Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Half Smiddy, Day 1, May 2 -2012-
Distance 189 kilometres

I awoke to the sound of rain and my heart sunk. I knew we had to repack the five support cars and the thought of doing this in the rain was not a task I looked forward to. The 30 minutes drive to the start saw the rain come down the entire way. But within two kilometres of arriving the rain stopped and Sharky was a happy man. Welcome to the 2012 report of the second annual running of the Half Smiddy. An epic 900 kilometre ride taking in Byron Bay, Casino, Warwick, Toowoomba and back to Brisbane, all over a 5 day period. Numbers for this first up event saw 20 riders and nine road crew members come together ready to tackle anything thrown at them. The decision to move this event forward by one month proved to be the right decision, as last year when we left in June the extreme cold weather saw many riders retire with injuries, predominately with Achilles problems.

Our police friend Davin keeps us safe!
The leaving point for today's first stage of 188km's to Byron Bay was the Anaconda Super Centre at Logan. This site was chosen due to being far enough out to miss the majority of the Wednesday morning rush hour city traffic for our 6:45am roll out time. Thankfully the weather was very kind to us with the rain stopping completely, and while the roads were still wet, the temperature was a balmy 20 degrees. Once again we were extremely lucky to secure the services of one very passionate police motorcyclists in Davin, who escorted us for free last year for two hours. This year he was even more enthusiastic staying with us for three hours. Not only did he get us through all the busy roundabouts as we sped along the main artillery road next to the Gold Coast Highway, but he was seen to stop at certain parts of the course to remove small debris in his effort to keep the riders safe. Davin joined us for morning tea at the Gold Coast before having to go on his merry way. But not before the giggling girls in the road crew got excited photos of them sitting on his bike. We all got a group photo with Davin and sent him off with a rousing and hearty three cheers to thank him. The Half Smiddy road crew excelled in their very first morning tea break with a selection of home baked goodies, fresh fruit and the obligatory Sao's with cheese and tomatoes.

Lunch at Kingscliff, Pete's Coffee
The next leg into lunch was at Kingscliff, 107 kilometres into our journey, and once again the delicious fresh meat and salad sandwiches served up by the road crew were eaten in record time by the ravenous riders. It was during this stop that the portable generator and coffee machine were used for the first time, brain child of rider/sponsor and all round top bloke, Peter Dyer. Pete loves a cup of coffee and last year nearly killed him when he was averaging a fix only once a day. So he took matters into his own hands, hence the generator and coffee machine, and now Pete is happy and that should be sufficient to keep Sealy sponsoring this event for the next 50 years!

Captain Kev's infamous whistle and cow bell
Coming into lunch we were running behind schedule so our allotted 40 minute break time was reduced to 30 minutes. Now one of Captain Kev's duties is to be time keeper, he has a whistle, a very loud whistle, and when this whistle is blown by 'Old Cap', it cuts through the air with all the subtleness of a jumbo jet passing overhead, signaling five minutes until we are on the road again. Kevvy and his whistle and his infamous cow bell has been in the family for 100 years, the whistle not so significant as it was purchased at Big W! But that cow bell is extremely and delicately special; it signals the start of each days stage, and a special person is chosen each day to ring it. Over the past six years so many people, who's lives have been touched by cancer, have rung that bell and it truly is something special. That whistle and the Cow Bell are tasks Kevvy takes on with great passion and enthusiasm, and let me warn you -right here and now- you do not mess with the timing of any of these two great traditions. If you do, you risk seeing Kevvy angry, and that is something you do not wish to see!

The afternoon wrap
The final 80 or so kilometres into Byron saw one major climb of three kilometres and lots of rolling hills and a few great descents thrown in for good measure. We left Logan at 6:45am and rolled into Byron, very content with our first day efforts, right on 4:30pm. It is a long day in the saddle but the frequents stops definitely help break up the day and keep the body from tightening up too much. We finished our first day with the meaningful Smiddy huddle and the 20 riders and nine road crew members celebrated a most successful and fun filled day together. Each night the group come together for dinner and a Rowan Foster recap of the day. The road crew finished off a very busy first day on the road when they prepared their fourth and final meal of a very nice barbecue of meats and salad, and of course beer and wine.

