Thursday, 22 March 2018

2018 Tassie Smiddy Challenge- Day 5

Orford to Hobart

Written by Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy

Blog Dedication

For two months now, someone very dear to me has been fighting the fight of her 85 year old life. To my Mum, I dedicate this blog to you. Not a minute of each day, over the past week, have I not been thinking of you. if I could harness the energy a Smiddy event generates and inject you with it, we would have you better within a day. I love you more than mere words could ever express.

Daily stats by Matty Muir Distance: 156 kilometresTime: 6 hours 10 minutesAverage speed: 25.2 km/hMaximum speed: 76 km/hMin temp: 5Max temp: 28Elevation: 2140 m

5 Day Totals
Distance: 724 kmRiding Time: 26 Hours 46 minutesClimbing: 8003 metres (more than the elevation of Mt Everest)

Road Kill Count By Natalie and Serge
1Visor, 1 Budgie,1 radio! 1 pair of sunnies, 1 tube, 1 dead car! 1 bollard, 1 turtle, 1 lizard.

Category Jerseys
Awarded to Stephen Russell of Russells and Brendan Whipps of Harcourts due to their recruiting prowess in encouraging other riders within their workplace and networks to be a part of Smiling for Smiddy. These two gentlemen have their heart in the right place and embody the Smiddy spirit and want to help us fund critical research.

Guest Speaker
Thank you Mark “Hollywood” Trayner for sharing with us your reasons for riding for Smiddy. Mark has lost many family members to cancer, including his father and stepfather and watched his mother go through a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. He continues to ride for them, raise valuable funds, and bring an incredible group of mates along.

Summary of Today’s Ride
So onto our final day on the road and the rider peloton had in front of them a 156 km hilly day, with over 2000 meters of climbing with the highest point of the trip being 554 metres.

The mood within the peloton was of nervous anticipation, initially thanks to the course card showing we would be gradually climbing for the first 80 km, including a mammoth 9km climb at the 39km mark. Upon passing that 80km mental barrier, the graph suggested the hardest part of the day would be over thanks to the remaining 76 km descent getting us back down to sea level.

But would that be the case? Read on to find out.

This morning, Captain “Gnome” Kevvy chose Archie Tait for the final cowbell ringing of the Tassie Smiddy Challenge and we left the Eastcoaster Resort close on 7am.

That first 40 km section had all sorts of surprises, some short and steep sections that got up to 15% gradient, while a couple of the longer climbs were aptly named Break Me Neck and Bust My Balls Hill.

King and Queen of the Mountain
The main climb was actually at around about the 50 km point and a few of the guys decided to have a crack, oh, and one girl in Paula Fleming. Andrew Russell went very, very early and was left to dangle out front for a while, like a carrot before a horse. I decided to go along for the ride and see how long I lasted. It wasn’t long before Phil Hunter, Scott Carpenter, Phil Anderson and Paula pulled ahead, while the rest of the strong riders hung back to help push. A late charge came from Ricardo, who ended up crossing the top in equal first place with Scott Carpenter. Although the two Phil’s were there as well and possibly allowing them to win? Of course I had to find all this out later as I crested the top, due to getting dropped as I knew I would. Paula rode strong and crested First Lady and 5th overall. Awesome effort, Paula!

Let’s get our arses to Morning Tea
After a regrouping at the top, it was time for full sails up and take advantage of the great slight tailwind gifted to us. It was seriously cold all morning and while the climbed warmed you a little, most of us had little feelings in our extremities. Or was that just me because I am so skinny? Anyway, we kept moving along as quickly as the rider group would allow and just under 3 hours after we started this morning, we pulled into morning tea at the 76 km mark at Tunmack.

Now we were still at just over 400m of altitude, which does not sound much, but over here any altitude above a couple of hundred means cold. The wind was up and the riders quickly cooled down and a few needed space blankets to keep warm, while others, with straw hats and were as mad as Mad Dogs, sat in the front seat of the truck and beeped the horn in an attempt to stay warm.

One thing I know about long stages into morning tea, is that riders start feeling grumbles in their tummies around 60 km into any stage, while tiredness and leg soreness creeps up on you soon after. Combined with the cold, and the over 1200m of climbing to get to morning tea, let me assure you that everything and anything was devoured within ten minutes of jumping off the bikes. Actually nothing was safe, and seriously, you know riders are hungry when they start eyeing off the left over gluten free snacks after everything else has been devoured. Gluten free to some people is like drinking alcohol free beer. Why bother? Why why why?

