Friday, 5 October 2012


Sorry for the delay in getting this last blog out, hopefully it comes as a bit of a bonus as we all drift back to our normal lives

Five year's done and dusted with the completion of the stage into Adelaide. Last night the group got together -sadly for the last time- for the final journal reading that Tiny and Baby G put together on the last day of the tour. Kevvy presented each rider with a certificate of crossing the infamous Nullarbor, and Tiny presented Jeff and Kevvy with gifts on behalf of the riders. Today, Saturday September 29, we lost Ray as he heads home to his family in Dysart, Tiny to his family in Brisbane, Jeff and his wife Ruth on their long drive back to Brisbane. This morning Mel, Tiny and I had a run by the seaside at Glenelg and the wind was so strong and cold that we were grateful not to be on the bikes. The remainder of the gang were smart and still fast asleep but we all regrouped at 9am for a final breakfast.

The slow departure of my mates, on first the Challenge event, and then the 7in7, always feels not quite right, like knowing that your best friend is moving to another city... I know it happens each year but that does not mean I have to like it... Once again, as the reality of the real world starts to creep in, my heart aches for my mates to stay by my side. I know this is not possible, so the memories I have, sustain the embers that are responsible for igniting the passion within my heart. I look forward to a complete heart-start -hopefully with the same crew- when the 2013 7in7 begins.

As a final wrap to close this year's 7in7 event I have asked all the crew to write 200 words on anything they wish to write about on their experiences over the past 2 weeks. By the time you read this the rest of the crew will have separated and gone their own way. All the crew back home, recounting stories with love one's, content, knowing that our acts have inspired a few people, and possibly helped to save a life in the near future. I am so proud of my crew and my subject is people and these are my words to get the ball rolling.

First and foremost are the 7 riders. Thanks to these exceptional human beings I now have stored in my memory banks a lifetime of memories from just 15 days of spending 24 hours a day with them. I consider myself exceptionally lucky to be in a position where, through organising and participating in Smiddy events, I get to share the inner most workings of a persons psyche. In endurance events you get to witness the core of a human being's soul -and may I add- that the souls of Taser, Tiny, JL, Baby G, Rusty, Hell Mel and Radar Ray are exceptional to the point of divine! The words 'I love you' are used often these days in this modern era, and isn't that a great thing? But please know that when I say it to my crew I truly mean it from the depths of my heart.

Jeff 'Gorilla' Mitchell you are a dead set legend mate. On board this journey because of your Son Baby G. Finished this journey having adopted 5 more sons, 2 daughters and 1 grandfather in Captain Kev. You care so much for other people and show it in so many ways. Time now my friend for you to care about you! Love you mate.

Captain Kev. What can I say? 5 years now we have circumnavigated Australia together, each year with a different team, but always there is you and I. The respect I have for you my friend knows no limits. 2 years to go mate, 2015 is your year off, then 2016 our next adventure begins...? When I try to put in words what you have done for me over the past 5 years I waiver. Words can't describe the kindness and sacrifice that you display year after year. So mate all I can offer is my humble thanks and my friendship for life.

To family, friends, supporters, donors and work colleagues; so many of you over the years have offered help in so many different ways. It does not matter the way in which you have shown it, but have shown it because it matters to you. In other words you care enough to be involved in your own way via a donation, a helping hand, words of encouragement, a phone call, your friendship, your love. All are equal and all are appreciated. Thank you for daring to believe in the dream that started with the passing of my mate Adam Smiddy. The dream to one day rid this world of a senseless disease that takes so many love ones from us each and every day.

With deepest apologies to the rest of the team I will now hand you over to the rest of the crew. I have been extremely naughty and gone over my 200 word limit by quite a few hundred. So much by leading by example! Please dear friends and supporters do enjoy the rest of the words written by 9 extremely important people from this year's 7in7.

From the priceless man himself I give you Rusty's words
WOWSERS (thanks Tom), 15 days on a bike... 2530km's... Approx 91 hours with both feet locked to the peddles... Who'd have thought hey...

In 2010 I watched a Smiling for Smiddy DVD and was drawn to the softy spoken, incredibly genuine and all inspiring Mark "Sharky" Smoothy. Looking for a challenge, I signed up for the 1600km journey from Brisbane to Townsville in September 2011. As a result of the life long friendships made and Sharky's unique talent identification program, I agreed to partake in this years 7 in 7 ride.  

The last 2 years have possibly been the best of my life, a major part of this has flowed from that one decision to take part in my first Smiling for Smiddy event. The sense of achievement, self improvement, great friendships and love of cycling are just a few of the wonderful things that have come from all of this. The icing on the cake is knowing you are making a difference to others through the money donated by all the amazing supporters. Keep up the great work Dr Bruce Banner & Edna "E" Mode. 

