Sunday, 16 June 2013

SMIDDY TOUR OF THE FRENCH ALPS - INTRO


Over the next five days a group of dedicated Smiddy legends will pit their strengths against the might of the unforgiving French Alps. In front of them lie six major climbs, three of them hors category, meaning off the charts. The other three climbs are category one, which is just down from a hors climb. Of course this is just six of many, but it is those six that will either bring us to our knees, or we will rise to conquer them. I suspect the later, as all on board this journey have been affected by cancer in some shape or form. When the going gets tough, our strength will come from thinking of those people climbing their own cancer mountain.

For this first of two Smiddy tours I am delighted to introduce you to the following riders:

Antonia Bigault is our only girl on tour, she is a 34 year old optometrist/geologist who bought her first road bike in 2005 but only more recently got into cycling. Her motivation behind doing the ride is due to a number of people, friends and family, she has known that have had the torture of going through cancer. In 2011 she lost a good friend with cancer and an Uncle in 2012! Cancer is a long hard road, more research is required and she is prepared to do anything required to eradicate it from the world.

Garath Thomas is a 26 year old Executive Manager for a commercial cleaning company based in Brisbane city. After getting back on the bike in 2011 and doing his first Triathlon in 2013, a fantastic opportunity came around to not only live out a dream of cycling through France but to also support an amazing foundation at the same time. Garath can only hope that this can be his way of giving something back to people who are going through a really tough time.

Zane Williams is a 30 year old who is the director of a commercial cleaning company based in the Brisbane CBD. After being a competitive swimmer at school and university a good friend introduced him to triathlons in 2006 and since then has taken part in many races throughout Australia. Zane was introduced to Smiling for smiddy at a GPS charity auction whereby he successfully bid on a spot for the French Alps ride. Until this time he knew little about the charity however after meeting Sharky and Rowan he quickly learned what a great and worthy cause it really was. Zane's Uncle and best friend are going through cancer and he understands first hand the destruction it can cause and how worthy a cause it really is.

Glen Grigor is a 39 year old Industrial Electrician who has worked for Orrcon for 12 years, he has decided to undertake this ride before enjoying his long service leave traveling around Europe. This weeks ride will be good base training leading into a new season of triathlon. The cause means a lot to him as he has close relatives whom have passed away and whom are currently battling cancer.

Graeme Buscke is 31 years of age and tells me he has the coolest job in the world as the company (Embrace Sports) he co-owns with his best mate Neil Aitken, run sporting tours all year round. Graeme and Neil are based in England and kindly ran the Smiddy tour last year for us in the Pyrenees. Both these lads loved helping the Smiddy group achieve what we set out to do. Graeme reckons the strong Aussie mind combined with the will to never back down from a challenge has made him come back to help out again this year. Graeme played Rugby for 20 years, has enjoyed competitive running for the past 12 years and the past four years has been bitten by the triathlon and cycling bug big time. He lists his hobby as big wave surfing.

Eric Doehrman is from Huntsville, Alabama in the good old US of A. At 45 years of age he has found his calling working alongside of Neil and Graeme as a coach to the many tour groups they run each year. Eric is 45 years of age and besides working as a triathlon coach he also has work as a Cat Herder. When I asked him what attracts him to this line of work, his response was this; "There is nothing better than working with athletes to achieve their goals... I love seeing people amaze themselves." His sporting background was Rugby but somehow he fell into ultra marathons and then triathlon. Eric tells me he has had more surgeries resulting from his trail running adventures than the rugby pitch. Gravity is not his friend!

Prep day runs smoothly
Today was all about getting to our beautiful Chateau just outside a very small village called St Jean, which is about 25 kilometres from Chambery, the gateway to the French Alps. The beauty of this place is mesmerising and I feel privileged to be be here. Thanks must go to Graeme for collecting us all from Lyon and getting us and our bikes here in one piece. At four-pm we did a test sort of ride to ascertain bikes and bodies were all in working order. The 37 kilometre ride included a ten kilometre gentle climb up to a col called Col De La Croix, which stands at 884 metres. Everyone rode well while I was the one lagging behind thanks to a flu I picked up just prior to my flight on Friday evening. While I feel pretty ordinary; I have been there before and know that as long as I keep my heart rate below 130 I can continue to ride and my health will improve as well. Anyway that is what I am hoping will happen as there is no way I am missing out! Eric cooked up a storm tonight and there was so much in the way of leftovers that there is enough for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks heaps for an awesome meal Eric. The group have come together well on day one and while it is early days yet, the potential is there for some strong friendships to form. They are a great bunch and I look forward to getting to know them better as the real suffering starts.

Anyway sit back and enjoy the ride through my blogs and thanks for joining us.

Sharky


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