Tuesday, 12 November 2013

THE NOOSA TRIATHLON AND THE SMIDDY CONNECTION - The story thus far...





Well it has been a while since my last blog, which was my account of the final ride of my 4000 kilometre month of September 7in7 journey around Australia. As the weeks turn into months since I tortured myself for 23 days on the road, the fatigue I felt has slowly lifted. I entered and finished my 23rd Noosa triathlon and for the first time in the past five years I actually had a half decent race this year finishing in 2 hours and 21 minutes. The infamous Shark hat, that sits atop my skinny head, adding an extra foot of height to my already 6ft 3" frame, made its fourth only ever appearance throughout the run leg. Anyway we once again had 50 triathletes raising money on behalf of Smiling for Smiddy and I wanted to tell their story. Please enjoy my words below.


Four years ago Rowan Foster and I approached the staff at USM and asked if they would consider allocating Smiling for Smiddy charity slots. This was a totally new concept in the game of triathlons. All the big sold-out marathons around the world had been doing it for years, so we thought… ”Why not for triathlon?” It was 2010 and USM took a gamble on us and allocated us 30 slots. Those 30 triathletes turned those slots into $30,000, which supported some amazing cancer programs at Mater Research. USM sat up and took notice and the following year we were awarded with 50 slots and $80,000 was raised for much needed funding to keep these life-saving programs at the Mater alive. 2012 was again a most successful year with over $90,000 raised and then again this year when ‘you’ 50 amazing triathletes came on board and raised a staggering $85,000!

Thanks to this success and the fact that you -our Noosa Smiddy participants- were responsible for yet another incredible year for Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation, USM has awarded Smiddy a mind blowing 100 slots for the 2014 Noosa Triathlon.

Each year we are proud to welcome more and more triathletes into the Smiddy family; that Smiddy bubble of positiveness that continues to expand each year to bursting point. To date over 1100 athletes have represented Smiling for Smiddy events since 2006. Think about that… Smiddy started when I and two mates rode 1600 kilometres from Brisbane to Townsville and raised $24,000. To now, where eight years on, ten Smiddy events each year, 1100 plus fundraising athletes and a staggering $5 plus million dollars raised for an amazing cause. I know I hold my head high beaming with proudness of what Smiddy has become and and I know that you guys and girls should be holding your head even higher. For without you there would be no Smiling for Smiddy and $5 million dollars.
Anyway I just wanted to let this year’s Smiling for Smiddy Noosa participants know how incredibly special you all are. Now while I would like to mention each and every one of you in this article please know that I can’t but that I, along with the entire team at Smiddy and the Mater, are indeed thinking of you and grateful for your contribution. So without further ado I would like to finish with my list of ten memorable moments, in no particular order, in Smiddy Noosa for 2013.

1. I love the fact that we get so many repeat offenders like Lucy, Julian, Peter, Sean, Glenn, Brian, Matt, Sandy, Henry, Paul, and Ian, to name but a few. Who return year after year after year. Lucy Cantle each year enters Noosa via the general entry yet still fundraises for Smiddy. Awesome effort guys!
2. The top three fundraisers this year were Brian Williams at over $15,000. John Gallagher at $5,200 and Michael O’Gorman who raised $4,400. Nice work guys and nice work to all our 50 fundraisers. No matter what amount you raised it all contributed to that staggering $85k.
3. Holly Berry joined us last year for the Midi Smiddy after losing her father to cancer. What a welcome return for Holy to then come on board her first Smiddy Noosa and again raise some good funds for her efforts at Noosa. Thank you Holly!
4. Each year for the Noosa triathlon we see family connections that come together for a shared goal of not just finishing the triathlon, but doing it to raise some good funds for cancer research. Thank you to Sean and Robyn, Allen and Marie-Louise, Brian and his nephew Dan and the amazing Burgess family who fielded four from the one family.
5. A big shout out to a few first time Olympic distance Noosa triathletes in Ros Russel, Leisha Callaghan, Natasha Crawford, Eli Rochford, Dan Halter and Robyn Lever. Always a scary thing plunging into your first big race and you all finished admirably.
6. To our oldest competitor in Allen Cutler, who completed the race with his wife at a sprightly 65 years of age. Inspirational performance for future gentleman out there thinking of taking the plunge. Also to our youngest competitor in Tom Burgess, who at 24 years of age did his family proud by completing the Noosa triathlon for Smiddy.

7. Smiddy has always been about mateship and every year we attract one key person, who then invites his mates along for the ride. They in turn get not just to race another triathlon, but to do it for a good cause and get to experience the Smiddy spirit as a bonus. So to Brian Williams and all your buddies for two years running.. Glenn Stephens from Hillbrooke Anglican School and all your mates back for the second year in a row racing for Smiddy as well. To Mark, James and Malcolm, all a bit worried about completing the event but you did so in fine fashion. And the amazing Burgess family of four; racing to remember your lost brother and dad and you honoured him with great dignity.

8. And Smiddy always introduces new triathletes to one another and I know of one great training friendship that blossomed from some last minute training in Nicole and Lance.

