Sunday, 7 September 2014

2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 8 - Charters Towers to Townsville

Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 150.68 kms
Elapsed Time: 8.13
Ride time: 5.28
Ave Speed: 27.3 kph
Climbing: 548 metres
Temps: Min 12 /Max 34. 

Schindler’s List by Megz Wallace & Jarrod Covey
67 Kangaroos, 34 Bags of bones, 5 birds, 3 bad smells, 1 cow.

By Matt Marshall

Enriching life. Enriching lives.

Among the many themes of the 2014 Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge – this sentiment about the Smiddy riders and road crew enriching the lives of the local communities we pass through delivered by pastor Donna Muston during our first community dinner in Thangool on Day 3, and the return sentiments by Maria Smiddy that we in turn are enriched by their generosity, hospitality and spirit, helps to sum up many of the magical qualities of a Smiddy Challenge adventure.

As weary riders & road crew sat in the hall of Thangool Race Club, eyeing a ‘ridonkulous’ 241km Day 4 route after 600-plus kilometres over the opening three days, we were heartened by the buzz in the room and the hand-crafted gifts, laminated and left at every table setting in the hall, drawn by the children of Thangool State School, willing us on. An example was a pink and yellow drawing from Cassidy in Year 2 – proclaiming “Exterminate Cancer”. It, and many more similar messages of encouragement for a group travelling 1600km through heat and wind to distribute over $300,000 to Mater Research, spent the remainder of the week in the back jersey pocket of our riders and served as yet another reminder for us to dig deep.

The smiles of the kids, the welcoming arms and hearts of these communities, the anticipation and excitement of these towns and their gratitude for the way in which we stand up to cancer are unforgettable and often unexpected memories our riders and road crew take away from this one-in-a-million experience. The locals take equal heart and inspiration from our efforts – and their future generation benefit from our presence – thanks to riders such as Iain ‘Donkey’ Cory taking the time to write messages such as ‘Dream big and you can achieve anything’ or ‘follow your heart’ to the primary schoolers clamming for autographs in the playgrounds at Monto, Thangool and Emerald.

The unique, life-affirming journey that is the Smiddy Challenge ride showed its true colours before a pedal stroke was made this year with young Sarah Jameson – daughter of 2013 Challenge riders Kim and Karl – handing our handmade bracelets to all the riders prior our grand depart 8 days ago; before the lionhearted man that is Marty Hegarty spoke of his pain at losing 9-year-old son Declan to cancer as he bravely presented a $5,000 cheque to Smiling for Smiddy on behalf of Project Declan.

If the riders needed any extra motivation, and they didn’t, Marty’s words gave it to them there and then. Thank you Marty. But that was the morning of Day 1, before a kilometre had been ridden. This is now ‘Day 9’, the morning after our 1600km journey has been completed – with the ‘Smiddy Blues’ set to kick in as riders and road crew say farewell to each other and begin to crave again the special mateship and experience that has been ours for the past 8 days.

For now – a recap of the final day that was a sunny and perfect Day 8 of the 2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge – before we indulge in a top-8 highlight reel to sum up this unforgettable and soul-enriching 8-day journey.

Day 8 dawned once again with beautiful sunny skies as riders unzipped their swags on the green, green grass of the Charters Towers school of the air and smelt a BBQ breakfast being prepared in their honour. The air of excitement was electric as riders donned their lycra for the final time this week and anticipated the much dreamed about, much craved-for finish line at Strand Park later that afternoon –when loved ones and an intense sense of accomplishment hard to explain to non-Challenge team members both awaited us.

We enjoyed a hot breakfast, again kindly cooked up by John Clarke and his dedicated team of Rotarians, and focused on the job at hand – mindful that this is an 8-day Challenge, not a 7-day Challenge, and that everyone in the team was hell-bent on ensuring we arrived safe and sound to Stand Park together. And so our focuses turned to the rider in front, and those behind us, to ensure a smooth final journey toward Townsville.

A pressing head wind greeted us, but it takes more than that to dampen the spirits of a Smiddy Challenge peloton, and at morning tea – after our road crew had prepared their final feast – they again delivered their ‘war cry’ proclaiming that Smiddy riders are the BEST. As riders we know it is the road crew, not us, who is truly AWESOME and this 8-day journey would not be half as rewarding if not for them and their beaming smiles and positive attitudes throughout. To David, Maria, Bec, Kay Kay, Glen, Killer, Marie, Terry, Sammi Jo, Vanessa, Stemmy, Mia, Kevvy, Joe and Julian – a heartfelt thanks for everything you did for us. You guys ROCK.

To Woodstock we continued with the CWA ladies once again turning on a spread worthy of royalty for our final lunch together. These rural ladies sure can put on a feast, and many a rider exited the wooden hall clutching their tummies… even without sampling the Pavlova served up for dessert. Smiddy founder Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy then addressed the riders with a heartfelt message that his mojo was back after a taxing 2013 campaign and that this was his most enjoyable Challenge ride for the past 5 years… hinting at an extra-special surprise for the riders at Strand Park. A selection of past riders know this can mean only one thing… the third ‘chuddle’ in Smiddy history was on the cards.

The riders then put their heads down to ensure we remained on time for our loved ones, punching out a difficult 38km into the wind before arriving at The Sun Hotel for a team photo under the Bottlemart drive thru. To our major sponsor Bottlemart, supporting our program since 2007, a massive thanks. Likewise to our program’s other major partners Professional Cleaning Services and Sealy; and our many other sponsors. It was a buzz to see the Hahn Super Dry promotion, with $1 from every carton sold in September donated at Smiddy courtesy of the generous support of Lion, on full display as we made our way through the bottle-o in our cleats and made our way into the hotel for light refreshments before our final 11km stroll down to Townsville’s and Smiddy’s equivalent of the Champs Elysees for our grand finish.

As we turned down the Champs Elysees… the Townsville riders were encouraged to the front of the peloton as the roar of our supporters grew louder and louder. In a wave of emotion and elation, we were suddenly riding over the green grass of Strand Park amid a tunnel of supporters bearing signs, balloons and loud cheers. We hugged and kissed each other and our loved ones and the tears flowed. These were tears of joy, relief, pride and many other raw emotions laid bare by a Smiddy Challenge ride. Among them, embraces full of love and admiration for each other and moments that define lifelong friendships. It’s hard to put into words how very special this moment at Strand Park is. Suffice to say – it’s a feeling every member of the 2014 team deserved richly, and a feeling you’d like everyone you care about to experience at least once in their lifetime – such is its power.

