Monday, 10 September 2018

2018 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge- Day 9 (Charters Towers to Townsville)

Written by Mark “Sharky” Smoothy

Final Stats
By David “Stinky Dave” Colahan

Distance: 1629.7 kilometres
Ride Time:  80:21 hours total, 60:54 hours riding
Ave Speed:   29.6 km/hr (day 9)
Elevation: 9287 m climbed
Min Temperature: 2C degrees
Max Temperature: 47C degrees
Calories Burned: 47 081
Gear Changes: 10 003

The greatest achievement about the successful running of 13 Smiling for Smiddy Challenge events is getting the riders home safely. Our record of getting riders to the finish is impeccable. As I stood there at Strand Park, cheering like crazy for the riders, while dressed in a tutu, wig and fairy wings, and smiling with glee as they finished their epic 1600 kilometre adventure, my thoughts turned to Maria Smiddy.

Maria was an intricate part of the road crew from 2008 until 2014, she was our matriarch and her hugs were treasured by all that were gifted to receive one. Maria would often come up to me and  express her relief that all the riders were home safe and sound and she could finally relax. Mr Smiddy will agree with me that Maria worried like an old Mother Hen. She worried about the riders as if each and every one of them were her children, and in a way we all are, as once you have been involved in a Smiddy event, you are automatically initiated into the Smiddy family.

Today, after nine days on the road with these fine human beings, who battled what Mother Nature and the tarmac threw at them each day, I finally understood the relief that Maria felt, but I had to be on the other side of the fence to truly understand it. Watching them finish my heart swelled with pride and I felt tears well up in my eyes. I eagerly joined in the hug-fest that happens immediately after finishing, when riders and road crew alike celebrate an amazing accomplishment of teamwork.

The huddle commenced shortly after and the many rider or road crew love ones that joined us helped to create a lovely emotional homecoming. Christian Killeen and Krista Page were given the honour of saying the final words for this 2018 Challenge event. They spoke beautifully and Christian words especially touched my soul. Once the huddle finished with the traditional Smiddy-Smiddy-Smiddy chant, I turned to Killer, hugged him hard and told him he was a bugger for making me cry.

So that was the finish of the day but what about the start? After a nice sleep in, Mr Smiddy sent the riders on their way with the ringing of the final cowbell for this 2018 event. Ahead of them they had a 145 kilometre day, and while the profile showed a mostly downhill day there was still plenty of long slow gradual climbs to get to morning tea at 47 kilometres. It is at morning tea that road crew pull out all stops and whatever food is leftover from the past 8 days is theirs to gorge on. The problem being that just another 30 kilometres after morning tea is the famous Woodstock Feast, put on by the QCWA. If a rider has not put on excess weight by this point in time then the QCWA feast will sort that out.

I was in the luggage truck with Andy and Berty and we drooled as we drove straight past. Our job was to drop off the swags with Kirsteen and John Masson, where they organised a team to clean and dry them from the heavy dew last night in Charters Towers. A huge thanks to John and Kirsteen for doing that massive, time-consuming job.

From there we found our way to where the riders would finish with a sea view to greet them. Over the next three hours the huge stage that was The Strand was set up with Smiddy stuff and supporters taking over the park. Once we knew the peloton were just two kilometres away we assembled all the love ones and road crew to form a line either side inside the finishers chute. We practiced the Mexican wave and we actually did a pretty good job of it. But when it came to the riders finishing the wave was a flop but replaced by heartfelt enthusiasm galore in cheers and clapping.

After the huddle, I sat back and took in my first view of a Smiddy finish as a road crew member. Without the heavy weight fatigue of a 1600km ride in my body. I was truly able to appreciate it. The final team photo with the backdrop of the ocean, the traditional shave down of the riders beards, the riders attacking yet more food as supplied by the road crew and the wonderful team of the local Rotary club of Mundingburra, who have supplied a barbecue each and every year. The tearful reunions of riders with their love ones, and Michael, our awesome photographer, snapping away doing what he does best and capturing some of those wonderful moments. The incredible weather that Mother Nature put on for us at the finish, hot but clear blue skies with a delightful sea breeze to cool those riders who didn’t opt to follow Killer and Pagey's tradition of jumping in the ocean fully clothed in Smiddy riding gear.

