Sunday, 20 May 2012


In my abscence due to turning 50 on Saturday and celebrating with family and friends in Toowoomba I elected to take off the fourth and final training day for our Midi Smiddy riders. A journey of 200km's from Fernvale to Crows Nest and return. So I would like to introduce my guest blogger in Johnny Leyshon. John is doing the Smiddy Challenge event in September, then backing up to complete the Nullabor crossing with me from Esperance to Adelaide straight after. So I welcome you to Jonny's words on what was a sensational day!

Smiddy Training Ride Diary – 20th May 2012
Fernvale – Crows Nest Loop 200km
The day started for me at 4:15am in the Willie Hotel in Toowoomba, having about 5 hours of sleep in the bank. The Saturday night had been a night at the Smoothy Manor in Wilsonton to celebrate Sharky’s 50th. It was great to have the night up there as we saw some insight into why the Sharkman is who he is. The term eye-opener comes to mind. Happy Birthday Sharky. There was a photo-montage of Sharky’s 50 years and let me tell you he has really filled out since he was 18.
In the car at 4:30am to make our way towards Fernvale from Toowoomba. Craig Mitchell and I were following Detective Seargent Copey and Junior Officer Row-bot Foster up some dodgy Sharky shortcuts. We arrived at around 5:30am to a false dawn, clear skies and the beginnings of a slightly misty cool day of around 5 degrees.
The cars started to roll in and by about 6:10am 45 riders and 4 support crew were in the car park ready to get the pre-ride briefing. Today would be the first Smiddy training ride for 7 riders and through the course of the day, I was to learn that it was the longest single day ride for 7 others.
We rolled out at approximately 6:18am and the 5 degree day had us rugged up nicely. Most riders came very well prepared for the cold until about 2km out of town when the shivers started on a slight downhill. We headed into some foggy sections where the visibility was reduced to about 50m, and then with 7km on the clock we checked our right to see the sun rising over Lake Wivenhoe through the mist. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and here we received our reward for the early start.
As a group it would be fair to say that we struggled to work out our rhythm. It was 40km of small rolling hills and flats and with 45 riders all full of energy, we surged and bunched and surged again. We usually find it takes a couple of hours and a blast from Kevvy to find this rhythm, however today we were bereft of Kevvy, with Chris “Geevesy” Geeves and Jack “Jack” Geeves in the tail vehicle. After about 25km, we hear over the radio that Geevesy, between reminding us that his temperature in the car was set to 24 degrees,  might have a chat to us at the first stop at Esk.
There was continued chatter from the front support vehicle as The Mitchells – Geoff (aka The Gorilla) and Ruth (aka Strewth) – and they kept us safe from oncoming traffic. The Gorilla is doing support for the 7-in-7 ride this year after the 8 day Challenge in September and this was his first day out with the Smiddy Crew.
The pack then proceeded to split and there was a gap of about 400m. We hear over the radio that Geevesy  will definitely have a chat to us at the first stop at Esk. The pack split another two times before Esk as we were working out the pace of all of the riders.
The mood of the first stop was buoyant although I knew what was coming. The sun had been warming us from about the 20km mark so we were filling water bottles and stripping off excess warm kit.
As we were about to roll out, I was preparing myself for Geevesy to channel the spirit of all things Kevvy, stand on a letter box and go School Principal on our collecting souls. As is the Geevesy way, he gathered us up, nice and close and in a calm voice showing no a hint of anger, frustration or disappointment said…and I quote…
“I just want to let you know that Kevvy would be going off his if he saw that”. He reminded us of the Smiddy etiquette around riding but the first line said it all.
We rolled out in a slightly tighter formation for 10km until the first climb of the day up to Ravensbourne National Park. It was flat and calm and a beautiful winding valley ride. There were three and a half white horses and one windmill with no blades. We had the occasional battle going from singles to doubles but the Geevesy pep talk had some effect on the group.
Jimmy still had his Scottish leg warmers on and I feel a bit guilty that it took me 48km to realise he was on the ride. He said “looble gooble foooking goob” to me really fast. I then felt really bad when I rolled through and realised that he’d actually performed a spoken word version of the first 4 verses of Don McLean’s American Pie.
The 7.5km climb to Ravensbourne started at the 51km mark as a go at your own pace affair and it soon sorted the wheat from the chaff. All the usual suspects were there while some others of us remained ensconced mid-pack. The climb shoot-out was led by Row-man and Simon Anthonisz and Flyn Van Dog.  Row-man played with them for a while then just as a little bit of blood was evident in the dogs eye balls, he turned up the volume and left them in a mushroom cloud of smoke. The Chimp (Craig Mitchell and Son of The Gorilla) was lurking nicely, watching the battle unfold, with the Possum Hunter (aka Robert Boyd) with him.

