Wednesday, 5 September 2012

2012 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge, Day 5

Stats for the day – By David Colahan
Course: Blackwater to Clermont
Distance: 190.1km
Average speed: 28.4km/h
Metres climbed: 987m
Temperature min: 3C
Temperature max: 37C
Wind direction: In our faces
Number of Photos: Too many
Day 5 - Blackwater to Clermont by Smiddy Road Crew
The day began for our enigmatic road crew member (and surrogate mother to all) – Maria Smiddy, with taking our injured Smiddy rider, Simon Anthonisz back to the hospital for his final check up following yesterdays fall.  Luckily Simon was given the all clear and was back on the bike to join the peloton at morning tea.  Great work Simon, we’re really proud. 
It was an emotional start to the morning with a few additional members added to the road crew being our injured riders.  The roll out of Blackwater at 6.30am saw a lighter Smiddy peloton hit the road with a noticeable absence of some of our strongest members.  However we were lucky enough to have 5 BMA riders join the group from Blackwater. 
A great big thank you goes out to our local hosts, Don & Lee Forbes, who arose early to see the riders enjoy the most delicious and satisfying breakfast at Village on Blain.  Don and Lee have provided outstanding hospitality at no charge for the Smiddy riders for the last six years, and this year was no exception.  Don joined the peloton at the ride out, and for the first time since Smiddy has been visiting the community, we bypassed an age old tradition of Don ringing the cow bell on ride out.  This honour was instead bestowed upon Nathan Barden, one of our injured riders from the previous day – who was devastated not to be joining the group on the road for the first morning since departing Brisbane. 
Meanwhile, our Laundromat extraordinaire’s Kay Smoothy and Sue Fergus went ahead to Emerald to start the gruelling and long winded task of the entire team’s laundry.  Fortunately for the extended Smiddy family, Sue and Kay were on the ball and realised that the plumber had in fact connected the machines incorrectly and what they thought were a cold load was incredibly hot.  For those of you who may not have realised, lycra does not respond well to heat and had the ladies not realised we may have had some scantily clad riders on the road for the next few days. 
On the road and under the guidance and watchful eye of the local Emerald police officer, Sergeant Brad Weeks from just outside of Blackwater, the peloton formed a spectacular three abreast peloton for the roll in to Dennison State School and over 100 excited students.  We would like to extend our most sincere thank you to Sergeant Brad for his amazing assistance out on the road and keeping our guys and girls safe. 
Principal Paul (rider Paul Mitchell) again demonstrated his outstanding presentation skills and educated the students of Emerald’s Denison State School with a strong sun safety message.  Silence fell upon the students when Principal Paul presented the destroyed helmet that Simon was wearing during his crash from yesterday.  Albeit a sombre note, many of the children sat up and took great notice of this important message.  The kids then had lots of fun in painting six of our riders with zinc faces to help to protect them in the sun for the day. 
After the school visit, and perhaps with some inflated confidence from the enthusiastic school students, both Nathan and Simon decided it was time to join the peloton again on the road.  This was of course following some work of our magic handed bike mechanic, Jimmy, who managed to repair the guy’s bikes in minimal time.  Where would we be without Jimmy.  The other riders welcomed them back to the peloton with open arms and much relief.
Onward from the school, the riders rode to Hitachi head office where they were greeted with a scrumptious morning tea.  The road crew kicked up their heels and let the wonderful staff at Hitachi provide some mouth watering treats for the riders, all provided courtesy of Hitachi again this year. 
The trip between morning tea and lunch saw the riders tackle a tough head wind and increasing temperatures.  All riders were most relieved to reach Capella in good time to be greeted by the cheerful faces of the road crew and a mountain of food to consume, which was kindly donated by Village on Blain.  Sharky couldn’t find his day bag at lunch time and was most distressed, until he ran straight in to it at 7”3, hanging from an overhead branch of a tree.  A little surprise from our honorary road crew member Jarrod Covey. 
Sammi-Jo was hard at work (again) under the shade of a tree repairing many ailments from sore riders.  Sammi-Jo was also experiencing a waiting room that would make any practitioner green with envy.  (Like Geevsy’s car but we’ll get to that later)  The Smiddy spirit was felt all day on the road, with many hugs and words of encouragement exchanged however this time coming from the riders and directed towards the road crew members.  We were all feeling very loved. 
