care in the world, relaxing and sipping on cocktails as he worked on his Smiddy tan. On top of that he got a massive sleep in this morning. Yes Phil is back to being pleased to be a Smiddy athlete. That of course is bound to change when we roll out tomorrow at 6:15am for day two, but sshhhh, we'll keep that secret between you and me and hopefully the big Skip won't get wind of it.

RIDER AND ROAD CREW INTRO'S
So it was, with our late start, that we had 10 superbly fit and extremely beautiful and talented female Smiddy riders, all trembling slightly with a nervous anticipation of their first day on the road. 27 handsome male riders made up the numbers and while we were simply stunning in our good looks, not one of us came close to the unimaginable George Clooney beauty of our Captain Kevvy, with his flowing locks of grey hair and majestic beard that hangs down to his belly button these days.

So with Phil and Kev happy the first day on the road was always going to be a good one.

Now before I go any further it would be remiss of me not to mention another group of people that happily give up their time to put up with the atrocities of having to stay in this terrible 5 star resort! I tip my hat to these guys and girls known as the Smiddy Road Crew. A big shout out to Geesvey, Sammi Jo, Kevvy, Lesley, The Stubbs Man, all Smiddy volunteer repeat offenders. Our only newbie is this really short guy that goes by the name of Domonic Sullivan. A Mater Foundation employee who I can guarantee, after volunteering over this weekend, will be signing up to not volunteer, but to ride up to Townsville with us in September and you heard that here today and straight from the horses mouth. Welcome on board Dom and oh by the way, no pressure mate!

SMIDDY STAFF - CAN CHERIE STEP UP TO REPLACE THE KILL MAN?
With regards to the Smiddy staff, Christian Killeen deciding he actually needed to spend a weekend at home with his family, which meant that Cherie got to step up to take on his position of Captain of the Peloton. After day 1 I am giving her a 8 out of 10 but expecting her to score full marks by day 4. Lastly the delightful Krista has put her cycling shoes in the cupboard and put on her road crew hat, and along with Wendy I know the girls are going to have a hoot of a time looking after the riders.

RIDE LEADERS ROCK
Just before I get into the days ride I would like to single out three exceptional ride volunteers in David Colahan, Dale Heaps and Michael Cooper. All 3 lads have given up 4 days of their time to help look after the safety of the peloton. A huge thank you to all the people mentioned above.

COW BELL HONOUR
As I mentioned above roll out was at 9am and in typical Smiddy fashion we were right on time as the clock ticked over to 10 minutes after 9... Captain Kev delighted Jim Ramsay by asking him to ring the cow bell and before you could say Bob's your Uncle the Noosa ride was under way and Tamara Vella from Mackay, being the big kid that she is, asked me; "Sharky are we there yet"? I would never be that immature and say that hey Tamara?

Somehow we managed to suck up six hours of time to ride 107 kilometres but the important thing is that we rolled back into the RACV Resort, safe and sound, albeit a tad sweaty, after a leisurely start to the tour.


To finish see my highlights of the day below:

1. Geevsey gets number one for going for a ride this morning from 6am and at 7:30am I get a call from him asking me if I can get Kevvy to rescue him. A popped spoke didn't stop him but the puncture a few kilometres later did. Probably best he sticks to driving the lead car.

2. While on Geevsey I may as well throw in a Geevsy/Stubbsy double, our lead car duo, when the road crew bible was blamed for a wrong turn. It would not be a Smiddy ride without Geevsey taking us on a detour. Nice work boys.

3. We had a few firsts today and first spotted calf chainring mark goes to Karen Short. She rubbed it off it was noted but sorry Karen you are number one!

4. First fall today went to John Daly While going up the 3km Cootharaba Road climb his bike decided it was not going a wheel length any further and it bucked him off his bike like a Bronco Bull. Full credit to the big fella for picking himself up and getting the job done. John also had the dubious honour of taking out the second fall of the day when he touched a wheel and down he went and for that one he had the pleasure of spending van time with Kevvy.