Another enormous Smiddy huddle ensued at Strand Park, followed by the aforementioned ‘chuddle’. As David and Maria Smiddy are the nucleus of everything we do – they embrace before being surrounded by the riders and road crew in a huddle representative of the family that is the 2014 Challenge crew. Among the finish line celebrations, as our riders had their beards shaven off, another example of Smiddy spirit emerged as Yas’s ‘Save or Shave’ fundraising idea took a dramatic twist when a $1400 donation by fellow rider Zane saw Yas’s hair, ponytails and all, taken to with the clippers for a crew-cut and Sinead O’Connor-lookalike makeover. Meanwhile Matty’s hairy legs were also in the firing line with Sammi Jo applying the hot wax, and several riders ripping off the wax strips, as another $1400 was raised for cancer research at Mater courtesy of the riding group and the Clermont community.

Zane, who alongside Row and Alicia shared their own Smiddy stories at dinner, was later outbid by Jarrod in a pulsating auction conducted by ‘first-time auctioneer’ Row for the one of a kind framed Smiddy jersey, signed up the entire 2014 team, as it fetched a $6,100 donation. In another shining example of Smiddy spirit – this jersey was duly gifted by Jarrod to fellow rider Claire Bear – who completed her journey to Townsville this year alongside her Smiddy family in a cap dedicated to her larger than life Dad, Jeff.  Claire departed our ride from Belyando last year to be by her Dad’s bedside during the final days of his melanoma battle but returned to complete her journey this year – with her mum and fiancĂ©, Andy, there to see her at the finish line alongside over 25 of the 50 riders hit hard by Claire Bear’s early exit last year – return riders and several 2013 riders throughout the crowd. Fittingly – Claire was presented with the ‘Spirit’ jersey as she, Jarrod and every other rider and road crew in the 2014 team, truly embody everything that is so great about Smiling for Smiddy.

With our efforts to fundraise in excess of $300,000 and raise significant awareness for cancer research and patient care at Mater – we are truly making a difference for future generations. That’s what our school visits are all about. That’s what Smiddy is all about. Tasmanian-based rider and father of four, Jason Overton, who five days earlier shared his gut-wrenching battle with cancer and chemotherapy, was awarded the mateship jersey. He carried his daughter in his arms to the stage and the symbolism of what Jas had just done for his children and their future together, was crystal clear to everyone in the room. Well done Jas.

The family values of Smiddy were again strongly represented in the Teamwork jersey winner as Kevvy, AKA King of the Gnomes – our trusty and long-time rear support vehicle driver, was handed this jersey alongside Stemmy and Mia – who in addition to steering us safely to Townsville from the front vehicle with beaming smiles, a faultless work ethic and a camera poking out of the passenger window for much of the week, shared an unforgettable life experience with their son, Joshua Tree, one of four riders in the group taught by Jeff Schneider and keen to honour his memory. One final presentation, courtesy of Maria, was made to ‘Maverick’ – the new tag for young Jayden ‘Brick’ Swarbrick, our youngest rider who confessed he has never seen Top Gun. He and Iceman, Dad Ian, are leading a reunion on the New Zealand Smiddy Challenge next March with the father-son duo, David, Maria, Dr Phil, Ian and Zane all on board and hot on the recruitment trail.

That concludes the final day of the 2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge with the team settling on two well-versed words over the past eight days to describe this life-affirming journey – CLASSY and AWESOME. Congratulations to all on joining the Smiddy family for keeps…here are some quick highlights:

Top 8 Highlights:

1.      Mateship. As Row Foster said in his speech on the final night, the unbreakable friendship bonds born out of the tragedy of Adam Smiddy’s passing stands among many of his towering legacies. Fittingly, father and son, Ian and Jayden Swarbrick, wore the ‘Mateship’ category jersey on the final day as they completed their second successive Challenge together. Their special bond served as inspiration and hope for all riders – especially those in the group grieving for their Dad or son lost to cancer. Mateship abounded in old and new friends within the group.

2.     Spirit. The examples of Smiddy spirit have been countless. Among them was Jarrod’s and Zane’s gestures, mentioned above, and Hell raising a collection among all the riders as a gesture of support for Mark Turner in caring for his son William. There was Joe our awesome mechanic from AvantiPlus The Valley – sacrificing his riding time and removing parts from his own bike to assist others. There was Terry getting around with bottles of Coke at every stop, refilling the cups of the riders – the kind of guy you want topping up your wine glass as it never runs dry. There was Bec showing up just days after burying her grandfather. Zane just weeks after farewelling his Dad. Jack getting himself on the bike every day. Hannah aiming up and ignoring her obvious discomfort. The dual David’s ‘getting it’ and becoming Smiddy riders. Sue Cope and Deb and Robbie Coward adding to our experience. Paddy jumping into the van on the final day after puncturing, so as not to hold up the group. Krista’s beautiful nature. The determination of many of our quiet achievers – Dan, Katja, Kimmy and the David’s. Princess Fiona’s big heart to punch on when she went into her swamp (hurt locker). Gleeso, Tom Tom, Shrek, Paul, Booba and Co. for keeping their big chain rings on a leash to keep the group together. Pete, Iain and Garath keeping us smiling on those long, hard days… these are just a few.

3.     Teamwork. That magical Smiddy moment when 50 riders each shelve their individual goal to ride 1600km as their primary focus, instead shifting it to the 49 riders around them to become Smiddy riders not cyclists - happened very early in the trip and for 8 days we witnessed a TEAM in every sense of the word pushing, encouraging, supporting and willing each other through. The same comraderie was evident in the road crew, who were seamless in getting morning tea sorted in less than 2mins after tearing past the group 5kms out from smoko, and within the Smiddy team from Mater.

4.      Community. Mark and Desley Gaedtke and the showgrounds in Nanango; Lions in Eidsvold; St Therese’s in Monto; everyone in Thangool & Biloela behind the efforts of Don and Di Morris and ‘Bathy’; Lynlea and Ono O’Neill, Don Forbes from Village on Blain and all our supporters in Blackwater; Jackie and John Martin, Maurie and Roger Vine and the community of Clermont; Belyando Crossing; John Clarke and the Rotarians from Charters and Mundingburra, cooking up a BBQ for us at Strand Park, and of course our awesome billets for putting us up, showering, laundering and replenishing us in mind, body and spirit.

5.      Courage. As Crackers and Claire Bear each articulated – ‘we all have our own battles’ – and the courage to stand tall in the face of adversity on the bike on days such as Day 4, Day 2 and Day 7 – and off the bike for 8 whole days and nights - was again evident among the 2014 Smiddy Challenge team. Courage bears itself in many forms. There were countless examples of physical courage from riders such as Tracey, Ness, Yas, Geoff, Ray, Ian and Hannah. Equally were the emotional and moral courage of riders such as Jason, Coach, Crackers, Toto, Jarrod, Garath, Zane, Claire and Archie, who just hours after sharing his story on night 7, heard the news his beloved aunt had passed – and such carrying a heavy heart under the ‘Teamwork’ jersey he deservedly rode into his hometown wearing on the final day.

