Friday, 4 May 2012
HALF SMIDDY DAY 3 REPORT
Half Smiddy, Day 3
Casino to Warwick 222.4km's
An early start
The riders left Casino right on six-am thanks to the great work of the road crew and the riders to work together as a team. The reason to get away by then was due, not only because of the incredible distance we needed to cover, but due to the enormous amount of climbing that was in that distance. All up we climbed over 2565 metres in those mentally tough and physically draining 222 kilometres. Just think about that for a second; for those reading this that are familiar with Mt Kootha in Brisbane, that amount of climbing is equivalent to climbing to the top of Kootha 12 times over! The 20 riders already had 350 kilometres of riding in their legs, they were fatigued going into this day and very nervous at what lay ahead. Eleven and a half very long hours later, the group arrived into Warwick, having finished what they started and their bonding as friends stronger for the adversity.
My mate Adam and courage I can only dream about
There were so many epic stories of courage, mate-ship and suffering today that I could write a book about what went on today, but it is late and I am tired for some reason, so these few words will have to suffice for now. What I witnessed today at times brought tears to my eyes. When I think of courage and selflessness I always think back to the last time I saw my mate Adam Smiddy alive. Five days before he passed away I paid Adam a visit in hospital; here my mate was dying, yet he wanted no sympathy, he was still positive and smiling, and the last thing he whispered to me, as I bent down to give him a Sharky Hug, was this; "Sharky I am worried for my parents, "I wish I could do more to ease their pain." Maria and David were present, being their usual strong selves in front of their son, but inside you could clearly see the strain it was putting on them. I felt so hopeless and when I walked out of there I thought I would see Adam again on the weekend. I remember thinking, 'could I be that strong in that same situation?' I didn't think so. The next night Rowan paid Adam a visit and he had deteriorated further, yet Adam was nothing but cheerful and positive. Four days later our mate passed away and in typical Adam fashion he requested three day out from his passing, no more visits to anyone but his family. For he did not want his friends to see him in the state he was in; he wanted us to remember him for the person he was before the cancer so cruelly robbed the world of one of the most genuine human beings you could ever hope to meet.
That Smiddy spirit that all our riders possess
The reason I wanted to share that Adam story with you was because that 224km's that we traversed today saw the Adam Smiddy spirit shine through in so many ways today that I was continually reminded of my mate and how much I miss the big guy. The road crew that followed the riders today on some of those 18% climbs got to see what I wish everyone reading this could see. Each and every Smiddy rider doing any of our events, shows, in their own special way, that little bit of courage that Adam displayed to us in his hospital bed. Many of us today had some bad moments where it felt like we could not go a pedal stroke further, yet we did, and why we continued was because of a stubbornness to get the job done, to not hold up our mates any longer than was necessary, to not let all our supporters, family, friends and donors down. But the main reason is because of that Smiddy spirit that comes out in extreme times and that spirit is seen through riders helping other riders and our very own special road crew pulling together and forming the tight knit team that we have become over these past three days.
Tim Byrne - Inspirational King of the Mountain
Normally I try to do my bit to help out when riders are struggling, a push here, an encouraging word, a pat on the back.Today on the last two climbs of four kilometres at 18% and 2.8 kilometres at 16%, none of that was possible. If I had of tried I would have fell off my bike and taken the other rider with me, as my climbing speed was no faster than six-km/h! But I did see the quiet achiever in Tim Byrne achieve his goal of riding all the way to the top without any walking at all. Tim was the last rider to conquer the Queen Mary Falls climb, but surely was the most courageous. Tim's longest ride prior to this event was 100 kilometres. He only started riding last October, with the blessing of his Wife Claire and their two children Adam and Oliver. But what he lacks in preparation he more than makes up for it with that raw unfathomable pool of talent that Tim possesses. Tim lost his Dad to Prostrate cancer and a very close friend, Jodie lost her battle with cancer at just 36 years of age. Tim is amazingly quiet, polite and a real listener, but once on the bike he shows such a steely eyed determination not to give in, and in his no fuss quiet way, just gets the job done. Tim shares those same qualities that I saw in Adam Smiddy all the time that I knew him. Tonight Tim was awarded a pair of cycling socks in recognition of conquering that climb.