5. While talking about John, it was a unanimous decision to award John the mate-ship jersey award, which was presented by Phil Anderson, for accepting his fate and staying in the van for the remainder of the ride. While John could have ridden after fall number 2 he was thinking of the rest of the peloton and wanted everyone to feel safe.

6. In another Smiddy first today we had our shortest day in Smiddy history of 107 kilometres, which was not a bad thing as we were back at the resort with plenty of time to sip on cocktails with Phil Anderson by the pool.

7. In an unbelievable first we had a rider, who's name will remain anonymous as Allan Rielly would be embarrassed if I read out his name, who began the ride wearing a 'Spirit' jersey. These jerseys are only handed out in extremely rare occasions and when the question was asked how he acquired one his answer was; "It arrived in the mail."
So tonight at the barbecue function at RACV, I awarded Allan Rielly the Spirit jersey award for being the first Smiddy person in history for getting a Spirit jersey by unsolicited means. Nice work mate! Who at Smiddy got the bribe?

8. Andrew Baker and Sharon Greenhill won the KOM and QOM for that 3 kilometre climb today. If they can back it up and win the 10km Montville climb on Monday a special award awaits the pair... What could it be? All will be revealed in Monday's blog

9. The lunch today put on by the road crew was it's usual culinary world famous delight, but they also arranged a spectacular spot by Lake MacDonald. The day was hot and humid and the water looked so inviting but there was eating to do and plenty of it! Us riders take our job seriously when it comes to eating. Cafe Maria banner at lunch was the highlight for me today.


10. Steve Bardsley tonight shared his reason how he came to do his first Smiddy tour. A touching story beautifully told.

11. Milkshake and a Muffin to go please... At pee stop number two at a quaint little town called Cooran, a rider was spotted drinking his milkshake and munching on his muffin at the back of the peloton due to his order arriving just as the riders rolled out. Another rider spotted this delight and snatched the last quarter of the muffin and shoved it in his mouth and was heard to comment, this is still warm, yum!

12. Phil and Sharky were nearly crushed by a drop bear today at lunch. I am still too traumatised to tell the full story. See photo for details.

That's all from me so until tomorrow.

Sharky.

Yes I know we both need a haircut and a shave! Especially that dangerous Drop Bear!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

ADELAIDE TO ULURU TRAINING WEEKEND - DAY TWO REPORT


Life on the road as a Smiddy rider is a funny one. While under pressure I will always find time to write a blog. Sometimes the words flow easily and out they will come in a very short space of time. Other blogs have taken me through to midnight to write due to fatigue and the brain just refusing to function any faster than at a snails pace. Then at other times, like since the training weekend finished on Sunday, when I have had days to write a blog , I keep finding other things to do instead.

Well that finishes here and now and I have put myself under pressure to do it. I have half-an-hour of work left before I do the welcome commute on my bike to my home in Darra. I love that commute as it is a refreshing end to another great day At Smiddy HQ that involves lots of sitting, which in turn my old back does not like. The ride home always helps to stretch things out.

So day two of the Smiddy Adelaide to Uluru training weekend was a little quieter with 17 less riders in the peloton. Our adventure back to Brisbane via the direct route from Mulgowrie would have taken us less than 3 hours, but that was never going to happen as our old mate Mr Killer wanted to show the 23 remaining riders that there are a great many roads out this way that he insisted that we see.

It was a fantastic day of mostly quiet country roads that took in a lap of the main street of Laidley, which at 6:30am on a Sunday morning was very quiet on the people front, but nice and noisy as every second house we passed had dogs fenced in that delightfully yapped away at us that insisted they would be keen to join us. 50km later and we stopped for a toilet break and a photo opportunity at Atkinson Dam. It was here that I was fortunate enough, maybe even the luckiest man alive, to get a selfie taken with the best looking bloke in the peloton in Ray Smith. Signed copies will go on sale at a future Smiddy fundraising event, assuming there are any left after Ray buys most of them.