Row-man turned slightly only to see the chimp and the possum hunter pass the collateral damage before gapping them by about 50m to claim the KOM,  followed by the hunter, then the chimp.

I on the other hand was having my own battle with Chappy. Well, less battle and more struggling to keep him in my sight before he went around the next corner. He actually Lance Armstronged me with a look before riding away. One redeeming memory of the climb this morning was how cool it was in the shade. About 80% of the climb was out of the sun and very cool. And also very cool for a very different reason. There were virtually no cars on the climb – at all, so for that reason it was very quiet.

Dave Colahan did the standard unselfish Dave ride with the back markers. Smiddy Spirit right there.

We got to the top of the climb at about 60km and we had a “go at your own pace” line session until the turn off to Lake Perseverence, and a roll around on the grass in the morning sun, while we waited for Nathan Barden to check out some Sharky shortcuts on the way to Mulgaville.

The last 20km into Crows Nest gave us another chance to ride as a Smiddy pack. We rolled slowly into the lunch stop feeling pretty good about the 90km and about 1500m of climbing in the legs. We were greeted at The Grand Old Crow Hotel by Steve and Leanne. They’re a member of the Bottlemart group and have supported us every time we’ve rolled through here in the past couple of years. They turned on the great country hospitality with Steve on the BBQ, fruit and some of the lightest sponge cake this side of a CWA bake-off.

 Back on the road after lunch had us on the New England Highway towards Toowoomba. We struggled to get the power down for the first 15-20 minutes, and the Baby Gorilla on the front being asked to set the pace with Boydy. The pace of 23km/hr was wayyy too hot to over the radio they were informed of the first of numerous split packs. They reduced the pace to 20, then 17, then down to 10km/hr. We realised it was going to be a long day when the front pack was still pulling away at 1km/hr. Yep – I was in the second pack. I can vouch that with a belly full of cake and sausages, my Garmin was somewhat confused by the 9 on the screen. It actually kept flashing between 9km/hr and “wtf” km/hr.

We turned back towards Esk at the 110km mark in a town called Hampton – Craft Mecca. A thousand cars but only 22 people to drive all those cars. Where the hell were all the people? We did a lumpy 15 odd km back to the top of the Ravensbourne National Park – a road that still has a detour on it from the floods last January. The detour road had a couple of walls and a stitch-up or two from Row when he asked us to roll back down to a briefing, only to ride past us as we were descending.

We then had the awesome descent back down to Esk including some high jinx by Flyn Van Dog doing the overheated double lockup, downhill seat clench with a twist on the new steed. Exciting as hell. Not so much for the unseen tail rider who showed genuine skill in missing Flyn by mere millimetres.

We regrouped in Esk as we’d all done our own pace. We punished the local shop owners with our stench, laid on the lawn and espoused comments of “that corner where I went up the inside” and “blew up on the last roller” and “does that come in carbon” and “all I’ve eaten today is a peanut, a piece of ice and a banana peel”.

Some idiot left his helmet clipped onto the fence as we were about to roll out and that’s when it happened. The flat 50km from Esk to Fernvale via Coominya was where it happened. The magic happened. We rolled as a group – we hit about 30-33km/hr in a tight formation. The last 45km was pretty special for a couple of reasons. There were a number of riders at 185km who had just done their longest ride. A pack of Brumbies decided to race us to Coominya only to realise they were fenced in at the last moment. And you could have shot a bullet down between the two lines of riders without hitting a thing. We’d nailed it.

