Climbing: 631 metres
The drenching that never came!
Yesterday the rain started in Toowoomba at 6:30pm and did not let up all night. After a restless 5 hours sleep the alarm stole its way into my cloudy head and my first instant thought was - 'Is it raining?' A quick look outside suggested we were in for a wet day ahead for the 160km trek to Warwick. Roll out time happened at 7am and all the riders were decked out in their wet weather gear expecting a drenching. To our very favourable surprise, not 10km out of Toowoomba, the first hint of blue clouds on the Western horizon suggested we just might not get wet at all. And I am pleased to report this is exactly what happened. We got through the entire day without a drop of rain falling on our head. Sure the wind was up and at times it made the riding difficult, but for the majority of the ride we were lucky to have it either behind us or at our side like an ever faithful puppie.
Smiddy peloton rocks!
The first day or riding is always a test for the riders to gel as one huge 50 strong peloton, but experience has taught us that realistically it is not until day 2 that we are successful. Once again, like clockwork, the Smiddy peloton came together and we rode as one for the entire session today. Kevvy, in the follow vehicle, was mostly happy with how the peloton looked from behind and that is always a good sign that we are pulling together. I love how so many riders just naturally help anyone that is struggling, and what this does is keep the momentum going within the group. Which results in our break stops being either on time or ahead of schedule. Today we beat our 3pm finish time by 5 minutes and the riders must be congratulated on a job well done.
The amazing support of the O'Shanley's and Bottlemart Pittsworth
Our scheduled stops today included long time Smiddy supporters at the Bottlemart Pittsworth Motel, who put on a great morning tea in the comfort of their nice warm restaurant area. Lunch is in Clifton at the 120km mark at a pub called O'Shanley's. Kathleen and Fletch O'Shanley have looked after the Smiddy riders since we first ventured here 3 years ago. Each rider and road crew member is served up their own individual hotpot of 100 year old secret Irish stew. The recipe has been in the family for over 100 years. The O'Shanley's always make a donation to the Smiddy cause and I am sad to have to tell you that Kathleen is now overseas in Ireland fighting her own battle against cancer as I write this. Everyone at Smiddy sends Kathleen, Fletch and her family all the positive energy that we can muster for a speedy recovery.
Peloton arrives safely to Warwick and Smiddy huddle by Ollie.
Our finish into Warwick was at the Horse and Jockey Hotel, where the owners in Jo and Gary Lawrence, provide beautiful clean rooms and warming hot showers for all the crew. They also get out of bed earlier than a rooster on heat, to make the crew a delicious and sumptuous breakfast. Rollout is at 5:45am Sunday and breakfast is from 5am. So they are up very early and we are in awe of their continued support to Smiddy. Thanks heaps Jo and Gary. The huddle today was bolstered in numbers by several family members traveling to Warwick to cheer their love ones in as they finished, and to share in the community function held tonight. I asked long time Smiddy rider and friend, Oliver Clissold, also known as Oozo, (for reasons best not told in this blog, but which was fully explained tonight by the man himself up on stage) to take on the huddle, as he has been involved in Smiddy in some way since the beginning in 2006.
A night in Warwick with the Smiddy crew
The function tonight was a community event that involved a welcome by the Deputy Mayor of Warwick, a live band, my blog reading, a great talk by Pat Howard, who is General manager of High Performance Cricket Australia and former test player for Australia. Although he was usurped by the amazing story telling talents of the great Anthony Herbert. Wrapping up the night was an emotional talk by one of the Midi riders in Michael Van-Ewik, who is also our oldest rider at 62 years of age, fit as a Malley Bull and a surviver of cancer. The night ended with Rowan and Anthony running an auction that netted a fantastic $10,000. Smiddy rider Steve 'Furious' Russell paid 4k for a signed 2011 reds jersey and fellow Smiddy rider Andrew Watts paid $1,500 for a complete Smiddy kit worth just $200! The highlight for me tonight was having my Mum and Dad and my Brother Terry and his Wife Denise attend, making the drive here from Toowoomba. Dad surprised Rowan by walking up on stage and giving him a losing Saints neck scarf from the 1980's. Row started the bidding at $20 and it eventually went for $200 to road crew member Chris Geeves. That was my Dad's way of making a contribution and I was touched. The food tonight was nutritious and plentiful and no one walked out of there hungry. The function started at 6:30 and was wrapped up by 9:30pm with the riders all looking to get as much rest as possible for the 11 hour day ahead of them tomorrow. A special mention must be made of Tracy Vellacott, who each and every year helps the team at Smiddy to run these functions and help us to fill the hall with nearly 100 people. We are indeed fortunate to have Tracy on our side.
Final thoughts by Sharky
I am going to go deep on you here so please bare with me if I can't quite get my thoughts down in words. The one thing I love about these Smiddy events is that it gives the riders and road crew a chance to let out some of their emotions. We all lead busy lives, we all tend to bottle things up, some minor and some major issues. The freedom of being out on the road with like minded individuals creates the perfect opportunity to let out some of the demons so to speak. It always takes a few days but once you let the infectious positive Smiddy spirit in, you realise it is okay to have a cry, or talk to a mate or loved one about something that is bothering you, or simply to express to a mate how much their friendship means to you. I see this happening now on day 2, and I can nearly guarantee you, with what we are going to put ourselves through to get home tomorrow, that it will be happening even more so by the end of day 3. I look forward to giving each of the riders a man hug and a steely look in their eyes, that I hope conveys to them what their sacrifices mean to me and our amazing team at Smiddy. Today we were joined by 2 riders in Andrew Watts and Greg Martin; two better blokes can not be found this side of the black stump, maybe on the other side, but definitely not this side! Anyway these guys are great mates of mine and I am chuffed to bits to have them in the Smiddy peloton. I reckon also that a hug is a certainty from Watty, while Marto will be an interesting challenge. I suspect 220km's of hills and wet weather tomorrow will soften him up a little!
Anyway enough from me for now, thanks again for following these blogs. The finish tomorrow is at Adam Smiddy Park in Park Road and we hope to arrive between 4:30 and 5pm. Lions will be there with a community barbecue and we would love it if you can get down there to welcome the crew in. The weather is looking ominous and I am pretty sure our luck of getting mostly dry conditions the past 2 days is about to change at 5:45am for our roll out tomorrow. I hope I am wrong...
11pm now and I have set a PB in finishing a blog! All the best and I will look forward to bringing you the day 3 blog on Monday morning.