Sunday, 21 June 2015

REGIONAL SUPPORTERS THANK YOU TOUR

This year 2015, a huge and most welcoming milestone will be reached with the tenth edition of the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge completing its long and arduous journey to Townsville on September 5.

Back in September of 2006, when Ron, Oliver Bodak and myself, burdened with uncomfortable fitting backpacks due to the absence of a road crew, pushed off from the University of Qld Aquatic Centre into an unknown 1500 kilometre seven day journey, we had no inkling that nine year's on we would be celebrating the tenth edition of that first epic ride.

From a respectable $24,000 raised in that first year, to an insane total of $6 million now raised for research at Mater, it has been one hell of a happy but sad journey for everyone involved. We have laughed until we've cried and cried until the tears would no longer come. So many good memories borne from good people coming together for a common cause, and along the way the sad times continue to creep into our lives due to the lives lost of those we love.

Smiling for Smiddy started due to losing our mate Adam Smiddy, now nine years on and his beautiful, bubbly, positive Mother, Maria Smiddy has just succumbed to her fight with Pancreatic Cancer. Two Smiddy's lost from the same family. The news rocked us all to our very core and the wounds have been opened afresh. While we will all miss Maria terribly, as we have Adam, the goal remains the same; Smiling for Smiddy events, along with the amazing support of the Mater Foundation, will continue to raise money for research and reach out to those less fortunate and keep providing hope to those inflicted with this insidious disease. This is what Maria would have wanted and it is what Maria will get!

So as part of our ten year celebration of the Smiddy Challenge it was decided at Smiddy and Mater Central that a regional trip, this time by car, was on the cards to thank the people that have made the Challenge event possible. So last Monday, Wendy Muir (our new Smiddy team member) and I, spent five days visiting all our regional ambassadors throughout Nanango, Eisdvold, Biloela, Blackwater, Clermont, Belyando Crossing, Charters Towers and finally Townsville. For the riders and road crew of this year's event they are in for an absolute treat. Every town and person that we visited on this trip are extremely excited and very much looking forward to the teams arrival.

On that note I welcome you to join in the journey of human kindness that Wendy and I just experienced this week by enjoying a snap shot of some of those special moments and people via the photos below, who without their ongoing support, there would be no Smiling for Smiddy.

Cheers,

Sharky

Steel,

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

MARIA SMIDDY - A SPECIAL SERVICE


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of our beloved matriarch, Maria Smiddy.

Maria's battle with an aggressive cancer, her unflinching courage, character, beautiful smile and selfless nature during this time, will strengthen our resolve to continue to fund critical cancer research and patient care. We'll continue to do this in the name of Maria's son, Adam, and all our loved ones lost to, or affected by cancer.

A private funeral was held for Maria in New Zealand and her ashes are being brought back to Australia to be placed next to her son Adam at Home Hill cemetery.

The Smiddy family, including Maria’s husband David and son Paul, invite you to a special service to celebrate Maria’s life:

Friday 12 June at 1.30pm
Brisbane City Hall
King George Square

As a valued member of the Smiling for Smiddy community we welcome your attendance to pay your respects and celebrate the life of this incredible woman we were all blessed to know.

No RSVP is necessary but should you have any questions about the service please contact the Smiling for Smiddy team on 07 3163 8000 or info@smiddy.org.au.

Maria is greatly loved and will be sorely missed but not forgotten. Friday's service is an opportunity for us all to support David and Paul, and their entire family, and to celebrate the impact Maria had on our lives.

I truly hope to see you this Friday.

Regards,

Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy

Sunday, 24 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - WARWICK TO BRISBANE - DAY 3

Distance:217 km's
Average: 27.2 km/h
Climbing: 1791 metres
Descending: 2220 metres
Riding time: 7hr 57min
Temp Min: 3 degrees, our warmest start ever out of Warwick.
Temp Max: 24 degrees

The morning started perfectly with riders and road crew emerging from their swags to home made porridge and pancakes for breakfast. For most of the riders and road crew it was the first time sleeping in a swag and even though we slept indoors in the Warwick Redback AFL club rooms it was a great experience. Noise cancelling headphones are a great invention and my only complaint was the pillow but that can be easily fixed. The youngest member of the road crew, Jack Geeves, proved to be an expert swag roller-upper and not even Kevie could find a fault with his work.