From Atkinson we cruised for another 70km's to Lowood where the road crew gang where waiting for us to deliver a delicious and very welcome morning tea. A few of the riders were having coffee withdrawals and used up half of their valuable allotted 20 minutes in search of the perfect coffee of Lowood, which was found but the service was country style; slow but extremely friendly. Thanks Whippsy for shouting me a coffee as I left my wallet back in Toowoomba when I was 16 years of age!

From Lowood, Killer took us via Fernvale, Marburg, and through some awesome roller coaster climbs where the riders went at their own pace and proceeded to put themselves through as much pain as possible in order to work up a bigger appetite for the yummy lunch that they knew was waiting for them at Sutton's Park on the outskirts of Ipswish. It was just before lunch that Whippsy suffered his 5th puncture of the trip and Denice made him get in the car before he wore out the rim from so many punctures. The mercury had been steadily climbing all day and once again it was after 12pm that the temperatures were in the high 30's and leaving it's mark on many of the tired riders.

We left lunch after 40 minutes and had just one final stop for water when we were 20km's from UQ. The message from Bretty Goebel was loud and clear, we were not home yet and keep the talk up and stay alert as that is when the most accidents tend to happen. Thankfully we all arrived safe and sound home to the UQ Aquatic Centre, where Peter Barnett was finally able to jump into the pool and cool off. This was his only wish for the day as it was his 60th birthday. A cake was given to peter at Lowood and happy birthday sang by all the crew, but really all he ever wanted was that dip in the pool.

We finished the day with nearly 170km's on our Garmins, with a few of the guys heading out to do a little extra to bring up another 200km day. Our average speed was very impressive with the first 120km's at 30km/h, although once we hit the hills this dropped back to an average of 28.4 by the time we hit the Uni finish.

Okay I have 5 minutes before I knock off at 5pm and I am just about done. Before I go I would just like to say well done to both groups of riders who completed either one or 2 days over that hot weekend. You guys are in good shape so just keep doing what you are doing and I just know each and every one of you will finish your chosen Smiddy event.

Please keep up the great work you are all doing with your fundraising. It is the most important part of this huge jigsaw puzzle that makes up a Smiddy event.

You do Smiddy and the Mater Foundation proud and we are so fortunate to have you all along for the ride.

Take care and until my next blog.

Sharky

Saturday, 2 April 2016

SMIDDY ADELAIDE TO ULURU TRAINING WEEKEND - DAY ONE

Brisbane to Mulgowrie via Aratula, Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley.

My Thirst Is Quenched
As I sit and write this blog I have just finished a long 200km plus day with 42 magnificent human beings called Smiddy riders. These guys and girls are the salt of the earth and help me to quench my thirst of human kindness stories each and every year that Smiddy has been operating since 2006. Along with these hardy souls are of course our incredible road crew and together we can, and do, achieve amazing outcomes for those people less privileged in life to be fighting their battle against cancer.

Two Smiddy Groups, One Goal
So the training weekend went like this, two groups formed in two different locations, one group of 24 riders that are doing the Up The Guts ride to Uluru left UQ Aquatic Centre at 6am, lead by Christian Killeen and Cherie Nicolas, while the other group of 17 riders, that were either doing the main Challenge ride to Townsville, the new 4 day event in October or the Noosa event this month, rolled out of Oxley train station lead by myself.

Testing Course and Conditions and the Popular Killer
The two groups merged at 6:30am where the Centenary bike path ends at Sumner Road. We then had ourselves a Smiddy peloton to be proud of and the two groups quickly formed a bond that would not be broken through high hell and rain, and let me assure that while there was no rain the heat delivered a blistering hot day that tested each and every rider to their capacity. Not only that but throw in a route designed by the greatest bike route mapper in the world, if not the universe, Christian 'Killer' Killeen, who delivered a 170km ride for my group that finished at Rosewood, and the 200km version that finished in Mulgowie, which is out near Laidley. The course had everything including two dirt sections, one that was just 2km's, while the other was a kick-arse 6.8km's long and it was there that 7 of the 9 punctures that we got on the day happened. Killer was extremely popular after that! It was a day that saw the road either tipping up or down with only the occasional flat section thrown in for a laugh. Killer was now even more popular!