6.      Laughs & Tears. Flowing in equal measures, alongside that great sense of contentment that is usual for a Smiddy Challenge event, and captured beautifully in the slideshow at the ‘Finish Line Dinner’ which recapped our 8-day adventure. We laughed until we cried. We cried until we laughed. Jack – tossing out any filter - had us and the local communities in stitches on several occasions while Mel and MegZ spent much of the entire week cackling away and Dr Phil entertained us all with lots of pirate-themed jokes.

7.      David and Maria Smiddy. The nucleus of the Smiling for Smiddy family and upholders of the intrinsic family values we hold so dear. Outstanding parents & outstanding human beings – what a wonderful example they set in their lives for Adam and Paul – and now their grandchildren Jake and soon-to-arrive granddaughter who will be spoiled by a Nona with the best hugs in the trans-Tasman. What a humbling experience and honour it is for everyone within the Smiling for Smiddy community to represent them and Adam.

8.      Smiddy family. This very special community spirit and value set was evident among riders, road crew, supporters & communities from Brisbane to Townsville and everywhere in between as we were surprised with friendly faces, signs, cheers, toots of the horn, donations and kind thank yous – including another generous gift from Kevvy’s ‘parents’ in Dululu – and captured in the surprise slideshow our riders enjoyed in Clermont with photos and messages of support from their children, partners, parents and families. We are Smiddy and very proudly so.

Smiddy! Smiddy! Smiddy!

Friday, 5 September 2014

2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 7 - Belyando to Charters Towers

2014 Smiling for Smiddy Bottlemart Challenge
Day 7 Report by Sharky

Statistics for the day
  Distance: 198 km's
  Average speed  27.4kmph
  Elevation climbed: 848 metres
  Riding time: 7:15:00
  Min Temp: 6 degrees
  Max Temp: 39 degrees

Road Kill by: Megan, Jarrod and Tom Tom
Kangaroos. 677.  2 cars. 1 stove. 2 Emus. 7 Birds. 2 cows. 1 cat. Adam's wheel. Melissa's bowel content. 1 Wombat. 1/2 of an Ornithorhynchus. 60% on right. 37% on left. 3% in the middle. 1% with maths teachers.

Category jerseys

Team Work: Went to Ben Pearson for his undying passion to Smiling for Smiddy over the past 3 years and even though sick with the flu continued to help any rider struggling.

MateShip: Was snapped up by the Father and Son combination in Ian and Jayden Swarbrick, who have returned for a second year in a row and are the best of mates.

Spirit: Went to Mark Colgate, who although crook for the past 3 days continued to support his fellow riders with a friendly pat on the back and decided to take photos of each and every rider with his iPhone as he rode past. Smiddy leader Matt Marshall looked away many times as this was considered naughty in the peloton.

Guest Speakers

David Mead spoke about beating testicle cancer and nearly losing his leg as a child to a bone infection. He confessed that originally he was on board so that he could say he had ticked off the Smiddy Challenge from his bucket list, but like most riders who ride for that reason, he soon got caught up in the incredible Smiddy spirit and was on board for the right reasons mid way through this years Challenge.

Ben Pearson followed on from David and spoke about many reasons as to why he is a Smiddy person. Besides having many Melanoma cancers removed personally Ben has suffered many loses throughout his life from this debilitating disease.

Thank you kindly to all my fellow riders who volunteered to take on the responsibility of writing the daily journals over the past 6 days. After riding 200 plus kilometres a day, then attending the community functions until 10pm and on back to your billet or swags, while all the other riders are tucking themselves into bed, you have been sitting down to write your journal through to midnight. I can't thank you guys enough!

So my journal is about day 7 from Belyando Crossing to Charters Towers and I have decided to take a different tack on today's ride and skim through it quite quickly. My reasons for this are because I wish to share some stories of the special people that have been part of the Smiddy Challenge journey this year.

Breakfast was scheduled for 5:30am with a 6:30am roll out time of 6:30am, of which we were right on time thanks to Garath not making me late like he did when staying with my billet in Clermont on day 5! The fatigue from 6 long days in the saddle was evident from the first pedal stroke and the consensus was that as we had reasonably good conditions, with light headwinds, dry heat of 39 degrees and time up our sleeves, that we would actually make an effort today not to push the group and try and enjoy the Australian countryside. But a 200km day is still a big day in the saddle whether you are pushing it or not, especially with 1250 kilometres already in your legs.

I can't begin to tell you just how well this group has ridden right from day two. The bonding as friends and riders has helped accomplish this amazingly quick translation from one of strangers, to best of buddies; buddies that you can totally depend on regardless of the distances or what Mother Nature threw our way over the past 7 days. And today was no different with each and every rider completely at ease and happy with going easier for the entire day.

Morning tea came fairly quickly after 70 kilometres and 2 and a half hours of riding. The feast the road crew delivered was the usual perfect delicious variety of everything imaginable that can be prepared in the middle of nowhere. And of course, delivered in the friendliest manner that we have become accustomed to by our beautiful road crew. Lunch was at the 122km mark and at this point last year it was 47 degrees and we were fighting a hungry headwind that wished to devour us all. But this time around, leaving a week early, seemed to have done the trick with the daily temperatures being cooler than 2013 by a good 10 degrees on most days. The Smiddy Challenge riders that returned from last year, of which there are about 10, were very grateful and commented to the newbies of last year's tortuous experiences. 

After afternoon tea the final sprint session was meant to take place but due to road works and the tiredness of the riders, Matt made the decision to call off the sprint and just roll in as a group on the comfortable pace that we had been sitting on all day. This was welcomed with a rousing cheer from the majority of riders.

Our finish into The School of Distance Education was a happy occasion for all as a great majority of the riders are suffering this year from sore bums, neck and shoulders, dodgy knees and sore wrists from the vibration that 1450 kilometres of Qld country roads subjects us to. The honour of the huddle went to Mark Gleeson and Michael Dunne, who were very appreciative of being asked. Thanks Mark and Michael for the lovely words spoken to the group. I would also like to thank Geoff Honey, who will complete his third Smiddy challenge event in a row tomorrow when he finishes in Townsville, for the great insightful words that were spoken to the group immediately after the huddle. Geoff is a very wise man and his words made immense sense and meant a lot to the group. 

The nighttime function saw the road crew, and I mean all the road crew, get up and keep David Smiddy company while he read out the journal that they wrote last night in Belyando Crossing. They finished with an amazing war cry that my Auntie Marie came up with that had the whole room buzzing.