Day 3 of the Midi Smiddy was meant to be another day of brutal head winds and freezing cold weather because Geevesy said so then he realised he was looking at the Gold Coast marine forecast. Thanks Geevesy! Instead the riders had a perfect day of riding with clear blue skies and the occasional breeze. At every stop they had to take another layer off as it got warmer and warmer. To quote Krista "the riders had a sprinkle of speedy" today as the road crew had to race to keep ahead of them and have the next food stop ready in time. There were plenty of smiles as they pulled in to more home bake and the famous Smiddy sandwiches.

The previous night we had celebrated Lydia's 18th birthday with cake, candles and a loud rendition of happy birthday. Today was Chris 'pretty boy' Holmes birthday but he had to make do with left over cake with with pink icing. Sorry Chris!

Midi Smiddy is Lucy Bird's first Smiddy event and the longest cycle she had ever attempted. Lucy proved to be strong and determined on the bike and equally with fundraising. By Saturday she had raised over $7,000 for cancer research and rode all 3 days regardless of how much it hurt. Lucy was awarded the very special Smiddy Spirit jersey and is one of the select few who wore this jersey home on the last day.

All the riders proved themselves to be true Smiddy family members by smiling through 2 tough days on the bike and supporting one another all the way. There are many potential Challenge riders in this peloton who feel ready to step up and take on the ultimate Smiddy event riding from Brisbane to Townsville. I believe they have qualified and are ready to do this incredible event so I look forward to seeing them there in 2016!

Day 3 finished with a wonderful welcome at UQ Aquatic centre with all the riders' family members turning up to see them arrive as well as many previous Smiddy riders. There were banners, flowers, champagne and tears for many and a great BBQ by the Lions Club. Sharky and his lovely wife Alyssa were there to welcome everyone home. The final huddle was huge with absolutely everyone joining in.

It was a wonderful end to 3 days of fun, friendship, head winds, long days on the bike, fantastic food and great times.

Sharky's temporary replacement is signing off and expect Sharky back for the Challenge event in September.

Cherie

Saturday, 23 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - DAY 2 TOOWOOMBA TO WARWICK - DEDICATION TO MARIA SMIDDY

Distance:157km's
Average: 24.7km/h
Climbing: 1017 metres
Desending: 1207 metres
Riding time: 6:07:00
Temp Min: 7 degrees
Temp Max: 24 degrees
Wind: Plenty of it either in our face or on the nose


It was another brutal day on the bike with head winds, fog and more hills. This morning we received some news that affected many of the long term Smiddy riders. As a group we all wanted to be there for them and support each another through an especially tough day.

Today's blog is a bit different because we all want to share our Smiddy experiences and reach out to the Smiddy family. Today it's not one voice that counts but all of us as a group, as a family and as a bunch of mates.

Geevesy
For my time in the Smiddy family, since 2008, it’s just been about putting something back. We know that there are people that survive cancer now, that didn’t a decade ago. The $7 million in funds we’ve raised in the past nine years have contributed to that. Pure and simple, no arguments. On Midi-Smiddy this year, there are a bunch of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th timers…that’s the spirit of the Smiddy family. There’s a connection between those two things, pure and simple, no arguments.
I want our collective thoughts in this blog to reflect a message to David, that no matter how much pain he’s experiencing, that Adam and Maria’s legacy will live on, through the work we do and the ever increasing group pf people that subscribe to our need to make a difference.

Jack Geeves
I started out in the Smiddy family at the tender age of just 8 years old, when dad left for his first 8 day, the only part I knew was he was going to be gone for a week and he was going up. Now 8 years on, I’m still here and I know a lot more about what this ride is all about, I’ve watched it change from 15 mates heading up to Townsville on push bikes to 50 people riding around the countryside.
Now as I look across the room everybody head down staring at their phones contemplating why they’re here, thinking about the reasons they are here and what contribution they’ve made so far and what they can do in the future to keep this ride enduring long into the future and continue the great work that started when Mark rode up to Townville with a backpack and credit card.

Robbie (Right Brake) Lever
My reason for joining the Smiddy family was because I really admired how Sharky started the Smiddy ride in memory of Adam. I now want to acknowledge Maria and what she means to the Smiddy extended family. Over the past 10 years Sharky has been able to keep Adams memory alive and vibrant. I now want to do this for Maria’s memory and for David to know this.