The Oldest Pub is Shut
Now I have just 1 hour to write this blog as we arrived an hour and a half behind schedule at 5:30pm due to the many punctures, the many hills, the heat and the most bizarre portage of bikes and riders over a 800 metre section of highway at Aratula that the police permit would not permit us to ride on, this section alone sucked up an entire 80 minutes, which was okay as it included lunch at what was the oldest known pub in Queensland. Now this pub was so old that it was not actually even open. Apparently being closed since back when World War Two was still at the height of the action. Now killer once again become the most popular man in the Universe as we were all hanging out for that counter meal and possible even a Shandy to wash down those salty chips and a massive steak that our imaginations had conjured up for 6 hours leading up to lunch.

That Shady Tree and The Unpopular Killer Strikes Again
So it was off to the bakery for a good old Aussie pie and a can of sugar, also known as Coke. With all the bikes and riders safely negotiating this piece of road, Denice Barnett, the most enthusiastic camera lady in the entire world, got a photo of the group under a nice shady tree that none of us wanted to leave behind. It was even suggested that the tree be transplanted into my back and the group would then follow me to take advantage of the shade. Now while this was an excellent idea, we unfortunately ran out of time as Killer was at us to get on the road and get pedaling, pedaling, pedaling. It would be remiss of me to not point out that this decision meant that Killer was once again not the most popular man in the peloton. He does try old Killer but today was just not his day! Lucky he is a nice bloke and we all are so forgiving.


Hungry Shark and The Geevsey Shandy Story Worth Starving For
Anyway I am running out of time and my stomach is growling. I know everyone is in the Mulgowrie Pub enjoying a few ales and some salty chips and I yearn for their company, not to mention a nice cold Shandy. Now while on the subject of Shandies, and I know I don't have the time to tell you this story but here it is anyway. Our lead car driver Chris's Geeves happened to pay the Smiddy team a visit at Smiddy HQ a couple of weeks back and we went to the Morrison for lunch. It was here that I accidentally left my wallet back in the office and Geevsey shouted me lunch. I then miraculously found $10 in my trousers and offered to buy him a beer, which of course was a Shandy. He was shocked of course but started to drink it and half way through finishing it these were his very words, as witnessed by all the team at Smiddy; He excitedly said this: "Sharky this is not half bad." For ten years he has paid out on me for drinking my favourite drink so this is his payback tonight!

Now I am seriously out of time so to finish with I will say that we got to Rosewood, where road crew delivered a most welcome afternoon tea that included many cold drinks of everything imaginable, except for a Shandy of course. It was here were we lost our magnificent 17 Smiddy riders, who had to do it tough and catch the air-conditioned train home. For the remainder of the riders it was on to Mulgowrie, where we are swagging the night in the local hall, while the friendly staff are looking after us food and drink wise in their beautiful establishment that has all the character typical of so many Australian pubs.

So to finish with here are a few highlights, in no particular order as I am hungry, did I mention that? from today. Enjoy.

1. Julia, who is doing the Challenge ride up to Townsville, I just love her innocence as she is so new to the world of endurance cycling. I suggested today that she take off her front and rear lights and her saddle bag, which stripped 2kg off the weight of her bike. I assured she would now climb as she was 2kg lighter. Did it work? You'll have to check with Julia.

2. A big shout out to Jenny who shouted me lunch at Aratula. Honestly my money was in Kevvies car and he was nowhere to be seen!

3. Smiddy Road crew rock and we love their dedication to the Smiddy and Mater cause. Thank you to Bob Cage, Denise Barnett, Captain Kev, Volunteer legend of the year, Katherine Richardson, Wayne 'The Force from the North' Smith, Geevsey, Wendy Muir and of course to the Smiddy team of Cherie and Killer. Did I mention about Killer and his popularity?

4. At Aratula Brendan Whipps had a family reunion with his Wife and twin daughters that was totally unplanned. He was beside himself with excitement as they happened upon the Smiddy group as they were heading out to a camping spot near Aratula.