9. The Special Triathlon for kids with disabilities was a highlight for all the Smiddy competitors who put their hands up and volunteered at this amazing heart-warming, life affirming event. Talk about getting a healthy dose of life related reality check. You think you are having a bad day sometimes and yet these kids live with their disabilities each and every day for their whole lives and are always smiling and happy. A huge thank you Smiddy partners for making their day as triathletes a memory that will stay with them forever.


10. I have to finish with saying how good all of you looked in your Tineli Smiddy Noosa kits. The blue this year shone out like a beacon late at night. Each time I spotted a Smiddy suit it would lift my spirits, which while wearing that heavy and sauna-like Shark hat, which was stuffed with newspaper to keep it upright, helped me more than you can ever imagine
Again thank you for all that you have done to foster the Smiddy spirit within the Triathlon community over these past four years. How good was it to be out on the course and not only other Smiddy competitors but complete strangers yelling out; “Go Smiddy”. Who needs to remember names when we are all Smiddy ambassadors…?

Before I leave you a special mention goes out to an incredible lady who came into my life just 7 months ago. A lot of my friends rib me (in a nice way) over the mentions I give Alyssa in my blog from time to time, but to be perfectly honest, I don't care, as I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and she has made me unbelievably happy. Anyway some of my readers have asked for a photo of Alyssa. If you look in the photo to the right you will see her in the bottom left. Congratulations Alyssa on completing your very first Noosa Triathlon.
Cheers,
Sharky

PS: If you are keen to do Noosa next year for team Smiddy, we have been allocated 100 slots and would love to have your involvement. It's as easy as dropping me an email at mark.smoothy@mater.org.au

Friday, 4 October 2013

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 TASSIE SMIDDY CHALLENGE - SHARKY IS ON A MISSION!



Bridport To Pyengana Cheese Factory Cafe

Stats for the day

Distance: 96 kilometres
Average speed: 23.6 kmph
Maximum speed: 78 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 8
Temperature Maximum - 16
Metres climbed: 1978
Ride time: 4:04:14
Wind: no wind for first two hours then a slight tailwind.

Blog by Sharky

Thanks Sis for believing in me
I read a Facebook post from my sister Kay last night, she was commenting on day seven of my Sharky OZ 7in7 Tassie Smiddy Challenge that was cancelled 45 kilometres into the day due to the dangerous weather conditions. This is what she said to her partner Glen; "I bet you anything that Marky will go back and complete that section some time." You see Kay Kay, as I affectionately call my sister, knows me only too well.

Kay also reads my blogs religiously, so Kay Kay you were right and I was not waiting any longer than today to complete that section. This is how it panned out...

Amazing people helping me to keep the dream alive!
Pete and Rebecca Knight offered their incredible services as support team. Mick Farrag and Melissa Speare were there for me as support riders. I know other riders would have also put their hands up and I was so appreciative of all their offers and support, but we had one car and only room enough for three riders. Thanks also to Maria and Jess for sorting out an extra day on the hire car that Kevvy had used to follow our butts around Tassie these past eight days. A nice surprise on leaving the Hotel at four-am was seeing Maria Smiddy and Sammi-Jo up and about and in the car-park waiting to give each of us a warming cuddle. Thanks girls, it was so appreciated by the group.

Late night, early start
Last nights function was a great time for the team to celebrate the completion of the very first Smiddy tour of Tassie as part of my 7in7 venture. By the time my small team of Bec and Pete, Mel and Mick and myself finished the night and got to bed it was just on midnight. The alarm going off at 3:45am was not heard by myself but I certainly awoke to my bedside companion in Mick shaking me awake. Surprisingly I felt instantly awake and I guess to be honest I was excited at being able to complete that section that we missed. Not ever, not once, since I began the 7in7 journey back in 2008, has Australia brought me to a complete standstill. Not until I came to this rugged state called Tasmania. In my eyes this is unacceptable, as when I bring to completion this journey next year from Melbourne to Brisbane I need to know hat I have cycled every single solitary kilometre of the journey around Australia.

The early start was imperative due to my flight leaving today at 4:10pm. I absolutely needed to be on it, as there was no way I was missing out on being reunited with Alyssa! So there it was, all five of us on the road by four-am, with Pete driving and Bec there to support not only her husband but us three riders as well. Thanks to Ollie and Tim, we went with their suggestion to ride from Bidport to take advantage of the wind at our backs if it got up. I just needed to ride the route we had missed and connect the dots, I was perfectly okay with doing it in the opposite direction, especially as it turned out to be the hardest way to go thanks to close on 2000 metres of climbing over just 96 kilometres by doing it in that direction. Kate's Mum must have been up at the same time as us as a lovely text message came through wishing us all luck and to stay safe. Thank you Tammy and also thank you to Alyssa who was also in touch at such an early hour.

