Saturday, 1 September 2012

2012 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge, Day 1

Stats for the day – By David Colahan
Course: Brisbane to Nanango
Distance: 205.7 km
Average speed: 23.4km
Metres climbed: 2988 metres
Temperature min: 6⁰C
Temperature max: 25⁰C
Wind direction: SW

Schindler’s List (road kill count) – By Dan Maunders and Nick Bourns
Special Mentions – Rocket for first stationery fall

3 Galah’s
5 rabbits
5 magpies
2 Wallaby’s
1 snake
2 really bad smells
3 Kangaroos
2 unknown but furry
1 unknown but not furry
1 Nick died on Yarraman Hill (according to Garmin)

 A word from Sharky

Welcome to the 2012 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge.  Over the next 8 days I will have guest authors writing my blog, while I get in a few nights rest.  In addition to granting me a few more hours sleep, I really enjoy sharing the peloton and road crew’s stories from each day on the road.   I will be contributing a blog a little later in the week so stay tuned for the blog from the Shark. The Day 1 blog has been written by returning Smiddy rider, Christian Killeen. I would like to say a very special thank you to Telstra Country Wide who has sorted us out with some awesome gadgets to keep us connected while on the road.  Enjoy and I will be writing again soon. 

Day 1 - Brisbane to Nanango by Christian Killeen

Well it is hard to believe that it is the 1st of September already and the first day of the 2012 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge has been completed.  For me this is my 3rd participation in the long trip North and it is a great pleasure to be able to bring you all the highlights for the 1st day.

 The first day is always one of mixed emotions and this year was no exception. It’s wonderful that this great challenge, which each rider has been training hard for so long is finally underway, yet for many they are leaving behind family and friends for 8 days.   While many riders do so in honour of loved one’s who have suffered from Cancer, I am one of the very lucky few who has so far been fortunate to not loose someone to this horrible disease, however that is the very reason I participate in this great event.  I am from a large family, Mum, Dad, two brothers and two sisters, 3 nephews and 3 nieces.  Then of course my own daughter, my wife and her family, including mum and dad, brother and 3 nieces and my extended family of Brother ‘s & sisters in law.   It frightens me that my time may yet to come. In Australia 1 in 2 males and 1 in 3 females will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, so it is with this in mind I hope that we can find a cure or prevention before my time comes.  I want to “Pay it forward”, in the hope that I never have to experience the loss others have.
So, today I said goodbye to my wonderful wife Leonie and gorgeous 3 year old daughter Lily.  While this is always a tough thing to do, for me the Smiling for Smiddy ride holds an extra special place in mine and my family’s heart.  As it was while I was on the 2008 Smiling for Smiddy ride, while we were at the nightly function in Blackwater, that Leonie gave me the news that she was pregnant with Lily.  Smiling for Smiddy reminds me each year of that wonderful time and it takes me back to that very phone call that changed my life forever.  So while Smiling for Smiddy is about remembering Adam and others, for me it has also become a time of celebration and of new beginnings.

The day started early with breakfast for riders, support crew and supporters at UQ swimming pool.  Check in your gear, meet and greet your fellow riders and support crew, a quick brekkie, last minute checks of your trusty steed.  It is always a bit of a mad rush at the end, after such a long wait and all the training - the day is here and we are on our way.

In no time it’s final goodbyes and all of a sudden we are on our way.  The famous bell that has been in Kevvy’s family since time its self rings the first of its many rings over the next 8 days. 

The first day is always a very tough and stressful day for everyone.  We are lucky that the police are able to provide an escort for us, and their support is most welcome, but it is still difficult navigating the way out of Brisbane with traffic, lights and stop signs and keeping such a large peloton together.  Add to that the scores of well wishes from previous riders, friends, family and anyone else who joins in on the ride to Dayboro.  It is a reflection of how wide the Smiddy challenge has been cast, each year the number of past Smiddy Jerseys you see riding out is amazing.   

Reaching Dayboro for the first stop is always nice.  While it is now the true final goodbyes, it is also a good time for the peloton.  We have escaped the Brisbane city limits; we are now with our fellow Smiddy riders and wonderful support crew.  One extended family on whom we will rely upon, draw strength from, suffer with, help and seek help from over the next 8 days and 1600kms.  This is where 52 riders and 12 support crew become a team, a family, one big unit working together as one for a common goal.  It’s us vs. the world for the next 8 days as we head into the path less travelled.  It can be scary, but this is what we’ve worked for, this is the test, the 2012 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge starts in earnest.   

From Dayboro the first real test of the challenge, Mt Mee, is upon us.  A time for the strong legs to show themselves, a chance for an early chest beat, a time for the cagey old foxes of the peloton to suss out the competition for the later stages, but for most it’s a case of one pedal turn at a time, one of many more to come.

The first day is a chance for the riders to come together, work out who the strong riders are, which ones may need assistance on the tough climbs, getting used to each other’s riding styles, their quirks, not to mention their names (thank god for the name stickers – I’ll get them right by time we get to Townsville) and generally finding the Smiddy pace.  Each year the peloton is different, different abilities, different fitness levels and different personalities.  It takes time to mould and come together as a unit.  But already we have seen the team coming together, many of the stronger riders have already sacrificed themselves to help another, many pushes up hills to keep the bunch together and rolling.
After Mt Mee we reached our first tea break at the Lookout overlooking the Sunshine Coast and beyond.  Not a bad spot for a cuppa.  The road crew as always there waiting with a variety of treats for hungry riders.  And the Sao’s - a Smiddy speciality, again making a special appearance.  Everyone was in good spirits, with a solid 77km behind us.

