Wednesday, 29 February 2012

NSW SMIDDY - Day one report

North Ryde to Norah Head

Statistics for the day

Distance: 168
Average speed 25.1kmph
Maximum speed: 61.8 kmph
Elevation climbed: 2019 metres
Riding time: 6:42:00
Min Temp: 17 Degrees
Max Temp: 28 Degrees

The second Bottlemart Smiddy NSW Challenge left North Ryde in Sydney under very wet conditions. The skies were a deep dark black and the threat of a good drenching looked 100% certain. The rain started the night before and the 32 riders and nine road crew awoke to a morning that was best spent sleeping in and not sitting on a bike. But the show must go on regardless and while last year's ride presented a problem on day one thanks to a scattering of deceased body parts on the M1, this year's test was to be the wet conditions. The road crew were on the ball early and prepared a fabulous breakfast and organised a rousing send off from our nine road crew members and numbers swelled to an unbelievable 13 thanks to four past Smiddy riders who dropped in on their way to work!

Doug's New Adventurous Route Out Of Sydney
The forecast was for drenching flooding and very wet rain all day, but once again Smiddy luck was on the peletons side when the rain eased at 7am and eventually stopped altogether by the time we rolled out at 7:15am. For the next five hours it was more a constant English country type drizzle than an outright downpour, and even though it was very muggy with the humidity sitting at 85% the conditions presented to us were actually very ridable. Now in yesterdays blog you read about the Doug factor and his role as the founder of NSW Smiddy. Well Doug has been working long and hard on routing the safest route possible with regards to keeping us out of the Sydney rush hour traffic in order for the riders to clear the outer northern suburbs of Sydney. Well this very entertaining route, while keeping us off the main roads, involved bike tracks slick with moss, Paris Raboix type cobble stones, creek crossings, deep black dark tunnels rife with killer bats looking to bite unsuspecting Smiddy riders, flood debris and other technical stuff that mountain bike riders would have had trouble negotiating. The whole time I was thinking Doug has turned this first section into his own version of a Bottlemart adventure race. I couldn't have been happier! The riders showed incredible skill to get through those first testing 20 kilometres without incident, well there was one small one when a certain person by the name of Sharky, decided to give the riders a short rest when he punctured not once but twice in the space of 200 metres. Kevvy was heard to say, "he bloody well rode 4000 kilometres last September without a puncture and he gets two in two minutes!"

Smiddy Riders Chertsey School Visit
Anyway after the forced rest break the group was on the road again and enjoying the challenging route that took us north along the old Pacific Highway heading first for morning tea at 70 very hungry kilometres, and then our fun visit to Chertsey Primary School, which was meant to be at 118 kilometres, but our faithful lead vehicle with Mike 'Stubbsy' Stubs and Marianne Grace decided that the riders were looking remarkable fresh and threw in a ten kilometre detour! Rowan Foster, later that night, while entertaining the crew with his special ability to pay out on people without anyone taking offense, took full blame for the extra distance due to a few mapping discrepancies in the road crew booklet. Anyway a long and tiring 130 kilometres later and a full 90 minutes behind schedule we rolled into the school with six students on their BMX bikes as escorts. The educational but fun visit to the school consisted of a talk by me to the kids about sun-safe while riding bikes. I then handed over to Rowan Foster, who was let loose to entertain the kids, which involved six riders volunteering forcibly by Rowan, while six children were chosen from the 200 children present by the Principal John Anderson. As Rowan explained: the kids had 30 seconds to put as much zinc on the riders face as possible, with a 200 strong kido-scream-o-metre declaring the most popular decorated winner, which was taken out convincingly by Mark Latkowski from Pernod Ricard. No offense to Mark but I have to admit he really won by default as he was last in the scream-o-metre line and the kids just plain loved screaming without getting into trouble from the principleI! To finish up with the school I just wanted to acknowledge and thank John Anderson for allowing us into their school and for the generosity in providing lunch to the riders. A huge thank you also to the students for fundraising for Smiddy and for their special presentation of $112,00. As the riders left the school right on three-pm, the kids formed a guard of honour and high fived the riders with plenty of screaming and encouragement to send us on our way.

Still the hills keep on coming:
As you can see by the stats at the start of this blog it was a very hilly day of riding with the group climbing just over 2000 metres, which is equivalent to a quarter of the way up Mt Everest. The ride into the school was stupid hilly, I was so close at times to getting off my bike and walking up the short, sharp and maximum lactic acid type climbs. The bad news for the riders after a gut-full of barbecue sausages was the ride out of the school was pretty much the same for the next ten kilometres. But finally after what seemed like all day when we were going either up or down, we were at last rewarded with some flat terrain for the last 20 kilometres into Norah Head. I have no idea who Norah is but boy I was glad to meet here that afternoon as we rolled in at 4:30pm. I was not alone in that department as over ten riders admitted to todays ride being their longest ever day in the saddle. We stopped at the entrance to the Norah Heads Caravan Park and finished with the traditional Smiddy huddle where the group converges to acknowledge the road crew and to think about their own reasons for doing this ride.

Honourable mentions for the day.
As on any Smiddy event there are always stand out performances and incidents throughout the day that are worthy of a mention. Today a special mention goes out to the following people:

Mathew McGuire from McGuire's Hotels, who was feeling most unwell and on one steep climb recorded a maximum heart rate of 220 beats per minute. He hung in there as long as he could but his body forced him out after lunch at the school.

Sarah Holman majority of her training was completed on a spin bike on a boat due to working at sea. She is one tough young lady and I have nicknamed her 'Pocket Rocket', for her pint sized frame but with a heart bigger than Pharlap. Today was her longest ride and she is one of our highest fundraisers with over $5000 donated so far!

Shane Walsh for actually having the best Zinc face but being unfortunate that he was fifth in the line and the screams had yet to reach their crescendo of being sixth in line.

Brett Jarvis for wanting to get to know me on the bike. His hand slipped off his handlebars throwing him into me on a descent. I went bush, somehow stayed upright, while Brett felt bad and apologised sincerely but secretly enjoyed getting to know me better.

Amanda Ashbrook nearly did not start this event due to hurting her back a week prior to todays start. She suffered today but finished and put her finish down to a healthy supply of Nurofen. Although I suspect it was because she also has a big heart and should be proud of her performance.

Greg Casey one week ago drove into his carport with his bike still attached to the roof racks. The end result: one written off $8000 bike, a slightly bent carport and a puff of steam ejecting from a very mad head. Greg was lent a replacement and made the trip and started with training that consisted of two river loops!

Anyway hope you enjoyed this blog. Stayed tuned for day two of NSW Smiddy.


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