A dirt road and Mick states the obvious
So after an eventful 90 minute drive where Pete's Navcom took us on a route that involved 30 kilometres of dirt and more wildlife by the side of the road than I have ever seen in a lifetime as dawn approached, we had the bikes assembled and were on our way by 5:45am. The sunrise was spectacular as it bounced off the low cloud line creating an effect reminiscence of an exploding volcano. With my two mates by my side and Bec and Pete following closely behind you could not wipe the smile from my face. Mick on the other hand was in a world of pain and grimacing with every peddle stroke. I questioned him as to what was wrong. He said he legs were burning big time and it felt like his brakes were on. I then glanced down at his brakes and informed Mick that indeed his brakes were rubbing on his rear wheel. A quick stop to adjust and I regretted telling him as he was off like a shot, with me pleading for him to now slow down! Mel was her usual consistent self, solid as a rock and never put a foot wrong.

An incredibly fun route that passed too quickly
The four hours of riding time passed so quickly. We could not believe that just two days ago this route was too dangerous to ride due to the incredibly dangerous winds. The climbs were constant but a good gradient and the descents; I just know all the crew that missed this section would have had a blast. We peaked out at 600 metres of altitude and lost 500 metres of it in one ten-kilometre descent. That descent was what the riders were meant to ride up for the great backpack challenge. After riding down it I now know that Adam actually did us a favour by turning the weather Gods against us and canceling the event that day, as that climb would have killed the lads with 20kg of sand on their backs!
Anyway today the three of us descended it together, never going much below 60km/h and except for a few patches of gravel on a couple of corners, the brakes were never required. The smiles on our dials at the bottom meant that no words were needed to be said.

Tears of joy and breakfast at the Cheese Factory Cafe
At the 95 kilometre mark we made a right turn that would take us back to the Cheese Factory Cafe, where we had morning tea and sheltered from the weather two days ago. Mick had spotted a 60km/h sign and sprinted for it; both Mel and Mick were at it all morning at every 60 sign and the points were six/five in Micks favour after that last sign. While Mick was sprinting for that sign I was actually Getting emotional. I myself thought I understood, but really it took until that very moment of completing the missed section for it all to make sense and to sink in just how much it meant to me personally. Mel gave me a hug on the bike and eventually when we caught up to Mick he got caught up in the moment as well.

At the cafe Bec and Pete pulled up and it was all hugs and congratulations amongst the small team. To thank the team I shouted the coffees and breakfast and we basked in the glory of a job well done. I am so appreciative for their support and no matter what I say or do it will never be enough. But I know they understand, as I know all my 7in7 and Smiddy mates from this tour do. It was now 11am and time to get back to the Hotel. Mel and Mick continued to play the 60km/h sign sprinting game by pushing an arm or leg into the front compartment where Bec and Pete were seated and Pete did an excellent job staying awake at the wheel on just four hours sleep. On getting back to the hotel at 1:30pm I had two and a half hours to pack my bike, scrub myself up to look my very best for my special lady, say my goodbyes, but first a mini-Smiddy-huddle of just five people had to be completed, with Pete getting excited as he thought it was a world record, but I had to inform him that Kev, Kate, Ron and Myself hold that record when in 2011 just the four of us rode the west coast of Australia and across to Esperance. Anyway it was good fun and appreciated by all.

Well I am now on the plane and in just 30 minutes will be in the arms of my beloved Alyssa. What a journey I have had the past four weeks. I sure hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed being part of them.

Enjoy the rest of the year and see you when next I blog.

Sharky

Thursday, 3 October 2013

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 TASSIE SMIDDY CHALLENGE - DAY 8


Distance: 118 kilometres
Average speed: 27.4 kmph
Maximum speed: 64 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 14
Temperature Maximum - 22
Metres climbed: 1331
Ride time: 4:18:35
Wind Direction: Slight headwind first two hours and Tailwinds last Two hours.

Blog written by Sharky

A huge thank you to Anna, Paul, Bryan and Rowan for taking the pressure off me to write the blog each night. It has been one of the toughest tours to date from a cold, wet and windy perspective. To take on the blog each and every night, combined with the toughness of this tour, I would now be in that hole in the ground. So thanks guys for saving me.

What is that bright orange glow
The crew awoke to a brilliant sunrise and virtually no wind to speak of. The contrast from yesterdays conditions were shockingly nice and giggles of delight could be heard amongst the crew as we went about our pre-morning ritual of getting ready for another and our last day on the road. We rolled out at 8:45am to Bob ringing the cow bell and joined by day rider and good friend of Kate and Tim's in Clinton. So right from the off go there was instant chatter and a great feeling in the peloton as we all joked about the cruisy day ahead of us. And that is exactly what it turned out to be. The sun kept doing what it was meant to do - Shining, the wind even behaved itself and did nothing more than provide a cooling sensation whenever it was in our face. And after 7 tough days in the saddle, even the majority of the riders legs were feeling okay after the enforced rest day yesterday.

Kate had organised a great day of eating activities that saw us stop at George Town at 55 kilometres, where the local RSL, led by the lovely ladies in Pat and Marley, provided morning tea for the crew of scones, tea and coffee in fine china and a selection of party pies and sausage rolls. I could not believe my eyes when I witnessed Marto putting just one pie and two sausage rolls on his plate. Was he being polite or had he reached his limit for the trip?