Matt needed a night off from his MC duties and handed it over to Anna. Who did an exceptional job. It was funny when she was asked as she was concerned at not being able to be as funny as Matt, but let me assure you she killed it and all in the room were in fits of laughter. The night finished as always with some thank you gifts handed out to key people that help Smiddy out each year. A huge thank you to John and Anne Clarke, who for 6 years now have provided food and the use of the school grounds for the crew to take over for the one night.

Sharky's top ten most memorable moments from this years tour

1.     Witnessing the amazing improvements in the following riders that struggled through the first 3 days. Hannah Hogan, who was close to not even starting the event but start she did and was beside herself with excitement when she completed her very first day in its entirety when she rolled into Clermont. To date she has also completed all of day 6 and 7 although in a great deal of pain due to saddle issues. Vanessa Trott is another lovely lady who was meant to start last years Smiddy Challenge but had to pull out due to injury. This year she once again battled with injuries but still managed to start but well underdone in preparation. Vanessa completed day 6 and 7 and like Hannah her fitness is growing along with her confidence. Jack Coward is living proof that the impossible can be achieved as long as you have some self belief. Jack rides with a colonoscopy bag and although he trained long and hard for this event he will be the first to tell you that nothing prepares you for the pace that the riders need to average to finish each day before sunset. Jack completed his first full Smiddy day on day 6 and he has always said that without the help of most of the riders this would not have been possible. And finally Tracy Keogh did it tough to start with but by day 4 was completing each and every day in its entirety.

2.     If we were handing out awards for courage while still grieving then my vote would go to two very special people in the Smiddy peloton. Firstly Zane Williams for even starting this ride when he had every right not to. You see he lost his best mate to cancer just 3 weeks ago. That best mate was his Father. He has really struggled at times both emotionally and physically as his preparations for this event were hampered by first the wonderful news early in the year at becoming a Father for the very first time and then the sad passing of his Dad. Then there is Claire Schneider, who last year got as far as Belyando Crossing and got news that her Dad may soon pass away. She missed those last two days of the Smiddy Challenge but got to the hospital in time to say goodby to her Father. Well our beautiful Claire is back to finish the journey and I assure you she will finish it and finish it having ridden every single kilometre in memory of her father. To Zane and Claire I say to you that the entire team are so incredible proud of you both and you know we mean it when we say we love you.  

3.     This year is extremely special for me, not only because I have the immense pleasure of sharing this experience with 4 of my family members in my Sister Kay, my Brother Terry, my future Brother in-law Glen Jacobs, (hurry up Glen) and my Auntie Marie, who is the the fittest best looking and friendliest lady in the entire world at the spritely age of 74 years of age. Marie does not look a day over 60 and she and Terry have enjoyed their first Smiddy challenge experience as road crew immensely, while Kay is a veteran volunteer with 6 editions now under her belt. Mr Smiddy indicated to me that all the current road crew are under orders to return next year or there will be trouble! When David is pleased, we are pleased.

4.     I get such immense pleasure out of not just seeing the riders form unbreakable bonds, but when the road crew gel as well, and gel they always do no matter what the year, but 2014 was something entirely special again. Their closeness and respect for each other was none more evident when my Auntie Marie lead them in their own war-chant to honour Adam Smiddy. They performed it tonight after David Smiddy had finished reading out the journal. The room erupted and a new act was formed to rival the great Von Trapp family from Sound of music fame.

5.     Jo Lester, from our sponsor bike shop, AvantIPlus The Valley, was our mechanic for the past 7 days. Jo was kept busy but with all the riders adhering to a full service of their bikes prior to the event, the majority of the mechanicals were minor. The sponsorship from Maxxis Tyres worked a treat with each rider wearing Maxxis Refuse tyres and only 7 punctures were recorded for the entire trip to date. Surely a Smiddy record! Anyway a huge thanks to Jo, who came in ready to be a mechanic, but not ready for the life changing experience that comes with volunteering for a Smiddy event.  Jo has now been converted into the Smiddy family and has indicated he would love to return next year. Due to a wedding on Saturday we are losing our new friend and another employee from AvantiPlus, Julian Lang, has flown in for the final day. While we will miss Jo the group warmly welcomed Julian into the fold.

6.     To the following people I tip my hat to for these reasons: Rowan Foster, for flying in and joining the group from day 4. The peloton never feels right without the big man riding. Michael Young, for returning after many years away and enjoying the experience without his closest friends by his side, but a new batch, not better or worse, just new. I know he does this in memory of his Father, whom he had an amazing relationship with up until cancer robbed him of his best mate a few short years ago. Paul Martin, the quiet American who has been living in Tassie for a few years and great mates with Jason Overton. I loved it when Paul rode past me on day 5 and asked me how I was going. His first words to me and from that point in time he spoke often each day. Paul came for the ride and got the Smiddy injection that changes lives forever. Welcome to the family champ! Captain Kev, who fronted up for his 8th Smiddy Challenge in a row. Mate you are irreplaceable! Sammi-Jo, the bubbliest massage therapist disguised as a Ninja Assassin that you will ever meet. She stands 4 feet tall and will take you to levels of pain unknown to man, but do it all with a smile on her face. We love you Sammi-Jo. Stemmy and Mia our new lead car driver and photographer doing the great Geevsey out of a job? You guys rock, thank you so much for keeping us so safe, topped up with water and photographed more than the legendary Wybrand Detoit. Helen Merry for coming up with the Smiddy war chant that we performed in Blackwater. Why she waited until day 4 is beyond me? It was brilliant, although now rated second best behind the road crew chant. Ray Francis, who is as little and as light as Sammi-Jo, for returning to the Smiddy peloton. Ray did his first Smiddy in 2012 and had to be pushed every day. This time around, even with a cracked rib, Ray was the one helping other riders out and smiling each and every minute of every day. An absolute pleasure mate to have you in the peloton.

7.     The most popular name on this years Smiddy challenge was a draw with Mark and David scoring 4 a piece, while the name Ian was a close second with 3. Kevvy and Paul and Michael came in with a tie for third with 2 a piece. We had 19 girls in the crew this year and all their names were different.

8.     On day one, while taking the Sharky short cut up and over a 20% gradient climb and dirt roads and creek crossing; my old mate Zane Williams was riding beside me just as we began to climb. He looked across at me with the Armstrong Stare, and said, see you at the top! He then proceeded to drop me! From that point in time I knew I had been put in my place. Thanks Zane?

9.     On day 4 Matt asked me to speak to the group just before pushing off from a water stop. I was feeling a little emotional and after telling the group job well done and take care I let out with a really loud Sharky "I love you guys." I recall that Youngy looked up and was quietly amused. As we pushed off, Rowan rode up by my side and said; "Sharky I don't think the group realised the significance of that call." You see Row will affirm this as fact, that only once throughout any Smiddy event will I let out one of those calls. While I meant it, I now wish I had of saved it for day 7 when by then we were inseparable.

