Friday, 24 April 2015

2015 NOOSA SMIDDY - A DAY OF AWARDS - DAY 2

Noosa-Gympie-Noosa

Statistics for the day:

Distance: 156 km's
Ave speed: 24 km/h
Max Speed: 87km/h
Elevation climbed: 1566 metres
Ride time: 6:30:00
Min temp: 12 degrees
Max temp: 28 degrees

Roll out was scheduled for a 6am start and we left right on time at 6:15! Mike Dyer was given the honour of ringing the cow bell and he proceeded to wake up the entire complex to ensure that our non cycling guests hated cyclists even more. Meanwhile Phil Anderson commented to me that in the Southern States, Victoria in particular, the state where Phil is from, they like to roll out at 8:30 or even 9am. He thinks Queenslander's are kind of a little weird with our early starts. But as I pointed out, if we start early, it means more socialising
and a few more shandies in the afternoon, or maybe even an afternoon kip or a swim down at the beach. Anyway all were happy and life is good, as after all, it is a Friday and none of the peloton were at work.

The magically weather continues
Just like yesterday the peloton rolled out in picture perfect conditions. All that was required were cycling knicks and a jersey and anyone that wore wind jackets had removed them well before morning tea, which was at the 60km point of the ride in Dagun; an old historic town with the road crew setting up at the closed down Dagun tourist railway line.

Today's ever changing course
So the entire route today was mapped out to include as many hills as possible; more up than down, more steep than not and if there was a dirt road then we were riding it! Did not matter if that said dirt road had a climb of 16% gradient in it and tyre slippage ensured. Did not matter that we were on road bikes and traveling up and down roads that the early settlers used back in the 1800 hundreds. All that mattered was that we kept moving forward and with a smile - for some a grimace- on our faces and enjoyed the fact that it was indeed, still a Friday and we were not at work! Thanks to the Kill Man for coming up with a course today that definitely had a Paris-Roubaix feel to it.

Kin Kin here we come come for some lunch lunch
From morning tea to lunch was more of the same, with quite a few sections of go-at-your-own pace. It was on these sections that some kamikaze antics by riders with no talent took on the likes of the great Row Man, The Cross Man and the Pretty Man, with the outcome always going to be the Man Club 1,2,3 and said unnamed riders drifting back to the safety of the peloton. Road crew once again chose a great place to set up for lunch at the local sports oval at Kin Kin. With 109 kilometres in our legs and close to 2000 metres of climbing, lunch was always going to be a welcome stop. It was here that I jumped in the front vehicle and began this blog. Actually I am a little annoyed, as Geevsey keeps hitting all the bumps and making it hard for me to type up this report. Talk about no respect for his esteemed passenger!

Goodbye Kin Kin, Hello Noosa.
From lunch to Noosa was a further 46 kilometres, the camels back had been broken and the rider group, as Geevsey calls them over the two-way radio, were riding well and enjoying the downhill run into Noosa. I popped out and rejoined the group for the remaining 15 kilometres into the RACV resort, which we rolled into at 2:30pm and Mr 'Late Start' Anderson could now see the proof in the pudding at our reasons for an early start. Thank you to Christine and James Ramsay for taking on the honour of leading the Smiddy huddle. Christine spoke about being an oncology nurse and witnessing suffering each and every day that pales into significance any bad day that us as riders may go through on the bike. While James spoke about the research side of his job and confirmed that his many years in the research lab had indeed brought about many positive early warning tests that where saving lives right now as we speak.

Today is award day and the following riders won these very deserving awards:

Jos Lablache won the last person ready in the morning award.

Geevsey won the roundabout in Noosa award, for taking the group for a lap around one of them before we were even out of Noosa as he decided which way to go.

Pretty Boy won the first rider leader to crack award, when at morning tea he had to get his sore poor little calf attended to with some pretty Sammi-Jo pink strapping tape.

Kristine Ramsay definitely won the most guts and determination not to get in the van award. The pace is clearly too fast for Kristine but she refuses to give in and we all admire her incredible efforts and stubborness.

Her husband James wins the husband who pushes his Wife up the most hills award. Always by her side he has been an amazingly supportive hand husband.

Gytey wins the 'first in the car with Kevvy' award, blaming mechanical failure, but seriously, I think he was still sulking about finding out the truth yesterday that he has puny guns...

Jos and myself were a tie for second in the vaning award when both of us vaned it from lunch.

The name Michael win the most popular name on the Noosa Smiddy award with four Michaels having to share the glory. David was a close second with three and Mark a close third with two. Although I should point out that the two Mark's are without doubt more handsome than any Michael and David and that accounts for extra points so the two Mark's are the winner. Sorry Michael's...

Michael Cooper takes out the most chuffed and happy to be asked to wear a rider radio award. Dom was beside himself with excitement and he never tired of telling anyone that would listen how happy he was to be asked. But seriously thank you Michael, you did an awesome job.

Rowan Foster takes out the award for smashing the most rider's brave or silly enough to take him on in the multiple sprint and mountain top finishes today. Row is like a dog with a rag doll that refuses to let go.

Rowan Foster again, this time taking out the "I am only here for one and half days and leaving the group to return to Brisbane after smashing all his mates into oblivion" award. While we we will miss our good friend none will miss his legendary and painful smash fests.

Our road crew took out the best road crew on the Noosa Smiddy award. They won this by a clear margin.

Road crew again and this time Wendy and Alana win the most time spent cooking to feed 50 famished riders and their families award. Truly legendary effort of a cooking experience that began at 7:30 this morning and wasn't completed until we began eating it at seven tonight.

Shane Walsh was a popular winner in the best wheel to sit on while going downhill as I am a fat barsted award! One to be proud of for sure old mate...

And last but not least, Peter Dyer and Neil Southwell took out the; "I hear there is dirt involved in today's route, so let's not ride and sleep in and go to the beach and have a nice breakfast and lunch and not raise a sweat" award. They won this convincingly!

A great night was had by all when we did all our usual antics but this time inside the road crew unit, which luckily at the RACV are immensely huge. Thank you to Gavin Herholdt for reading out tonight's blog. For Kim Bertwhistle for delivering a great talk about her reasons for wanting to do this ride, which included her love for her Mother, who passed away recently from Melanoma and for her love of God and wanting to help out those who are less fortunate.

That's me for the night and it is now time for bed and to bottle up some energy for the famous Mapleton climb in the morning followed by an Anzac Service at 9am.

Take care.

