Wednesday, 27 February 2013


North Ryde to Norah Head

Statistics for the day

Distance: 154
Average speed 24.6kmph
Maximum speed: 67.5 kmph
Elevation climbed: 2200metres
Riding time: 6:17:00
Min Temp: 20 Degrees
Max Temp: 34.5 Degrees

A course to test the toughest
Welcome to the first Smiddy event for 2013 and the third annual running of the NSW Smiddy Challenge. This popular corporate ride for suppliers of Liquor Marketing Group and Bottlemart (our naming rights sponsor for the Smiddy Challenge ride from Brisbane to Townsville) consists of four days of action packed riding, over a course that involves close to 10,000 vertical metres of climbing, (as a comparison Mt Everest stands at 8848 metres) and 600 kilometres of guaranteed-pain-induced scenic terrain. This extremely demanding course will not only leave the riders breathless as they huff and puff up the seemingly endless array of hills and mountains, but the tranquil beauty of the course will have a lasting impact on the grey matter between the ears. Also known as the brain! The team at Smiling for Smiddy are represented by my good friend Rowan Foster and old faithful Captain Kev, who is lining up for his seventh year as a Smiddy volunteer and responsible for keeping the riders safe as he drives the rear support vehicle. We are indeed very fortunate to have Kevvy on board and I will continue to tell the world of this fact until the day I die.

Let's get to know the riders...
The ride today began from North Ryde at the head office of LMG at seven-am and our destination for the day was the seaside town of Norah Head. A huge thank you to the LMG team who put on breakfast for the 37 intrepid and slightly nervous cyclists. Throughout the next four days we would leave the bustling and noisy streets of Sydney behind us and enjoy, it-does-not get-better-than-this journeys, through the Central Coast and Hunter Valley regions. The breakdown of the riders this year is ten from, I was going to say sunny Queensland, but cloudy and rainy Queensland is a more accurate description right now as we receive another drenching from yet another mind-blowing low sitting over the Sunshine State. For the first time we have one rider flying the solo flag from Victoria in Damien Kaehler. Also three riders from Western Australia in Lynton Barber, Ross Hancock and our oldest but spriteliest rider in Mr Brian Roberts, who now officially holds the record as the oldest Smiddy rider ever to participate in a Smiddy event at 77 years of age. The remaining 30 riders come from this beautiful state of NSW and includes two ladies in Lee Mackie and Emma Bidstrup. At the moment NSW is my most favourite state in the whole world due to the fact that it rewarded the Smiddy peloton with a fine day of weather for our first day on the road. To the riders of this year's first Smiddy event I would like to say a sincere thank you for signing up to this event and for the amazing job you are doing with helping us to raise valuable funds for cancer research. The riders have already amassed a staggering amount of over $65,000 and we still have our big fundraising extravaganza on Thursday evening at the Crowne Plaza in the Hunter Valley, where 150 guests will be in attendance.

Could not do it without the amazing road crew
Once again the team at LMG have come up with a fantastic array of volunteers to help look after the weary and hungry riders. I have already mentioned Captain Kev and besides Mike Stubber and Angela Hurley from Western Australia, the following volunteers made up the 13 strong crew. A huge welcome and thank you to the crew mentioned above and the all the New South Wales volunteers in Deb and Gregg Herron, Greg Chapman, Janis Grey, Lynette Cleland, Michelle Franks, Michelle Pelizzari, Marianne Grace, and Richard Honey. Last but not least, a huge thank you to rider/mechanic Gavin Leahy, who for the third year running, will be there fixing up all our mechanical woes, pushing riders back up to the peloton after said mechanicals, pushing a multitude of riders up hills and doing it all with that jovial smile that suggests he is a sucker for a bit of self punishment. On behalf of the riders I extend to you all a hearty welcome and thank you for giving up your precious time to look after our motley and extremely talented band of riders this year. Without you there would be no NSW Smiddy Challenge. Thank you!

Sorry about the long Intro
Well after the longest intro ever into the first day of the NSW Smiddy Challenge I had better give you guys some details of what actually happened out there on the road today.
As I said before, rollout was spot on seven-am; the skyline suggested a hint of warm sun-drenched orange glow, with an ambient temperature of a welcoming 20 degrees. Which was a whole lot better then the drenching we received last year on day one. Spirits were high and the expected good day turned out to be a cracker of a day! This is how it panned out in my highlights of the day segment.

Sharky's Top Ten Highlights of the day

1) Without a doubt the performance of the day goes to 77 year old Brian Roberts from WA. His mate Ross Hancock describes Brian as a Freak. In motoring terms every now and then a motor comes along in a random car that outperforms identical engines, they are not sure why but that motor is described as a freak motor. Brian is a freak cyclist. Not taking up the sport until he was 50 and he took to it like a duck to water and has never looked back. Today he showed the high octane fuel that is running through his veins. Never far from the first few at the front and never getting dropped on any of the climbs. Brian thinks nothing of it, he does it because he loves it, and his 77 year old body does not stand in the way. Super proud of you mate and an absolute joy to have you in the peloton.