The morning tea was kept short due to the cold and also to keep the peloton on time as family and friends would be meeting us at the end. Our next destination was lunch at the 111km mark in a little town called Campania. Everyone arrived in reasonably good shape and once again the food disappeared quicker than a dead roo's eyes being picked clean by a flock of circling scavenger birds. After some quick inspirational videos for some special people following our journey, we were once again on our way.

I checked my Garmin at lunch and we had climbed 1500m, which meant there was still another 700m of climbing between lunch and the finish.

Come on let’s get to Hobart - Love one’s await!
Our destination into the finish at Hobart was another 44km down the road, and with the ride leaders keeping all the riders switched on until the very end, they could finally relax when the ride successfully ended with everyone rolling in safe and sound.

Huddle by Killer
I asked Killer to take on the final huddle as I knew Tassie had been his baby, and over the past year had poured his heart and soul into this event. Over the past five days he is our leader on the road. Directing all the other ride leaders, constantly on the radio and the responsibility is enormous. Only when all the riders arrive safely does he breathe a sigh of relief and let his guard down.

It was great to see so many loves ones make the trip to Hobart to welcome us in at the finish at Cenotaph Waterfront. As in any Smiddy event emotions were running high with plenty of hugging, back slaps and high fives. The odd kiss was thrown in by Mr Whipps.

After the huddle we had time for a few group photos, some media obligations, and it was time to get all the bikes onto the trailer and transport all the riders to the Rydges Motel. Special thanks to our wonderful mechanic, Ben, who rigged up and tied down those precious bikes to our custom trailer. It was a very busy time for road crew and they were amazing and simply stepped up, as they do, when needed. 

By the time we reached the Motel, it was 4:30pm, and while trying to juggle too much luggage, bikes and bike bag, I tripped over backwards and landed on my bike, which made an almighty loud crash. Thank you Mr Smiddy for helping me up and to Kelly for getting me and my stuff to the room! Having just 90 minutes to do this blog before the dinner function tonight at Ball and Chain Grill Restaurant, I was in a rush to get the blog written and get all the words down. 

So I think I am there; it is now 6:15pm and I will leave you with a few observations from today below.

Sharky's Favourite Moments from Day 5

  • Last night, Johno was sharing with Chris Hertle and Carl Airey. Johno had mentioned that Chris was snoring so loudly that he put earplugs in and could STILL hear him. So out came the noise cancelling headphones, in addition to the earplugs. Johno could STILL hear him and couldn't sleep a wink. The only thing left was to smother himself with his own pillow and hope that he wouldn't suffocate himself overnight. Nice work, Chris!
  • Cookie got a hard time last night for his, um "technique", he uses when pushing people. Naturally today he fixed all his critics when each time he pushed someone, especially the ladies, he pulled out one of his thongs and used that so his hand didn't actually come into contact with that person's anatomy. Nice work, Cook Man!
  • Cookie again, 500m from finishing safe and sound, hit a bollard on the bike path we were travelling on. End result: one broken collarbone and plastic surgery needed on his hand. The tough bugger still finished the ride, participated in the many hugs and handshakes and was a part of the huddle. Only after that did he mention to the team that he may need to go to hospital to check his collarbone.
  • Killer at morning tea, just before roll out, warned the peloton of the dangerous 5km steep downhill dirt section coming up. We would approach it at speed and he suggested we would slow down to transition from the tar to the dirt. Well that a cracker of a section that was! I remember looking down at my speedo on the dirt doing 55km/h and Killer and Phil Anderson were pulling away from me. Everyone got through that section safe and sound; some with grins and others with grimaces and looks of relief!
  • Once again, Brooke surprised the peloton at lunch with a lovely reward of a Freddo Frog each. Thanks Brookey, much appreciated by us hungry, ravenous Smiddy animals.
  • On behalf of all the team at Smiling for Smiddy, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the riders' loved ones, especially those present at tonight's final function, for allowing them to do this ride. Without your support and encouragement, Smiddy events would not be possible.
  • And lastly a quick message to all you riders that completed their very first Smiddy ride today. Go home and rest up for a week. The next time you ride with your local rider group, don't be surprised if you are at different levels of fitness compared to before the Tassie Smiddy Challenge. Smiddy events do that to you. Never at home will you ride at that sort of pace, climb that sort of altitude and ride that sort of distance, for five days straight. Enjoy your new found fitness and confidence and hang onto it like a Smiddy badge of honour-- you earned it!

And that’s a wrap, 6:30pm now and have I missed the last taxi to dinner? I am about to find out.

Hope you enjoyed these blogs as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you.

Big Sharky hug to all.