Pizza beside the Tamar River
From morning tea we then did another leisurely 45 kilometres where the peloton was flying thanks to a downhill run and a great tailwind. Kate had organised another eating surprise for us with sensationally yummy Pizzas for lunch at a place called Rosevears Tavern, which was right beside the majestic and wide Tamar River. We were greeted there by Kate's family in her Sister Amy and their Mum Tammy and also Tammy's parents in Jack and Jo. Kate was given a mystery $400 donation and I am not allowed to say who donated it, but I thanked them anyway and told them I knew nothing about it.

The great backpack race
It was directly after lunch that the great Knapsack Challenge was held. This event was cancelled yesterday due to the inclement weather, so a much softer version was held today. A two kilometre flat time trial, finishing with a climb of 500 metres of 7% gradient. The Slim Jims consisted of Shannon, Sambo, Rupert and Matt, who all had up to 20kg of sand in backpacks attached to the shoulders. The Fat Cats were Marto, Watty, Marky T and Tommy Boy, all these lads were close to or over 100kg's. Marto and Watty were given a 45 second headstart and the race was on. The handicap proved too much as Watty crossed the line a clear winner, proving his point that fat is stronger than muscle. Second was Tommy Boy, then Mark T and the first of the dejected Slim Jims was Rupert. It was awesome to watch and the rest of the riders awaited atop the climb and cheered on their chosen hero. The finish resembled a battlefield with the chosen racers collapsed over bike frames and sucking in some big breaths. It was so much fun that it was suggested the Challenge event to Townsville 2014 will be the next rematch.

Launceston here we come
The finish into Launceston was again a very easy 20 kilometres and the amazing thing about todays stage was that we somehow managed to turn a four hour ride into an eight hours journey! Like I said a pretty cruisy day was expected and delivered on one of the nicest sun shiny days we have had all tour. Life does not get more perfect on the bike than what we experienced today. So after eight most memorable days of riding -some good and some very cold and wet memories thrown in there- we returned to our starting point at the Launceston Hotel and we're greeted by our road crew and a huge turnout of Kates family members and the lovely Mary, who is Kevvy's very patient and understanding Wife. Congratulatory hugs were passed all round and the huddle was handed over to the delightful and beautiful Maria Smiddy.

Bikes were hastily packed into their boxes and a little R&R was appreciated prior to our final dinner function tonight.

Beautiful people and amazing journeys
This trip, like all 7in7 and Smiddy journeys is not about proving how good we are at riding a bike. It has, and always will be, a journey about people, very special people like the riders and road crew and the amazing hospitality and generosity of the people that we meet along the way. For the past 24 days and nights my journey has introduced me to many hundreds of these exceptional people and I consider myself extremely lucky to be alive and to appreciate each and every contact. To finish I would just like to make a few observations and memories of the 36 very special people I have had the pleasure of spending the past eight days with.


Lisa, I'll remember for not only being one of the most polite ladies I have ever met but her ability to wear next to nothing in the coldest conditions, while the rest of us are layered up in everything we own. She belongs at the North Pole.

Mick and his newspaper in his back pocket that he carried with him for three weeks, never using it once but happy to share the legend of the old timers who used this method in the 1940's to keep them warm on the descents to anyone that would listen. Also Mick for your caring attitude towards your fellow riders and road crew.

Clinton it was a huge pleasure to have you join us for a day and you fitted in well with our riding style right from the get go. Nice work mate.

Pete so good to see you ride the last three days of this journey with us mate. There is nothing that you can't do now that you have accomplished finishing the Challenge and a leg of the 7in7.

Mel thank you for spoiling me with special deserts at some of the nighttime dinners. When a desert was not available out would come the mars bars and kit kats. Also for your amazing support and help to make the last two years of 7in7 a reality.

Nat and Paula not only are the only riders who use hankies to blow their nostrils but are two of the most respectful and grateful girls in the peloton. And so bloody strong and determined.

Sambo I will always remember your kindness, politeness, (as long as I don't mistake you for Marto) and your skin coloured face zinc.

Nicole your friendliness and incredible strength on the bike. You have a great season ahead of you in triathlon.

Bryan and your poetic outlook on life and doing the ride for your mum. The pace was at times to high for you but you always got on with the job.

Marky T for asking me if he can do 7in7 in 2014 before this year's event was over. I love how highly you spoke about your love for your partner Cheryl. I love that you got how I feel about my lady Alyssa.

Shannon what a pleasure getting to know you and finding out how much you care about your fellow rider and road crew members. I look forward to more adventures to come.

Tim and your enthusiasm even when the weather was foul. The roads were dirt and the wind was howling. You were always smiling and I just love your spirit mate.

Aloka thank you for giving us Smithers for the past eight days and for introducing Henry to all the crew.

Anna for your bubby personality and contagious spirit for all things Smiddy. Two years now as a Smiddy riders and learning so fast.

Row man for being Row Man. Always humble and the front man each night and making us all laugh. My greatest memory will be our climb together up to Cradle Mountain in that snow storm.