10.  The best for last is of course Maria and David Smiddy. How lucky are we that you allow this event to continue year in year out for 9 years now? Thank you so much guys for your acceptance of each and every rider and road crew member that enters your lives each year. I know I speak on behalf of everyone here when I say that to be embraced in a Maria cuddle is something special indeed. Even David has got in on the act over the past 5 years. Smiddy events reflect these two wonderful human beings and I can't wait for the tenth edition of Smiddy Challenge in 2015, just so that I get to hang out with the Smiddy family again. I love you Maria and David tend I ask of you your permission for this event to continue in 2015?


2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 6 - Clermont to Belyando

Day 6 Journal-Clermont to Belyando crossing
Written by the Road Crew –

Elapsed Time - 8.20
Ride Time - 6.04
Distance - 176 @ 29 kph
Elevation - 670
Min Temp 7. Max 38

Road Kill Count
142 Bags of Bones, 81 Kangaroos, 34 Bad Smells, 3 birds, 1 cat & 6 cars.
A  later than usual start saw the peloton take off at 7.40am with clear skies and favourable winds following a fantastic night with the Clermont Community who once again opened their homes, hearts & wallets to support Smiling for Smiddy.
Claire Bear Schneider rang the cow bell and local truckie Jay led the peloton out in his Kenworth with captain Kevvy as co-pilot working the CB Radio. Thanks also to Clermont’s local QPS member ‘Sarge’ who provided assistance with the traffic on the roll out of town.
Meanwhile the road crew worked together to prep the day’s morning tea and lunch and made final phone calls and prepare for the long stretch from Clermont to Charters Towers with only the Belyando Roadhouse in between for 400kms. We were happily surprised when Beale’s IGA Clermont donated our grocery order and Blu Mac Bakery once again donated our muffins. Donations were also received at last night’s dinner from many locals and businesses.  The Clermont community is absolutely amazing with their continued support and generosity.
Glen needed truck repairs and we are grateful to Lochy Burnett who opened up his workshop for Glen to make the necessary repairs. Lochy also donated the diesel to fill the truck. A big thank you to Loch and for your generous donation towards the Matt Marshall leg waxing fund.
Anna, John Martin (previous rider) and Sammi-Jo visited three schools to talk about sun safety and were grateful to accept almost $400 in donations. Anna was happy to learn that Christian had collected her phone, shopping and licence along with various other items.  John joined us for the day with a couple of cameras and his car to whiz up beside you to take many happy snaps.
Morning tea saw the team arrive only a couple of minutes before the riders. Our organised team had everything ready to quickly serve and everyone was on their way again in twenty minutes. The road crew is now operating so efficiently that we had even packed up and were on the road before the riders left.
The riders are a bit concerned about the effects of Megaburns and the after Megaburn. Considerations have been noted and duly filed.  But in all seriousness Megaburn have been a long term supporter of Smiddy and we simply could not do without their ongoing support which fuels the Smiddy peloton all the way to Townsville with their range of Bars & Energy Drink Mix.
The peloton was in good spirits and moving well with continuing tailwinds helping the riders arrive at the lunch stop at Elgin Downs station entrance right on time. With limited shade at this roadside stop, the setting called for all vehicles including our family travellers, Debra and son Robert and Mick and Cath and Sue to form up vehicles “Circle the wagons style” to roll out awnings and provide some much needed shade.  We really appreciate the help from our riders’ family members who have unselfishly helped with food prep, laundry and support in so many ways.
Returning rider Stephen “Jenno” Jennison took the sun safety message to a new level, mistakingly using sunscreen as chamois cream to ensure no burning in the nether regions. Always thinking Jenno.
Traditions were upheld with a team photo on the mound and then David Smiddy asking all riders to carry their day bags for the next 19kms in recognition of the 2006 original challenge riders; Sharky, Ollie and Ron who carried their back packs for their entire trip, and as usual the entire group threw the bags on their backs without question.
After a brief drinks stop at afternoon tea, the team were met with a large herd of very hungry cattle grazing on the long paddock. The dry conditions have seen the drovers driving the cattle for the past three months some 90 kms in search of suitable feed. It’s a small insight for many riders of the trials of remote land owners during drought conditions.
This may have caused concern, however, our trusty drivers, Stemmy, David, Mia and Kevvy under Stemmy’s instructions led the peleton slowly but surely by forming a reverse Smiddy Flying ‘V’. All riders avoided the imminent bovine threat.   Captain Kevvy who was brought up on a cattle property used his strategies to dodge cattle dung coming off the bike wheels.
15kms from Belyando saw the Hog Cup Challenge with everyone performing well considering the distance already travelled. Tom Tom and Melissa were once again the first male and female across the line with us all cheering them on. Sharky came in 3rd in B Grade!! Thanks for letting us all know Sharky.
The huddle was completed for the day and refreshments were served to our deserving riders and road crew. Due to the earlier finish, we had time to catch up and learn more about each other over a quiet drink or two (or 8 or 9 or 10 – hey Brucey Cope).
We all enjoyed dinner at the roadhouse, followed by a new tradition of dessert being served by road crew. Jelly, ice cream, custard and fruit salad was enjoyed by all.
Our evening briefing was conducted with the day’s stats  etc but due to the lack of internet access in these parts accurate details are not available.
The Teamwork jersey was presented  to a true team person, Kay Smoothy. Kay is patient, kind, giving and extremely capable. The Spirit jersey was presented to Zane Williams and the Mateship jersey was presented to Dan Upton.
Yasmine and Garath spoke about their reasons for undertaking the 2014 Challenge. Both have been personally confronted and challenged by cancer in the past months but continue to fight the battles.

Our respected and judicious smiddy rider Dr Bruce then delivered a wonderful reading of the prior days action with wig, tartan mini and sports bra (well endowed too), in the chilly evening air.
Belyando is always a magical place for the smiddy peloton. With just the riders and road crew and no formal functions or activities it is a chance to unwind and relax among the groups new found friends. Many also enjoy a quiet drink as the sun sets over this oasis in the desert with roadtrains running by the nearby road. The blue skies quickly give way to a magical starlit night as the chat banter continue well into the evening.

This year we were also joined by occasional smiddy post ride member Bruce Cope.  Bruce ensured the team was well entertained for the evening with his antics. 
The road crew would like to finish off the journal with a rendition of our new war chant -

We are road crew, yes we are
We have come from near and far
Adam Smiddy  Adam Smiddy
Morning,  noon and night time too
We will get the food to you
Adam Smiddy   Adam  Smiddy
Why we do it, can you guess
‘cause Smiddy riders are the best!
We loves ya!
Road Crew Rocks




Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Day 5 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Blackwater to Clermont

Kindly brought to you by Team Townsville (Bruce, Tracey, Paul, Helen, Ray and the two Davids)

This blog is dedicated to Jeff Schneider and his daughter Claire, a 2014 Smiddy rider here to “finish the ride”.

