Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bottlemart Sharky's OZ 7in7 – Day 1 Journal

Written by Sharky

Stats for the day
Course: Esperance to Norseman
Distance: 203km's
Ride Time: 7hrs 13min
Average speed: 28.1
Metres climbed:  753 metres
Temperature min: 9
Temperature max: 25
Wind direction: North (headwind)

Road Kill Count by Craig "Baby Gorilla" Mitchell
6 X Blue Tongue Lizards
8 X Skippy's
1X Snake
1X Big Furry fresh Possum
1X Pheasant
1X Crow
1X UFO (unidentified flat object!)

Meet the 7in7 crew
Welcome to the fifth year of Sharky's OZ 7in7. From humble beginnings back in 2008, when I pushed off from Coolangatta with Scott May and my ever faithful friend and support driver Captain Kevin Enchelmaier, I have managed to cycling in excess of 15,600 kilometres, which has brought me all the way around Australia to our departure point for 2012 in Esperance. Our goal this year; to cycle 2,530 kilometres, make our way across the Nullarbor, and finish in the cycling friendly city of Adelaide. Joining me this year are 7 magnificent Smiddy riders in Johnny Leyshon (JL), Craig Mitchell (Baby Gorilla) don't ask! Tony Ganter, who has today picked up the nickname of 'Tiny Dancer', of which he is extremely happy about, NOT! Raymond Smith (Smithy or Ray Balls). Russell Conway (Russy or Rusty Balls). And two amazing and beautiful ladies in Melissa Spears (Hell Mel) and Anna Tate (Anna Balls). Anna really loves her 7in7 nickname... With 8 riders old Captain Kev was never going to be able to do support on his own, so in stepped Jeff Mitchell, who is the father of Craig Mitchell (Baby Gorilla) and Jeff is affectionately known simply as 'Gorilla'. A huge thanks to these men for coming on board, especially Kev, who has followed my sorry and extremely sore butt around Australia these past 5 years.

The team above all come from an extensive endurance background, except maybe Anna, who has only been riding for a year and has completed the Midi Smiddy of 560 kilometres over 3 days. She more than makes up for her lack of experience in natural ability and unbelievable enthusiasm. I have no doubt she has got what it takes to complete this arduous task she has ahead of her. The rest of the team have completed the 1600 kilometre Challenge from Brisbane to Townsville either once or twice and although tough times are surely ahead, each of them are here to get the job done.

Our first day is our longest day
15 stages over 15 days with no rest days. We all have jobs and families to get back to so this is the best and fastest way to complete the journey ahead. As luck would have it today's stage of 203 kilometres is our longest stage of the entire tour. A lot of the stages come close to 200 but none from today will surpass it. Which is a good thing as riding the 1400 kilometre flat section across the Nullarbor will be mind-bending enough, without throwing in stages over 200 kilometres. So this morning our scheduled roll out time was 6am. This was pushed back to 6:15am thanks to a beautiful young lady called Lauren, who works for the local Esperance Express newspaper and wanted a story and a group photo, of which we were happy to oblige. The highlight of the day for me was when Kevvy invited me to ring the cow bell. The bell that has been in his family for over a hundred years, and has started every single stage of every Smiddy event since 2007. Never do you ask or suggest to ring this bell. It is a great honour to be invited to ring it. And after 7 long years Kevvy suggested I had earned the right to ring it today to signal the start of the 5th stage of the 7in7. It was a great honour and I gladly obliged and rang it with much gusto and enthusiasum. Thank you Kevvy.

The long road ahead
Today's stage gave us some small preludes to what is to come once we high-tail it across the Nullarbor. Long flat sections where the road ahead could be seen for kilometres at a stretch. Smithy measure out our longest straight section of road at 23 kilometres, with many other stretches being in the double digits. All day we rode into what was mostly a head wind, although not strong it was there and although our average speed of 28.1km/h was respectable, it was earned by not soft-pedaling all day. The team of 8 ride 2 abreast and rotate constantly after anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes out the front. Hell Mel, JL and myself are definitely doing smaller turns as the fatigue of riding 1600 kilometres just 4 days ago is still evident in our legs. Occasionally the fresh legs on the non-Challenge riders were tested as they raced each other for anything resembling a 80 or 60km sign. Today was a day where the crew got to really enjoy each other's company and that showed in many ways on the road as the fun and silly times began, as witnessed by a few incidents as mentioned below...
-JL at one stage went for a King of the Mountain stage -which only he knew about- and won comfortably as no-one had any idea what the hell he was doing!