5. Okay we have a problem... Two Smiddy riders that are doing the ride to Uluru share the same nickname in Mad Dog. The showdown between the two will surely happen as our Melbourne Mad Dog in Malcolm Bourke was not present for this ride, while our Yamba impersonator in Matty Muir was present and accounted for. Watch this space for further developments in this epic tale where one must take on the Mad Puppy tag instead.

6. Stinky Dave Colahan was the most excitable rider in the entire peloton with his white horse calls today, his nirvana was when we passed one property that had not 1, not 2, not 3 and Not 4 white horses but 5 of the buggers. It took Stinky an hour to calm down after that sighting.

7. Okay first puncture of the day went to me, closely followed by Ray Smith who earned the honour of the first to get a broken spoke. The dirt section climbed 7 punctures by riders Julie 1, Killer 1, Bretty 2, Allan 1, Jenny with 1 and then another one while she was just standing on the dirt.

8. The first time in Smiddy history where we had two huddles in one day. One at Rosewood to farewell the riders and one at the finish at Mulgowrie. Ken Woods was given the honour of the Mulgowrie because of his heartfelt efforts today to help so many riders in the way of a push back to the peloton or words of advice or mechanical issues. A man of many talents and a heart of gold.

9. Mel Speare for her first big ride back from breaking her wrist back in February. It was painful at 100km's but finished the day with 210km's on the clock. Tough Chick!

10. King and Queen of the Laidley 3km climb went to Adrian Cross and Helen Reid, with Helen being so strong she was 4th overall to the top of the mountain. Nice work guys.

11. Having old mate Mark Trembath from Sydney back in the Smiddy peloton for the day after having a one year hiatus from Smiddy events after 5 years to spend time with his family.

12. Thank you to Kevin Moultrie from Sydney for being our guest speaker tonight and sharing with us his reason for riding was because of his Son Jake and his successful battle in beating Leakemia.

13. Lastly to our ride leaders in Stinky Dave, Melissa Speare,Ken Woods and Bretty Goebel, we are indebted to you all for your passion and strength to help out on so many occasions, not just today but on the many rides you guys have been doing Smiddy events over the years. Thank you.

Stay tuned for my day two report.

Cheers,

Sharky

Monday, 21 March 2016

2016 New Zealand Smiddy Challenge - Day Five

Day five - Arthurs Pass to Christchurch

Ride Stats:

Total Distance: 145.8 km
Total calories burnt: 2565 calories which equalled the beer and wine drunk that night to celebrate
Total climbing distance: 1 171 m vertical climbing (or you can call it elevation)
Average speed: 26.3km/h, which is a really good pace for day 5 when all our legs are tired from the previous 4 days riding
Total riding time: 5 hours33 minutes
Total lapsed time: 8 hours 08 minutes, which means we relaxed a bit more at the breaks and enjoyed the last day of the road crews catering
Minimum temp:1 degree s
Maximum temp: 24 degrees
Winds: hard headwind for the final 50km

Road kill count:

16 x UFOs
1 x NZ $2o bird
1 x hanging possum
1 x normal possum
11 x waterfalls

Day five dawned clear and crisp in the remote little township of Bealey where there is a pub, a lodge and not much else. As we woke up and slowly got ready for the last day on tour the mist in the distance started to roll towards us and got thicker and thicker.

We had a classic "Perkynana" moment as a bleary eyed Kevin Douglas walked out of his room holding a little teddy bear that he had slept with but had no idea how it got there. The other riders helped him out by showing the photographic evidence of Kevin abducting the little teddy from the pub the night before. Kevin tried to act innocent but he was guilty and couldn't hide from the evidence.

The roll out time was 7.30 am but no one was in a hurry because we all knew this was our last day together. Sir Kevvy asked Neil to ring the ceremonial Smiddy cow bell to start the ride which he accepted with great honour. Neil is the oldest rider on tour and an inspiration to us all as he gave everything he had every day to keep the pace and make all the climbs.

