Monday, 10 September 2012

Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge – Day 8 Journal

Written by Nat Gordon & Sarah Crealy

Stats for the day
Course: Charters Towers to Townsville
Distance: 165
Average speed: 29.5
Metres climbed:  513 metres
Temperature min: 13
Temperature max: 38
Wind direction: north east

The last dance...

Today we ride together as a group for the last time.  We have 50 people who have come together to ride a silly amount of kilometres from Brisbane to Townsville for all sorts of reasons.  Mainly, because they have been touched by cancer in some way. 

So many people have ridden with so many niggles and injuries and yet have continued to push on... finishing the journey they began... to remember the reasons why they signed up to this challenge in the first place.

When several riders were discussing if they would do this again... most said yes.  This ride has not been a holiday, but it has been awesome.  A shared experience for each of us to remember and honour those people who have led us to this place right now.

Communities have supported us in our endeavour to make our trip and last night was no exception, with the Charters Towers Rotary club feeding the hungry riders and crew with a sensational BBQ. 

Camped under the stars the boys enjoyed their swags for one last night, while the girls were treated to a comfortable bed at the Country Road Motel.

At 5.45am the entire group met for a magnificent BBQ breakfast and well-wishes to send us on our way. Rolling up to the start, the riders were happy to be starting their final day.  Alan however was so excited that the final day had come that he did not manage to clip out from his pedals before coming to a complete stop, finding himself quickly parked on the dewy grass (much to the amusement of the 49 other riders and numerous road crew members who reminded him throughout the day of his rookie error).

The peloton rolled out with a heightened sense of excitement as the anticipation of our Townsville finish loomed over the group.  The misty morning did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm on the eagle eyed windmill and white horse spotting group. As a positive omen a for the day ahead, a magnificent white horse appeared as we crested the hill, much to the delight to the entire white-horse spotting brigade. 

After 7 days of sesnational sunshine the peloton was met with a thick fog as we rolled out of town.   This provided an extra challenge for our guardian angels in the front and rear support vehicles.  However, this did not suppress the momentum of the peloton as the pace was on early, with the anticipation of the roll down the range and run into morning tea (thank you road crew, you’ve looked after us so well, we could not have asked for more).  The group seemed to have an unspoken agreement that today needed to be quick, and the riders seemed to settle in to an unusually quick pace averaging 32km/hr over the 48 kilometres to morning tea.

At morning tea the riders were supplied with an amazing morning tea to see them throughout the day. Once we rolled, the pace was still on, the adrenaline was pumping through the riders, who kept arriving at each stop way before the expected times. At the water stop, the excitement was too much for some with Nick forgetting his helmet, Rowan forgetting that he’d placed his gloves down his jersey, and Sharky misplacing his bike (Kevvy always said not to park your bike on the support cars). 

Before we knew it we knew it we had descended the range and were met with an amazing lunch courtesy of the Woodstock Country Women’s Association and Sucrogen.  More food for a peloton that had only just eaten, and whose call for “getting it done” was paramount.  Some riders commented that today had become an opportunity for the riders to regain some of the weight they have lost over the past few days. Thank you to the CWA ladies for an awesome lunch!

Pushing into a headwind the group continued on for Townsville, the “truck up” calls were soon coming to an end as city life approached.  We were escorted by the local police who ensured we were delivered to the Bottlemart Avenues Hotel in Townsville.  A few sausages, a few more calories!

Back on the bikes, heading to the Strand, the riders became somewhat sentimental, with discussion turning to whether we’d do this ride again.  We agreed it has been an awesome experience shared by all.

Into the Strand and into the arms of many welcoming and cheering family and friends.  Those who have supported us in our endeavour to do something to make a difference.  The riders gathered for the final Smiddy huddle which was lead by Townsville locals Ray and Paula.  The boys where then shaved down by Katrina’s School of Hairdressing (with one unlucky rider having his legs waxed by our very own Sammi Jo). There were many mixed emotions, happy that this was our last day on the bike, our bums will be thanking us, but sad that we will be saying goodbye to the fantastic friends that we have met through this shared journey.

The time rolled past, Kevvy’s whistle went for the last time... minutes back on our bikes we got for the very last time, we rode onto the Mercure. The group, who for the last 8 days didn’t have to worry about traffic lights now had to unclip and clip into their pedals countless times over the final 5kms!

We rolled into the Mercure and all pitched in to help pack the trucks. Watching the team work to get the job done...the swags were aired out and rolled, the support vehicles were emptied and the trucks were then packed, ready to head back to Brisbane. What do we do with our bikes you ask, we pull the bikes apart and pack them away in bike boxes kindly supplied by a local bike shop.

We head off to the reception for our room keys, while waiting the Mercure had a display of beautiful cold drinks at the foyer, which many riders enjoyed, they were so refreshing!

One last function was left for the riders and support crew, but this time it was shared with many of the riders loved ones too.

During the function we had many formalities, Schinders list, well done boys, who serenaded us with the 8 days of road kill count to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas. Stinky Dave gave us the stats, we have burnt off 309 low carb beers for the 8 days. Rowan gave his highlights of the day speech.

David and Maria spoke, they spoke of Sharkys crazy idea of riding to Home Hill in honour of their beautiful son Adam. This crazy idea has now become an annual event that sees many more honouring their loved ones and raising money for cancer research. Maria is thankful the riders have made it safely to Townsville. But the riders are thankful to have David and Maria on board, they are inspirational, they are two beautiful and generous people that give so much to this event.

Each night a rider shares their story, this night it saw Alan give his heart felt speech about his father and lovely wife. 1600kms really is nothing compared to what those with cancer go through, it is their strength we think about when our bums are hurting or the niggles flare up. Thank you Alan for sharing your story!

The formalities were over, many went to bed, but there were still many of us hanging around sharing a few drinks and stories.

Eight days ago we were thinking what have we got ourselves into. But now day eight has rolled through, it is a bitter sweet end. Friendships have been formed, but now our journey has come to an end. Thank you to all the riders and crew for an awesome eight days, and thank you to our supporters, you have helped us get through this crazy yet worthwhile challenge.

Creals and Nat
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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