P.S. The final celebration dinner was an amazingly fun time with lots of speeches, an interview with Phil Anderson, road crew gifts handed out, and Maria Smiddy rainbow socks awarded to our three highest fundraisers in Brendan Whipps, Wayne Messer and Andrew Russell. The blog was read out by Tom Maxwell and Zane Williams added $10,000 towards our already bulging fundraising tally, which is now over $300,000. Thanks Zano. Legend!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

2018 Tassie Smiddy Challenge - Day 4

Freycinet to Orford
Written by Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy

Daily stats by Matty Muir 
Distance: 115 kilometres
Time: 4 hours 16 minutes
Average speed: 27.2 km/h
Maximum speed: 79 km/h
Min temp: 11
Max temp: 15
Elevation: 910 m

Road kill count by Natalie and Serge 
1 Cat, 1 visor, 1 left knee, 1 Garmin, 1 budgie, 1 rear derailleur, 1 pair of cleats, 1 turtle, 1 Bad Leech, 1 Bad attitude, 2 rabbits,4 bags of bones, 6 bags of fur, 6 Bad smells, 14 oysters.

Thank you Kelly
A huge thank you to the Road Crew’s Kelly for giving me a night off from writing the blog yesterday. Your words were so well received on the luxurious boat cruise, that even I, with being as deaf as a doornail, heard the calls of ‘Sharky is sacked’!

Well, my apologies to everyone on this tour, but I am back and I draw confidence that there is at least one person out there that enjoys reading my blogs—my Mum—and it counts for a lot.

For three mornings in a row we have had the same time slot for breakfast and roll out. Breakfast from 6 am and roll out at 7am.

Remember back on the first day when we were spot on time and I was bitterly disappointed? Well I am happy again, as not once since then have we been on time, including this morning’s 7 am roll out which saw us leave at 7.11 am. I could not have been happier. The Smiddy staff are back to normal! You little ripper.

So after Kevvy asked our birthday boy, Brett Goebel, to ring the 100 year old cow bell, the peloton pushed off into a brisk 10 degree air temperature with very little wind, and the excellent chance of a magic sky opening up before our first stop at Devils Corner, 33 kilometres into our short day on the road.

Well, the sun never did come out as the clouds decided it was time to take over this east coast of Tasmania, but it was a clear enough day to be rewarded with the stunning vista that presented itself at Devils Corner.

Smiddy school visit - Swansea Primary 
A further 30 kilometres down the road and clearly the highlight for today—especially for those riders that have never experienced one—was the visit to Swansea Primary School, where we delivered a sun safe message to the students in the most fun way possible; with lots of zinc and screaming and getting the kids so worked up so the teachers were left to try and control them for the remainder of the day.

The beauty of today’s visit was that the riders and Road Crew outnumbered the 25 Kindy to Grade Three kids two-to-one, which made them feel pretty special.

Martin ‘Goldfish’ Millard kindly teamed up with me, and we took them through the sun safe message using a couple of riders, Andrew “Leachy” Leach, who stands at 6ft6 tall and 90 kilos, while Gary “Dr Koala” Leong is 5ft2 and weighs in at 32 kilos!

We played them off as good cop (Dr Koala) and bad cop (Leachy), making examples of what they were doing right and wrong for sun protection.

After Martin’s very well received and educational message to the little ones, the zinc game which is always a winner, allows them to go crazy colouring in their chosen riders face with as much zinc as possible, in a 60 second race against the clock and their fellow class mates.

The last 10 seconds is counted down by the rest of the crew not participating and the noise is deafening and reaches a crescendo as the game finishes. The students are then judged, and a winner announced and paraded.

It ended up being a tie between the two girls, Rebecca Phillips and Keiren Egan and their little helper children.

Birthday boys celebrate
We wrapped up our visit with the school by handing out Smiling for Smiddy arm bands to the children, and welcomed them to join us for morning tea. It finished on a funny note when we all sang happy birthday to Brett, but before we started singing a little boy by the name of Roland told us that it was his birthday as well, so he was included in the song and everyone went off to eat. Brett later told me that Roland’s twin sister came up to him afterwards and told him that it was his birthday a week earlier. Cheeky little kid. Love it.

Fourdyce has the right aura
Another beautiful story came out of the school visit when Michael Fordyce partnered up for the zincing with a young boy with Autism who is normally very reserved and incredible shy.

Yet for the ‘Dice Man’ this cute little fella not only made eye contact, but shook his hand and even remembered Dicey’s name. The teacher told us that if his parents had seen it they would have cried. It was a monumental thing for the young fella. And isn't it just a perfect fit that it happened thanks to a Smiddy rider?

Our events always bring out the best in people, not just in ourselves and our attitude, but those we touch as well. Well done Michael!

