Monday, 17 September 2012


Written by John Leyshon

Stats for the day by Raymond “Georgina” Smith
Course:Caiguna to Madura
Distance: 156.513 kms
Ride Time:6 hours 34 min 58 sec 21/100th
Average speed:23.8km/h
Metres climbed:512.371 metres
Min Elevation:48 metres
Temperature min:282.2 Kelvin
Temperature max:78.4 Degrees Fahrenheit
Wind direction:Straight on the snoz – Dead East (blustery headwind gusting to 40+km/hr)
Longest straight stretch of road: 6.4km early in the day – in the first 6.7km
Corners in total – a plethora

Road Kill Count by Craig “Baby Gorilla” Mitchell
625 x Skippy’s
1 x Crow
x Snake
x Emu
x Eagles
x Blue Tongue Lizard
1 x Parrot – that parrot looks dead. It’s just a little bit sick
1 x Galah
1 x Cat – sadly out of its depth
4 x Rabbits
1 x Pheasant
10 x UFO (unidentified flat object!)

Honourable Mentions
1 x live snake
40 x temporarily alive kangaroos
1 x live dingo
1 x flock of galahs
8 delirious Smiddy Riders

We woke up this morning in our digs at Caiguna where for $20 per head we got a room for the night. Thanks so much to the Road House owners there for giving us a special rate. Ray went the extra yard early this morning and was bustling around themen’s toilet block talking to grey nomads whilst in the buff trying to drum up some donations.

After a restless night, the Big Gorilla, aka the Siberian Bear Hunter revealed to us that he doesn’t actually sleep at night. He actually just lies there throwing off mating calls into the night – long loud mating calls sometimes mistaken for actual human snoring.

After breakfast we rolled out at 7am and about 200m down the road we entered the zone known as……the central western time zone. I didn’t even know it existed. But apparently it stole 45 minutes of our lives and it has taken us 46 minutes to ride 300m. This was going to be a loooong day.

There are always a couple of bets on about the yellow room. The yellow room is the place firstly invented by fellow Smiddy Rider and legend bloke David Colahan. When you’ve drunk too much and you pushed off without that last minute sneaky wee, the foundations are in place for construction of the yellow room. Over a period of sometimes minutes, the walls of the yellow room are built. There are no windows and sometimes only one door – with a deadbolt and padlock on the outside. Sharky builds a yellow room faster than any bloke I know. Tony Ganter is a solid builder and Mel is surprisingly good at the finer points of construction.

Today Sharky called for the yellow room at 7.5km and we pushed through to 9.95km although Sharky pulled up 30m earlier than the rest of us through shear desperation.Sharky lost the bet…again. What it is – Day 4 and Sharky is 4 for 4.

There was a bit of near miss on the bikes today. Tony Ganter speared Mel off the road and onto the dirt in a vain attempt to be the Lone Survivor. You see there are 8 of us, and we have been riding in a 2 x 4 format for 700km now. Tony admitted that numbers aren’t his strength, and when there was 4 riders left in his side of the peleton he figured it was time to just move across into the left hand line. Only problem was that Mel was holding court in her lane but poor Mel was no match for a protein enriched Tony. She was forced onto the shoulder, dropped onto the side of the road, bunny hopped a rabbit and then with an air of confidence/trepidation cruised back onto the black top to rejoin.

“Baby Gorilla” is channelling the Great Andy Schindler with the biggest road kill count for any Smiddy day - ever.

….and we thought yesterday the Baby Gorilla was under the pump. It was a great Captain’s knock of 160 Skippy’s with a broken bell so Raymondo was Duputised due to his excellent windmill spotting capabilities. Well, today, the Baby G had a good day and a bit of a bad day. The road count was so voluminous that he actually got blisters on his thumb from dinging his brand new bell so often. Couple of stats during the 625 skippy count. That equates to 4 per km but it was during a 15km stage after this morning’s stop at the yellow room that he knocked up his first ton after only 25.2km and 1h 3m at the crease. Sharkman commented that it was the stinkiest bit of road he’d ever been on. Ray was seen constantly pointing in various fashions to not only entertain the peleton but keep the Baby G on his toes.

Leading into the first planned stop of the day, my constant running nose made it’s way onto Mel’s sunnies and at the 38km mark there was 176 skippies on the board. The morning had started off looking a bit ominous – there looked to be rain in them there flats but by 8:30am it was cloudless day. The heat of the day had Ray give birth to bouncing baby wind jacket – but who was the father?

The wind was really firing up now and two sets of bikes got blown over in the mêlée. Hitting the road again for the 15km stretch o Cocklebiddy, we were strating to slowly lose our minds in the wind. Rusty had the idea to give light shoulder massages to each of us on the way past while we rotated around in the bunch and this quickly disintegrated into faux magpie swoops as he pecked at our helmets.