Marto for all the true stories of the amount of pies and sausage rolls you ate in eight days. Which at last count was 64 rolls and 24 pies. Also for toughing out the past four days with sciatica pain in your right leg.

Watto and your infectious spirit and great ideas for fund raising throughout the ride. Even when the chips were down with the weather you stayed positive.

Maso for battling the whole eight days with an Achilles injury that would have stopped the most determined athlete but not you my man. Also for not asking the sheep and cows about my sexuality over the past three days.

Matt for your strength and that incredible aero flat back position you can maintain on the bike all day long, but especially for your helpful attitude to your fellow riders.

Rupert for accepting that Kevvy is wise and an old man. Also for helping out on many occasions with your pushing. Both Rupert and Matt for getting what we are all about regarding the Smiddy spirit.

Kate for being Kate. The tour you put together has just been amazing. Your humble attitude and not wanting any attention for all your hard work but you are getting it now! Two years ago you said to me that you would take on the Challenge of this tour and you were true to your word. I can never thank you enough.

The twins Leanne and Cheryl for being so much fun. Such beautiful ladies and your sense of adventure is second to none. I loved it when you said the East Coast will be dryer and sunnier and we get hit with the worst conditions on record. Please can we have your amazing company again for Smiddy Tassie 2015? Only this time in March!

Kev for giving me six years of your life to Smiddy and for being the only driver in the world to travel around Australia at an average of 25kmh.

Rebecca for volunteering for three Smiddy tours back to back over the past 4 weeks. You are so incredibly patient and nothing is too much to ask. Pete is exceptionally lucky to have such a beautiful wife.

Maddog for all your positive energy. You were the only one during the super storm to be heard whistling and singing.

Maria for without you there would be no Smiddy events in memory of your son Adam. Your hugs are worth dying for.

Flying Flynn for his friendly attitude and for not giving in with his itb and knee injury and doing these Smiddy journeys for his Dad.

Bob for taking on the task of doing two tours back to back and not going insane. Thanks Bob for the awesome memories and I will see you in the gym next week.

Sammi Jo for your ability to hurt people and smile while you are doing it. One of the nicest but nastiest lady I have ever met.

Tommy for your gentle nature and for a guy who only starting cycling two years ago your ability is amazing.

Geevsey for giving up your time to look after us for those four hard and testing days. For your friendship and for always paying out on me.

Boydy for being Boydy, an incredibly gifted individual who I missed immensely when he left us on day four.

Andy for having the loudest voice in the peloton when shouting car back and being so excited after the first three days when he sorted his injuries and knew he could finish this tour.

Jess for your role behind the scenes and always making sure the riders were looked after with accommodation and washing and doing it in a fun and friendly manner.

Kate's family for their unbelievable involvement in helping not only to make this ride happen but happen in such a fun way. We are all in awe of you guys.

Ollie for being one of the original riders from 2006 and showing once again on the day you joined us, that you truly possess the Smiddy spirit by helping the other riders that were struggling at times.

And finally Mary, Kevvy's wife, how good are you to have a husband as grand and as ancient as that cow bell that he sleeps with. You are a truly exceptional women!

That's it from me, hope you enjoyed the journey over the past 4 weeks of Smiddy adventures.

Sharky


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

SHARKYS OZ 7in7 TASSIE SMIDDY CHALLENGE - ST HELEN'S TO BRIDPORT - DAY 7


Distance: 44 kilometres
Average speed: 21.4 kmph
Maximum speed: 63 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 2
Temperature Maximum - 8
Metres climbed: 840
Ride time: 2:08:18
Wind Direction: Chaos!

Blog written by Rowan Foster

I'm writing my second journal in as many days because I've struck a deal with Sharky - I'd write the day's journal if he cleans my bike.

I thought it a good deal after the horrendous conditions we met today and I think I can write the blog in quicker time than he could clean my bike.

When my alarm went this morning I peered outside to see a 20 metre gum tree seemingly bending over itself in the wind. I got a wee bit nervous. My anxiety doubled when I saw our resident weather man Watty at brekky this morning and he said 'Row I think we cashed in all our chips yesterday'. The wind was howling, trees were bending sideways and the rain was pelting down. Gees Watty even a pre-schooler could call this one. But we'll reinstate your weatherman status - one correct prediction in 7 days ain't bad.

With Sammi-Jo sending us on our way with the cow bell we were all hopeful it would be a repeat of yesterday with skies clearing soon up the road.

Within minutes of departure we knew that wouldn't be the case. As we rolled out of St Helens the peloton leant into the wind to stay upright, the Garmins had us rolling at 10kms/hr and Marto was heard yelling out to Rupert for a push.

The first session was 42kms to morning tea and Timmy Smithers had planned the route to take us via Bay of Fires. 10kms up the road and the Siren Sisters in lead vehicle were pulled over looking at maps - they confirmed the planned route back to the highway had us going across 9kms of wet gravel road.

It wouldn't be a Smiddy ride without a gravel road somewhere in the mix but this would turn out to be the greatest Smiddy shortcut on record.