Sharky

Hi to my Sister Kay, Love you!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

2015 NOOSA SMIDDY - DAY ONE


Statistics for the day:

Distance: 170km
Ave speed: 25 km/h
Max Speed: 77.3kph
Elevation climbed: 1726mtrs
Ride time: 6:50:00
Min temp: 12 degrees
Max temp: 26 degrees

Our Talented Peloton
Welcome to my first Noosa Smiddy blog for 2015. Throughout this blog I will introduce you to the riders, road crew and the new Smiddy team. In this ten year anniversary of Smiddy events, the Noosa Smiddy is our second for 2015 after a most successful first up excursion to New Zealand just one month ago. This years event has attracted a record 38 riders with a breakdown of 34 hand picked professional Tour De France type talented handsome males that would all be eligible for a part in Bondi Beach Rescue. Then we have four absolutely gorgeous stunning and incredibly talented beautiful females in Kim Bertwhistle, Kristine Ramsay, Andrea Davis, all first time Smiddy riders and Annalie Houston, who has done quite a few Smiddy events. Many of the peloton are past NSW or Noosa Smiddy riders, while quite a few are first time Smiddyites. A huge welcome goes out to all of you guys but especially to all our newbies in the girls mentioned above and our male riders in Mike Cooper, Philip Good, Paul Spezza, Scott Mcgeever, Alan McMurtrie, David Wadsworth, Hugh Morrison, Nigel Smith, Mark Craig, Dominic Panaccio, Mark Craig, Blake Coats, Chris Lincoln. Apologies if I left anyone out.

The roll out
So onto today's 162 kilometre ride from Brisbane to Noosa. Our departure point was from the UQ Aquatic Centre, who have been supporters of Smiddy events since 2006 up until the present day. A huge thank you to pool manager Jae Marr and staff for allowing us to use their facilities many times throughout the year. After a friendly welcome speech from Smiddy and Mater employee Christian 'Killer' Killeen, and with multiple Smiddy Challenge rider Tony Hegarty given the honour of ringing the infamous Kevvy Cow Bell, the peloton rolled out at 6:15am and spent the next hour getting every possible red light out of Brisbane. Well the back half of the peloton that I was in at least. Where was Copey and our police escort I ask? (Brenton Cope, Smiddy rider and 4 time Challenge rider and a Brisbane detective who sometimes organisers a police escort out of Brisbane for us.) Well actually Copey was in the pool that morning at UQ doing laps and clearly not thinking of us Noosa riders. Thanks Mate!

With the change in a weather a week ago from a long drawn out hot and humid Summer, it was a welcome relief of the cooler conditions that greeted the hardy Noosa Smiddy riders. All were happy and smiling and commenting on their good fortune to be:
A. Not at work on a Thursday

B. Have such awesome weather odd day one of the ride

C. And not to be out work on a Thursday. Have I mentioned that the riders were pretty chaffed not to be at work on a Thursday?

Morning tea was at the 61 kilometre mark of the ride at Caboolture and for the first time riders, their eyes devoured all the food as they approached the table, then their mouths and stomach caught up with their eyes as everything in sight was consumed in quick smart fashion. Thank you to our beautiful road crew. Also nice to see former Smiddy leader; Matty Marshall and his young Son Fergus drop in for an unannounced visit. Great to see you old mate and miss you! Hug...

Road crew intro - The Stalwarts
Which brings me this exceptional bunch of human beings that are instrumental for each and every Smiddy event to even proceed. So please help me to welcome our amazing stalwarts that have been on board Smiddy events for years, some as long as nine years in our rear car driver Kevvy Enchelmaier. Then we have Chris Geeves, Smiddy rider and road crew since 2007 and as valuable to us as what Kevvy has been over the years. Sammi Jo So, our beautiful Smiddy Masseuse, The Chinese Ninja Assassin, with hands of steel and a heart of gold, since 2011. Andy Loney from Noosa Smiddy sponsor in Sealy Posturepedic and helping out since the Half Smiddy back in 2011. Mike Stubber from LMG and a Smiddy helper since the very first NSW Smiddy back in 2011. Mike flys in each time from WA, so has the distinction of being the furtherest travelled volunteer in the history of Smiddy.

Road Crew and the Newbies
Every year the great thing about Smiddy events is that not only do new riders come through but new road crew personal. Which is critical for the growth of Smiddy and awesome that heaps of different people from all walks of life get to experience the magic of a Smiddy event. So a big hug and welcome to Alana and Georgia Buick, Wife and Daughter  of returning Smiddy rider Rob Buick, who kindly wanted to involved his family in the magic that is Smiddy. Georgia is just a teenager and was holding up well considering she was roused from her bed at 3:40am this morning! Calum Lazenby is another newbie from our bike shop sponsor in Avantiplus The Valley, who kindly supplied Calum as our mechanic and without him the riders bikes that break down would be going nowhere. So a huge thank you to Calum for giving up 4 days of his valuable time to look after us.

Morning tea to Lunch
From morning tea we travelled another 61 kilometres to get to Palmwoods and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Bottlemart Palmwoods Hotel. A huge thanks to the proprietor Steve for being so welcoming to a bunch of sweaty cyclists, and to Kerry Brown from the Sunshine Valley Gazette for joining us for lunch and doing a story about the ride. As for peloton they were traveling well and some first timers were exceeding their own expectations as to how far they could ride. Please see my highlights at the end of this blog for more details.

Our ride leaders
Another group of very special individuals I would like to acknowledge are our esteemed ride leaders. Without them there would be no hands on riders back, no clear instructions and definitely no calls of rolling, rolling, rolling, or pedal, pedal, pedal! As made famous by Stinky Dave. Besides Dave, a huge show of gratitude to Adrian "Crossy" Cross and Dale "Pretty Boy" Heaps, for giving up four days of their time to volunteer for this role that will help deliver the peloton to its successful conclusion on Sunday.

Palmwoods to Kiel Mountain Road and let the falls begin
The notorious thing about lunch is that the infamous 21% gradient climb up Kiel Mountain Road, at the 125 kilometre point of the ride, is always waiting to claim its next victim. The lovely Kristine Ramsay was so taken by this climb that she insisted on going down and getting intimate and giving the climb a big fat hug. She was okay as it was a low speed fall and she made Kevvy's day as she got to spend the last of the ride with Captain Kev and hear one of his never ending stories of how he followed my butt around Australia for seven years at 25 km/h! Now Doctor Jim Coward, from Mater Research, had no issues getting up the same hill, but coming down the other side he decided he needed a well deserved rest and into the gravel and a soft landing into the grass by the side of the road ensured not too much damage was done. He was up quicker than Flash Gordon but if a rider falls, sorry but its van and Kevvy time for them. So now Kevvy was beside himself with joy; life couldn't get any better for Kev; two passengers and he started on his story all over again!

Our awesome Smiddy team
Cherie Nicolas took over from Matty Marshall as our leader of Smiddy. Matt moved on due to a transfer, that  his lovely Wife Tash got, that involved a move overseas with the company that she works for. So Cherie has been thrown head first into the behind-the- scenes-calm-madness that is Smiddy, that thankfully the riders never get to see. Two months in and her hair is going grey already but she is adapting well to her new role, with this event being her first on the road and her first big test. Wendy Muir also just joined the Smiddy team just before the New Zealand Challenge and already after that stint in NZ is beginning to find her feet and already an integral part of the team. Christian "Killer" Killeen, our captain in the peloton has been with Smiddy now for over a year and with his experience of being a Smiddy rider since 2008 he has taken to Smiddy like duck to water. His greatest attribute; a very calming influence to have as a leader in the peloton. Krista Page is another Newbie with Smiddy, just 5 weeks into her new role and again thanks to her experience as a Challenge rider she is already excelling in her new role. Last but not least, we have the great Row Man Foster, who lead team Smiddy for many years before stepping across to a corporate role within the Mater Foundation a couple of years ago. Row is always a pleasure to have in the Smiddy peloton, not just for his friendliness and welcoming attitude towards each and every rider and road crew, but for his immense experience within the peloton. Team Smiddy, through the Mater Foundation, is fresh, full of new ideas and a change I welcome with open arms.