Coming into Cocklebiddy for morning tea at 65km we had an opportunity to get coffee but their machine was broken so for $3.50 we could make ourselves an International Roast Half Cap Double Decaf Latte with a twist of lime, or a Truckacino, whichever took our fancy.

We devised a plan to get through the remaining 90km – dividing it into 15km stretches with Lunch after 102km. Coming into the next drink stop absolutely nothing happened although 3km out of the drink stop we saw a dead snake followed closely by a BIG live snake. It stopped on the road and almost reared at us before deciding to get off the road.

At lunch Mel and Sharky released the latest versions of their Powernap Software. Sharky had the open mouth add-in and I said I’d put $10 on Baby G’s donations page if he touched him on the tongue. He wouldn’t do it because of the multiple rows of shark teeth and the effect the bite would have on his ability to ding the bell.

Tony Ganter mentioned the wind as something that if you were going somewhere on a particular day, you’d just say, stuff that, I’m going in the other direction. Someone else mentioned today was the ultimate wind training session. Lots of work for very little result.

“A duck walks up to a lemonade stand…”

Singing is a great measure of how the peleton is feeling. There’s 5 singers in the group and we have a great little ditty about a duck who walked into a lemonade stand – do do do do do. Someone only needs mention it and the rest of the group fills in the rest of the song. This afternoon there was little or no singing. It wasn’t much fun and we really did battle to get to the end in the wind.

One of the saving graces for me personally this week is the quality of the kit provided through a friend of Rusty’s. The kits are Zannox brand and they’re the latest gear from Europe. The look great and with the event logos emblazoned on them and Sharky made a comment today that its awesome to have his name on a cycling kit. They’re definitely the best kit I’ve ever ridden with and over 4 days with 730km in the legs, they’ve performed beyond my expectation.

When the winds really fired up this afternoon, the group proved what a close knit team we had become. We had a blustery 45 degree head wind – to about 30km/hr. If it was a straight head wind, each of us would take our turns, with those of us who were hurting taking a shorter turn. But because of the 45 degree head wind, we had a side getting smashed around. Enter the echelon. The echelon occurs naturally as the rider behind tucks in at a slight angle. We had two lines of echelons at one stage. At another stage we had riders all over the road in what looked like a rabble but generally we had echelons. One thing we all learned about today was echelons. How to say it. What they were. We made sweet sweet echelons as a group. I just love the word echelon. Say it with me – echelon. Say it slowly and it sounds a bit naughty.

At around 3:47:28 this afternoon, Shaky finally admitted that he loved us guys. With Day 4 almost done and 700km on the clock and yes I know, grammatically incorrect but I know there are fellow Smiddy riders reading this who know that the “I love you guys” is such a rare beast that when it reveals itself, it’s kind of special, as opposed to Sharky revealing himself which is like the sun shining or the moon rising or - <insert frequent event here>.

We rolled onto Madura Lookout and the first look at the Nullarbor Basin. It’s vast – and about 7 days of riding. Vast. We then scored our first and last downhill for the next 7 days. We got into Madura Roadhouse at around 5:30pm and the decision was to stay in rooms for a Kevvy negotiated rate. Great work again Kevvy.

I asked each of the team what their favourite part of the day was:-

Baby G – chasing live kangaroos in the early morning post yellow room. They were bounding alongside us and veering towards the road, then away again. One broke free and the Little Gorilla sprinted after it for about 300m before it darted across the road and off across the plain.

Ray – The downhill. He smashed it and then cornered into the roadhouse like he was on rails. Got up to 66km/hr – pa!!

Mel – the Powernap at lunchtime.

Kevvy – the best thing was that he stayed awake all day. That was his goal. Nailed it Kevvy !!

Anna – 4 days of riding is her best back to back effort. Bit of an unknown today she is riding strong.

Rusty – how the team dug deep and pulled each other through in the last 40-50km of cross and head winds.

Sharky – today Sharky got a surprise from his mates Michael and Cathy. They knew Sharky was coming across the Nullarbor for the 7-in-7 and left a message on a tree along with many varied hats.

Gorilla – his long range fuel tanks – so the best thing for Gorilla again today was his Supercharged FJ Cruiser….or Jeep as Anna calls it.

JL – my best thing for today was having the honour of Sharky asking me to pen this blog. I kept making little voice memos through the day of the quirky things that amused me. Replaying them tonight with the Baby G was hilarious. Having a chance to share my view of the day of it is a real privilige.

1 comment:

  1. Hi All....Great read. 625 'roos....that's incredible! Thanks for sharing the Yellow Room and don't quite get the echelon, but agree, like the sound. Fingers' crossed for head wind 'break' day 5. Mammoth effort! Safe riding....lynne xo