Christian Killer Killeen
Good friends of mine had done the ride in 2007 and I’d heard all the stories about the ride but also about Adams battle with cancer 12 months earlier although I’d never met Adam. The thought of riding 1600 kms over 8 days sounded like a great holiday for me.
But once I’d done the ride it triggered something in side of me. I knew that I had to do it again and do it for the right reasons. While I have been fortunate with cancer and my family this scares the hell out of me. For that reason I want to ‘Pay it forward’. I want to do something before cancer does affect my family.
Now each year I ride to pay it forward, but also because I know it makes me a better person. I come back with a renewed passion, and sense of inner peace. To have the chance to ride 8 days with so many people all sharing the passion and desire to make a difference.

Ronnie Steel
The first ride I did with Sharky after Adam died we got to Home Hill and Maria asked David to make a speech. He wouldn’t so Maria made the speech instead and she spoke about Sharky and Ollie. She said Ronnie had never met Adam but was there supporting Sharky. That was what Smiddy is all about – supporting mates. It bought me to tears.

Liesa Hogg
At 37 and a mother of two beautiful daughters 8 and 10 I have seen family members and friends battle cancer, young and older and this has made me think more and more about what if I get sick, what if my kids get sick, what if my daughters have kids and get sick and knew I had to do something to contribute and teach my kids to give, encourage others to give and put in the effort and get involved. They have watched me train and they will be at the finish line and they have learned some very valuable lessons, as have I.

Sean Lever
6 years into my Smiddy journey. Inspired by Sharky to get involved in Tri’s with Purpose. Inspired by the Smiddy story from the get go. Smiddy has brought my wife Robyn and I closer together and through our fund raising efforts each year has brought the Caloundra community together. They are inspired. MY Dads battle with Battle Cancer started 6 years ago, he inspires me each day the ride gets tough. Smdidy will be a part of family for as long as we are able.

Michael Brady
Today was a tough day, I feel tougher than yesterday, but I got to witness some amazing riders soldier through their own emotional battles to physically help other riders. This embodies the Smiddy spirit and something I’m proud to have been apart of for four years. If me punishing myself on a bike can help someone I don’t know, nor will I ever know how, with their treatment or care, then I’ll go out and ride again.
I have the utmost respect for my extended Smiddy family and am so proud to be part of this family.

Barry Hume
This is my second Smiddy event, my third is later this year. A challenging, thought provoking experience that reminds me of my great friends and family that have been taken too soon. Training and taking part often feels like a sporting event, but its deeper than that. David, my thoughts are with you and your family.

Lucy Bird
Why I did Smiddy:
The Smiddy family is amazing, Unique. I first signed up for this ride as a personal challenge, a physical one. Deep down I always knew it would change my life though. It no longer is a personal achievement, but a collective one. And that is life. Together, as a group, we can achieve huge things. Smiddy will continue to do huge things. For a long time. Thank you x

Paul Craig
Way I have started riding and fund raising money for smile for smiddy. My Mum passed away from cancer when I was 14 and I have lost three other family members to cancer.And when my work mate said he was riding for smiddy I asked him about it and I was hooked. I would love it that if one kid not to lost his Mum to cancer then it's the least I could do is ride some km and raise some money.
Barry Waters
Why I wanted to support and fundraise for Smiling for Smiddy? Assist the research team at Mater in curing Cancer. Why cancer? Throughout my many years in retail and within my own personal family I have supported many with their fight against this exhausting and terriable disease. Some with great success, others loosing their battle / fighting to stay with their loved ones.
3 words tie Smiddy to A.N.Z.A.C. with what I have enormous pride and admiration for.
Courage,
Endurance,
Mateship.

Chris Holmes
The reason I joined the Smiddy family 2 years ago on the Midi was to originally combine my love of cycling with a great charity and try and make a positive impact on the lives of others. I have not experienced the of cancer in my imediate family but have witnessed its devastating effects on my extended family as well as friends and colleagues. The comraderie and friends made on my first trip was a driving force for me signing up this year and for a future rides.

Louise De Costa
If the ride home tomorrow from Warrick to Brisbane is anything like today....I'm pulling a sickie!!
Today's ride from Toowoomba to Warrick was 160km of full on headwind with moments where we were given a reprieve only to turn a corner to the full on force of the wind. I actually enjoyed the first 100km. The last 60km for me called upon all the grit and sheer determination to finish. And yet again I knew my pain would end at our destination.

Today has been a very day sad for the Smiddy family. Maria Smiddy, the mother of Adam Smiddy, who was the young man of 26 years who died of an aggressive melanoma, that this foundation was set up to honour and help raise funds for cancer research died of Pancreatic cancer. My deepest condolences to Maria's family and friends.

It is for the Smiddy Family and all cancer suffers that we as individuals and as a group endure the pain that we do at different times during the ride. It is during those hard times when some of us have nothing left in the tank that we are surrounded by kind souls who are often as exhausted as we are who push you along the road. We are all here for each other.