Kiel Mountain Road to Noosa
As part of my goal to look after my health and wellbeing, so that I am around for many Smiddy events for years to come, I sat out from lunch up until the last water stop with 20 kilometres remaining to complete the 170 kilometre day. Sitting in the rear seat of the lead vehicle witnessing Geevsey and Stubbsy safely lead the peloton to its next destination was an incredible eye opener. I took in the awe of it, then threw myself into this blog. Like in New Zealand, my goal is to deliver a blog to the crew on the same day as it happens. So I furiously tapped away and got 800 words down in the hour it took to get to the final water stop of the day. Missing all the major climbs and feeling a little cheeky and a touch guilty, I rejoined the peloton for the remaining 20 kilometres. All arrived safely and after a quick talk by Rowan and I to the riders on the positive results of research over the ten years of Smiddy events, we did our customary huddle where we acknowledge the riders, road crew and finished the day with a nice chant for our mate in Smiddy, Smiddy Smiddy.

To finish here are a few highlights from today in no particular order:
Andrea Davis and Nigel Smith from Sydney, came into this event expecting only to cover 80 kilometres a day. I am happy to report that this lovely determined married couple, not only completed their longest ride ever but completed the entire day. Nice work guys and I have no doubt tomorrow will see more of the same heart and soul.

Chris Lincoln came into this event with his longest ride being 58 kilometres. Not only did Chris smash this by completing the entire day but also took out the biggest Guns competition, with Blake Coates a close second and also won first puncture of the day just outside of the start at UQ, and the Gyte Man was a dismal third with his puny guns!

Jos Lablache did Noosa Smiddy two years ago and was 20kg heavier and kept Kevvy company on many occasions. Not this time around, as the big man is now a shadow of his former self and cruised up all the climbs this time around that caused him so much grief in 2013. Nice work old mate.

A big welcome to Mike Dyer, who has wanted to do this ride for the past two years but was relegated to road crew duties to injury or health issues. He is now fit and healthy and completed his first of what I know will be four full days on the road.

Once again we are gifted to have the great Phil Anderson along for his third Noosa Smiddy event. We actually have two Skippies in the peloton with the original in Phil Anderson and a ring-in with returning Smiddy rider Peter Hammond, who claims he is slightly hoppier than Mr Anderson!

Crossy was pushing people all day, in particular Kim Bertwhistle, who was appreciative, but not until Phil Anderson pushed Kim did she get the real experience of having the Hands of God on her back, which apparently she recognised immediately and Crossy was then sacked!

Dougy Clayton takes out foghorn award of the day with his constantly loud and precise calls for anything resembling a stick, a hole, which he could spot from a mile out and even a call for a rock was heard throughout the peloton, which ended up being one of the Glass House Mountains...

Tonight all the riders were presented with a long sleeve Smiddy jersey that was engraved on the sleeve their name and Noosa Smiddy from the great and not shy Phil Anderson. Who was even happy for one of the riders to jump up on Phils back and pretend he was a bike.

That's it from me until tomorrow. Nighty night.

Sharky

Friday, 27 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE Bealey To Christchurch- Day 5

STATS FOR THE DAY
Distance: 137 kilometres
Average speed: 25.9 kmph
Ride Time: 5hrs 18min
Maximum speed:  82 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 3 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  21 degrees
Metres climbed: 1009
Wind direction: Light headwind for last 60km's

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Wal,
12 rabbits, 9 bags of bones, 2 birds, Jayden's back wheel and Geoff's front tyre.

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Peter Monopili. This bloke is so deserving of this award. A kiwi local from Christchurch and next-door neighbour to the Wonderful Vander-Wal family. Peter is a real quiet achiever, never says much, but for 5 days now has been driving that lead vehicle in his no-fuss way and keeping all of us riders safe. None of the riders know this but Peter lost his Wife to a heart attack just 18 months ago. He was the first person on the scene and what he went through will stay with him for the rest of his life. Peter's daughter is also fighting her own personal battle with cancer as we speak. He is moving on with his life and I just want him to know that he now has an additional 38 Smiddy people in his life that he can now call his friends. Congratulations Peter.

GUEST SPEAKER: No guest speaker tonight.

Today was our final day on the road for the NZ Smiddy Challenge and on paper it promised to be a cracker of a course with the last 85km either downhill or flat. But as is per usual in any Smiddy event, what looks good on paper does not necessarily unfold as it reads out on the road. Our roll out today was at 7:30 and we got away right on time at 7:45. The next 50km's into morning tea at Lake Lyndon took close on 3 hours to complete. This included a wee stop and an awful lot of regrouping thanks to the constants up and downs of the road. The peloton, while tired, still appreciated the magnificent Alpine views that these Autumn mornings and the thick moist fog banks provided.

Rolling into morning tea we were all famished and not only was the food at its usual high standards but we were treated to two surprise guests arriving in their hire car in Maria and David Smiddy. It was so good to see them as we were not expecting them until the finish at Christchurch. Maria had just finished her latest round of chemotherapy for her Pancreatic cancer and she was extremely happy that the administration of the drug timed perfectly so that she could greet her beloved Smiddy riders and road crew. Always thinking of others our Maria! She looks great, always smiling and always positive, while David was his usual cheeky self and straight into me. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

After morning tea we had a small of amount of climbing up to 950 metres of altitude and then the big drop commenced. We lost 450 metres in just 5 kilometres and the ride of our lives was over way to quickly.

From the 60km point of the ride and into Christchurch was a gradual loss of another 500 metres of altitude over the remaining 77 kilometres. If not for the headwind we would have been hooting along at a much higher speed. But as it turned out, the rotation and work ethic of the entire peloton was fantastic and approximately a 30km average was the order of the day into Christchurch. Lunch was at the 101km mark by the side of the road in the shade of one of the hundreds of tall hedges that line all the farming roads over here.

From lunch into Christchurch and the final 36 kilometres, it was switch on time, thanks to going into the dense traffic that coincided with the schools finishing at 3pm. Killer chose a good safe route and we managed to get most of the green lights. It was one of the smoothest finishes to a Smiddy ride I could remember as we sailed through the suburbs of Christchurch with no incidents occurring, that saw all of us arrive safely to our home for the night at the Speights Ale House. A very popular choice of accommodation going by the riders reaction when they spotted the Speights Tavern sign sitting atop the welcoming building.

Hugs and congratulatory handshakes were the order of the day once the bikes were put to one side. Emotions were high and the riders and road crew indulged in some Smiddy love in those very special ten minutes. The huddle was taken by Karen and Bob Vander-wal and a very special cheer went out for our wonderful Maria and David Smiddy. And that was our day and of course there were a few highlights that will finish off this blog below.