As a parent of 2 young children I've loved watching my kids get a lot out of witnessing and being involved in my Smiddy journey, it's humbling to feel like a positive role model to the people you care about the most.

Before I sign off I would like to ask a favor. On the 2011 challenge ride I met a man who I found quite intimidating, I wrongly mistook his steely focus for less flattering character traits. This year on the Warwick training weekend I got to know him a little better and really enjoyed his company both on and off the bike. Over the past few weeks I have witness, and been the recipient of his incredible acts of generosity, listened as he has selflessly parted with his knowledge, shared his amazing bike riding skills and cried tears of laughter due to his wicked sense of humor. My respect for this man is through the roof, and because of this I would like to ask everyone to reserve the right to use his new nickname, Tiny Dancer, for his Smiling for Smiddy friends, good mates and close family. Mr Tony Ganter you're a good man and I look forward to the next time we ride together, even though I know it's going to hurt.

To my other 7 in 7 team mates, thank you so much for everything you have brought to this journey. The groups collective personalities have made the right ingredients for the perfect slice of exceptional experience, both on and off the bike. A special mention to my "half brother" Ray (Pinky Swear) Smith, who is so precocious and full of wonderment. Shake and Bake Baby... Shake and Bake. 

Luv yous all,


Tiny Dancer's final dance is a beauty!
These 15 days of cycling and self-discovery have been utterly enjoyable and certainly this ride was always an irresistible ‘bucket list’ item for me. When the opportunity presented itself to join Mark on this journey I was immediately ‘locked and loaded’. My sincere gratitude is extended to my beautiful wife Debbie who is my rock. Without her manning the extended responsibilities of our family life there is no way I could have taken the time away from home life for the period of 3 weeks and participated in this once in a lifetime experience. So thanks Deb.

Mark ‘Sharky Smoothy’ is indeed a unique individual and the world is a better place for having him in it. His unique character is reflected in the very nature of all Smiling for Smiddy events. It is just magnified in the 7 in 7 events. There is a plethora of cycling fundraisers out there but none possess the depth of character that Smiddy events embrace. This is because they lack the passion and raw honesty and emotion that Mark brings to the equation in his, own pursuit of living life and honouring the memory of a lost mate.

My 3 weeks with 9 other remarkable people has been uplifting and unforgettable. At times I feel our community spirit and giving to others without the expectation of something in return can appear to be a lost tradition. Smiddy events however seem to rekindle that custom in the participants and I find this experience really refreshing and a welcome change from my daily existence in the comfortable suburban life of Brisbane. Thanks to all the riders and extended support crew I have had a blast.
‘Tiny Dancer’ out.

Hell Mel's beautiful words
Today is Day 16.  It sounds so right to call it by its numerical marker rather than Friday, but yet not quite right. You see there is only 15 days of this chapter and as I realise this I wonder if it’s possible to go back to day 1.

Today is the first morning off the bike after our epic journey travelling 2530km – that’s a long way. Rusty and Ray are off doing the washing with Rustys two girls, the rest of the 7 in 7 team are still tucked up in their beds.

While my stomach dutifully woke me up at the scheduled time of 5.30, which I was able to ignore until 7am. This morning is the first morning I am by myself and as I walk to the coffee shop for my first caffeine hit of the day my mind seemingly for the first time truly, seriously acknowledges the enormity of the last couple of weeks and months.

To be given the opportunity to live a chapter like these last few weeks has been like a special blend of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven. It's been a fantastic adventure, with a great bunch of friends, in an awe-inspiring environment.  
So my special friend that reminds me of perspective, please keep reminding me. Because without those that ride beside, in front and behind; those that pour water, take discarded gear and hand out muesli bars; those that hug, smile, wave and yell a cheer of support; those that donate, email, text and message from home; those that roll their eyes yet love us just the same; our kids that reflect pride, excitement and understanding; and those that endure the all consuming training schedules and regimes.  Without you, the book really is nothing.



Baby G's awesome words
It’s Not About The Bike - Lance Armstrong’s autobiography title sums it up perfectly for me. After cycling 2500kms the past 15 days have proven it more than ever. It’s about the camaraderie and the experiences we shared!

The tiresome days we spent together taking turns smashing ourselves into the relentless headwinds and protecting the other riders, the way it forged a strong bond evident in our post ride hugs, our spirits lifted ready to fight again through the next day. The pure joy, excitement and elation we all shared on the day the tailwinds pushed us along, our dues repaid. The most inspiring moment of all was when at the crossroads 14km from Coffin Bay, already 12km past our planned end of day, tired, weary and about to be beaten, the way we worked efficiently and effectively as a team to arrive in Port Lincoln safely, with daylight to spare, warm showers and beds organised by the road crew. “How good are we?” These will be my treasured memories from this journey, much more than any 60 sign sprint or personal cycling achievement. There is no Strava segment for what we achieved together but we’re all KOM.