After fuelling up we are on our way again, straight into a fabulous downhill stretch and a chance to get the kms clicking over, but it is all too short with the infamous Sharky Shortcut.  A quick left at the bottom of the hill to bypass Woodford takes straight into a 19% pincher, which really sorts them out. This is followed by a couple more pinchers as the road becomes narrower, crossing a creek through a few inches of water which saw Nat (according to Brett Goebel) running over a fish causing a flat.   Then we were straight on to the dirt road for another 10kms.  Sharky’s short cut has it all except for the short part.

The peloton rolled in for lunch at Kilcoy with 115kms down.  My first complaint of the day – the fabulous Smiddy Crew have let the standards drop, Maria where’s the Snake sitting on my sandwich?  In all seriousness the Road Crew are a special part of Smiling for Smiddy, without them we could do what we do.  Feeding and watering us, keeping us safe on the road, getting special orders on route, doing our laundry.  They are like a team of super Mum’s (and Dad’s) taking care of our every need, while all we have to do is ride.  A huge thank you to all of you.  Wybrand kept us all entertained with his selection of South Africa’s top 100 from 1995. 

 Out of Kilcoy is one of the toughest times, as we roll along the D’agular Hwy in mainly single file.  It’s tough sitting behind the same rider not being able to talk away the kms.  You are left to your own thoughts and that’s when it starts to hurt, the fatigue can set in.  However I have got to commend the riders, we were starting to gel as a unit and starting to lock in the Smiddy pace.  I was impressed with how quickly we are coming together which bodes well for the rest of the ride.

Our second challenge is the Blackbutt range, much like Mt Mee not overly steep but just a long solid grind.  Some more selfless efforts as riders volunteered to push other up and ensure we all make it up in the best possible shape.  As we roll on the hills keeping coming all the way to Blackbutt, aptly named after about 170kms and 7 hrs in the saddle.  More of South Africa’s greatest 90’s Artists bopping away to their own beat.

After arvo tea though the hills  keep coming, some are starting to struggle but as always a helping hand is never far away to keep it all together.  The next 20 odd kms are tough, constant undulations and little shoulder and single file, it’s really taking the toll and the workhorses are really struggling to keep everyone together, but in true Smiddy spirit the bunch works together and we hit the final flat/ downhill run into Nanango – all of a sudden the peloton is cracking, I looked down at one stage while on the back to, after the bunch moved away from me while I was doing 49kph. 

A special treat at Nanango, with a dip in the local indoor pool, it’s like a big bath and a hot shower we feel like we could go again (maybe tomorrow).  The people of Nanango have been looking after us for 7 years and tonight is no different as we are provided with delicious pasta, salads and topped off with ice-cream, cakes and fruit salad.  Their support of Smiddy has been remarkable, with everything (including food, and Accommodation) paid for from donations and local fundraising.  A special mention goes to Thiess Tarong Mine, who have covered the majority of costs of our accommodation in Nanango again this year.  Thank you so much for your assistance guys, we really appreciate it.  And as for Mark and Desley Gaedke and the other wonderful community members -well done guys, you don’t know how much it means to us to have all this done for us.  It is one of the real privellges of Smiling for Smiddy, being taken care of by people who you don’t know going out of their way to help, and that’s what it is all really about.  A community coming together just as we do on the road each day for a common cause.
Tonight Nat Gordon, two time Smiddy Rider from 2011, gave us a moving account of why she decided to do Smiddy.  Nat has lost an Aunty and good friend to Cancer.  It is these things that inspire all of us to push our bodies beyond.  It was hard not to have a tear in your eye listening to Nat’s story, but unfortunately one that is all too common.

Well done to our Jersey Winners
Paula – Inspirational – Paula is not our strongest rider, and over the past month has been laid low with illness.  Despite the set backs to training she showed great courage today and failed to give up when her body was telling her to.  We done Paula fantastic effort and you will be better for the day.

Jarrod – Spent a lot of time selflessly pushing others up the many hills ensuring the bunch stayed together and everyone made it through.  Thanks for your work Jarrod.

Writing this I have Coolie struggling to stay awake, hurrying me to finish so he can proof read and add some of his insights on day one.  But my final word on the night one blog, is for my fellow riders, in particularly the first timers to the 8 day challenge.  When you are out there turning the pedals over, don’t forget to look up, look around, it is easy to focus on the wheel in front and forget where you are.  For most of us, we will never return to the places we’re about to go to, let alone on a bike.  This is a chance to see and experience parts of Queensland that very few do, and speak with people from very different walks of life than us.  People often say there is nothing much out the way we are going, but if you take the opportunity you will see things that you never knew existed, you will meet people who will astound you, and you get the most out of your Smiddy experience.  There are over 4.5mil people in Queensland, only 52 have been given the opportunity to make this wonderful journey.  Experience it, you won’t regret it.
Christian “Killer” Killeen

Thank you to everyone following this inspirational journey of 51 riders and 13 road crew. If you wish to help out by donating towards your favourite rider’s fundraising page please go to or visit the Smiddy website at

Sharky’s OZ 7in7

Four days after the Smiddy Challenge Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy continues his 7 year journey to ride around Australia in 7 stages. If keen to follow Sharky and seven other Smiddy riders as they ride the 2530 kilometres across the Nullarbor in the 5th edition of Sharky’s OZ 7in7 from Esperance to Adelaide, you need to visit or sign up for automatic updates at Sharky’s Blog

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