As today was a short day of 115 kilometres, lunch was at the end of the ride in the small coastal town of Orford. The run into Orford presented a a few problems for those riders feeling the effects of the past three days riding.

The last 56 kilometres saw a slight headwind and for another ‘flattish’ day we still climbed 800 metres of vertical altitude, which was enough to make it uncomfortable for some.

With just a few kilometres remaining the call was made for a quick refresher stop at a town called Triabunna. It was there that Brooke surprised the peloton with a good slab of very hot chips. It went down a treat and 10 minutes later we were on the road, and 15 minutes later rolled into our destination for the day.

The Airey family take on the huddle
Today’s huddle was hosted by father and son duo, Carl and Lachlan Airey, who shared their reasons for riding. Carl blamed Furious for talking him into it one night when he was inebriated. He also joined us for last year’s New Zealand Smiddy Challenge and was keen to come back for more!

Lachlan is here because his dad suggested it would be a great adventure for them to share and I’m sure this event has brought them even closer together.

Sharky’s  Favourite Moments from Day 2

  • Hearing the back half of the peloton singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Brett while riding along in the first section of today’s ride. 
  • The threat of rain was there for most of the day, but other than a few cooling drops on our heads, our luck has held for another day. Four near perfect days in Tassie are unheard of, and the Apple Isle has redeemed itself and I am now cleansed of my suffering memories from 2013. Was there even a Smiddy ride back then? 
  • Just outside of Swansea the peloton came to an abrupt halt. Captain Kevvy looks like a gnome, acts like a gnome, is short like a gnome and mostly is cranky and wrinkly like a gnome. So when we came across Gnome City—some 200 gnomes of all shapes and sizes sitting scattered across the front lawn of someone’s house—the peloton sat back totally amused, and a little bewildered, as to why Kevvy was skipping down the road, like a primary school student just starting the anticipated Easter Holidays. 
  • Then upon reaching his destination, Kevvy lay on the ground and kissed the many gnomes, bowing before them as if they were royalty. 
  • That’s what the sight of so many gnomes does to a grown man that never got over the fact that he is human and not made of clay. When Kevvy passes on in 2088, at 134 years old, every gnome he has at home (at last count 350) will be buried with him. 
  • As we rolled into the school visit, Paula was high-fiving the little ones when she nearly came a cropper right in front of them! Thankfully she just managed to stay upright through sheer will and a bit of blind luck. 
  • The Dice Man was pretty chuffed with himself, when he was told by Leachy that instructions had come through on the rider radio that there were to be no more peloton rotations until the finish of the day’s ride. He dutifully pulled the peloton along into the headwind, suffering the entire way and did a darn fine job of it. I’m not sure if he knew that sly dog Leachy got no such instructions and had made the entire thing up. 

Category Jerseys
Two of our ride leaders were singled out tonight for their devotion over many years of Smiddy events. Birthday boy Brett Goebel and Paula Fleming were worthy and popular recipients, and well deserving of the honor. Both have been guardians in the peloton; keeping the riders safe; acting as confidants for the Smiddy HQ team with your candor and sage advice; and are just spectacular personalities to have in the peloton.

Thank you both for your efforts day in and day out (and Paula, seeing you speechless was gift enough!)

Guest speakers 
Dom, Rebecca and special guest, Tansy (Bec’s sister), teamed up to share their story with the group about their very personal reasons for riding.

Dom lost a childhood friend and on the tough days in the peloton, draws on the strength of knowing his mate would have loved the opportunity to do this ride  but can’t, so Dom pushes through. He also acknowledged how grateful he is that his dad, who was treated for prostate cancer, is now healthy after having minimal treatment.

After hearing the incredible experiences of Mark Trayner and Ross Noye last year, Dom—who heads up Business Banking at Macquarie—took the reins this year to champion a team from Macquarie Bank of Tom, Gleeso, Nathaniel and his wonderful partner, Bec.

Sisters Bec and Tansy spoke of their father preparing for his 50th birthday when he was booked into hospital for a routine draining of a benign cyst in his brain.

What the family thought would be a quick procedure turned out to be a terminal brain cancer diagnosis. At just 13 and 25, Bec and Tansy lost their father and have had to learn to live a life without him.

Ladies, thank you for your courage to share your story and Bec, we have no doubt that your dad would be so proud of everything you have accomplished these last four days.

A special tribute to a special man 
In New Zealand last year, the Smiddy peloton welcomed the kindest man with the biggest smile in the legend that is Rossco. Ross Noye came to New Zealand to ride with his mates, and spent a spectacular four days doing so.

Unfortunately, Ross didn’t make it home to Queensland after that ride, and we lost a truly spectacular man, father, husband and mate.

