Sunday, 3 March 2013

2013 NSW SMIDDY CHALLENGE - DAY 4


GOSFORD TO NORTH RYDE - Day 4

Statistics for the day

Distance: 170 km's
Average speed 25.2 kmph
Maximum speed: 77.1 kmph
Elevation climbed: 2800 metres
Riding time: 7:00:33
Min Temp: 14 degrees
Max Temp: 19 degrees

Journal reading each night
In any Smiddy event we try to make everyone feel as if they are an important part of the ride. Regardless of if you are a rider, a road crew member, a supporter or a donor, we are all equal. Without any of us none of this could happen. With the journals, while I might be the one writing them for this ride I feel more comfortable if another person gets to read them out to the group. The journal reading has been an important part of the Smiddy journey since that first year when just the three of us rode to Townsville unassisted with our backpacks for support. Each night I would pen an article and the next night I would read it out to Ron and Ollie, who were two of the original three for that first year' journey. That tradition has carried over to each and every Smiddy event that we run, only now we invite other riders to contribute in the way of either writing a journal, or to have the honour of reading one out. Last night Timmy Dalton and Michelle Franks read out day's two and three journals. My heart went out to both of them as Tim said he was honoured to read it out and Michelle welled up when reading out Maria and David Smiddy's email.

More rain and chattering teeth stories!
Once again the crew awoke to the sight and sounds of more rain, and with a rollout time scheduled for 6:15am it was still dark thanks to an interesting concept here in this wonderful state called Daylight Savings... Apparently it somehow saves daylight, but as it was pitch black on roll out, and the raindrops were tumbling hard on our heads, I could not quite wrap my head around the idea. Anyway it was interesting to note that within five minutes, that even in a state that has this wonderful concept, we still got a good soaking! By day's end we would have ridden a total of two days in rain that refused to stop until a brief respite for lunch today for 30 minutes. Once back on the bikes, within five minutes, we were drenched again. But how good was that lunch break!

Another day of climbing and plenty of help at hand
Today's 170 kilometre route involved plenty of long and tough climbs. About ten kilometres out of Gosford, with just 20 minutes of cold and wet riding in our legs, it was up, instead of down, the infamous Dogtrap Road. Dangerous to descend in the wet and an absolute bitch of a dog to climb with gradients up to 18% throughout parts of the seven-kilometre climb. On the steepest part of the climb I was sitting at the very back of the peloton. It was there that I had a birds eye view of the machinations of the group. On the steepest section I witnessed Gavin as per usual do more than his fair share of pushing, but also Lee "Lethal" Heslehurst had hung back to help out. Let me assure you I was struggling just to climb that Mother of a climb out of the saddle, and here was Gavin and Lee remaining seated and taking turns to push a very grateful Mark Bayfield. I was in awe of their strength! Great work boys.

That wonderful team spirit
Team spirit shone through for the entire day as the stronger riders in the group were always on hand to help out anyone that was struggling on any of the four massive climbs at Wiseman's Ferry Crossing, Galston Gorge, Bobbin Head and Ku-ringai National Park. I mention the stronger riders a lot but please know that it is not that the other riders are weaker; if left to ride any of the four days at their own pace they would surely make each day without a doubt. The pushing and helping allows the peloton to arrive as close to our scheduled time as possible each day. Without this we would be out there a bit too long. The riders that get pushed also deserve a pat on the back; they put their pride aside, thinking of the interest of the peloton which is admired and appreciated by the group in whole.

Don't pay the Ferry Man or Women until you get to the other side!
With all the rain over the past six weeks and again over these past two days, there was serious concern that the ferry crossing would be closed prior to the peloton arriving. Basically if that happened it was game over. Once the decision was made to attempt to get to the ferry we were playing Russian roulette with the ferry man. You see we were in touch with them and they could not guarantee it would be open when we arrived due to the river swelling by the hour. The problem was once committed to that route, it was 50 kilometres in and along a road that dead-ended. Miss that ferry and it was a 50km back-track and a 270km day in the saddle! So four strong boys were put on the front, four on the back, and four in the middle of the peloton. We then rode like a peloton possessed and the pace was on for the remaining 31 kilometres to the Wiseman's Ferry Crossing. Morning tea was reduced to ten minutes and the team rode like a well oiled machine that had been driving through the gears reliably for years on end. Man I have to tell you it was the most exciting part of the entire four days for me. I love seeing what a group of individuals are capable of when working towards a common goal. The group was abuzz when finally we got to the ferry and it was still running. Hey and the funny thing was that the Ferry Man was actually a Ferry Women! And she donated $20! How good is that!