Stats of the day – courtesy of the Smiddy Challenge Rainman – “Stinky” Dave

Elapsed time:  9 hrs 23 min
Moving time: 6 hrs 42 min
Average speed:  29km/hr
Total distance:  194km
Vertical gain:  1095m climbing
Min temp:   6 degrees C
Max temp:  30 degrees C

Most used words: “Slowing” and “bump”

On the 5th morning of their travels the cyclists and their steeds awoke in the beautiful land of Backwater, rich in community spirit and generosity. At The Village on Blaine lycra-clad cyclists mingled with high-vis miners to feast on fuits, cereals, hot food and even an icecream buffet for those willing to test just how far their lycra could stretch.

With bellies full, and crazy socks high, the cyclists departed to the sounds of the cow bell played by Lynley O’Neill (who was subsequently rewarded with a Kevie Kiss – life doesn’t get better than that!). But no bell was loud enough to drown out the team’s groans as they once again mounted seemingly razor sharp saddles with seemingly paper-thin rears.

We pushed out on the highway, which to many seemed to be made of quick sand, as weary and aching legs warmed up for another day. There was much jostling on saddles as cyclists attempted to find their “sweet spot”.

After three hours of rolling hills we rode 25 minutes late into the welcoming arms of the students and staff at the Denison State School. This was a very special occasion for the Smiddy riders as the welcoming screams and endless offerings of high-5’s created an air of celebrity for the riders and crew.

As the riders sat amongst the excited students, Anna and Sharky spoke about the significance of sun safety and the Smiling for Smiddy story. This was followed by the students judging the best Crazy Socks in honour of the Inaugural Crazy Sock Day. Adorning muscular calves were an array of colourful and creative sock wear including Mel, Tom and Megz’s tartan knee highs and mini skirts, Cracker’s zinc-painted masterpiece of Adam Smiddy, superheroes (Batman, Robin, Captain America, Wonder Woman), football socks, and Ben’s (aka Archie’s) candy striped French Maid frills (matching his ginger and white complexion perfectly). Of course the stars of the fashion show were the crew from Townsville with their Captain America socks.

The traditional face painting contest saw a variety of artistic skills resulting in painted faces with the winning duo receiving a pair of Captain America socks. Sharky was presented with a generous $200 donation from the school.

Morning tea of home cooked goodies was served to us courtesy 2013 Challenge rider Errol Rosenblatt and his lovely wife Jo. Sammi Jo and her team of 10 identical clones continued to work their magic and cyclists again mounted their bikes held together by rock tape, zen spray and lashings of chamois cream (it’s surprising no one has slid off their slippery saddles – although many probably wish they had).

 As the days rolls by the code of conduct has changed. Public lubing is now acceptable behaviour, and groaning whilst doing it becomes a shared ectasy.

With the wind gods finally on our side with the spinnaker was raised, and combined with a new Smiddy first, business class was formed and the trip to Capella done in near record time. A brief stint to Capella High School occurred to spread the word about cancer prevention. Dr Phil spoke with the students about the importance of cancer prevention. Donations from the school were presented to Sharky and gratefully received.

The bumps and potholes in the road to Clermont were flattened with the knowledge that once again, Roger and Maree Vine from the Bottlemart Commercial Hotel in Clermont had a couple of cold ales and a few nibbles waiting for us. Just in time, the locals were called in to escort us out of the beer garden to meet our billets for the night. A quick shower and change of clothes resulted in 44 sweaty riders and 13 road crew looking somewhat human again before heading off to the official duties for the evening, the fundraising dinner at the Clermont Community Hall.

 A hearty meal and a couple more cold drinks meant that the arms were loosened to allow for some vigorous bidding for various item including $700 for 2014 Smiddy Jersey signed by Anna Mears, $500 for Signed Cricket Pads by Matthew Wade and $850 for locally made wooden side tables

During the evening we were privileged to hear from Jack Coward and Claire Schneider as they spoke about what Smiling for Smiddy meant to them and why they were doing the challenge. Their stories touched all of our hearts. Claire presented all riders with riding caps in memory of her dad Jeff Schneider, a great man and mentor to Claire.

Jack requested for all Smiddy riders to sign his “Teamwork” jersey in exchange for a personal donation of $200 to add to his almost $8000 hero page contribution. Well done Jack for your fundraising efforts and your efforts on the bike today as you conquered your first full day in the saddle in well-deserved style.

The Smiddy riders were also surprised with a special presentation of messages from loved ones back home bringing a tear to many an eye. As Smiddy riders we are privileged to ride with such “awesome” people but are even more privileged with the support from our families and friends. Thanks Anna, it was just the pick up we all needed.

Schindler’s List (presented by Jarrod and Megz)

The list for day 5 is a follows.

19 Kangaroo’s 1 being a Joey

1 cow

2 snakes

13 bad smells

11 bags of bones

Krista voice gone missing 

Hannah, Yasmin, Melissa’s Butt

Day 5 Jersey Recipients 

 Spirit: Ian Cope and Brenton (Copey) Cope – uncle and nephew, you couldn’t find a pair of better blokes.  Copey, a mate of Adam’s, rides every second year and this year convinced his uncle to join him.   Together they have raised over $18,000 a remarkable effort from some remarkable men.

Teamwork: Adrian Cross – fondly known as Shrek, Adrian is a work horse who simply never stops.  Upbeat, friendly and always keen to get involved he is a deserving recipient of this jersey.

Mateship: Joshua Stemm – “The Joshua Tree” – Part of the Stemm family, Josh has taken to Smiddy like a duck to water.  Flying in just a few days before the Challenge from Dubai.  Always smiling and good for a joke his banter is very much appreciated in the group.

We were treated to a special poem from Sharky, an “Ode To Clermont”, written as a tribute to the tireless work of the Clermont community members.

 This is more than just a bike ride. Until you have participated in the Challenge and become one of Maria and David’s surrogate family, not just for 8 days, but for a lifetime, you will not understand. Thank you Maria and David and thanks to Sharky for allowing each of us to become part of your life, in memory of Adam, who was obviously one hell of a bloke.













