Sunday, 6 May 2012

SMIDDY HALF DAY 5 REPORT

HALF SMIDDY - DAY 5
Toowoomba to Brisbane
210 kilometres



This final blog is dedicated to the Smiddy riders of this tour that helped to raise a staggering amount of money, and along the way showed amazing qualities that have made their loves one proud.

It is now Monday morning and my body clock has me up at the usual time of five-am. I gave myself the night off last night from blogging as I needed a break. But I have just had nine hours sleep and I am ready to blog away about another most successful Smiddy event that managed to raise a staggering amount that looks like topping $120,000! Welcome to my final entry for the 2012 Smiddy Half Challenge, where I am pleased to be able to tell you that all riders and road crew made it safely home to Adam Smiddy Park yesterday spot on time at four-pm.

David Smiddy's surprise visit
Now Captain Kev always stays at my home the night prior and after an event. We were both exhausted from a long five days on the road and the decision was made, and agreed upon unanimously, that a bottle of Jacob's red was to be opened and consumed (by Kev only as I don't drink) while chilling out and watching a movie. Kevvy loves a red and never watches movies. Last night he sat through and enjoyed the first installment in the Bourne Identity trilogy. We would occasionally pause the movie for a top up of red, or in my case to scour for more food. On one of these pauses I admitted to feeling extremely bad about one of the biggest stuff ups that I made on the trip. You see the peloton rolled into the finish at Adam Smiddy Park to a rousing reception from our supportive family and friends. Emotions were high and riders, road crew and loved ones were swapping hugs, handshakes, high fives and congratulations with as much gusto as a premiership winning NRL team. Then out of the blue I feel a tap on my shoulder and blow and behold it was David Smiddy, the Father of who this ride is all about. Now David lives and works in New Zealand and as far as I knew that was exactly where he should have been right at that very moment. My complete and utter shocked but happy surprise could not have been more absolute!

The Smiddy huddle
Now fast forward ten minutes from that one moment with David. All riders, road crew and supporters were asked to join in for our final Smiddy huddle for the 2012 Half Smiddy. We all linked arms and formed one gigantic circle of friends. I explained to the group the significance of the huddle and why we do it. Back in 2007 it was brought in as our way of being grateful for getting everyone safely home each day, and also for honouring lost loved ones. It is a very moving finale after each tough day on the road, and none more so than the final stage at Adam Smiddy Park. My role in this final huddle is to acknowledge and thank the road crew with three cheers, the supporters, the riders and to finish with a chant of "Smiddy Smiddy Smiddy." Which I can tell you I got through quite successfully. The riders were then asked to assemble so that we could acknowledge our appreciation to our amazing road crew with the presentations of thank you gifts. It was at this point in time that Rowan pointed out Mr David Smiddy. I had neglected to acknowledge the most important person there, and while I still managed to introduce David to the throng of people as the huddle was breaking up, I was still upset at myself. David, of course, was fine about it, but just the same I still felt like I had disrespected the Smiddy family by my unintended snub.

The road crew thank you
Rowan and Jess then took over and one by one the road crew were called up individually to be presented with their thank you gifts brought by the riders to show our appreciation. All received a hearty reception and now it was Rowan's turn to miss out on one person in our rider-mechanic Toby Hood. The only difference being Rowan picked up that I left Smiddy out while I didn't pick up on Toby's omission. Luckily just as we were wrapping up the big Smally man, Simon Small, said a few words and acknowledged the Smiddy organising team, Peter Dyer and the amazing support that Toby had provided. Thanks Smally! The team at Smiddy always aspire to put on events and not leave any stone unturned, but we are human and occasionally make mistakes. I know David and Toby are fine, but still, I do hope by mentioning it through my blog, that it makes amends and shows how much we respect and admire you both.

Sharky wrap of the final day
Well you already know how the day ended, this is how the day day started... We rolled out of Toowoomba at 6:15am on our chilliest morning start of the trip at just six degrees. Win TV were there giving our cause some publicity and we were joined by two new day riders in Angus Blackwood and John Kazakoff. The descent down Flagstone Creek road is super fast and treacherous -and at speed's of up to 80km/h- bloody freezing! The first 40 kilometres into Gatton is either down hill or flat and the riders tired bodies appreciated the easy start to the day. From Gatton we have a ten kilometre section called 'The Smiddy Smash'. The riders can go at their own pace over a very lumpy section of road and it gives the fast guys a chance to have a hit out. The sprint finish, as witnessed by Katie and Donna, was taken out by Toby by a half wheel to Rowan, with Gavin taking out third position. After the sprint we rolled into Blenheim just down the road for morning tea. The day was now a beautiful cloudless free, dazzling blue sky, Autumn perfect day. We could not have been happier.

To lunch, afternoon tea and the finish
Just a half hour out of morning tea the group climbed the Grandchester Range, a 2.5 kilometre gentle climb and then a four kilometre descent into Grandchester itself. Once again this was a go at your own pace session and the sweaty excited faces at the finish suggested all had enjoyed their last hit-out for the day. From this point in time the group never separated for the remaining 140 kilometres. Lunch was at Harrisville, 127 kilometres into the day's stage, and it was here, while everyone sat under the shade of a huge tree, munching on the delightfully yummy sandwiches our road crew had prepared, that Katie did a superb job in reading out my day four blog. From Harrisville it was a fast dash (the riders could now smell home and the pace had quickened) to our final stop of the day for afternoon tea at Springfield at 173 kilometres. A quick safety brief ensured we were all on the same page to get through the busy traffic for the remaining 30 kilometres into Brisbane. We had one final stop just prior to Coronation Drive to let our oldest rider, Al Provost join the group for the finish into Smiddy Park. Al had to sit out most of the tour as he had some serious back problems that prevented him from riding. But we wanted him to share in the excitement of rolling in as a group to the finish. We start together - We finish together!

Sharky's final words
This year's Smiddy Half will definitely be remembered for the outstanding weather. Last year we suffered like 16 year old arthritic dogs, with four out of the five days being rained on. This year the event was held one month earlier and our average daily temperature was 24 degrees and clear blue skies with bugger all wind. In one word - PERFECT! The stand out performances in the riders were Tim Byrne and Julie Herholdt. Both with so little cycling to their name, yet with a happy determination to get the job done and no complaints along the way. Both Julie and Tim were always so positive and an absolute joy to be around. As were all the riders. I am again lucky to have met so many fine people on this amazing Smiddy journey. On behalf of the team at Smiling for Smiddy, to the riders, road crew, supporters, sponsors and our so very important donors, we are in awe of your contributions and dedication to our cause. Please keep spreading the word and encourage anyone you can to get involved in a future Smiddy event. Just send them to www.smiddy.org.au and our contact details are there.

Take the very best of care and know that you are all so extremely special for showing the world that you care!

Big Sharky hug to you all.

Sharky

PS Don't forget if you enjoy these blogs then join up at my site at: marksharkysmoothy.blogsite.com.au/

In one month's time we have the three day Midi Smiddy and I will be blogging away as usual.

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