We can't achieve what we do in life alone and it is especially true when a terrible disease like cancer strikes that we need the love and support of everyone around us.

Every dollar that is raised for cancer research may be the dollar that offers a cure or supportive services to you or your loved ones.

Tonight our hearts go out to David Smiddy, his family and his dearest friends. Tomorrow David no matter what Mother Nature delivers us we will ride with both Adam and Maria on our hearts.

Brock Yates
Today was an inspirational day in the Midi Smiddy peloton. The unfortunate news of Mrs Smiddys passing bought out the best in the group. Jarod Covey shepparded his Smiddy flock all day ensuring no one was left behind.
I worked with Adam at the PA for a short time and I only met Maria once. They were great people and left an impression on me. A lasting impression. An impression that has inspired me and my family to be a Smiddy family. RIP Maria and Adam.

Keith Hungerford
I lost a good friend in high school and a grandfather to cancer and have seen friends suffer through treatments for the disease. Smiddy means great mates getting out there working hard and doing something awesome for society and fighting against a common foe.

Anthony Woodbury
My Smiddy adventure started out as just a good reason to go for a ride, I would get a day off work by riding for a good cause. I have lost some family friends to cancer and couldn’t think of a better reason to go for a ride. But since I attended the orientation night and the first training ride, being part of Smiling for Smiddy has become more than just going for a ride, seeing how the riders and road crew look after each other is awesome and I feel very privaliged to part of such an amazing and genuine group and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Kevvy
Today was a difficult day out on the road for our cyclists, because of the wind. However due to the conditions quite a number of the riders sought refuge in the sag wagon. This gave me a chance to reflect on my past nine years of involvement with Smiddy events and I was able to share with them the experiences that I’ve spent with Maria and David. My thoughts and prayers are with David and the extended family.

Melissa Crossman
Every person in the Smiddy peloton comes from a place called Super Amazing Awesomeland. We each have our own reasons for being here but out on the road in the worst possible conditions the spirit and camaraderie come together to produce something awesome. These are the people that keep these rides going and keep me coming back. I wish this could be bottled and hand delivered to every cancer sufferer and their loved ones to help get them through. But even better than this is that the net result of partaking in a Smiddy ride is contributing to a future where cancer doesn't exist and who wouldn't want to experience that!

Friday, 22 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - DAY 1 BRISBANE TO TOOWOOMBA

Stats for the day:
Distance:195.5km
Avr Speed: 22.1kph
Total time: 11hrs 20min
Riding time: 8hrs 52min
Max speed: 62km
Metres climbed: 2200
Calories burned: 5230
Road kill - 2x Roos/Wallabies, 2 x birds (pheasant and a hawk), 2 x bag of bones, 2 x foxes, 2 x rabbits, 1 x stuffed toy (not the Shark), 1 x sparrow.

Shark out / Cherie in!
In 10 years of Smiddy Sharky has never missed a single ride. This years Midi Smiddy is the first time he has stayed in Brisbane and I know he is devastated. But under Doctors and his Physios orders Sharky had to make the horrible decision to stay behind.

That leaves me, the new member of the team to tell it like it is and write Sharky's blog. Well here goes....

Headwinds Battle type of day
Sharky would have many words to describe day 1 of Midi Smiddy but I only have one - Brutal! As a member of the road crew today I watched in awe as the Smiddy peloton tackled a brutal headwind for most of the 194km from Brisbane to Toowoomba. It was relentless and as Lucy described there were no downhills today only a constant battle to keep moving forward. In true Smiddy spirit they worked together and stayed focused to survive a day that will never be forgotten.

Road crew shortcuts
But enough about the riders as the road crew have a few stories to tell as well. Officially we did not get lost but because of a city girl navigator (me) we did have to make 6 u turns between lunch and afternoon tea. However we did get to see a lot more of the beautiful country side than I'm sure any other Midi road crew have. It is stunning scenery!

UQ send off and a mysterious tale of blood
We started the morning with a fantastic BBQ breakfast at UQ kindly hosted by Jae and his team. There was a small mishap when a certain rider cut his finger on the BBQ and needed the first aid kit. How he cut his finger when he wasn't cooking and all he had to do was tell the cook if he wanted bacon with his eggs is a mystery.