I could not have been prouder and happier with this current crop of Smiddy riders and road crew. Not only have these individuals raised over $200,000, but they have tamed the tarmac and Mother  Nature once again through their fortitude and perseverance to overcome any obstacle put in their way over the past 9 days. The riders are a tough lot and should all hold their heads high of a job well done. Words of appreciation from me will never suffice, but within your hearts, you know deep down, that you have done an incredibly good thing just by being part of this event. The pain in your body and minds will quickly be forgotten, but the memories of the good you have done will stay with you forever!

If I may could I ask any rider or road crew member who participated in this event for the first time, a small favour? Please spread the word about Smiddy events. To share the experience you went through is like giving a gift of love and a life experience that will be remembered for life. Thank you.

For me, as I step away from being a rider to try my hand at the road crew side of things, I find myself wanting to return next year after this year's experience. This surprised me as I honestly thought I would not enjoy it after being a rider for the past 12 years. But that same camaraderie and love that exists within the peloton is alive and rife with the road crew. For me, except for the first few years, it has never been about the challenge of completing each event, but about the people. I love witnessing and being part of a movement that does good for those less fortunate. Smiddy people bring out, not only the best in themselves, but the best in those people around them. Together we create this incredible bubble of Smiddy positiveness, that if could be bottled, could be distributed around the world to infect everyone with goodwill towards their fellow human being.

A final thank you to the past Challenge Smiddy riders that reside in Townsville and stepped up to either help us set up at The Strand or just to be there to cheers the riders in. It meant a lot to the crew at Smiddy and especially to me. I see how hard the road crew work and for one afternoon you guys made their jobs that little bit easier. Thank you to David Smiddy for allowing this event to continue year after year and for the cheeky joy that your company brings to the Smiddy crew. Especially yesterday, when you turned up before lunch to cheer on the riders when they were going through a really tough period on a really shitty tough day. Thank you love ones, thank you loyal sponsors of Smiddy, thank you Kevvy for always returning, 12 years now, thank you Mater Foundation for taking a gamble on us back in 2008, and finally thank you to the Smiddy staff of Brooke, Wendy, Krista and Christian. The enthusiasm you put into running Smiddy events is what keeps the Smiddy spirit alive.

As I step further and further back from the organisational duties of this event year after year, I could not be more confident that the future of Smiling for Smiddy is indeed in the very best of hands because of your involvement.



2018 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge- A Special Road Kill Presentation

Over the last 9 days,the peloton have enjoyed the entertaining commentary of Professor Scott Baum and Professor Brian Gabrielli, the self appointed "brain trusts" of the group. Although this ride, they put their academic pursuits aside to focus on the long standing tradition of Road Kill counting duties.

To top off their  9 days of counting (and/or delegating), Prof and Prof compiled the below special presentation and analytics.


2018 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge- Day 8 (Belyando Crossing to Charters Towers)

Written by Heath Deeble and Leigh Jewell

Daily Stats
By David “Stinky Dave” Colahan

Distance: 197 kilometres
Ride Time:  9:20 hours total, 7:34 hours riding
Ave Speed:   26 km/hr
Elevation: 726 m climbed
Min Temperature: 11C degrees
Max Temperature: 47C degrees

Before retiring to bed in the comfort of our swags on the green green grass of the Belyando Crossing Roadhouse, we were introduced to the owner, Mandy. Mandy had already chipped two of the Smiddy riders for using their mobiles in a mobile free zone which attracted a $100 fine (Lance and another unknown rider). When the formalities were finished and the riders cycled through and bought a drink at the bar, we could finally get some much-needed sleep; although it is rumoured that Mandy took an instant liking to Garath who hung around for a couple more drinks.

