Sunday, 22 July 2012

A winter weekend to Warwick

Smartness not my best quality
After a month in Europe I flew back into Brisbane on Thursday morning just 48 hours before we rolled out for our 2-day training weekend to Warwick. Let me say this - I do not advise riding over 400 kilometres with jetlag well and truly setting in and having completed an Ironman just five days prior! But I also have to say; that for me to miss out on the opportunity to ride with a peloton of 50 fine Smiddy riders was never going to happen. I would have been miserable knowing you the team was out there on the road and I wasn't there to share in the good times and hard times, that only a Smiddy peloton can create!

Smiddy memories
It is now 5am Monday morning and I have been tossing and turning since 3am. My body clock woke me, as I still have not adjusted to the Australian time zone after a month in Europe. The memories of the Pyrenees Smiddy Challenge followed by more riding in the French Alps, watching the Tour de France and finishing an Ironman in Switzerland were all swept aside as new memories of this past weekend have taken over. Many good times were had over our two days riding 430 kilometres and climbing close to 5000 metres with my fellow Smiddy riders. I am so grateful for the opportunity to ride with such good people and create more amazing Smiddy memories.

Riders and road crew are what make Smiddy special
The one underlying factor to Smiddy's success in raising more than $3 million dollars over the past seven years is that we attract people - riders and road crew - that care enough to do something good for others that are suffering. I see it out there when we are riding; Smiddy riders putting their own ambitions on hold to help out a fellow rider, a push here, and words of encouragement there, always ready to lend a helping hand. To ride in a Smiddy peloton is not easy; everyone needs to think of the other riders for it all to work. For 50 riders of various different talents to ride together in one group, yet very rarely separating, let me assure you, is a very rare occurrence in group riding. And that is what makes the Smiddy peloton special. Individualism is thrown out the door in favour of team spirit and I thank you all for showing that admirable quality.

Blokes like Scotty
The idea of this training weekend means that riders now know where their fitness stands for the eight day Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge in September. From my perspective the majority could finish the ride if it were to start tomorrow. A few riders still have five weeks to put the finishing touches to their training. Most importantly all riders, even those who struggled or needed van time at various stages (including myself), showed that incredible Smiddy spirit to soldier on regardless, not complain, suck it up and get out there again and again, until the job was done.

Scott Fraser sums up the whole Smiddy experience for me. Here is a bloke who desperately wants to do the Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge. 12 months ago he was 80kg over his ideal weight and made the decision to get his life back on track. Scotty has since lost 40kg, joined the Smiddy peloton and rides as much of each training day as he physically can. He accepts the call whenever Rowan and I ask him to sit out until gentler terrain is reached, never complains, thinks of the group, never wanting to hold us up, is so unselfish I am learning from him. Through Scott's involvement he brings out that Smiddy spirit that we like to foster in all riders. It is that Smiddy spirit of wanting to help a fellow rider that you know is putting it on the line, suffering like a dog, but needs that helping hand that only a fellow Smiddy rider can offer. Thank you Scotty and thank you to all the other riders who put up their hand over the past two days to help Scott and other riders at various stages.  

Our special road crew
Not only are these weekends valuable to the riders but also great training for our energetic road crew. A lot of things from the Warwick weekend help us fine tune for the Challenge in September. I would like to say thank you to the members of our road crew: Bob Cage, Sammi Jo So, Wybrand De Toit, Chris Geeves, Kevin Enchelmaier, Jo Frampton, Dawn Burbidge, Libby Kay, Jeff Mitchell and Jess Ebelt. Without these amazing individuals our Smiddy events and training days would not be possible. The sacrifice they show of giving up their free time is just as valuable a tool in our quest to raise important funds for cancer research. A huge heartfelt thank you guys for what you did for the riders over those two wonderful hard days of riding.

Thinking of you Bellinda
I must acknowledge and pass on our thoughts to Bellinda Grimwade, who came off the bike on Sunday on the ride back to Brisbane. Bellinda had clocked up more than 300 kilometres over the two days before a heavy fall saw her taken to Gatton hospital via ambulance. The peloton were worried for her but relieved to find out that she was okay, just a little bruised and battered. Jess collected Bellinda from the hospital and they both were at the finish for the Smiddy huddle at UQ Aquatic Centre. Bellinda posted on Facebook this morning that her spirit is not broken and promised she was going to work harder than ever over the next month to get herself right for the big event in September. Great work Bellinda and we are glad you are okay!

Police support Smiddy
The support of Queensland Police is unbelievable! A huge thank you to the officers from Warwick, Clifton, Allora, Gatton and Laidley districts that provided safe escort for more than 160 kilometres on Sunday. Every time we hold a training or actual Smiddy event they come out to take care of the peloton. We are treated like royalty out there and the difference in motorist’s attitude towards us is simply amazing when you have police presence at your side. We are indeed grateful for their support and they have amassed many Smiddy fans over the seven years we have been cycling through their region.

The weekend was a wonderful success and I know most of the riders will agree a valuable training tool in assessing their present fitness. More importantly it provided the opportunity for the riders to get to know each other under conditions that they will face come the first day of September. I am happy to say that the team spirit is definitely alive and kicking in this group. I know we are in for another very special year on the Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge. This is all because we have again, been fortunate, to attract great people that care. To the riders and road crew I say to you; thank you for showing humility and for your understanding towards your fellow riders that needed help over the weekend.

I can’t wait to hang with you all in September! Until then take care, train hard, after a little rest this week, and I will see you all very soon.