Stuffed Shark!
We didn't have Sharky the man with us today but we did have Shark the cuddly one instead who got to ride with Kevie all day. Cuddly Shark came out at afternoon tea to spur the riders on for the final 19km and big, very big climb to Toowoomba. It must have worked because all the riders except 2 set out to finish the day and push through to the very end. I haven't heard from Kevie how the climb went but I'm sure they all gave it everything they had.

Final words by Cherie
Their reward at the end was a freezing cold Toowoomba welcome made more inviting by hot soup cooked up by the wonderful Wendy.

A special mention to Lydia, our youngest rider, who finished her longest ride today

Request from the riders - I must mention Alyssa and how beautiful she is! There you go Sharky.

The weather forecast for tomorrow - cold and windy. Yah.

Thank you to the riders, road crew and all the supporters of this years Midi Smiddy. Wishing you a speedy recovery Sharky! This blogging business is a lot harder than it looks.

Signing off from Toowoomba.

Cherie.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - SIX YEARS AND COUNTING!


The Midi is upon us
If you are reading this then it can only mean one thing... Another Smiddy event must be imminent? And that event would be the sixth running of the annual Midi Smiddy. A journey where the riders and road crew will leave the UQ Aquatic Centre tomorrow morning at 6am and end up in Toowoomba, some 200 lumpy kilometres away. Then on Saturday a leisurely ride through some lovely country towns such as Pittsworth and Allora to get to Warwick some 165 kilometres away. After a night of sleeping beneath the stars in swags the peloton will ride back to Brisbane, an impressive 220 kilmetres. All up a grueling 585 kilometres of riding in just three days, and all in the name of raising funds for research at the Mater.

Shark is out!
Now this will be my only blog for this journey as I am handing over the blog responsibility to our new Smiddy leader in Cherie Nicolas. Cherie joined the team a few months ago and is already making a positive impact on the team and the events and we are very proud to welcome Cherie into the Smiddy and Mater families. You see, for this Shark, I am to miss my very first event in ten years of Smiddy events due to an injury that has me watching from the sidelines. Last weekend an old disc injury that I have in my lower back flared up, and not only can I not ride a bike, but I am unable to sit, so I cant even join in as a road crew member. I am gutted, but going against the Physio's advice suggests that to even try would be just plain stupid. Stupid I am good at! But with age does come the occasional wisp of rationality. If I'm good now I get to play later...

I know Cherie will do a great job delivering to our faithful readers of this blog the happenings of the next three days on the road. So please make Cherie feel welcome and from me a heartfelt thank you for your many years of support in following the Smiddy journey through my words.

Riders and road crew
To the riders and road crew I will so miss your incredible company and wish you all the very best for what I know will be a most rewarding Smiddy experience that will stay with you for many years to come. My thoughts go out to each and every one of the riders but you are on your own when it comes time to ascend that bloody Flagstone Creek climb up to Toowoomba after 190 kilometres!

To the Smiddy family
My thoughts go out to the entire Smiddy family, who are fighting their own epic battle as we speak. I love the Smiddy family more than mere words can ever express and their battle now just strengthens my desire within to continue what Smiddy and the Mater do best; raise funds and awareness and inspire ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

Take care.

Sharky

Sunday, 26 April 2015

2015 NOOSA SMIDDY - DAY 4 COFFEE AND DIRT!

Noosa-Cooran-Noosa

Stats for the day by Stinky Dave
Distance:128 km's
Average: 24.2 km/h
Max Speed: 69 km/h
Climbing: 1645 metres
Riding time: 5:16:45
Temp Min: 14 degrees
Temp Max: 24 degrees

Third year and a brand new last day
This year's Noosa Smiddy day-four ride was a totally new affair. For the past two years we have let the riders loose to go at their own pace over the official Noosa Century course. But thanks to a change of date by the organisers we were free to go and design our own epic finish to what has been one of the most memorable and pleasing experiences for this event. Killer came up with another cracker of a course that included stupid amounts of climbing, treacherous descents, rough and smooth roads to boot, scenic views nearly -and I stress nearly- as beautiful as my new Wife Alyssa! And the crowning glory of the day was the epic dirt section at the end of the ride that all the riders either loved or hated with a passion. I could not have been happier!