The riders ploughed on over stone and mud, even those with mudguards couldn't be spared. We reached the end of our gravel adventure looking like we'd dived in a mud pit and our bikes sprayed in wet sand. Smithers addressed the group advising it was a mere 3kms back to the highway. Mick Farragio politely pointed out that a road sign behind Tim also had St Helens at 3kms.

So, after an hour of cycling in the worst conditions imaginable we were back at St. Helens. Smithers could sense the unrest and started his next speech to the peloton with "My fellow Americans..."

Onwards we pedalled, everyone embracing the hard yards in front of them. If we thought day one up to Cradle Mountain was brutal but this was off the charts.

At times gusts of wind slowed the peloton to a standstill. We'd be pedalling with barely any forward movement. Smithers assured me the countryside we were riding through was stunning - but none of us would have known it. We couldn't even glance sideways for fear of being blown off our bikes.

Indeed a few riders did take detours off the road at times as they were caught off guard by the wind. The rain stung exposed skin as it came down on us with fury.

We made it into the Holy Cow Cafe (home of Australia's most awarded cheddar cheese) for morning tea and took shelter from the conditions. Fresh, hot scones and coffees warmed shivering riders. Captain Kev and Jess assessed conditions and made the toughest of calls - the stage would be abandoned and riders transported to the day's end in Bridport.

Smiling for Smiddy has such an impeccable safety record on the road over the last seven years and this was to be a day that challenged our limits and won.

I must acknowledge Kev and Jess for making the call - it was the right one for the safety of the group. Rest assured though if Kev blew his whistle and told us to get back on our bikes we would have.

Our road crew did such an amazing job controlling the situation and putting plans into action to get us safely up the road. Thank you for your efforts.

The call to abandon the stage was vindicated by the amount of debris and fallen trees on the road to Bridport. It could have been so dangerous. As Smithers said "A wattle on the noggin doesn't auger well."

While half the riders were being transferred to Bridport (an hour up the road), the remaining riders were left at the Weldsborough pub to sample local beers, play pool and a few card games. The roaring fire place brought us back to a normal state.

We faced the worst that Tasmania could throw at us today and sure we sit in Bridport a little defeated but the camaraderie in the group has kept spirits high.

There's not much you can do when the weather gods throw a day at you like this so the riders must be acknowledged for their understanding and acceptance of the situation.

On the bright side the pro riders in the Tour of Tasmania didn't even go out at all today. We did 40kms. They're soft.

All the riders thoughts were with Sharky when the stage was abandoned. This legend of the Smiddy peloton has ridden every kilometre around Australia so far on his 7in7 Challenge. We all know how much it means to him to ride every km of his epic adventure. Nothing has stopped him to date but today Sharky knew the safety of the group was paramount and he accepted the day's end.

I know Sharky will return to Tasmania some day to ride that lost 100kms, hopefully enjoying it alongside his wonderful gal Alyssa.

So that's it from Bridport after a wild and wet day. A quick look outside and Sharky is still cleaning my bike. Looks like I did get the better deal.

Row

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 TASSIE SMIDDY CHALLENGE - COLES BAY TO ST HELEN'S - Day 6


Distance: 114 kilometres
Average speed: 28.7 kmph
Maximum speed: 54.2 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 12
Temperature Maximum - 18
Metres climbed: 1137
Ride time: 2:56:43
Wind Direction: Tailwind.

Blog written by Rowan Foster

The promise of our shortest day on tour from Coles Bay to St Helens at 112km allowed us a sleep in rarely seen on a Smiddy ride - a 10.30am start. After a sensational bbq brekky thanks to our amazing road crew the late start allowed a keen group to play tourist in Freycinet National Park with a trek up to Wineglass Bay lookout. Thanks must go to Tammy and Amy Warren for the transfers to the national park. We really appreciate the amazing support of the Warren family on this trip.

It's funny that a 112km stage can be classed as an easy day but that was the mindset amongst the riders when we woke. We'd battled long days in the saddle down the west coast and we hoped day 6 would be kind to us on weary legs. As if the weather gods knew about our 10.30am departure, strong winds and rain set down on Coles Bay just minutes prior.

I made a bee line for our resident weather man Watty and asked what conditions lay ahead. Rain and a fierce headwind he replied. It sent a shudder amongst the group. A few minutes later Tassie Tim Smithers received an official report detailing clearing skies and tailwinds.

I questioned Watty on his error. He seemed so trustworthy all trip. Watty replied 'bugger me I've got no idea, I've just been making it up the whole time''. Thanks watty.

So at 11am we headed out, setting a new record for the latest ever Smiddy departure time...and what would turn out to be the shortest day of riding as well; to record under 4hrs of actual ride time is unheard of in the Smiddy peloton.

Kate Warren's mum Tammy rang the cow bell and we were on our way. A little rain fell on departure but it was soon clear the wind was with us. We clicked over the kilometres averaging 30kms/hr.

Rupert was looking the goods with superman jocks and socks on show while Maso donned his newly awarded Tassie Devil undies on the outside as well.