To tip our hat to Rossco, we held a celebration to cheers him in the most appropriate way—with delicious margaritas. After receiving the ‘Hand of Smiddy’ on his last day by six of the lads, Rossco, in the kindest of gestures, bought them each a jug of margaritas to thank them for their efforts.

To Stephen, Paula and Wayne—thank you for your beautiful tributes on a wonderful last evening together in Tassie.

Now, let’s get to Hobart shall we?

One day of riding to go and it’s a big, hilly and long day in the saddle.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

2018 Tassie Smiddy Challenge - Day 3

St Helens to Freycinet 
Written by Kelly Rillie 

Day three of Tassie Smiddy Challenge was officially ‘hump’ day—with it being Wednesday AND the halfway mark of the trip—however, it was very clear from the day card handed out by Mr Smiddy that it was going to be a lot less bumpy than the past two days of hills (I’d class them as mountains).

Everyone was up before sunrise and treated to a continental breakfast prepared by the Road Crew. Everyone was in good spirits and as usual, it was all over in a flash and we were down to the front of the Big 4 Caravan Park ready to roll out.

We were treated to a spruced up Smiddy kit with Hollywood donning a pair of the finest red jocks we ever did see! Thank you to Adrian Barnett who donated $1500 in order to make it happen! I’m also not sure if it was a coincidence that they matched the red of the Spirit Jersey that Hollywood also happened to be wearing!

We were also treated to a wrath of destruction from Matt ‘Mad Dog’ Muir who took it upon himself to sacrifice Hollywood’s visor—which in the cycling world is the equivalent of wearing shiny white sneakers—for a $500 donation.

Scotty Gleeson looked great in his Spirit Jersey which he received last night for exuding the Smiddy values of Teamwork, Spirit, and Mateship on his first Smiddy challenge. Killer spoke of how only a couple of months ago, Scott turned up to a Wednesday morning River Loop in a pair of Dunlop Volleys and wasn’t too sure how to change gears.

It was a tough first two days of this ride and the determination Scott showed, and the help he asked for and graciously accepted from others, was awesome. Congrats Gleeso.

The bell to set the riders off for the day was rung by Ben Hola, our trusty mechanic, who works tirelessly fixing bikes (some with duct tape). Ben does an amazing job keeping our riders on the road and catching up to the peloton when his work is done. Cheers Ben!

The riders rolled out almost in the wrong direction, Stemmy went right and you all looked to be heading left, but you did manage to pull yourselves together and this is when the fun really starts for Road Crew.

After the pack up, we sorted our game plan; put fuel in the cars, picked up supplies and then hit the road to our first stop.

We weren’t quite sure where we were supposed to actually stop, but we ended up a little bit further than Dennison Beach (maybe we stopped for a coffee?!).

I’m not sure many of you minded as the rain held off and the coastal views were a treat.

We love seeing the Smiddy family expand and we were happy to welcome Bec’s sister and brother-in-law Tanya and Cameron all the way from Perth to join us for the remainder of the journey.

Lunch was spent at the Freycinet Winery where a number of us took the opportunity to do a little wine tasting before lunch. This was a huge treat for those who have previously done the Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge where the closest thing to a winery is a cask of not-so-fine wine from Mandy at Belyando Crossing.

Another 30 km or so and WOW what a view … we passed the peloton to a lot of cheers and cruised into Coles Bay. The mountains from the rising water was a great sight to see and the riders quickly jumped off their bikes to take in the view and get a few great happy snaps.

The huddle was led by Mr Smiddy, who reflected on his day following the peloton and the pride he has for the riders. He also thanked the Road Crew for their support from sunrise to sunset and acknowledged their efforts out there keeping all those cyclists cycling.

One great part of being Road Crew is that you get to experience many different parts of what keeps the peloton turning. Today Mon and Prue joined the rear and mechanical vehicles, experiencing firsthand the fine work Kevvy and Stemmy do, directing the traffic on the road. Prue had a number of startling moments, so I’m sure she’ll be glad to be back with the catering crew tomorrow.

The afternoon kicked off in fine form for some. It was 3.14 pm when Sharky was heard to say, “Whippsy, you’re a bad influence. I’ve had two shandies at the pub and now I’ve got a Pale Ale. I’m feeling dizzy and I love it”.

We were also joined by Andrew who was riding the scenic tour of Tassie.

It is a privilege to road crew for you bunch of extreme athletes and share in your achievements. Thank you for making our days interesting and for rolling in safely.

Our job, first and foremost, is to keep you safe and on your bikes, and well fed, so the Smiddy mateship and sweaty hugs at the end of the day are superb.