Thursday, 3 May 2012


Half Smiddy, Day 2,
Byron Bay to Casino
Distance 138km's

How lucky am I?
I awoke this morning at five-am in a reflective mood. I had set the alarm for six-am, so instead of getting up straight away and actually giving myself half a chance to not be the last person ready, I decided to lay there and think about how lucky I am. How lucky am I to be surrounded by such great family and friends that support everything I do in life. How lucky am I to be in a position where great sums of money and torrents of inspiration can be handed out through what I love doing - Which is simply, riding a bike. How lucky am I that each Smiddy event we always seem to attract such unique special human beings to either participate as riders or to help out as road crew. Smiling for Smiddy events enter their seventh year of existence in 2012. Since 2006 I have been surrounded by the most amazing bubble of positive energy that continues to grow and grow each year. Every event is the same; we start out as strangers and end up as another chapter in the incredible Smiddy story.

The story of incredible human kindness, of bravery, which is shown each year by the Smiddy family in allowing these events to continue, even though each event brings back the memories of losing a son. Maria and David Smiddy follow every Smiddy event through my blogs and let me share this with you; they are blown away by what you do in the name of their son. If Maria was here she would give you the biggest Smiddy hug and you would feel safe and secure knowing that you have managed to take away a small amount of pain from the Smiddy family by your selfless contribution to the Smiddy cause. David may not hug you but you will know by his handshake and his eye contact that you have his utmost and deepest respect.

The story of family and friends of all the riders and road crew, who give their support, allowing them to not only do the event but train and fundraise for it also.

The story of the generous donors out there, who, each and every year, donate the much needed funds required to fund cancer research and awareness.

The story of the incredible enthusiasm of the Smiling for Smiddy team in Tim, Steve, Jess, and especially my good friend and co-worker Rowan Foster. Row has been there right from the very first year that I pushed off from the university with Ron Steel and Oliver Bodak. Row could not join us that first year but without everything he did behind the scenes that first ride may never have happened. I am in awe of my mate Row and without him and his guiding light Smiddy would not be one of the most successful charity rides in all of Australia.

The story of the community support, which never ceases to amaze me at each of the towns that we either pass through and stop at for the night.

And finally the story of our amazingly generous sponsors, who without their support and their sharing of the Smiddy vision these events would not be financially possible.

My only regret
There is only one thing in life I feel I am not lucky about; that I only knew Adam Smiddy for five short years before he was rudely taken from this world. While Adam's legacy will live through these Smiddy events, I would swap every dollar ever raised these last seven years to have my mate riding by my side. Adam loved to ride and he would have absolutely loved everything about these rides we now do in his name. I know he would also be embarrassed by the attention as he was never one to take or want the limelight.

With that final thought it was now time to get up, get changed, slap the chamois cream on, have breakfast and once again turn up as the last rider ready to leave on day two. As a ride director I sure do suck at punctuality!

No dirt roads today boys!
Today's 140km leg into Casino would see us weave our way along the coastal road taking in the majestic views of the Pacific Ocean and the amazing white shimmering sandy beaches that beckoned us to stop and cool off. The trip to Wardell and Evans Heads saw us take in some stunning flatland country scenery, especially as we crossed over the Richman River via the friendly ferry man. The highlight today has to be the traverse on the eye-opening nine kilometres of dirt road that had some of the riders soiling their pants, while the mountain bikers in the peloton were whooping it up with howls of delight. Two punctures occurred here, the same as last year, and our ever-reliable rider-mechanic in Toby Hood was rubbing his hands in glee. If you puncture only you and Toby stop, the peloton continues to roll. To get back on you take a ride in the car with Kevvy, or you take a ride with Toby! You see our old mate Toby loves a chase and loves to pace-line anyone who suffers the misfortune of a puncture back up to the peloton. Meaning pain for the guys on the back of his wheel and a grin from ear to ear for Toby. The man just loves to ride fast, but also, will be the man at the back, pushing anyone who needs it, up a hill. We are very fortunate to have Toby on board. The whole day I kept thinking, ' How good is this!'

A quick wrap of today's events
Tomorrow is a huge day and it is all the riders have talked about over the last two days. As I write this I am sitting in my hotel room at the River Park Motor Inn in Casino. It is nine-pm and tomorrow's roll out is set for 5:45am due to it being a ten hour day in the saddle. I need more sleep than what I have been getting so the pressure is on to get this blog done as soon as possible.Tonight I am sharing with Al Provost, who spoke so passionately last night about his great mate Graham. We have just returned from a sumptuous dinner at the local RSM Club, where Rowan shared the highlights of the day with the group, Donna McMahon read out the journal that I wrote last night, and our lead vehicle driver in Katie Cahill, shared her sad story of losing her Mum to cancer just a few short months ago. I applaud Katie's strength for getting up and talking about something that is still so very raw. The tears flowed freely from Katie, as they did from many others in the room. It is the one thing that I love about each and every Smiddy experience. The bringing together of people who all share that same pain of losing a love one, but the garnering of strength within the group because of it. We all come from all walks of life but we all share that one thing in common; we are here for the sole reason of doing something that will definitely impact on another persons life. And who knows, that person that is saved due to our efforts could very well be within our own network of family and friends. Surely reason enough to ride 900 kilometres over five days.