Dedication to Dechlan
Throughout the last few days all the riders and road crew have been signing a Smiddy jersey for a young boy named Dechlan Hegarty. Who is a fellow Smiddy rider's Son; Marty Hegarty has completed the Smiddy Brisbane to Townsville ride and his brother Tony is on this year's NSW Challenge. Young Dechlan is just nine years of age and suffering from a cancer that gets into the spine. The operation to remove the cancer also lost him the use of his legs. As Dechlan and his family battle this hideous life threatening disease, we at Smiddy are dedicated to supporting the boys as much as possible. So for today's final ride and this journal entry, on behalf of the entire team, we would like to dedicate this to you Dechlan. Your Uncle Tony will get the jersey to you real soon, and we hope that you get to wear it and that all the good positive energy flows from it and into your indomitable spirit.

An email from Dechlan's Father Marty Hegarty
"Traffic jams or trudging up a lump in the road. I know where I would rather be. Editors note: (Marty was relating being stuck in traffic on his way to work on a rainy Brisbane day last Thursday)What you are doing is truly inspirational. A whole bunch of people trying to make life outcomes better for people you may not even know. Be proud of yourselves. By doing what you are doing today you may have just saved someones life. We call people who save another persons life a hero in Australia. That is what you all are. And you do it silently. A whole bunch of us out here truly know that you are. Take care, stay safe and a hand on the back in true Smiddy fashion."

Bring on that finish
The group rolled into the head office of LMG at North Ryde, lead in by our two inspirational ladies in Lee and Emma, who incidentally completed the entire ride with no van time and never requiring any assistance. Beside them were our two oldest riders in Bob Turner at 66 and Brian Roberts at 77. I am pleased to report they did a fine job of leading the peloton into the finish. Although a misread final traffic light just 400 metres from home gave us all a fright...

Emotions were at an all time high with all road crew and riders sharing in the celebratory handshakes, hugs and kisses. We then formed our last and largest Smiddy huddle -run by our mechanic Gavin Leahy- which had swelled in numbers due to the riders family and friends joining in.

That Smiddy Spirit
I believe now that the riders and road crew may understand when I mention the Smiddy spirit. What the crew went through these past four days helped to build a camaraderie within the group that fosters so many good things that it is hard to put a name to it. Hence why I call it the Smiddy spirit, as all that is good was my mate Adam, and all the good things that come out of a Smiddy event -I believe- is a result of a direct link to Adam. You got to love his sense of humour though, always sending the rain and the tough conditions. Thanks old mate!

Anyway enough with the deep stuff, I just needed to get across that every rider and member of the road crew exemplified exactly what the Smiddy spirit entails; sacrifice, determination, toughness and most importantly a caring attitude towards their fellow riders and road crew. The crew should all be extremely proud of their efforts, and I have great joy in saying that they are now part of the amazing phenomena and ever growing bubble of Smiddy positive energy, that is the Smiddy family. Welcome on board and I truly hope to ride with you all again one day soon.

One million dollarrrrrrrrrrs!
Well the third annual Smiddy Bottlemart NSW Challenge has come to a close and what a most successful event it was. The funds raised from this event are staggering when you consider just 42 riders were involved. I am pleased to be able to say that a quarter of a million dollars was raised! What a sensational amount to raise in our first event of the year. That million dollar target for 2013 is definitely possible with a head-start like this. This would not be possible without all those generous donations that have poured in from all the riders donors. So a huge thank you to all reading this that have donated generously.

Final thank you
Without the foresight and fortitude shown by Doug, David and his team at LMG Bottlemart we would not have raised another $200,000 for cancer research. The team at Smiddy recognise how lucky we are to have such a great sponsor as Bottlemart on board. How many companies do you know where not only the staff actually throw themselves in to volunteer to make a fundraising ride happen, but the CEO gets so intimately involved as well? It is a rarity let me assure you. We at Smiling for Smiddy know this and will never take this for granted. We will continue to work with Bottlemart and LMG and will always hold you guys and this company in awe of what you do to help us in our fight against cancer.

Once again please feel free to share these blogs with your family and friends and help Smiddy and the Mater Foundation fund medical research into our most common forms of cancers; Melanoma, Prostrate, Ovarian and breast cancer.

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 sharky@smiddy.org.au and I will read them out at each nights function.

You can make a donation to support the team at www.smiddy.org.au

Take care.

Sharky.

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