What an amazing effort by just 26 riders and 9 road crew to raise in excess of $100,000 for Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation. A huge thank you to the crew and all the donors out there that believed in their chosen rider and what their reasons for doing this ride.

Over five days the peloton went up and over and down hundreds upon hundreds of small and large climbs and yet we had just one fall by Harry Nina. Great work by the riders for their patience and skill shown through 5 trying days of riding.

Speaking of falls I really must mention Harry Nina, and not just because he told me I had to, but because I think he deserves a mention. You see Harry woke up sore for some reason after falling on Wednesday? Yet he still managed to climb Arthur's Pass and then backed up today. Nice work mate and I, unlike all the other riders, will never tire of you telling your fall story and what a legend you are for continuing to ride!

To Geoff McKeon a heartfelt thank you for getting in the van with Kevvy for the morning session. I understand you had a sore knee but more important is that Kevvy will stop sulking thinking that no one loves him anymore. Good to see you out on the road again after morning tea and finishing all but 40km's of this 700km odyssey.

While on the subject of Geoff. That hair raising descent that was catapulting you down the road at 80km/h plus and you pull into the regrouping zone, stop and have a drink and the chatter was high from the excitement of the descent, when BAM! Down goes your front tyre... Someone was looking after you today champ.

Still on the descent. While I made a promise to Hawk that I would wear his Shark helmet cover all the way into Christchurch, I would just like to say that on each and every descent the wind velocity trying to tear my head from my shoulders had me questioning my loyalty.

Last night I awarded a signed Smiddy jersey to Harry Knowlman, at the end of the nighttime proceedings Harry re-gifted the jersey to his beloved Sister Charlotte as he felt she deserved it more. Harry was concerned that he offended me. I can assure you I re-gift all the time and that it was his to do with as he liked. But I thought it was a beautiful gesture. Having 4 wonderful and gorgeous sisters myself I fully understood where he was coming from.

It would be most unprofessional of me to name names here but it was noted today by one of the riders that a gender change may be on the cards for a number of the male riders. Wherever you looked, pink was the order of the day when it came to patching up either abrasions from falling off one's bike, or from having sore knees. That's all I am saying about that.

Okay it is official; not one cow was spotted today, which brought the total of no cows spotted over a 5 day period to still none, which is zero and nil and absolute in the total of 000000 non cows spotted. Therefore my theory of Alien abduction has been proven to be correct, and that's all that I can say about that. If I say anymore I am likely to be mistaken for a cow and may be abducted myself.

Slingers showed real Smiddy mateship on this trip, especially when Karl's battery shat itself. Every time Karl needed to change a gear for a particular section over the past 3 days, Slingers would be by his side lending his battery for the all important change. I know that Karl is extremely grateful to Jason, for without his support Karl knows he would not have finished this event.

That's it from me. Our next Smiddy event will be the Noosa Smiddy Challenge in a month's time. I look forward to writing about another bunch of wonderful human beings then.

Thanks again everyone out there for your support and on behalf of Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation our gratitude is eternal.

Cheers.

Sharky

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE Greymouth To Bealey - Day 4

STATS FOR THE DAY
Distance: 115 kilometres
Average speed: 22.9 kmph
Ride Time: 5hrs 03min
Maximum speed:  66 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 12 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  22 degrees
Metres climbed: 1501
Wind direction: Not much wind at all to speak of

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Wal, 26 sets of legs, 3 possums, 2 rabbits, 2 fur pancakes, 1 dead wick, 1 dead mouse but that was in the wicks mouth, 2 unidentified birds, 1 magpie and not so rare Kiwi migrator who couldn't handle her local train tracks

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Harry Knowlman. Yesterday Harry was on death's door. Today he rode past a sign near the top of Arthur's Pass called Death's Corner. Harry laughed in its face, or in this case at the sign and carried on up that climb like a professional mountain climber. The man was back today and the smile on the little guys face said it all. A very worthy winner.

GUEST SPEAKER: Louise O'Brien got up tonight and shared with us her story of her father passing away from bowel cancer. He lived in Ireland and over a long period of time Louise got the call many times that her father was about to pass away, she would drop what she was doing, rush to be by his side and then he would miraculously recover. When he did pass away the call came too late and she didn't get to say goodbye.

ADDITIONAL STATS BY KARL AND BEN
Stats are a little different tonight as we don't have easy access to all our internet gadgetry...

Distance - 115km over 8h07m
Max Speed - 65.4km/h (of the sampled rider)
Calories for an average rider - 3124Cal
Elevation Gain - 1599m

TBD 5 minute top average speed -
TBD 60 minute top average speed -

IT WAS ALL ABOUT ARTHUR'S PASS TODAY!
Today was the day everyone had been talking about with the iconic climb up the legendary Arthur's Pass. Not a huge climb in length at just 4.7km's, but with an elevation gain of 500 metres over such a short distance you know the 'pain train' is awaiting you. Arthur's Pass tops out at 920 metres and some of the pitches were as high as 22% gradient. To get to that 4.7km section, first we left Greymouth and did the old gradual climb thingo up to the 400 metre mark in elevation, which equates to a touch over 90 kilometres of riding before hitting the main climb. Getting there was the fun part and a most casual schedule met with strong approval from the group, especially those riders that suffered badly yesterday. This is how it looked:

Roll out was at 7:45am and the light rain that had started in the wee hours of the morning abated just in time for the start. I definitely think we have dodged a bullet with the rain on this trip. The locals were telling me that the west coast side of this South Island generates 70 metres of rain a year. Back home we measure our rainfall in mills, I can't begin to imagine 70 metres of rain! The greenness and sogginess everywhere you look is evident that the rain does indeed fall heavy when it is falling, and thankfully not now while we are here enjoying this wonderful beautiful and scenic country, and for that we are eternally grateful for.

Our first stop was at just 11km's to visit an old long closed coal mine called Brunnerton Mine. As coincidence would have it, on this very day, back in 1896, the coal mine exploded and over 100 miners were tragically killed. The mine has been closed since and the locals have done a magnificent job in remembering those lost in the explosion by keeping the area intact and preserved. From there we rode to the 38km point for a lovely morning tea at Lake Brunner. The lake there is beyond descriptive words and the photos taken will not do it justice, but I have uploaded a few to my Mark Sharky Smoothy Facebook site so please check them out. The only disappointing thing about this stop was that the road crew used up their limited supply of banana and chocolate cake. We still had a choice of 10 different options of food, so I am not complaining, but just saying that cake was worth it's weight in gold.

From Brunner Lake, another short section of 33 km's, and onto another placed owned by Smiddy rider, Jackson Gerard in Jackson Tavern. Our old mate Jackson is loaded when it comes to bridges and taverns! It was here that Kevvy, Killer and Peter decided to go for a drive up the road and check out the climb for any safety issues. Our normal 40 minute lunch turned into nearly two hours. We all reckon they had gone straight to the pub down the road. Finally we were on our way and another short section to the base of the climb saw us get a final safety brief by Killer and Ben. The next 4.7km was our destiny for the remainder of the day.