2) Road crew member Greg Chapman has always spoilt the riders each year providing bike racks at each of the stops. This year he had another trick up his sleeve when at the first break of the day for morning tea when we stopped at Reptile Park after 73 kilometres, blow and behold there were a few sets of portable benches set up for the riders to sit on. Always a big thing to get to sit on something that is wider than our skinny arsed bike seats! Thanks Chappy, most appreciated by the weary riders.

3) Mark Bayfield is a true inspiration to the group. The guy has joined us for the first time and is doing the ride in honour of his Father, who he lost last year to cancer. Also to a close friend that passed away from cancer two years ago. Mark has raised an astonishing amount of $21,000 for Smiling for Smiddy. Thank you Mark for your enthusiasm, friendship and humble manner in which you approach this ride. We are lucky to have you.

4) Lynton Barber, also from WA, has come into this event the biggest man on tour at 110kg. Today what I witnessed in this bloke is an even bigger heart and a desire to kill himself before he would get in the van. He fought all day and accepted the helping hands as riders helped out with a gentle push on his back. It takes a great man to accept help and be gracious and thankful and I am happy to report that Lynton is such a man. I know he was bitterly disappointed that towards the end of the day that he had to do just a few kilometres of van time, but I know he will bounce back tomorrow and garner further fortitude through his actions today. Super proud of you mate!

5) Lee Mackie has come on board for the third year year in a row. The first two years Lee has always been the rider that has completed the rides thanks to the other riders helping to push Lee up the hills. Well that Lee has taken a vacation and a new Super Women Lee has taken her place. The transformation is astonishing and all came about due to the kilometres logged training for her first Ironman in just four weeks time. I am liking the new and more confident Lee and I am just waiting to see her offer a helping hand on a riders back to complete the Super Women package. Awesome work Lee and always a pleasure to ride with you.

6) Gavin Leahy, our bike mechanic, for fixing three bikes before even leaving the start this morning. Then spending most of the day pushing riders up hills and back onto the peloton. Then at the school, in front of 200 screaming little people, Gavin took on Shane Walsh in a race to change tubes and was the victor by a scant 3 seconds. I believe Gav stretched it out to make Walshy look like he had a chance then robbed him in the blink of an eye! Nice work guys and thank you for entertaining the kids.

7) The school visit today at Chertsey Primary School was a screaming success. As long as the kids get a chance to scream at the top of their lungs then generally whatever we do is deemed a success. A sun safe message was passed down by the principal John Anderson and a donation from the kids of $360,00 was gratefully applauded by the Smiddy crew. The tyre change and the race for seven kids to help dress their seven riders went down well with the victors being Lee Mackie and her team small person.

8) Robert Turner is 66 years of age and just one month ago finished an aggressive radiation therapy for a dangerous skin cancer in his neck. Not happy with this setback he then contracts a raging head cold two days out from the event, but still he lined up for the start with a vow to himself and his wife that he would not being doing any van time. But 100 kilometres into the day, with two quads cramping simultaneously, the decision was made for him. I am pleased to say that Bob redeemed his hurt pride by joining us again after lunch, minus the cramps and finished the remainder of the day intact. Awesome work young Bob!

9) The Man of Steel, Ron Steel from Mackay on the dangerous Dog Trap descent; a spectacular seven kilometre notorious technical stretch that keeps the riders entertained with its '4000'potholes and extremely rough road surface. Now Steely loves to descend, and descend fast! He made his way -very sneaky like- to the front at the safety brief and pushed off behind me when we were let loose. First pothole he nearly disappears into and instantly punctures. At the bottom I have finished and I am only there for less than a minute and Super Steel pulls up with a grin from ear to ear. A quick wheel change and then he timed trailed it to still get down before a third of the field. Legend mate!

10) And finally the big man himself; the CEO of Bottlemart and passionate Smiddy supporter since 2007, Doug Misener, hit cramp camp just prior to morning tea, battled them all the way to lunch, where he was forced off his bike up the final hill before the school and lunch stop. Doug soldiered on after lunch and finished the day with no van time and the self satisfaction of not allowing 17 muscles cramps at once to end his day. He fought a strong battle and won. Nice work old mate.

A finish for a champion field of champions
Well the day finished with the Smiddy huddle, a few celebratory beers, some stretching, kipping, bike and body maintenance, a group barbecue where Bob and Matt Turner were our guest speakers tonight as they shared their stories and battles with cancer. The road crew were superb as usual throughout the day and tonight made sure none of the riders left the barbecue hungry. Rowan Foster did his usual amazing job as front man for spinning a yarn about the antics of a day on the road. I read out my first day journal to the group and in general the crew of 50 riders and road crew have bonded well in just the first 12 hours of togetherness.

Once again it has been a joy for Rowan and I to ride with this extraordinary group of intrepid souls and we look forward to another excellent three days of road time with adventures aplenty.

Please share these blogs with your family and friends and help us to spread the word of these amazing individuals.

Thank you for following our journey and I look forward to sending out another blog tomorrow.

If anyone wishes to send any messages to the riders please feel free to send them to me at and I will read them out at each nights function.

You can make a donation to support the team at

Take care.


1 comment:

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