With a level road ahead of us the 65kms into lunch at Chain of Lagoons Beach was done in a flash. I must apologise to my old man Freddy Foster for not stopping in Bicheno on the way through - he told me I had to sample some oysters there but I figured it wouldn't be the best ride nutrition.

The lunch stop was a hit however with gluten free beef wraps and cookies the fuel for the afternoon session. Well played road crew!

Our final session into St. Helens was a mere 47kms - with a tailwind this would be a breeze.

The ride along the east coast was stunning. Rolling green hills and fields of frolicking spring lambs met a coast line of azure waters. If only Geevesy was here to talk us trough it. Tasmania - what a magic place. If only they could do something about the weather!

We were into St Helens before we knew it. The road crew had us into our cabins in a flash to freshen up for dinner - an amazing chicken stir fry. Damn they treat us well.

The team dinner saw us launch a fresh challenge for our penultimate day. It will pit the 'buffet stalkers', four of our Clydesdale riders (Watty, Marto, Tom & Mark @ 95kgs+) versus the Skinny Jims (Rupert, Sambo, Matt & Shannon) four of our lightweight cyclists on the day's main climb - a 8km ascent at average gradient of 5 per cent.

The catch is that our Skinny Jims will be weighted down with 20kg back packs to answer the much asked question of who would ride better at equal weight. I can't wait to see the outcome of that one! Stay tuned for tomorrow's results.

Thanks for following our journey and amazing support to help us reach $100,000 raised for cancer research at Mater.

I hope you enjoy following tomorrows ride!

Row Man

SHARKY'S OZ 7in7 TASSIE SMIDDY CHALLENGE - HOBART TO COLES BAY - DAY 5


Distance: 167 kilometres
Average speed: 24.4 kmph
Maximum speed: 78 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 16
Temperature Maximum - 25
Metres climbed: 1967
Ride time: 6:50:54
Wind direction: Everything but predominately killer crosswinds.

Blog written by Bryan "Walter" Humphrey


Our Search for the Holy Grail

The journey has taken six years so far
Since soothsayer Sharkey pronounced its time
We rode after resting in Hobart town
South west snow and driving sleet left behind
Still bruised from Wellington's high battle ground
After words from Sir Rohan of the Mater
And farewells from the Reeve and Boyd
We followed the lead of tenacious Tim
and meandered along river paths
glancing at the mountains and perhaps our doom

We followed the siren sisters pulsing light
The lure of C and L a compulsive entice
Rupert the willing led the first charge
up precipitous cliffs of Bust a Gall
then returned as shepherd looking after the flock
Also assisting was Sambo the steady
and Shannon our true Shepard
Andrew the younger flew on new legs
meditative Mick tapped out a rhythm
followed closely behind by meticulous Mel
and the soporific arc of slow pedal Tom
Our rear was protected from demons and orcs
by Kevin of the dwarves and Oracle Bob

The next battle ground was Black Charlies's opening
Where Paula the Petite of Anandale
Sweared a vow of silence if she could defeat
Maso the magician to the summit
Wise man that he was he let her win
Masterful Matt set a cracking pace
Fearless Nat, Commander of the descent
just waited her chance, with down hill Mel
and the flying Flynn just kept in reserve
Nicole the dependable kept up a beat
While Watto the wicked regretted night's folly
Melodious Marko showed strength where it counts
While Greg of the order of the quip coughed on

Our caravan of supporters keep our mission alive
Lady Jess of Bardon schedules our inns
Queen Maria of Smiddy plans so well
Bountiful harvest Bec nourishes souls
and still we follow the siren sisters call

Over the hills we are greeted by Lona
of the Galmorgan- Spring Bay Shire
With Angela's magic, tables overflowed
sausage rolls, cakes and breads, a feast to sustain
With inspiring words from Mayor Bertaind
we set off anew with a wind up our bums
and soon reached Orford RoadHouse to recoup
with magical drinks supplied by Jenny
Deputy mayor and kind words of support

In the afternoon the gods conspired
to combine the winds from the north and the west
Our steeds were learning as we fought the wind
Lisa the courageous inspired us all
and Peter goodwill rejoined us to ride
Princess Katie of Davonport rode to the front
and led the pilgrims down unknown roads
We met Peter the ferry man and Robert too
Who steered their longboats across fiords and more
to the delightful Warren summer palace
where we were all hugged by Queen Tammy
and given good cheer by Princesses Aimee and Melanie
with ales from our cheerful hosts Pat and Ken
The tables groaned with the weight of feast
the hounds hovered feverishly to get
the dropped morsels just ahead of Greg of the quip
Bad Sir Bryan the Bard nana napped in peace
as Sammy J the healer flexed magic hands

Tomorrow the quest continues with zeal
with a future challenge by the clydesdales
to the thin necks likely to be fierce
but the overall drive which unites these crusaders
is to find the holy grail of a cure
for the scourge of cancer that has touched us all.