To finish with I will just list a few of the highlights and a few special people that deserve a mention.

First and second puncture of the day goes to yours truly. As Rowan pointed out tonight when talking to the group, we recommend and wear Maxxis Refuse tyres for all our Smiddy events as they very rarely puncture. I was wearing Continentals today so I deserved the ribbing.

First fall of the day was a dead heat when the only two girls in the Peleton, Jo Stewart and Julie Herholdt, collided while stopped dead in their tracks at a traffic light. They raced each other in a too close to call fall to the tarmac.
While on the subject of firsts; Julie also goes down in the Smiddy history books as the first rider to have a rear-vision mirror on her bike.

While in another first, and second, and third, and finally a fourth time, the road crew member that led the peloton the wrong way on four occasions goes to none other than rolling, rolling, rolling lead car navigator extrordinare "I was only following the map" Donna McMahon.

The first time I have been sent a text and a photo of an empty glass of beer, just 30 minutes after completion of today's ride, with the following caption; "400 metres down the road hydrating." It was from Smiddy rider Simon "Smally" Small, protesting against non-alcoholic beer by heading straight for the pub?

In a final first but surely the greatest different first, the 2012 Smiddy Half will always be remembered for rolling into our accommodation at Byron Bay, after getting very wet for the remaining 20 minutes of todays ride, to be greeted with an esky full of non-alcoholic beer. Once again the brain-child of Pete Dyer, who managed to get six cartons of a German non-alcohol beer donated called Erdinger. Surprisingly it actually tasted quite good.

Our inspirational speaker
Each night a person in the group is invited up to speak of why they are doing the Smiddy Half. Tonight we were honoured to hear Al Provost speak about how he lost his mate Graham Duffy back in 1978, who died at just 26 years of age. The significance of the story is that on day three of this ride we will pass by the exact area where Al and Graham used to hang out as best mates. Al's dream is for all the riders to stop at that spot and get a photo with the crew as a remembrance of his mate. We, of course, are only too happy to oblige.

Our married couple in the peloton
Of the 20 riders we have one couple in Julie and Gavin Herholdt of Hamilton Island riding in the group. Gav and Jules have been together for 16 years and married for the last five. While Gav has the experience of a seasoned pro, Jules just took up riding five months ago. Gav completed this ride last year and talked his beautiful wife into riding with him this year. Julie lost her Father Alan to cancer when he was 62 years of age, so this ride is in honour of her Dad. And I just know Alan would be so proud of her.

Road crew feature - Andy Loney
Each year we are fortunate to attract great people who are not bike riders, but wish to still do their bit to help out in the Smiddy cause. Andy Loney is one of those special breed of people. Andy has been married to wife Alison for 33 amazing years and they have brought three beautiful children into this world. Andy lost his Mother-in law to Melanoma and he supported his best mate Rod Hughs in his fund-raising efforts for last year's eight day Challenge up to Townsville. He told me he will be supporting Smiddy now for a very long time to come.

Maryanne Szwinto and Lauren Jackson
These two beautiful caring individuals are never more than a hundred metres from the riders. They are our medical team and have permission to use a full on emergency response vehicle from the Queensland Ambulance Service. The vehicles emergency lights are always flashing and motorists are extremely patient and tolerant thanks to their presence. The riders are extremely grateful to the girls and their continued presence.

Anyway that's all from me for now, all are asleep and it is now 10:30pm and time for this Shark to go do some fishing in his dreams. But before I go one last honourable mention must go to my sleeping mate for the night in Mike Dyer, backing up for his second Smiddy Half and drawing short straws at having to share with me. Mike is now sleeping, or trying to sleep, in a bed just an arms width away and has endured my tap tap tapping of this keyboard! Sorry old mate.

Sweet dreams.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the updates, however this is covering Byron Bay so that I am happy. :)