Which brings me to my top ten moments from day 4 on the road:

Our beautiful and talented bike mechanic Chris, was situated right at the back of the peloton as we rolled out of Greymouth. 500 metres into our roll out and train tracks on an angle had to be negotiated. The thing I love about Chris is her desire to be different; a young girl who is a bike mechanic and owns her own bike shop in Airlie Beach, a young lady who decided to throw herself to the ground when crossing those train tracks, while everyone else got through safely. Of course I was there to witness the whole thing, while ironically Karen had positioned herself at the same spot and got photos of all the action. Chris was up quicker than Jack Robinson (I don't even know who Jack Robinson is?) While Chris got her chain back on, I straightened up her bent brake hood and we were back on the peloton without anyone aware of what happened. Even Kevvy, who was right behind us, missed the entire thing.

To Rocket Rod, who saved his best performance for this day. He unleashed his beast from within and made it to the top a clear winner in the world and universe Arthur's pass championship. A big congrats to this man with a warm heart, who went for it and did the fastest time of the day to get to the top in a little over 26 minutes. Rod actually wanted to then turn around and go back to the last rider to help out but was overruled due to roadworks making it too unsafe.

Jeff Mckeon had a second tough day at the office and even though he struggles for most of the day, and was the last rider to the top of Arthur's Pass, this big man, who weighs in at a touch over 100kg, made it the entire way up that sucker without stopping.

To our road kill counter Jayden, who halfway up the climb, had his back go on him and he had to get off and walk in his cleats up a 14% pitch. He remounted and finished, and later at the regroup spot, proudly showed the bottom of his cleats, worn to the sole. Nice work our youngest Smiddy rider on this tour at just 23 years of age.

To my Bro Martin, for not only donating $1000 out of his own pocket last night to his fundraising page, but he generously shouted everyone a coffee today at the cafe where we all met after the big climb. Thank you so much mate, your generosity is most appreciated. Martin has indicated his goal is $10,000 to raise for this ride and tells me that all his mates didn't think he would finish such a tough tour and would not donate until he finished. Not only will he finish but will finish as one of the strongest 52 year olds on tour out of the three of us. John, myself and Martin!

To all the girls on tour; each and everyone of you are determined not to do van time, if ever there was a time to get in the van, today was it, and none of you even looked close to accompanying Kevvy. Well done and big hugs to you all. Your supporters and love ones are surely proud of you.

To Kevvy I feel really sad for. Every Smiddy tour someone always gets in and keeps him company. He then shares a Kevvy story with them that assures that you will never do van time again! But seriously Kevvy is sad as he feels no one wants to spend anytime with him other than at night over a glass of red. It is the van time he pines for and I have a feeling on this trip it is not going to eventuate as these guys are too bloody determined to ride every single kilometre of this journey. Sorry Kev!

I now have half the peloton keeping an eye out for a cow. In four days not one sighting of this elusive animal. With one day remaining let it be known that if no cows are sighted then I will be able to reliably report that they must have been abducted by aliens.

The Townsville crew were our guest huddle speakers today and a fine job did Rowan, Jason, and Kirsteen did deliver. In nearly every Smiddy event we hold there is always Townsville representatives in either the riders or road crew. I love Townsville and the association we have with the people associated with Smiddy. Thanks guys for your involvement and support.

Where we are staying tonight at the Bealey Spur Hotel, has views so magic that you would not find better even if you were in the French or Italian Alps. Killer has organised the route, the accommodation, the places to stop and visit along the way, and I think all the riders would agree that he has done a stellar job. Definitely a Smiddy tour to remember for so many different reasons.

Finally to each and every one of the riders to make that climb today was simply awesome. I love you all for your efforts. Be proud! That's it from me and I am sorry to say that this tour is nearly done with just one day remaining.

Until tomorrow, take care and give someone close to you hug and tell them how apsecial they are.

Cheers.

Sharky.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

SMIDDY NEW ZEALAND CHALLENGE -DAY 3 Reefton to Greymouth

STATS FOR THE DAY
Distance:  172 kilometres
Average speed:  27.2 kmph
Ride Time: 6hrs 20min
Maximum speed:   kmph
Temperature Minimum - 5 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  24 degrees
Metres climbed: 1513
Wind direction: Very little wind all day with a slight tailwind from lunch

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Walve 13 possums, 1 rabbit, 2 wicks one in Paula's spokes, a rare bird that Dianne new the name of, a helmet, a BMC and Harry!

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Christine Labes for all the work she has been doing to the riders bikes. Working long into the night and up early attending to our bike needs. Thank you Chris.

GUEST SPEAKER: John Masson, who is a doctor  and 52 years of age, talked about the importance of getting the checks that may one day save our lives. A friend of his that was a doctor died of Colon cancer and would still be alive today had he gotten a regular check up. Also the effect of losing his Mother to breast cancer when John was just 7 years old. Research since then means more is now known about breast cancer and the majority of women are beating the disease.

ADDITIONAL STATS BY KARL AND BEN
Distance - 172.9km - 6h21m - 27.2km/h
Elevation gain - 1678m
Calories - 4200Cal for average rider
5 minute top average speed - 51.6km/h
60 minute top average speed - 30.3km/h
Fewest gear changes - 3 - Karl
Spectacular Dismounts - 1 - Harry
Energy burned - 47 timtams, 5.3L of chocolate milk, 29 Coronas

Cumulative stats - 466.5km, 4310m of elevation gain

A DAY FOR ME THAT WAS A REMINDER OF WHY?
Today was one of those deceptive days on paper; one glance at the profile card suggested an easy day with no climb bigger than 188 metres. But the spikes in the graph suggested in the proximity of close to a hundred small climbs throughout our 172km day. Now what happens throughout a day like this is this: the riders get excited and the pace is always a little high for the morning session. That enthusiasm continues on into lunchtime but the effects are starting to be felt and shows in the riders faces and body language. From lunchtime onwards the general feeling is the rider cannot wait for the bloody day to end. All those small climbs today still amounted to over 1500 metres of climbing and with an average of over 27km/h it was by no means an easy day in the saddle. While I admire the strong riders in the group immensely and respect that for the majority of the time they are actually doing it fairly easy, it is the guts riders that I tip my hat to. To the following riders; Louise, Diane, Spiderman, Dr Koala, Charlotte, Sandra, Rowan, Harry and Jeff, you are all legends of the highest order.

You see, each and everyone of you are capable of riding distances much further than what you rode today, if only you could do it at your own pace. What you have shown the peloton today was the guts and determination you possess to ride a 172km day, going at a pace that is out of your comfort zone. And let me tell you this; to do that, takes courage and an inner stubbornness that I know is admired by all.

A CHAT TO DIANE
I was talking to Diane today at lunchtime and she admitted surprise when I told her I have bad moments every day when I am on the bike during any Smiddy tour. Moments where I want to quit, get in the van, or constantly fight the negative thoughts going through my brain of why do I put myself through this suffering and tiredness? What I saw today with you guys is that you fought off those demons, refused to give in, even though every fibre of your very being was telling you otherwise. What did Diane do? Of course she was back out there after lunch and calling on the internal strength to see the job through.