At 4:25pm we rolled into Fernvale with 199.781km on my Garmin. I did a couple of extra back and forth so I think the total was about 198km. It was a tough day with about 2500m of climbing and 7h30m in the saddle, but we were blessed with the weather. Cool in the shade and pleasantly warm out of it.

Gathering at the end of the ride as a group, we acknowledged the great work of our support crew Ruth and Geoff Mitchell on team Gorilla lead vehicle with Jack and Chris Geeves in the Team Geevesy  Tail Vehicle. We then finished a great day with the Smiddy chant.

Best of luck to the Midi riders in 2 weekends – last training ride and looking solid.

Couple of special mentions
Team Russell: Steve Russell is one of the Midi Sponsors and also got his new work kit a week ago. He is riding the Midi with his two lads Tim and Sean, as well as a ring-in Russell in Andy Owen. Tim seems to be struggling with the enjoyment factor of riding long distances at the moment, whereas Sean is loving being on the bike so very very much. Tuning up nicely. His enjoyment of this stemmed from a drunken bet with his brother and culminated in a clearly sarcastic remark to me yesterday at kilometre 85 when he said “I don’t actually like riding. In fact I hate it. I (insert favourite cuss word here) hate it”. I find sarcasm the hardest form of wit to understand…As I was discussing this astonishing brand of comedy with Tim Russell at Coominya at 1535 this afternoon, Sean decided to take his life into his own hands by taking on the Columbians at 2km/hr. Wheel first.
Chappy. The President of Organisation. You’ll find the Pres. riding at the back of the pack for purely selfless reasons. Ride after ride after ride. Enough said….except….when there’s a climb. Doesn’t matter if it’s up or down. The President is impeached, and he goes off reservation. Chappy taunted me up the hill from Esk, and then taunted me down the hill to Esk, 5 hours later. Then rubbed it in. Then bought me a coke. Thanks Chappy – all is forgiven, but not forgotten…
Anna Tate. Anna is doing the Midi Smiddy in 2 weekends time. She took up the bike 2 months ago and rode the entire 200km today. What is even more miraculous is that it took me, the Smiddy Serial Bike Pest, 173km to actually have a conversation with her. The other 41 riders probably know what I’m talking about.

Dave Colahan. In his own way, he buried himself at the rear of the pack. Assisting, supporting, pushing, teaching. There was an unofficial descending class coming down from Ravensbourne towards Esk in the afternoon expression session. The word on the street is that it was well received, and based on the size of the smile, the enjoyment-meter was maxed out. Loved your work today Holly.
Last word
There were a number of riders today who clocked up their longest ride. The rides with the Smiddy Family tend to reframe what constitutes a long ride. They also reframe for me the spirit of cyclists in general. Today’s route was a challenge to maintain the Smiddy pack riding style due to the rolling hills, close shoulders and sometimes sporadic burst of motor vehicles. There were a couple of moments of Smiddy rolling magic for the 50km after the Esk afternoon stop, but for as long as it took to ride as a tight Smiddy pack, there was a distinct Smiddy Spirit from the first kilometre. Thanks to the 42 riders and 4 support crew who came out for a cracking day.

Sharky I know you weren’t there – first ever training ride you missed. I talked up the weather – it rained all day. I talked up the group – no-one really enjoyed it – no smiles or laughter all day. I talked up the traffic – people were buzzing us all day. I talked up the lunch – everything was made of cured pork, even the cake. I talked up the group in the afternoon – no magic “I love you guys” moments there. It was a good one to miss Brother Shark and I hope you had a great day enjoying your family. Happy Birthday mate. We missed you out there but I hope we did you proud.


  1. Great work, Lil' John. Want to reinforce the words about Chappy and Dave Colohan...they epitomise the Smiddy spirit and why being involved in one of the Smiddy events will give you a whole lot more than how to ride a bike a long way! Rgds/Geevesy.

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  3. U can't do a Smiddy training ride without abit of goat track, lol. Great round up of a great ride. Thanx everyone for making it so memorable. Can't wait for the next one.......

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