-Rusty Balls definitely wins the award for the most aggressive calling out of "CAR BACK" and "TRUCK UP." The volume was incredible and quite a few times the vehicle at the time swerved in confusion from the voice reverberations magically sounding throughout their cars.

-On another occasion Baby Gorilla yelled out "TRUCK UP", in his booming Gorilla voice, but it turned out to be a bus. The quick witted Tiny Dancer replied; "That's not a truck, that's a Transformer!"

-JL loves to sing and the only songs I know are from Sound of Music. It was with great delight that I drove JL crazy as he was forced to sing along with me, Doe a dear and female dear, Ray a drop of golden sun, me a name, I call myself, far, a long long way to run, Jam, a drink with jam and bread, Sow a needle pulling thread and that will bring me back to doe, doe doe!

-Most chainring marks on the back of a calf was won hands down by the incredibly artistic Anna Balls, who had not 1 but 3 separate chainring marks heavily inscribed into her right calf.

-Joke of the day goes to Rusty Balls when he asked; 'What is a Shitzu?" For the answer you will have to read tomorrow's blog...

The group that rocks
One day on the road and already the games have begun. What an amazing crew we have onboard this year. Ever year has been awesome but the bar just keeps getting raised higher and higher. I keep thinking of how much Kate, Ron and Steve, who did the 7in7 with me last year, would fit in with this group so well. I miss them so much, especially my best mate Ron Steel. Hopefully he is reading this and will make an appearance again for next year.

Honourable mentions

-Marty Anderson and Mike Stubbs of Bottlemart/LMG Western Australia, for taking out the entire team on Monday night in Perth and shouting dinner and drinks. Much appreciated and an awesome welcome for the enthusiastic 7in7 team.

-Ruth Mitchell, who not only drove from Brisbane to Esperance with her husband Jeff to get the 4wd and trailer to the start, but returned the hire bus and trailer back to budget Rentals in Perth for us, after we had used it to get our bikes and gear to Esperance. Ruth will then fly into Adelaide to see us finish and then drive home with Jeff to Brisbane. A huge thank you Ruth from the boys.

-Mark at Clearwater Apartments in Esperance for supplying free accommodation for 2 nights while we sorted our gear for the trip. Thank you kindly Mark, your generosity will not be easily forgotten.

-The 7 who make up team Smiddy 7in7. I asked each of them to raise $5,000 to participate in this journey and they have done me proud. Our collective goal is to raise $50,000 between the 8 of us. So if you are inspired by what we are doing out here please make a donation at our team page for your favourite rider at Thank you.

-Rusty Balls beautiful daughter April turns 8 tomorrow, Friday September 14. The entire 7in7 team wish April a very happy birthday and although you will surely miss your Father, we all know that you are extremely proud of what he is out here achieving.

-Happy birthday for today also to Captain Kevvy's wife Mary. Kevvy tried to call you tonight but reception is not good here in Norseman. Either that or he dialed the wrong number due to a few too many reds to celebrate his first day on the road with Gorilla.

-Thank you to Stephen Flook, Smiddy Challenge rider, who not only just finished this year's ride to Townsville and raised a staggering amount of money- over $8,000, but today donated $200 towards JL's fundraising page, and another $200 towards mine.

Thank you Craig, the owner of the Norseman Bottlemart Hotel Motel, Craig kindly provided free accommodation for the entire team.

Good luck to Bruce and the ladies. Finally a special mention to Bruce and the three ladies from the local school, who are all doing a 100km ride from Forest Range back to Norseman. We wish them all the best as it will be their longest ride ever.

I do hope you have enjoyed our first blog of the trip, we look forward to bringing you many more throughout the next 2 weeks.

Take care guys and to all the Smiddy riders out there reading these blogs I sure am thinking of you all and wishing you were here.


1 comment:

  1. Phew! Day 1 done and dusted...YAY! Have been thinking of you all and what a remarkable feat! Continue to be blown away. Hope there is a soothing 'chain ring balm' packed Ann. How's the menu working? Fingers crossed for 'head wind free' day 2. lynne (tate) xo