Louise O'Brien;  if this girl had of gotten into cycling as a teenager she would have won the female Tour De France. Now in her early 'thirties' and new to cycling and with Smiddy being her very first charity ride, she displays so much determination and spunk when on the bike that it's as if she was born to the sport!

OUR TWO HARRY'S
Harry Nina falls off his bike on a descent traveling at 50km's an hour. I stop and sit down and force him to just lie there in my lap for a few minutes as I know the adrenaline is pumping through his veins and overriding any pain he may be feeling. Why? Because he wants to get straight back up and get back on his bike, giving in is not an option with Harry, with all of you. Our other Harry, Harry Knowlman, literally hits the wall, bonks so badly it is an effort just to turn the pedals. I know the feeling, I have been there many, many times in the past. I reached for the last gel I always carry for an emergency, not needed by me thank goodness, but needed by a mate. I am not leaving his side, I am so proud of this man, He is delirious, I steady him with a hand on his back; that hand that I have felt on my own back many times in the past by a fellow caring rider. I whisper words of encouragement, the gel starts to kick in, Harry responds, he digs in, he will not quit, he gets to the finish and collapses over his handlebars; he is a Smiddy rider! I loved that man right at that very moment.

SHARKY'S INSIGHT INTO A SMIDDY RIDER
You see, when a rider goes through a bad day, a bad moment, has a negative thought, but fights on regardless; that riders displays a trait of human nature that we all possess; kindness... I believe, on a very deep-seated level, without that person even realizing it at the time, that through hardship, is when a person must reach into themselves and deliver for someone other than themselves. I do it, and have done it so many times, more times than I can remember - for Adam Smiddy. A vast proportion of my fellow Smiddy riders, over the past ten years of Smiddy events, have been doing the exact same thing, but for their love ones, either lost to cancer or battling their own illness as we speak.

So today was one of those days, where I witnessed so many acts of kindness, that just the mere act of writing about these amazing human beings, wets my eyes with an emotion that I will call pride. How could I not be proud? Of not only this current crop of Smiddy riders, but for every single solitary sole that has signed up and completed a Smiddy event over these past ten years. Their random acts of kindness has brought in close to $6 million dollars for research at Mater Research and is actually saving lives as we speak due to many early warning cancer detection tests that were not available back when Adam passed away in 2006. My mate would be alive today had we known what we know now! Nothing will bring Adam back, but I sure do know him well enough, to say, that he would be extremely proud that his passing has had such a positive effect on so many lives in such a short space of time.

MANY THANK YOU'S TO SO MANY PEOPLE
Thank you riders for the hope you give each and every person that is going through their own version of hell right this every minute. We do not have cancer and I am so eternally grateful for that. Your very act of riding a bike has prompted all your amazing family, friends, work colleagues and complete strangers to donate on your behalf. Whether you are a rider, a volunteer, a donor, a sponsor, or a supporter, on behalf of Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation we thank you, thank you and thank you 1 million times for showing that you care. Care enough to sponsor your chosen rider, care enough to make a difference thanks to your random act of kindness. Through these words I want to reach out and give you all a great big Smiddy cuddle. You are all now part of the Smiddy/Mater family and once inside it is a family you will never wish to leave!

Take care and with two more blogs to come before this ride wraps up on Friday, I am sure there will be many more stories to come out of bringing together so many good people for this New Zealand Smiddy Challenge 5 day cycling event.

Cheers,

Sharky.

P.S. Just before I go I just wanted to acknowledge a few special people. Firstly a big hello to Taylor, Jeff Mckeon's Son, who I know is reading these blogs. Taylor I do believe that you and I wear the exact same Ironman watch. Let me know when you are up for your first Ironman and we can do it together?

Harry Nina, thank you for bouncing so well at 50km/h and not seriously hurting yourself, although your pride may be a little wounded! Also for giving Killer a night off and taking on MC duties tonight. You were very funny and may do Killer out of a job!

To Mother Nature, for provided that stunning wet fog of the first 50km's of riding this morning. I am told the views were majestic for that section, if only we could have seen them!

Karen Vander-Wal, Sammi-Jo and Wendy, as far as all the riders are concerned we all wish you to be our Mums and cook that banana and chocolate cake for us each and every week. We're all moving in next week.

Peter and Rebecca, thank you for the additional tour of Reefton this morning. The backdrop of the buildings in the fog was outstanding.

To all the riders; averaging 30km/h for the first 69 kilometres to morning tea, while admirable, probably left not much gas in the tank for the afternoon session into Greymouth. But what the heck, it was fun and awesome at the time!

Karl Jameson, legend effort today by the little fella when his electronic battery died and he rode all those climbs in his big chainring to look like Michelin Man by the end of the day, legs only.

Sammi-Jo, for your efforts today in patching up quite a number of riders so that they could continue. Legend!

Mother Nature again for the West Coast scenic ocean views that has us all drooling for more, but please not another bloody long slow gradual climb!

Top 5 stats on NZ possums by Karl Jameson

1.Natural immunity. Possums are mostly immune to rabies, and in fact, they are eight times less likely to carry rabies compared to wild dogs. So the motto to that story is don't get bitten by a dog or a possum- although given there is no rabies in NZ this fact is totally useless. Anyway moving on.

2. Possums have superpowers against snakes. They have total immunity to the venom produced by rattlesnakes and vipers. This statistic is actually totally irrelevant as there are no snakes in NZ.

3.Natural defenses. When threatened, possums run, growl, belch, urinate and defecate. Basically they act like Martin and Harry on a night out!!

4. When possums are threatened they also act as if they are dead. They roll over, become stiff, close their eyes (or stare off into space) and this catatonic state can last for up to four hours. Really a bit like Sharky after his wedding night.

5.Possums invaded what they thought was an island paradise in NZ. They now number near 30 million . It is legal to shoot and trap them. The Kiwi's hate them but they love them enough to make jackets and high end furniture from them. Basically It sucks to be a possum in New Zealand.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE DAY 2: Hamner Springs To Reefton

STATS FOR THE DAY
Distance:  138 kilometres
Average speed:  23.9 kmph
Ride Time: 5hrs 47min
Maximum speed:  82 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 2 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  16 degrees
Metres climbed: 1587
Wind direction: Headwind from 10km until lunch at 93km's

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Wal 23 possums, 13 bags of bones, 2 feather fascinators, 1 owl, 1 hedgehog, slingers chain, Sharky's jacket and Harry's sunnies

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Ben Walding for being a real team player today and helping out many riders who were under duress due to the difficult conditions.

GUEST SPEAKER: Rod Tanner spoke about his love for his Father, who survived a battle against Prostate cancer but passed away from a brain cancer 9 months later. Rod's Father  was a heavy gem miner and Rod noted how appropriate it was that he was speaking on this night that we were staying in Reefton, which is an old Gold mining town.