We awoke to the yummy smell of bacon cooking on the barby; once again, the road crew did a splendid job preparing breakfast for us with bacon and eggs, pancakes and a selection of cereals. The riders packed up their swags and got their gear on ready for the 197 km day ahead of us. The temperature was rather warm at 13 deg, compared to the previous mornings we had endured in the southern half of the state; we could tell we were finally in north Queensland.

Sep (aka Thomas) was awarded the category jersey for his teamwork and dedication that he has displayed throughout the ride, although someone had whispered in his ear that there were a number of cattle grids on the ride today. Thomas was instantly worried and wondered if he could survive the day. He had to pack toilet paper in his jersey, just to be safe. He was instantly relieved when Mandy informed us that the cattle grids had been removed. Michael Fellows returned with his many cameras and drone to take some awesome photos throughout the day.

Mandy then presented the Hogs cup to the perpetual winner, Ken Woods, although it didn’t go without a quip that he is getting old and would be knocked off his perch soon. She then rang the cow bell and once again said that she wouldn’t be there this time next year (retirement is beckoning), but time will tell if that is true or not. The riders then set off not knowing what the day would bring. The road crew were hoping for a nice coffee before leaving the roadhouse but were bitterly disappointed when they discovered that the only coffee that was available was instant.

Once on the road, it was evident that it wasn’t going to be an easy day. The wind forecast was 10 to 15 km/h, but it felt like at least 50 km/h winds at times. We went for reverse rotations with quick one-minute stints on the front. As we cycled through the peloton, you could tell that we had ridden close to 1,300 km over the past 7 days. Bodies were weary, and conversation was very little. After Lisa had done a stint at the front, she rated high on the puffometer at 99%. When Anthea was asked how she was doing today, the response was ‘yep’. Killer blew a foofah valve early on and decided to relieve Kevvy from his road crew duties. Kevvy was elated as he got to have a little gnome nap in between stops.

After what seemed like hours, we finally arrived at morning tea. Once again, the road crew did an awesome job with cake, rocky road and the good old Saos with tomato and cheese with a tonne of salt. People were hurting, you could see it in their faces and their weary body movement. Many were dreading getting back on their bikes to ride the remaining 110 km. Geoff Ney who has been bragging about his new comfy infinity seat was feeling the pain and double Nicked for extra comfort!

Once getting back out on to the open road, well we’re not sure how much of a road it really was as there were cracks the size of the grand canyon that could easily swallow a rider completely. Fortunately, the calls were going through the peloton well and we survived with no incidents.

It was hot out there, damn hot. Riders were gulping down the water and the ammo at a great rate, dreaming of the end of the day when they could gulp down a nice icy cold beer. We had a quick stop for to fill our water bottles and Mr David Smiddy had driven out to meet us for the first time on this challenge.

We made it to lunch where we had steak, sausage and salad on wraps and some much needed Powerade. Kevvy was doing the rounds with his notebook, looking for people to fine for sunburn.  After slopping on some chamois cream and sunscreen, we were once again back out on the open road. Steve Bardsley joined us to ride the last 53 km in with us. It was instantly noticed the Englishman wasn’t wearing his sunarms, so was an instant fine from Kevvy. All the riders were ecstatic that there was a fresh set of legs that could ride at the front of the peloton. We all wanted to keep him out there for the full 53 km. Thanks Bardo!

After more straight roads, we had one more water stop. It was noticed that Lisa was bent over the trailer with her one set of her nicks down (she was double nicking) and Kik trying to help her get her second set of nicks up. We weren’t quite sure what was going on there…?
We finally rolled into Charters Towers and went through the hugging ritual and got in the huddle. Berty did the cheers to the road crew and Kik did the cheers to the riders.

Only one day and 144 odd km to go now. Everyone is tired and sore and is so looking forward to riding into Strand Park tomorrow to complete what has been an amazing challenge for 2018.