Warwick to Brisbane
Climbing: 1882 metres
Time in saddle: All day!
Welcome to the final blog on the 3 day Midi Smiddy. It is now 5am Monday morning and although I was in bed late last night my body clock insists on waking me at this dark winter hour. So now is as good a time as any to tell you about yesterday's epic finish into Smiddy Park at Milton.
Thankfully once again I got it wrong when I said the weather was going to be crap. It rained itself out overnight and by the time the 50 strong peloton pushed off at 6am the rain had stopped. The roads were a sloppy mess and they did not dry out until we got to the bottom of the two very technical, 18% + descents down Queen Mary Falls at 100 kilometres into the ride.
The peloton's love affair with cow manure
Morning tea at the top of The Head Rd was followed by a safety brief prior to pushing off. The Head is 1000 metres above sea level and in the space of just 4km's you descend down to 200 metres. It is extremely steep, with a rough gritty and very bumpy road service, made worse by the fact that it was still very wet and 5 cattle grids to traverse. Last year a rider had a serious fall on this descent and we wanted no repeats of that accident. While we warned the riders of all of this in great detail, we left out the one defining factor that would have an impact on the group for the rest of the day - Cow Manure! Right at the bottom of the climb, just after the last cattle grid, a section measuring just 500 metres of the entire road was covered in what we thought was mud. Our speed through this section was fast at 40km/h as we were still going down hill. When we regrouped a few kilometres later it became apparent by the stench that it was not just mud, but a whole lot of cow manure as well. For the remainder of the ride -5 hours to be precise- the sweet aroma of cow poo drifted through the peloton. Legs that were white were now a poo brown, and jerseys that were freshly laundered by our meticulous road crew, were now graffitied with splatterings of lush watery and extremely smelly and -not so pleasant- cow dung! We could not have been happier! We all felt like we had been through hell over a tough 3 days of this extremely challenging course, but now we looked the part and we could not wait to greet our loved ones at the finish to share with them this delightfully adventurous aroma...
A snapshot of a Smiddy day on the road from sun up to sun down
Yesterday was one of those days where so much happened, not only within the peloton but within the road crew as well, that I would need a day and a few thousand words to cover it all. If I attempted to recount it in detail I would lose my loyal followers of this blog -which I believe is up to 4- and I can't do that to you guys...but here is a snapshot view:
Road crew member Dawn Burbidge, in bed cocooned and hidden under the covers as riders entered her and Jo Frampton's room to collect their laundered bike gear at 5am... Kevvy getting up me for being the last rider ready - some things never change... Rolling out in complete darkness and the strobe-biotic like affect of 50 flashing bike tail lights... As dawn broke and capturing first glance of the fog-bank in the mountains... "Ahhh" that first pee stop, there is nothing better... The 14km easy gradient climb up to Carrs look out... The view from Carrs is sensational but not today- The fog wraps its arms cooly around the group... The riders really starting to gel, no-one thinking it is all about me, all helping out where they can, no more individuals, all working together as a team, the Smiddy spirit has done its magic yet again, I couldn't be happier... Road crew magic at each stop, never was anything too much to ask of them... Jimmy our mechanic, so much work on day 3 with over 30 mechanicals, we love our Scottish-Irish mate... Our lead vehicle, Chris, Jae and Jack, always there keeping us safe... Kevvy and Skip bringing up the rear, car full of broken bikes, broken bodies at times, but always with their words of encouragement to get back out on the road...Shane and Tracey, our third car looking out for the riders with their carpet over the cattle grids, slowing us down as we approached, always caring, always watchful... The Smiddy riders coming together as a team, too many to mention, helping struggling riders up climbs with a hand on the back...running behind schedule, shortened lunch break to 20 minutes, all accept the decision without complaint, Smiddy spirit shines through our crew... Smiddy rider, Bill Maddock's emotional story about his daughter losing her 8 year old friend through Leukemia, tears were shed, a steely resolve entered rider's heads to get on with the job at hand, life is indeed good and we are indeed grateful for each and every day, thanks Bill for the wake up call... Sharky mechanical, help me Jimmy, chained wrapped 3 times around crank arm, Jimmy saves the day, Chappy freight train express back to peloton, world of pain, can't stop smiling..! Country roads disappearing, close to Ipswich, hot cars, hoons abusing us, back to reality, already yearning for solitude of country again... Centenary Highway, huge verge, safe again, massive tailwind, peloton smoking hot, 30km/h average into afternoon tea, made up time, back on schedule, we are awesome..! Last safety brief, concentration high, keep up the talk, on our way home, all 50 riders on the road, no more van time for anyone, 3 more minor mechanicals, threat of rain, does not develop, the last climb up Indooroopilly Road climb... 2km to finish, 4 girls shepherded to the front, Coronation Drive, traffic jam due to the footy, 15 minutes to travel 1km, peloton need to move, frustration but excitement, nearly there... Detour taken, sneak in the back way, Shane has warned the crowd of 100 waiting for us, over the crest, there they are, loved ones, family and friends, warm embrace, disbelief and relief we have made it, extreme joy... Smiddy huddle time, Nic Read, our youngest ever rider singled out, rode entire way, no van time, done it tough, lost Dad to cancer 18 months ago, completed ride in memory of his Dad, crowd of 150 people applaud, Sharky and Nic in middle of huddle, hold him tight, both in tears, this is what Smiddy is all about, hope for everyone...! All acknowledged in the huddle, 3 cheers for road crew, riders, Lions and supporters, final chant of "Smiddy Smiddy Smiddy" and it's a wrap... Row thanks road crew with gifts from riders to show our appreciation... The crowd slowly leave, taking with them memories that will last a good while... Smiddy crew last minute meeting, unpacking of vehicles, who drives what vehicle home, plan for tomorrow, we are last to leave, once again Adam Smiddy Park is quiet, until we visit again in 2013... I still miss my mate each and every day, especially on any day we finish an event at this very special place... Until next time my friend!
Thanks guys again for all your support, be sure to enter your email address on my blog site if you are keen to receive automatic updates of anything that I write on Smiddy events. I love having you along for the ride. My site address is http://marksharkysmoothy.blogspot.com.au/
Be sure to drop me a line if keen to experience any one of our 7 Smiddy events in 2013. To register your interest or to find out more please visit the Smiddy website at www.smiddy.org.au or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org