ADDITIONAL STATS BY KARL AND BEN
60 mega joules of energy produced by the group (equivalent to heating 600 cups of tea)
139km, 1740m of elevation gain, 8h11m of riding
3000 Calories of effort by the average rider
5 minute top average speed - 54.2km/h
60 minute top average speed - 27.9km/h
Equivalent to burning 1.2kg of methane

TODAY'S COURSE
Roll out was from 7am and the course today took in a yellow room stop at 27km's and today I was super proud of my aging bladder when it co-operated and held out until that first stop. Morning tea was held at a rest area at a small place called Engineers Camp at 50km's, where all the engineers in the peloton felt very special indeed that a camp was named after them. St James Walkway or Lewis Pass, saw the peloton regroup at 72km's, which was nearly at the top of the major climb up to 900 metres today. Lunch was at 93km's at Junction Springs where the coffee was horrible but the food delightfully yummy thanks to our beloved and huggable road crew. A last pee stop was scheduled at the 125km mark by the side of the road where a pet rock was adopted by Andy and Sharky. (More on that later in tomorrow's blog)Then the finish was at a quaint little town called Reefton at 138km's, with a short stop for the riders to admire the old suspension bridge that lead to many long ago closed Gold mines. It was here where Paula was most immature by bouncing on the suspension bridge and toppling 5 weary riders into the raging torrent of water many hundreds of metres below... We are now down 5 riders but from a road crew perspective their job just got a little easier! Okay I may have exaggerated a little there. The creek was flowing, just... The drop was 20 metres and none of the riders actually fell in, but  it is true that Paula was immature!

SHARKY'S TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS
1. Rolling out of Hanmer Springs today just as the sun was beginning to warm this part of the world, the air was a crisp snuggly 5 degrees, the mountain backdrops were visually stunning as the fog and mist clung to the sides in a gentle caress. The golden glow of the sunshine enticed the sheer mountainside cliffs to show their true colours, as does a peacock displaying her feathers to attract attention of the opposite sex. I can tell you now that Mother Nature this morning got the attention of all the peacocks in the Smiddy peloton.

2.It was tough going today with a very strong headwind appearing instantly at the 10km point of the ride, and I mean instantly. One moment it was dead-calm, the next we were pushing into a 30-knot headwind, and of course this coincided perfectly with the exact moment the road began to rise. So for the next 62 grueling kilometres, the elevation went from 200 metres up to just shy of 900 metres. It was hard going and you know what pleased me the most about this? It was the pure display of guts and determination from all the riders. The not so strong guys and girls just toughed it out, while I'm sure cursing under their breath, while the strong guys really pitched in to help. Guys like Rocket Rod, Jumping Jackson, Big Bad Ben, The Kill Man and Handy Andy, Perfect Paula and of course my Bro! What legends they were today and appreciated by all.

3.Two riders in the peloton are more famous than they have let on. First we have Harry Nina and we ride past a national park that is named after him, and then blow and behold, exactly and precisely 14.2 km's down the road, we happen upon Jackson Bridge, named after our esteemed rider and guest speaker from last night in Jackson Gerard. From this day on, our respect levels for these great men, has risen by 2.2 millimetres!

4.At Lunch today road crew extraordinaire, Kirsteen Masson, approached me with a great story of niceness and thoughtfulness. A lady and her husband in a campervan, who had sold up everything, brought a van and decided to live out their lives traveling around New Zealand as she had cancer. They were impressed with the story Kirsteen told of what us riders were out here doing. She offered to give Kirsteen some banana's to share with the riders, who had not arrived yet, and enquired how many would Kirsteen require. When the answer came back at 26 banana's, the lady apologised and said they only had 3. She ended up keeping them and Kirsteen walked off with no banana's but a nice story to tell me.

5.Maria and David Smiddy sent me a nice message yesterday to share with the riders. "Just a quick message to let everyone know we are thinking of you all. We send our best wishes for an amazing NZ Smiddy Challenge over the next five days. Wishing you safe cycling, amazing views, fantastic weather and lots of laughs. Can't wait to cheer riders and road crew in to Christchurch next Friday.xxoo" Maria and David. Maria also asked that Sammi-Jo to please behave herself and please try to be as mature as Sharky! True story...

6.The last 7 kilometres of the climb up to Lewis Pass was a go-at-your-own-pace section. The strong guys were basically given permission to 'release the beast'. Players today included Ben, Paula, Zane, John, my Bro Martin, Andy and Slingers. I went along for a while so I could report all the action; which basically meant going into the 'Everest Death Zone', with copious amounts of saliva spilling from my mouth and blood wheeping from my eyes and my legs imploding with still 5km's to go, I hung in there as the 'death march' music played in my head and just prior to passing out this is what I recall. Everyone got dropped except Paula and Ben. That's all I remember...

7.A gift from Hawk today, to little old me, touched my heart and warmed it immensely, on what was a cold chilly day that never required any of the full winter wardrobe that I had on to come off. Hawk, at just 1 year of age, was walking through the streets of one of the small towns that we rode through today and happened upon a store that sold Shark helmet covers. (I have posted a copy of this attached to my Shark head on my facebook site if you wish to see.) He said to his Mum Jaye, "Mummy please can I sue my pocket money to buy that shark helmet cover for my most favouritest NOT Uncle in the entire world? How could she say no when he asked so nice? So Hawk made a fuss and presented it to me at lunchtime. The speech he made was a little over the top but I appreciate that he thinks I am the greatest Shark that has ever lived on planet Earth since life first began. But at 1 how can he really know? Anyway it is on the helmet ad although it catches the wind and slows me down by 25 kilometres an hour on the descents, it is there to stay until the end of the NZ Challenge. Thank you Hawky!

7.Charlotte Knowlman is a really cool young lady. She rides like a trooper, never complains, or if she does I can't hear her, and if I ask her to do something she never has a problem saying yes. For two days now I have asked if she spotsa New Zealand cow to please let me know immediately. Two day down and still not a single sighting but I know she will not give in until she satisfies my quest for this very important sighting of this very rare creature. Thank you Charlotte for your diligence.

8.Spider Man and Dr Koala graciously did the huddle today and while I could not hear a word they were saying, the laughs all round suggested it was heartfelt and nicely worded. I had a little giggle to myself when after telling their account of their day they immediately went into the Smiddy chant. In their excitement they forgot to mention the road crew and the riders, although at lunchtime I sat them down and briefed them on what the huddle entailed. Nice job boys.

9..And finally, while this highlight may be at number ten it so definitely is my all-time number one. You see my threat of 1000 words per journal entry has failed miserably. Yesterday's count for day one was at 1389, while today's is now at 1488. I kind of suck at writing small journals, but isn't it great that I get to tell you about, in great detail, these wonderful beautiful human beings I am lucky enough to spend a whole week with?

10. Okay a last sneaky highlight that cannot be omitted was when after lunch we had one final climb to .\attend to, which finished at the 102km point. The remaining 36 kilometres was all downhill and the group was singing along at an average of 35km/h. Our overall average was 21 at the top of that last climb and 23.9 by the time we rolled into Reefton. It was a real hoot and the smiles all round confirmed that most riders were feeling the same sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and earned, after such a tough start to the day.