The first hour of the ride was in thick fog which hid the scenery. I was about to say "I think it's going to clear soon" but realised I had been banned from mentioning the weather. Eventually the fog did clear and the scenery was again breathtaking. The road was weaving its way through the valley next to a clear river surrounded by mountains. Every climb and corner had another awe inspiring view that took the mind off our aches and pains.

The peloton was riding in complete unison and rolling smoothly as we all took a turn on the front. The riders were quiet and focused counting down the kilometres to the first comfort stop. The road crew were waiting for us at a rest area with a hut and a toilet, which some of the riders missed completely as they headed for the bushes. Sammi-Jo was kept busy massaging and stretching and supporting some weary riders.

The conditions on dayfive were perfect as we gradually descended from Arthurs Pass National Park on state highway 73 towards Christchurch. We had just a couple of medium sized climbs to get through before the famous descent that Killer had warned us about. After a quick safety briefing at the top we were all let loose to ride down at our own pace. Some of the experienced riders quickly got up speed and flew down the winding road while the rest of us more cautious cyclists took our time. It didn't matter as we were all smiling when we regrouped.

Only a few kilometres to go until lunch and we were all hanging in there feeling hungry, tired but exhilarated at the same time. Just outside Sheffield we were joined by a group of Smiddy riders who had travelled to Christchurch for Le Race on Saturday. They had ridden out to meet us and we were very grateful to see them as the wind picked up and the tail wind we had been enjoying turned into a fierce energy-sapping head wind.

The head wind stayed with us all the way to Christchurch and really hurt the New Zealand riders physically but not mentally. Nothing could dampen the Smiddy spirit and feeling of camaraderie that had developed between this group of cyclists and road crew.

The last few kilometres of the tour was through the back streets of Christchurch to our final destination. The roads we had travelled for most of the 700 km had been perfect and enjoyable but Christchurch is still recovering from the 2010/11 earthquakes and the roads are not in great condition with a lot of patching. We had to stay focused and 'keep it classy' as ride leader Coollie would stay.

And then we were done and the 2016 New Zealand Smiddy tour was over. 22 strangers had become friends and everyone was hugging and laughing with shear joy that we had made it. No incidents, only 3 punctures and 2 broken spokes was all that we had had to deal with on this tour. There were some sore backsides, stiff bodies and moans but that's a small price to pay for five days riding through the magnificent New Zealand alpine region.

Dinner that night was a lot of fun and everyone was extremely hungry not because the road crew hadn't feed us well, they had, but because we had expended every ounce of energy on the climbs, long days and maybe a few late nights.

When asked what was your favourite part of the tour nearly everyone said Wednesday when we rode 178 km in the pouring rain and gale force winds. To people who haven't participated in a Smiddy tour this may sound strange but it's days like that when everyone's commitment to the Smiddy values of teamwork, spirit and mateship shine through and you really bond with your fellow cyclists.

At the start of the week the New Zealand 2016 riders had raised $50,000 and I challenged them to get to $60,000 by the end of the week. The fundraising now stands at $60,339 with more funds still to come in. It is just incredible what a small group of dedicated Smiddy riders can achieve and how much their efforts will contribute to cancer research.

The final Smiddy teamwork jersey was given to Ian Bisson. He was hurting on day five but that didn't stop him helping the other riders up the climbs the whole day. It was very easy to choose the 'Perkynana' award recipient today as Kevin's escapade with the teddy bear stood out. And finally the Smiddy rainbow socks, in honour of Maria Smiddy, were given to the top 3 fundraisers Stephen and Tim Russell and Ian Bisson who raised over $33,000 together.

The Smiddy team and all our colleagues at the Mater Foundation would like to thank the 2016 New Zealand riders and road crew for their support and dedication. You are all members of the Smiddy family now and we look forward to riding with you again.


New Zealand is a wonderful country for cyclists and there are many places left to explore. If you are interested in joining us in 2017 please visit www.smiddy.org.au or email the team info@smiddy.org.au. We are planning another tour that will travel new roads and mountains in the South Island. More details to come!

~ Cherie