I accepted the invitation to take part in this journey for the opportunity to immerse myself with nine other amazing individuals. You are all inspiring and have admirable qualities of human spirit and kindness I aspire to in my life. Goodbyes are so hard, especially to Ray and Rusty who are so far from home, and I look forward to any opportunity to catch up with you both and the other members of this invincible team we have created  – bikes not necessary.

From Anna machine 'Taser' Tate
It's hard to capture in words how I feel about the ride. Just 3 days after its completion and it already feels like a lifetime ago. It obviously hasn't sunk in completely as I keep waking in the night after hearing Kevy's whistle in my dream. I am not going to lie, there is a fair bit of relief when I realise that it's just a dream and I don't need to get back on my bike just yet.
I feel incredibly proud of what we have achieved and after hearing the stories from people we met along the way, visiting the Flinders Centre and becoming even closer to my mate Karen I am even more inspired to continue to do my bit to support the fight against cancer.
I have received some incredible support both before and during the ride for which I am extremely grateful.  I would particularly like to thank my family.  Without their support I could not have even started this challenge. My dad Rod, my mum Lynne, Kirsty, Sarah and Mick; you guys mean the world to me.
I also want to thank Sharky for not only inviting me on this adventure, but for inspiring me in his quiet and humble way to live life to the fullest, to see the good in all and to always remember that life is not a dress rehearsal, this is it, we have to live it.

And now onto the big man himself in JL.
It's now four days since we finished the ride. I deliberately enjoyed the full experience of the event including the three days after before penning this. My initial thoughts were of sadness that we weren't still on the road. Happiness that I didn't have to get up for a 6:30am rollout. Sadness that a month of cycling was done and the bubble was about to burst. Happiness that a month of cycling was done.

In the days since those mixed emotions, I've realised that I didn't actually ride for a month in a bubble. The experience was absolutely real and not without its personal challenges. It was at times exhilarating, exhausting, stunning, surprising, demoralising, thought provoking, internal, beautiful, challenging, relaxing, stressful.

It ebbed and flowed between emotions, sometimes within the time frame of as little as an hour. I was supported through some of my darker times by other riders, or Kevvy and Jeff, in a way that perhaps they didn't even realise at the time. A sneaky hug or some harsh words to snap me out of a series of thoughts that were bringing me down.

There were four or five experiences which were in my top 10 all time cycling experiences, including my top two best ever cycling experiences.

The experience was the 10 of us. It was our way. Each member brought something unique and special to the group; gave me some life long memories, both individually and with me.

In looking back at the 20 days, it was an incredibly positive experience which turned up at precisely the right time in my life. I'll never forget what it gave me and will continue to give.

Thank you Sharky for sharing this part of your life with me. It was an absolute pleasure.

To Kevvy and Jeff. Without you two this wouldn't have happened. You're both Super Stars.

In conclusion, Sharky said because I ramble on a bit, could I please keep it to exactly 200 words. I will honour that and with my final words will say that without doubt, the absolute best part of the journey across the Nullarbor was when Sharky took off his knicks in Nundroo and.....

Under the Radar Ray comes out of his shell to delivers these heartfelt words.
These 15 days of cycling,how in the world does a person capture the 3 weeks? First of all recognition goes to my beautiful wife (Amanda) & family back home in Dysart. My part of the journey was simple and easy compared with what was dealt to her. Looking after 3 young children with no support network, stuck in a small isolated town. Amanda is incredibly strong in all facets of life, she is my best friend and without her support throughout those 3 weeks, the ride for me would not have happened. All of my thanks and love go to her for allowing me to take on this incredible journey.

Secondly I would like to Thank Mark ‘Sharky' Smoothy for inviting me to join him in his personal journey around the Australian Coastline. He is a remarkable man in his endeavours in raising awareness and funds towards a cure for cancer and in memory of his mate Adam Smiddy. I have been lucky enough (twice before) to join Mark in larger groups, but nothing has captured what was encountered across the Nullarbor. Thanks Again Sharkman.

One last thing before I sign off, thanks to our awesome road crew (Kev and Jeff) aka Statler and Waldorf (The Muppets), and also thanks to the other 7 riders who swapped out some big turns when faced with some strong headwinds for the sum of 899km.
Ray "Under the Radar" Smith

Well that's it for another year in the 7in7 ride around Australia. Thank you to all the riders for their heartfelt words. Old Captain Kev was meant to pen a few words but the allure of a bottle of red and some quality time with his wife Mary has been a powerful deterrent. I know what he would have said anyway; "Sharky you are one crazy 'bartender' and 5 years in and with 2 years to go I am going to see this crazy venture through."

Well thanks Old Captain for those fine words. Thanks for only getting cranky at me 10 times on this trip old mate!

Until my next Sharky/Smiddy adventure, thank you once again to all you guys reading this who supported the crew from start to finish. Our hearts go out to you all.

Take care.


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