Cooran and coffee here we come
One thing that we know will help riders forgive us for punishing them day in and day out for multiple days, is if we throw in a day that involves coffee. Not the instant type but the real thing. Well today they got just that, and I can nearly guarantee you that not one person in the peloton had visited this quaint little village outside of Noosa called Cooran. The one exception to that rule is our course designer and reconnaissance man in Mr Killer; who does actually have a real name of Christian Killeen, but Killer is so much more exciting and makes you think twice about crossing him. Anyway the one and only Clooney's cafe in the town were pre-warned that 40 thirsty riders would be descending upon their cafeteria at 8:15am this Sunday morning. Now every morning we have traditionally left 'right on time', by leaving late by exactly 15 minutes! This mornings roll out (sent on our way by our youngest official road crew person ever in 13 year old Georgia Buick) was no different as our 6am start saw us leave at 6:15. Ironically the only place were we were not late, but exactly 15 minutes early, was Cooran, for yes you guessed it, our one and only designated coffee stop! There is a message here but I will leave that for you to decipher...

A huge thank you to the owner Chris and her two staff Vicki and Foebe for coming in early to help keep up with the demand for coffees, muffins, brownies and gluten free mudcake.

Mount Pomona Climb
Now prior to getting to Cooran, first the peloton had some fun going up and over the Pomona climb. Traditionally used in the Noosa Century ride and a great one to race your mates up. Boasting rights trophy was the prize for first to the top, and there was a healthy bunch of testosterone laden males keen to win it. Oh and to be able to say, "I beat Phil Anderson". The only issue with this is that Phil, now a healthy fit and trim 57 year old, refuses to slow down. The front pack riding with Phil, consisted of about 15 riders and as each crest came on the three-kilometre climb, it continued to dwindle in numbers. Until there was only one; the great, the one and only, the awesome, the amazing and the bloody stubborn mongrel that still knows how to put the youngest of riders in their place. He was the first Australian to wear the Yellow jersey in the Tour De France way back when Captain Kev was still in nappies. That year was 1981 and that man was Phil "Skippy" Anderson. I could not have been happier! The wind at the top was amazing and on the descent you needed to hold on, enjoy the mountainous views and stay upright until the shelter of the trees below once again protected you from the rebellious winds.

Cooran to Noosa
Getting back to Noosa from Cooran saw many more climbs being negotiated and still many new untraveled roads for the peloton. Killer had excelled and the rolling nature of the course was truly exceptional in that it was Challenging but rewarding at the same time with its constant whoop-arse descents. While the riders were tested, and I am sure at times cursing, I could not help but recall the offer they were given by Cherie and Killer just prior to roll out of a shorter option of 85 kilometres. Not one person put up their hand and from that time on they accepted their fate regardless of what the course threw at them.

The Dougy Chuddle
It was at the 85 kilometre point of the ride that our old mate Doug had an emotional break down. On very little training he came into the event determined to do the entire ride under his own steam and not once accepting a push up any of the constant climbs each day. The little fella, with the biggest of hearts, pushed and pushed, his body willing, but his mind eventually cracked. Scotty came over to me at the break and told me Doug was in a bad way and could we gee him up somehow. "Bloody oaf mate, leave it with me," was my reply. The rider group was called over and Doug was placed in the middle, we surrounded him with our road crew and then the riders encased him in the great Smiddy hug that I coined 'The Chuddle' (combination of a huddle and a cuddle) back in 2011 when we introduced it for the Challenge that year.

We then chanted Dougy's name as we rose and fell in rhythm, until a crescendo was reached and Dougy felt the love of all present. I know it sounds kind of corny, but after four hard days of riding the riders and road crew just do it without question. The bond that is formed by day three of the ride is something pretty special. Nothing that is asked of the group is considered crazy, and if it helps a fellow rider than it is absolutely worth the silliness or effort required. Of course Doug was embarrassed but I know it meant the world to him. As there was a lot more climbing to come Doug quietly hopped into the car with Kevvy and sat out the next 20 kilometres. He rejoined us for the remaining ten kilometres a most rejuvenated man. The peloton was complete with Doug in it and we could not have been happier.

The final huddle
Kevvy and Geevsey were given the honour of taking the huddle thanks to their selfless efforts to look after us out on the road. Emotions were at their usual all time high for the end of yet another most successful and emotional Smiddy event. The group that came together were mostly strangers on day one, but best of buddies by the end of the tour. As always, it is hard saying goodbye to people that you become so close to over such a short period of time. But I just tell myself that the lure of another Smiddy event will eventually pull them back into the fold and I will get to ride with them again.

Thank you to each and every rider and road crew and their families, donors and supporters for making this such a successful event. We are in awe of your support of Smiddy and the Mater Foundation and forever in your debt.

You now have a month of grace before I will share with you more tales of Smiddy heroes when the three-day Midi Smiddy begins.

Until then take care.

Cheers.

Sharky.