More highlights and special people
92 kilometres into today's stage we stopped in to visit a hundred primary school little people. Our visit included an educational talk on sun safety and what to wear while riding a bike. Rowan then pumped up the kids into a frenzy with the seven kids applying as much zinc as possible to six volunteer riders in a 60 second time frame. One kid went through an entire zinc stick on poor Julie Herholdt, who was nearly knocked out in the process. But the loudest cheer by the kids declaring the winner went to Mathew Turner, just edging out the cheers for Julie and her over-zealous fan. Toby then put on a three minute display for the kids -and some of the adults- on how to repair a puncture.

Road crew member Sammi-Jo
Sammi-Jo shared her story today with me that her great friend Dorothy lost her battle with cancer three years ago on this very day. Sammi carried on throughout the day her usual cheery and helpful self, but with a heavy heart and thoughts of her friend. Sammi also lost her Dad to cancer and is here to support her partner in Walter Svic, who is doing the ride.

Walter Svic - and his purple suitcase
On a lighter note,Walter Svic, wins the award for having the largest hard cased bike boxed size suitcase. All the riders were asked to bring a backpack only for their overnight bag. But Walter misread and thought we said; "if you are moving house please bring everything, including the kitchen sink on this trip."

Road crew member - Wendy McQueen
Wendy McQueen joined the road crew as caterer and most importantly for the riders, as a physio/masseuse, and let me tell you Wendy is one very popular lady! Wendy is married to Lex for 25 years and got involved through Peter Dyer and because her hubby had melanoma and she lost her Sister in-law to cancer.

Mathew Turner - Smiddy rider
Mathew Turner did us the pleasure of taking on the tradition of doing the huddle at the end of the day. Matty is a cancer survivor himself, having the huge scar to show just how much skin they need to remove on his chest if diagnosed with a melanoma. Matty was not well coming into the event and has gotten successfully through the first two days. Three to go mate, hang in there!

Stats man Gavin Herholdt
Gav has taken on the role of providing stats for each days stage. So besides riding 138.8 kilometres at an average speed of 28.9km/h, in 4:48:48, in temperatures ranging from 17 to 28, he also threw in a couple of randoms, but I am so tired I cant remember what they were!

The smallest man in the peloton
Finally we have the 'Small' big fella in Simon Small. This unit of a man stands 8ft 6", weighs 130kg of pure muscle, served in the army for 14 years in far off places, and if I say anymore on those places he will have to kill me, and I really need to get this blog done so I am zipped! Simon has two beautiful girls, Jordan 11, and Sienea 5, to his gorgeous supportive wife Sam. Simon's passion for riding is he is going to lose a mate of 26 years to Melanoma shortly. It does not get any more real than that. Hats off to you old mate. I may have exaggerated slightly on his size.

Final words by Sharky
Thank you for following these blogs. The more we spread the word of what we are achieving at Smiddy the quicker we touch more lives and make an impact. Please share these blogs with your family and friends and know that our thoughts are with everyone who is part of this amazing Smiddy experience. What the riders will go through tomorrow can only be described as self torture. I still have vivid memories from last year's tour. But the riders are a tough lot and I know tomorrow I will be reporting that all made it safe and sound, although, no doubt, a little bit worse for the wear.

Take care.


PS: I also suck at being able to think and get my words down fast when tired. It is now 11pm! Goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sharky,

    My name is Mel, and im Matt Turner's wife. Firstly, i wanted to say how much i enjoy your writing...your stories and the way you write is so easy and thoroughly enjoyable to read, so thank you for giving your time after HUGE days to share your thoughts and stories, you really do have a gift. I also wanted to say congratulations on arranging such an amazing event. I know that Matty has been looking forward to it for a long time (even though he was as sick as a dog the week prior) he has seriously done us all (and himself) proud. I just spoke to Matt and told him that the day that you started out on your ride (brissie to Byron) marked the 33rd wedding anniversary of his Aunt & Unlcle....his Uncle Greg tragically passed away 18 months ago from Prostate cancer and left behind his wife Sylvia, 5 girls and 8 grand children - he was only 55 years of age. Greg was an amazing man who loved life, loved his family and LOVED a good surf and i know that he is with you all in spirit on your adventure (as hard and tireing as it may be). My mother also was touched by cancer 8 years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemo and radio treatment but like matt's story, it has a happy ending...she is a cancer survivor. So, the ride that you and your team are embarking on has very special meaning to the extended Smiddy Family....keep on trucking and i wish for your legs to be as light as feathers as you enter day 4 of your ride.

    Give matty a hug from me and his little girl

    Yours truely