Sir Walter

Monday, 30 September 2013

SHARKYS OZ 7in7 TARRAHLEA TO HOBART - DAY 4


Distance: 176.9 kilometres
Average speed: 24.2 kmph
Maximum speed: 74 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 2 Degrees At the top of Mt Wellington
Temperature Maximum - 16
2894 Metres climbed:
Ride time: 6:53:26
Wind direction: Tail

Blog written by Paul "Maso" Mason


"Ecclesiastes 3-11; There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun:
* The time to tear down and a time to build
*A time to weep and a time to laugh
* A time to mourn and a time to dance
*A time to cut and a time to mend
And there is nothing better than a person to enjoy their work for who am I to tell them what will happen after them.

Why this quote? this is Smiddy you ride around Tasmania and for the first three days there wasn't much sun. We are all here - we have all shed tears, we have all wept for friends and family that are no longer with us. Riding for Smiddy allows us to cut, to mend, to build, to laugh and the dance (especially Marto when he climbs a hill). Our road crew feed us, mend us, build us up ready for the next day. Adam rides with us every day. We know this and we also know that all of the other people we ride for do as well.

We awake at 4.30am with snowflakes floating in the air like a fairytale ... Just like our little cottages that Jess so wonderfully organised for us at Tarraleah. But we are not in a fairytale. Because before we are finished our amazing hot breakfast, before we are actually ready Kevvy blows his bloody whistle and our five minutes to begin Day 4 Tarraleah to Hobart.

We roll out and surprise surprise, we climb and we climb again and then begins our best day in Tasmania. we are on a descent with a tailwind woo hooo!!! We fly - speeds up to 70km recorded. the pack spread out across the road just the way Kevvy likes it.

Before we know it is a Hamilton. Tim, Jock and Jane from Curringa Farm were our awesome hosts and we were speechless as we were spoilt with homemade scones and cakes. This connection was arranged by one of Paul Mason's work colleagues - Richard Focken. Thanks so much Richard and the crew at Curringa Farm. All the riders enjoyed the informative presentation by Tim. There is an unwritten competition currently occurring and Marto is currently holding the yellow jersey for sausage roll consumption. Flynny currently is in green (sprint jersey) for the number of scones and claims he ate four but eye witnesses have verified he may have actually eaten 16. This was Jess' highlight of the trip to date as she snatched a suckling lamb from the mothers teat and consoled it by giving it a huge cuddle before returning it to its mother.

Heading into New Norfolk Rowan decided it was time to play and he started a fantastic 5-10km smashfest whereby Watty and several other were redlining just to hold on. Much fun was had and riders were known to experience a little bit of scone throat vomit as they raced with great speed toward Hobart.

Lunch was fantastic hosted by Meg Walker and her mum Marsha at their beautiful establishment with their amazing friends and family. Kate was extremely overwhelmed by their generosity as they also gave several donations and opened their homie to us. they are a part of our Smiddy family and have offered to host in any future events that are held. thanks so much to Meg and her support crew at New Norfolk.

Tim was kind enough to lead us into Hobart with our day rider Oliver who has previously ridden with Sharky on his original journey when he first started riding. We had a pit stop at Salamanca and then a quiet hush fell over the group as we munched once again on the delicious home baked cooking so kindly provided to us. Strategies were formed, alliances made, tactics discussed and Row was at his all time best in attempting to impact everyone with his Dynamo powers. Why was this happening??? We were about the embark on one of the greatest mountain climbs in Australia and in our lives. Mount Wellington. The tour of Tassie conducted their stage one time trial minutes before we arrived, you could smell the sweat and blood at the start line. Some sucked it up with glee - we could all see the twinkle in Sambo's eyes. Some were weeping in anticipation at the next challenge the Tasmania would throw at them. The NRS Genesis completed the climb in 46 minutes. Our own Row man knocked it over in 40 minutes (give or take 5 or so kilometres) due to the Dynamo powers mentioned earlier. Sambo well he knew that he wanted it and managed to out-sprint the three amigos hot on his tail (Kate, Tim and Maso). Everybody who started finished the climb and what an awesome effort!!! After three days of majestic Tasmanian climbing - doing Mt Wellington on tired legs was tough and its really important that all the Garmins, the Strava, the heart rate monitors, the power meters - they all need to take second place to the legs, the heart but most importantly the mind that gets you to the top. You are not going to remember the figures when you retell this story. You will remember what grit, what guts, what mental strength, what friendships were formed and how slowly those kilometre markers rolled under your wheels. Reflect on this and be really proud of what you have achieved. Be just as proud and remember - how good showering and actually surviving the cold of the descent was because that is what life is all about. The small things. A little bit of discomfort is nothing in comparison to what people suffering with cancer are going through.

We finished the day with a magnificent meal at SOLO - where Simon our host spoilt us rotten. thanks so much Tim for your contact with him and providing us with a great night.
We also bade farewell to Boydy and Geeves - both who were to leave us in the morning. Thanks so much to both of you - you are with us in spirit to the end.

Congratulations to Rupert for his spirit award in allowing Row to win the climb and assisting riders up the climb.

This is Sharky's 7 in 7 Smiddy Tasmania Day Four. An epic ride so far. I'm loving every minute and cant wait to keep going.

Maso