That's it from me.

Cheers.

Sharky

Monday, 23 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE - DAY 1 CHRISTCHURCH TO HANMER SPRINGS


Distance:  155 kilometres
Average speed:  25.4km/h
Ride Time: 6hrs 6min
Maximum speed:   65km/h
Temperature Minimum - 8 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  18 degrees
Metres climbed: 862
Wind direction: Little or no wind all day

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick -1 Black kitten, 1 Hawk and thankfully it wasn't Zane and Jaye's son. 2 Rabbits and 1 possum and nine flat pancakes (unidentified flat objects)
Category Jersey: Won by Louise O'Brien for not only her awesome fundraising efforts totaling over $4000, but her efforts today in the peloton as at times the pace was a bit high for Louise but she refused to give in.
Guest Speaker: Jackson Gerard

ADDITIONAL STATS BY KARL AND BEN
70,500 wheel revolutions
3251 calories burned on average per rider
A 15 tooth sprocket engaged 1 million times
Top 5 minute speed was 36.2km/h

MEET THE RIDERS
As promised, prior to giving a rundown of the day, first let me introduce you to the stars of this ride. Without this dashing males and determined and beautiful females, there would be no New Zealand Smiddy Challenge. So to all the riders onboard the NZ Freight Train Express, bound for the entire South Island, I and all the team at Smiddy and the Mater Foundation tip our hats to you and the wonderful contribution you guys have made already to cancer research at Mater Medical.

So without further ado a big welcome to the following exceptional riders:
Townsville riders in Jason Slingsby, and Rowan Carr, 2 former Smiddy Challenge riders. John Masson, first time Smiddy participant and husband to road crew extraordinaire Kirsteen Masson.

The Swarbrick lads, Jayden and Ian from Ingham return for their 3rd Smiddy event after two successful Brisbane to Townsville Challenge rides. Jayden will be also taking on the immense responsibility of road kill counter.

Sister and brother pair of Charlotte and Harry Knowlman, who are both first-time Smiddy riders, thanks to Harry being the successful bid at a Mater function for two slots into this event. Harry originally thought he'd won a nice casual 50km a day cafe latte' ride, with 3 hour stops for shopping and sight-seeing every 25 kilometres

Diane Crowe, Louise O'Brien and Sandra Fields, all ladies of the highest order, with the greatest of hearts and enthusiasm, competing in their very first Smiddy event and  huge welcome to you three.

Glenn King, Rodney Tanner, Ben Walding and Andrew Hauff are four muscle bound lads destined for greatness on the climbs that lay in front of them this Smiddy tour and all first-time Smiddy participants. Thanks boys for coming onboard.

Jackson Gerard and Geoff McKeon, our Midi Smiddy boys, back for their second Smiddy event, with Geoff signed up to do the triple this year in NZ, Noosa and the Midi Smiddy. Nice work guys.

The inseparable buddies in Harry Nina and Martin Millard, who both completed the Noosa Smiddy last year and not only fell in love with Smiddy but fell in love with cycling all over again.

Paula Fleming is the workhorse out of the ladies for this ride and back for her second Smiddy event. She is a machine on the bike and will beat most of the guys up all the climbs. A more lovely lady you will not find and if we are lucky we should hear a song or two from her other passion in life - Singing.

Karl Jameson is back for Smiddy number two after completing his first Challenge event up to Townsville in 2013. Always good to have Karl back in the peloton as he gets what Smiddy is all about.

Christian and some dodgy bloke called Shark will also be riding. Killer will do his best to stop that Shark guy from taking the peloton on any shortcuts, known as 'Sharky Shortcuts'!

And then there is Zane Williams, who, if you yell out any train tracks, will shout that person a coffee each and every time... In house story that one. Zane has completed Smiddy Alps in Europe and two Challenge events up to Townsville. Being in the company of his Son Hawk and wife Jaye on this trip, will hopefully keep this great man upright on his bike.

Christine Labes, as mentioned in the road crew intro, is one of the riders as well and we are in her debt for giving up a week of her busy time to look after us riders.

Gary Leong is known as Dr Koala and completed the Italian Dolomites last year with Smiddy. He is cute and cuddly and actually resembles a koala. We love him and welcome him back for his second Smiddy experience and a third to follow this year when he completes the Midi as well.

Finally we have Bob Vander-Wal, our only resident Australian-Kiwi rider from Christchurch. A gentle giant of a bloke and I have a feeling, after this trip, our first ambassador to come out of NZ.

So our first day on the road looked like this:
Roll out was pushed forward by an hour to 6am to avoid the rush hour. Good call by Killer on that one as the traffic was horrendous, even at that hour, the many sets of lights were not in sync and the roads were crap with heaps of road works. Getting that first 30km done was a welcome relief and it just got better from there for the remainder of the ride.

Today's route saw us travel through:
Rangiora for a yellow room stop at 32km's, although I cracked at 16.2km's and had a sneaky wee stop when doing one of the many regroups for riders who got caught at lights.

Amberley at 61km's we were treated to a great morning tea stop by the beautiful road crew.
Waikari at 90km's was official pee stop number two.
Culverden saw the road crew deliver a lovely lunch in this cute little town that had great coffee for those that went looking.
Hamner Springs was at 155km's and is famous for its natural hotsprings, which is were everyone is now while I get this blog up to date.

Highlights of the day
The beautiful rock formations from morning tea onwards
The open fields of grass and sheep a plenty were bountiful and easy on the eyes.
The peloton working well together on day one like a well oiled machine.
Killer time trialling back on after picking up a dropped Go-Pro and looking a tad worse for wear for his efforts
The first spotting of a white horse and one legitimate windmill -there were a few bike wheels made into windmills that did not count
The tractor charity drive raising money for 'Care Flight' I believe
The fight of the cutest mascots between Hawk, who is one year old and very cute and Dr Koala's stuffed Koala that sits in the front passenger seat with Kevvy and keeps him company. Hawk won out!
The electric blankets in our rooms at Greenacres Motel were branded 'Shark' so I felt right at home
The huddle, we recognised our amazing road crew by inviting them into the middle to form their own midi huddle.
That amazing natural thermal and spa bath, where most riders spent their afternoons before retiring to the bar.
Harry and Andrew collecting their bikes from the airport at 2am and only getting 3 hours sleep.

NIGHTTIME SMIDDY TRADITIONS
After a relaxing afternoon in town or at the natural springs, the road crew then delivered a great barbecue dinner, while Killer gave a rundown of the day, Jackson delivered a very emotional speech about his parents and their battles with cancer. Jayden then read out the road kill count, while Karl and Ben delivered the stats of the day. Finally the intro blog was read out by me and my Brother Martin read out the day one blog. The riders then retired to their bedrooms, while the road crew went about completing their jobs in order for us riders to concentrate on the job at hand and doing what we do best - riding our bikes for obscene distances for causes worth riding for.

If keen to support any of your favourite riders please go to the Smiddy website to donate at www.smiddy.org.au

Cheers.

Sharky