Captain Kevvy maintains that when he started with Smiddy, he had a full head of luscious brown hair but has since turned in to the magnificent silver fox he is today following the many ‘5 minute whistles’.  As Kevvy’s assistant today, Peter Knight has wrapped up day 5 with 40 new grey hairs, now having a full appreciation how immensely difficult it is to motivate 50 riders to get on their bikes when the whistle blows, not in 10 or 15 minutes time.  The stress was so much for Pete, that when given the task of introducing Sergeant Tim Nelson to the Smiddy peloton he mistook Geevsy’s distinctive black Toyota Landcruiser for dark green.  All road crew members on channel looked at each other and had a little giggle at Peter’s mistake.  Despite the case of mistaken identity, Sergeant Tim escorted the peloton to Clermont safely.  Thanks Sergeant Tim. 
The road crew, ahead of the peloton and already in Clermont, were busy organising the tired riders bags and personal items for the night ahead.  The daily regime of unpacking all the overnight and day bags, sorting washing and distributing thank you cards for the rider’s billets was completed as competently and quickly as a well oiled machine. 
“I think I can, I think I can...” This was the motto that greeted the riders on the outskirts of Clermont.  Little did they realise they were in fact riding with a local Clermont celebrity in Scotty Fraser, who’s face and name adorned nearly every guide post for at least 5km’s on the run in to town.  It all became quite apparent on their arrival in to Clermont when several supporters were spotted wearing ‘Scotty’ masks.  The riders were also cheered in to Clermont with many kids lining the streets with balloons and signs of support.  Rounding the corner in to the Commercial Hotel, local publican and Smiddy supporter, Marie Vine turned on the Clermont hospitality with plates of sandwiches, fruit and hot snacks.  The afternoon treats were received well by the group, and was washed down with a cold glass of beer, or soft drink for those not in the mood. 
The atmosphere was one of triumph and frivolity, which continued well in to the evening function which saw 175 guests come together and support Smiling for Smiddy.   ‘Stan the Man’ aka Stan New, addressed the function this evening and spoke about the loss of both his brother and sister to cancers.  Many people were moved by Stan’s words, and his motivations for being a part of the Smiddy ride; to find a cure for cancer for future generations to come.   This inspired the crowd to bid spiritedly on auction items, which raised over $6000.  The Smiddy spirit was particularly felt by the group tonight, with riders and road crew bonding further as a family and creating lasting relationships with the beautiful community members of Clermont.  A special thank you from all of us is extended to Hazel Mayes, Marie Vine and Danielle Tarry for their assistance in coordinating our visit to Clermont.  Without these ladies, we are sure that our Clermont visits simply would not be the same.  We are so looking forward to visiting again next year. 
The jersey’s tonight were presented with a bit of a twist, and Sharky bending the rules. The spirit jersey this evening was presented to not one, but two riders in Nathan Barden and Simon Anthonisz.  Nathan and Simon were our riders who had to be attended to at the Blackwater hospital following their tumble off the bike yesterday afternoon.  As previously mentioned, both guys were back on their bikes at morning tea, and all of us were in awe of their courage and determination.  Well deserved guys. 
Nat Gordon was granted the award of the teamwork jersey this evening for her outstanding contribution in the peloton, and loud calls of anything and everything that the group may need to be aware of.  Well done Nat.
A quick mention for road crew member Jess Ebelt, who experienced a bit of a tough day today in missing her dear friend ‘Aunty Pammy’s’ funeral who lost her long battle with breast cancer just last week.  The group’s thoughts were with Jess as a few tears were shed throughout the day and around the time of the service back at home.  A poignant reminder as to why we are all here and tackling this challenge.
As for the road crew, it is now 11.32pm, Sammi-Jo is massaging a very tired Jimmy, Geevsy is soundly asleep and snoring contentedly whilst the rest of us huddle under blankets and try to succinctly wrap the day’s events. We are now off to bed, as we have yet another early start but we hope you’ve enjoyed reading a day about the life of the road crew. 

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