James is a legend!
James 'Jimmy' Buttleman showed another sort of courage that is different but just as important to the overall success of the team. James was struggling right from the start this morning. At the 80 kilometre point he made the difficult decision to have some time out in the van. He did not want the group to fall behind schedule, but most importantly he knew if he continued he may well jeopardise the last two days of the ride. James rejoined the group to take on the two hardest climbs and then did more than his fare share of work out front for the final 32 kilometres into Warwick. It takes courage to make decisions such as these, and all of us here respect you immensely mate. On a side note, James was road crew last year and this year returned as a rider and is getting a completely different and ultimately, more painful perspective.
How good are our road crew?
I do not have the space to list all the reasons they are good, but possibly a special mention for their efforts today will suffice. Besides performing all their normal duties, all of them went out of their way to be there for the riders at some of the more tortuous sections of the course. The cheering was loud, infectious and most appreciated by the tired riders. At the food stops nothing ever had to be asked for, they were there, ready to give us what was required; sometimes even before we even knew what we needed! My heart went out to them and at the end of this Tour I am taking them all home to live with me forever.
Mike and Peter - Smiddy riders share their stories
Tonight we had two very inspirational speakers in Mike Dyer, who lost a close cousin to a curable cancer if detected early, and spoke on the merits of getting checked and encouraging friends and family to follow likewise. And our old mate from New Zealand in Terry McDowell, who shared his story of surviving testicle cancer. A huge thank you to both lads for having the courage to share their stories with the rest of the crew.
Jess the snake saver
Road crew member Jess Ebelt surprised the other girls in the road crew when she was seen to be trying to remove a snake from the road. The snake had just been run over but was clearly still alive and pissed off. All of Jess's efforts were in vain and she had to leave it where she found it. Donna later confirmed it was hit a second time and was indeed no longer a carpet snake but a tarmac canvas. Sorry Jess.
Jo, Gary, Stacey and Anna at the Horse and Jockey Hotel Motel
Long time supporters of our Smiddy events and owners of the H&J, Jo and Gary Lawrence, always look after us with cheap accommodation, meals and donations back to the Smiddy cause. Each time we visit they open the kitchen early from five-am, where Anna, who has worked there for 10 years, prepares a feed fit for a king. Tonight Jo joined us for our journal reading and to hear the lads talk. Afterwards all the riders retired to bed and Jo treated me to the nicest cake I have ever tasted in my entire life - A cherry ripe chocolate cake with ice-cream! I devoured it faster than Toby pace-lining a rider back up to the peloton, rushed back to my room, which I was sharing with Rowan, and like any good mate, boasted about what he missed out on. Thank you to Stacey Bartley, who works in the kitchen at the H&J and is the creator of this delicious cake. Stacey is not only a good cook but also good at fighting successfully against her own bout with breast cancer.
Anyway I am struggling to make sense of anything that I am writing now, so time to call it a night. A lot of the riders tell me that family and friends are following these blogs so I would like to finish by saying that in two days time you can have your beloved partners back. Until then please know that they are leaving no stone unturned out here, and each day they are a testament to what a few individuals can achieve if they band together to take on a seemingly insurmountable goal (who rides 222 kilometres in a day) and rise to the occasion.
Lastly thank you to Smiddy rider, Jo Stewart, who took charge of the Smiddy huddle this afternoon. Your words were heartfelt, genuine and very much appreciated. Jo is the bike kit supplier for all our events. Her brand is called Tineli www.tineli.com.au and the kits are sensational!
Want to donate to your favourite Half Smiddy rider? Please visit www.smiddy.org.au.
Good night and thank you all for your support.
PS If you wish to get my blogs automatically just enter your email address at my blogsite http://marksharkysmoothy.blogspot.com/ I cover all the Smiddy events throughout the year.