Tuesday, 2 September 2014

2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 4 - Biloela to Blackwater

Day 4 - By Iain Cory & Jarod Covey
Stats – Stinky Dave Colahan
Distance – 239.85 km
Elapsed time – 11.57
Moving time – 8.49
Ave speed 27.2 kph
Climbing – 1579 m
Min temp – 4 c
Max temp 35 c

Road Kill Count
3 birds
1 fish
1 pig
55 kangaroos
24 bags of bones
17 bad smells unrelated to the riders.
Geoff's wheel
1 flat tyre
Jenno's bottom bracket
Judging by the fact that he also changed saddles today I think Jennos rear end may have also been a casualty.
Rowans rear hanger but credit to him for riding back to the group. I guess that's one of the benefits of fresh legs.

Biloela to Blackwater

Today at the Rollout we were greeted with the now traditional and iconic bag pipes playing to help awaken the weary riders senses for what many feared would be an epic Smiddy Day.  The morning safety briefing didn’t allay any of the riders fears as Killer delivered the ominous message.  Heat, headwinds, road trains, wide loads and 240kms to Blackwater.  However this was far from the riders minds as we rolled out under cool clear skys with barely a breath of wind.  The chat was about how good a comfortable bed was to sleep in, we had clicked over the first 30km with relative ease on the quiet back roads to the small hamlet of Jambin before hitting the Highway.

As the day continued the temperature quickly climbed and as we progressed further west the predicted westerly’s (read headwinds) began to show themselves.  We were progressing well and looking on schedule, however the now ever present headwind started to turn the screws on the Smiddy Peleton.

Reaching the small roadside town of Dululu was to be our first stop of the day.  The smiddy peloton has been stopping here every year and we were cheerfully greeted by local residents Noel & Gladys Duthie (aka Kevvy’s Parents) who have lived in Dululu their entire lives (over 91 years).  They kindly donated $200. The Duthie’s have also been touched by cancer having lost their daughter many years ago, and they look forward to the Smiddy peloton rolling in each year. Morning tea was once again supplied by our trusty road crew and we were treated to a great spread of food .

Immediately on roll out from Dululu it was evident that the ride was now entering the West.  Dululu is an intersection point for 2 major transport routes and immediately the traffic increased and our the two Kev’s in our pilot and rear vehicles were immediately in the action guiding the ever present road trains safely past the riders – time to earn your keep now boys.  But we are very fortunate to have these towo on board.  Kevvy, having followed cyclists all around Australia for the past 8 years  and Kev Stemm a QPS traffic officer have a wealth of experience and expertise in this role.

At the Capricorn Hwy Intersect we were met by the friendly Queensland police service from the Duaringa station.  These guys come out every year to help guide us through to arvo tea at Dingo, it also signifies another change to the smiddy peloton that many riders look forward to.  Under the QPS guidance the peloton moves to triples (3 abreast) to help shorten up the group and allow the trucks smaller passing distances.  This also gives the peloton the chance to protect the weaker riders from the onslaught of the prevailing headwinds by enclosing them in the middle lane and allowing the remaining riders to rotate around them.  Also at this point we were met by past Smiddy rider Rodney “Rocket” Enkelmann who just happened to be passing by to say hello – thanks for coming out to support us Rocket.  We were also joined by Smiddy ride co-founder Rowan Foster.

The Smiddy Express was now ready to depart for Blackwater, however the increasing headwinds would soon conspire to take the Express out of us.

Lunch time could not come quick enough as we rolled into the small out post of Duaringa150kms into the day, which saw a very exhausted Smiddy peleton peel off the road for a well earned break, to the cheers of the road crew who broke out their best fancy dress for the occassions. 

With bodies spread across the local park which was looking more like a triage area with some very sore and tired bodies.  The road crew were trying to up the spirits of the riders with ice water and a spray from the water tank to help cool them down.  But the day was also a time for celebration as it was road crew member Marie’s 74 birthday.  Marie is Sharky’s Aunt and onboard for her first smiddy adventure.  A special birthday cake for Marie and Happy Birthday before the rider remounted for the afternoon session.

Unfortunately the restart was not smooth sailing as 3 time rider Geoff Honey touched a wheel on a slow incline and promptly found himself rubber side up.  Fortunately no damage apart from the pride but a rest in the car for Geoff to ensure all was well.  The peloton battled on through the winds heading for Dingo and Arvo Tea.

The road house at Dingo (home of the famous Dingo Races – ask Sammi Jo about how they race dingoes) was an oasis in the desert as we were again treated to an array of goodies and most importantly Birthday Cake!!  But the stop was short with a job to be done and the sun getting lower in the sky still 50 kms remained and 2 hours to dark.  It was time to bring the strong riders to the front for a special effort.

The winds were not letting up and getting up to 46 kph straight in the face a team of 6 assembled to the front.  Their job is to stay there and pull the entire peloton home for the final two hours.  This role takes a special type of rider – physical strength is one thing but strength of mind, determination, compassion and dedication are even more important.  They will sit out the front with just the 6 riders rolling turns keeping the speed even and solid for the next 50 kms.  It’s a delicate balancing act – to fast and you split and blow the group, to slow and darkness will descend.  But in true smiddy style when the chips are down, when the going is tough the tough get going. And they did exactly that.  Riders were hurting, crying yelling at the winds but they kept turning the pedals and laughing in the face of whatever was coming next.

And suddenly the best sight of any smiddy rider as we crested the final hill under the coal hopper across the road – civilisation.  In the distance the water tower of Blackwater with the sun setting over the top.  The riders accelerated down into town with a spring in the pedal stroke.
As we rolled into Blackwater the cream of the crop rose to the top with all the girls bringing it home for the boys. The cheers at the end were well deserved for what will go down as one of the epic days in the smiddy peloton. 

A massive effort today by all the riders but the biggest thanks go out to the road crew and police for keeping us all safe.

Blackwater is a special town for Smiddy, with all riders being billeted in the local community thanks to the tireless efforts of larger than life Lynlea and Ian and her side kick Vicki and of course Villiage on Blain’s Don Forbes.  These people have been looking after us for years and never fail to deliver a fun evening, good food and a good bed for our riders and this year was no exception.  Thank guys – as Sharky would say “You are AWESOME”

We heard two stories from Pete Buckley and Craig Trevallion on their brushes with cancer and illness and their reasons for doing Smiddy in 2014.  Thanks guys it takes courage to stand up and open your heart to strangers.

Category Jersey recipients today went to –
-          Teamwork – Joe Lester our trusty mechanic for his tireless and selfless work
-          Spirit – Katja Rex – a softly spoken quiet achiever who just puts the head down and works tirelessly every day
-          Pete Buckley – Mateship – Pete continues to lead, help and encourage all in his own quiet manner.

After a long day the legs are weary and body tired but feeling inspired for the next edition of Smiddy 2014.

Monday, 1 September 2014

2014 Bottlemart Smidy Challenge - Day 3 - Eidsvold to Biloela

Smiling for Smiddy Bottlemart Challenge 2014 – Day Three
Distance 173.60
Elapsed Time 9:56
Moving Time 6:43
Average Speed 25.8kph
1600m Climbing
Min Temp 1.0 degrees
Max Temp 34.0 degrees

Schindler’s List:
22 Roos
1 Bird
9 Bad Smells – Unidentified
1 Pig but others thought it was a dog – so call it a Pig Dog.
6 Bags of Bones

Category Jerseys
Spirit Jersey – Krista Page
Mateship – Ian ‘Donkey’ ‘Elaine’ Corey
Teamwork – Geoff Honey

Guest Speakers
Mark Turner
Melissa O

Team Tom and Ben have been given the honourable duty of authoring the Day Three blog taking in the Eidsvold to Biloela leg. We take our responsibilities very seriously and in honour of many great authors past (F Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemmingway) we started this journal entry on our third beer.

Day Three started with an early 4:45am breakfast under the stars at 0.7 degrees (Josh Stemm Garmin reading). Good luck struck early with the lovely Megan Wallace being defecated upon from a high by a bird with serious bowel problems; needless to say she doesn’t need to use hair spray for the rest of the trip. Whilst this was a quiet and isolated incident, the cackling laugh that followed by Melissa O swiftly alerted the surrounding suburbs to a crazy women on the loose.

The cow bell was rung by our own Ian Cory after he selflessly rolled close to twelve swags whilst many others were still getting ready; secretly we think he’s just trying to get in with someone. The riders began the day with many complaints about sore backsides and gut issues related to the consumption of protein bars; judging from their comments perhaps that bird found one left behind the afternoon before.

On the way north this morning, we noticed a turn off sign to Gin Gin.  We took this as a sign to commit to our authoring experience.  Let’s face it, the only thing better than a gin is a double gin and if it’s good enough for Hemmingway, it’s good enough for us!  As such, we made a pact that later in the day we’d each order a double gin at the bar in Biloela.  We then passed another sign for Gin Gin…and another.  We took this as another indication to commit to our authoring experience so took a pact to order two more double gins each at the bar in Biloela.  Needless to say, it’s amazing we can still currently spell Biloela.

We had 73kms to our first school visit of the Challenge at Monto, St Theresa’s Primary School. Day Three is renowned for being the best eating day and it certainly started off sensationally; Ben was particularly looking forward to this day. Anna and Sharky delivered the sun safety message to the kids who were all too willing to take to the zinc face painting competition.

We were welcomed eagerly by the kids awaiting a high five ride by-line to which we can declare there were no incidents. Jarrod Covey, a returning Challenge rider, approached this with apprehension as in 2012 he was brought down by an overzealous three foot high front rower.

We left morning tea with the imminent promise of the Monto range which consisted of three peaks, 5 or maybe 15km away (depending on how accurate Matty Marshall was feeling). Fittingly on the way to the base we passed over Graveyard Creek. By the first peak there were a few of us who felt that our headstones were being inscribed upon.  It was amazing to see the display of Smiddy spirit as we ascended the peaks.  Despite many people believing that their eulogy was currently being prepared, all riders of varying abilities made it up the mountain. Watching the stronger riders help those that weren’t having great days was inspirational stuff, certainly what makes Smiddy rides so special.

After a rapid descent back down Monto Range, the peloton made their way into lunch at Grevillea Creek – a truck stop on the side of the road.  Once again, the wonderful road crew provided a delicious lunch.  However, immediately after our first mouthful, Captain Kevvy decided that it would be a funny joke to finish lunch early.  It seemed strange, but when Ben realised it was only 30km more to afternoon tea, supplied by the Thangool State School P&C, he was more than happy to scoff down his lunch a little more quickly than normal.  You see, Ben remembered this afternoon tea very clearly from 2012 and was quite happy to leave some room for sausage rolls!

Sharky and Anna once again spread the sun safety message at Thangool SS.  In an amazing coincidence, the headmaster of Thangool SS was also an old high school mate of Adam Smiddy from Ayr.  This took Sharky aback – amazed and excited to hear more stories about how great a person Adam was.  It is always amazing to hear the great stories about Adam from people of different backgrounds, many of whom don’t know each other.  Neither of us ever got the pleasure of meeting Adam but after meeting his amazing mother and father and hearing the stories about him, he truly sounds like an inspirational man.

The Grevillea Cup followed immediately after Afternoon Tea.  This involved a 14km “Go your own pace” section from Thangool to Biloela.  This was divided into A, B and C grades.  While Ben had been looking forward to afternoon tea all day, Tom had been looking forward to this sprint.  Team Tom and Ben were hot favourites for the A grade cup!  According to Matt Marshall, Tom was the 3-1 hot favourite, and Ben was quite happy to live off the coattails of Tom.  The sprint started off at a leisurely pace of 30km/hr, although this was quick to change, when prematurely (and naively and, some may say, stupidly) Jarred Covey took off in a blaze of glory with 10km still to ride.  We think he was still a little too excited about not being taken out by the grade 3 bruiser.  With 500m to go (luckily because Ben’s legs weren’t lasting any longer), the proper sprint got under way.  Tom left his charge for the line late, but demolished the opposition to take the trophy!  Melissa O, returning female champion, finished among the top riders to take the female trophy once again!

We received a great welcome in Biloela from all the locals.  It was to be the first night in which riders were billeted out to local residents and our first major function.  We were billeted with the very generous Greg Lee who provided us with our inspiration for this literary masterpiece.  Greg accompanied us to the function, held at Thangool Racecourse, where we enjoyed a filling and amazing dinner.  The entire dinner (including food, drinks and so on) was generously donated by the local community, who also turned out in force to support the evening.  It’s easy to be proud of what we’re doing when we see so many people get behind the cause, despite not knowing many of the riders.

The evening was run by former Smiddy rider, Naomi Bath, who played the role of MC brilliantly.  Several local personalities got up and spoke eloquently, including Mayor Ron Carriage and Don, who has been a huge supporter of Smiddy for many years.  The Smiddy Category jerseys for Spirit, Mateship and Teamwork were awarded and then the night’s guest speakers got up to tell their stories.  Mark Turner shared his heart wrenching story, telling us about his inspirational son who suffers from severe epilepsy.  It was a truly tear jerking talk and left the room speechless, but in awe that he could get up and share this story.  Melissa O told the audience about her terrible experience of watching her mother and father both battle different forms of cancer at the same time. 

The night ended with a high paced auction to raise more money for Smiling for Smiddy and an impromptu performance of Bohemian Rhapsody by the local Rotary club, with assistance from Maria Smiddy, Dave Colahan and Brenton Cope.  Naomi finished proceedings efficiently on 9:30, much to the delight of all the riders.  We all left to the homes of our billets to get as much sleep as possible before our big 240km ride the next day.