Average speed: 26.8 kmph
Maximum speed: 70.5 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 9 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 18 degrees
Metres climbed: 1277
Ride time: 7hrs 01 mins
Wind direction: Headwind first 97km/Tailwind next 50km/Crosswind last 42
Road Kill Count by Byran 'Humpty' 'Walt' Humphrey
First time Schindlers list bell ringer "Walt" didn't really understand the concept of counting animals and mistakenly counted the live animals instead of the not so live variety. So our not so road kill count for today includes
43 llamas (includes one super-Ilama
72 horses (4 white and one polka dot)
197 dairy cows (who in JL's eyes, to this day, remain outstanding in their field)
Oh! and one bunyip.
Stay tuned for tomorrows kill count
Well here we are again; six years into my seven year journey to cycle around Australia. Back in 2008 when I began this huge odyssey it sounded like a most excellent idea. Six years on and I am bone tired and thinking to myself, "What the hell was I thinking back then?" This trip is insane; combined with the Brisbane to Townsville ride it involves in excess of 4000 kilometres of riding, 36,000 metres of climbing and going from the heat of north Qld to the bitter cold of Tasmania, all over 24 tortuous days. So that is what I have got myself into and there is no backing out now!
Hello fellow Challenge riders
Firstly let me say a big hooray to all my Smiddy mates that just completed the journey from Brisbane to Townsville in the hottest and windiest conditions in eight editions of the Smiddy Challenge. It was the quietest I have ever been in a Smiddy Challenge and I hope you all understood it was not the company but how I was feeling. As you guys know I included the in famous 'Chuddle' in Strand Park after the official 'Huddle'. Only twice has this been performed so you guys were very special indeed...!
Getting to know the rider and road crew
So let's get into this ride by introducing the crew; first the ten riders will be spoilt rotten with four road crew members and two vehicles to take care of us for the next seven days. Captain Kev fronts up for his sixth 7in7 tour, while Katie Cox, Rebecca Knight and Bob Cage are all first timers for this event. For their first day on the road they gelled incredibly well and even got in a couple of sneaky coffee breaks while we, the riders, were slogging it out on 40km of very zig zagging bike track.
The riders are as follows: Russel 'Rusty' Conway, Big John 'JL' Leyshon and Melissa 'Mel' Speare all back for their second edition of 7in7 after completing last year's event across the Nullarbor. Kate Warren is fronting up again after completing the 2011 stage from Karratha to Esperance. While Sarah "Creals' Crealy, Bryan 'Humpty' Humphrey, Peter 'Bogie' Knight, Michael 'Mick' Farrag and Paula 'point 8 of a standard person' Castle are all first timers to the 7in7. All the riders mentioned bring a wealth of experience with them as all have done multiple Smiddy events. Of these riders Humpty, Bogie, Paula, Mel, Kate and myself are also going on to compete in the Tassie leg as well.
Getting to know Meningie
So onto todays stage to the small coastal town of Meningie, population of 1501 people, now grown to 1515 people thanks to the band of Smiddy Brothers setting up camp in the Meningie Caravan Park. Our road crew just served up a delightfully yummy Butter Chicken dish, which was devoured in record time as we huddled together for warmth, dressed in all our winter woolies, including beenies and ugg boots for some. I cannot believe it that just a few days ago I was swearing inside my head at the insane heat of North Qld, to now, where I rode for 190 kilometres in my full winter riding gear, where not once did I need to take off my arm or leg warmers or my winter thermal under my cycling jersey. I am in deep shit come Tassie! Anyway did you know that the name of this town Meningie is Aboriginal for the word Mud? I am guessing you did not know that. Well I can assure you that it is as true as the sun will surely rise in the morning. I know that Bryan and Paula stepped their cleats into mud as they dismounted for breaks or toilet stops so that must also mean the name is correct. But mostly what gives it away as a place of mud, is the fact that there are mud flats bloody everywhere! You can see them, smell them, bath in them, make mud soup from them and throw mud cakes at each other, and why wouldn't you?
Getting to the muddiest town in the entire world
Anyway getting here all began at 6:45am when we rolled out of the car park of Watermark Hotel. A huge thank you to David Elmer, owner of this massive establishment in Glenelg, who not only gave the 14 of us very generous prices on the rooms needed for the two nights, but shouted all of us a buffet dinner worth $31 a head! Such generosity and very much appreciated by the crew. Leaving at 6:45 meant that we beat the rush hour, which does not start here until 7:30 we were told, which held some truth as we only nearly got run over seven times instead of the normal 15! Once out of town and onto the bike path we breathed a sigh of relief; sighhhhhhhhhh... The bike path was an incredible buzz as every time it looked like it was going somewhere it reached a detour sign or a t-junction and the group would stand there scratching their heads, nodding wisely and then taking pot luck after the Garmins, iPhones and desktop computers did nothing but confuse us even further. It was the most fun we had had in a decade! Our 22km average for the first 60 kilometres suggested a long day ahead.
The big man is out - For a day...?
At 90 kilometres into the journey, after we had climbed a couple of South Australia's finest vineyard mountains, that were so beautiful that if I tried to describe them I wouldn't do it justice, so let's just say they were pretty, like really pretty like when you see the sunflowers on the Tour De France coverage on SBS, anyway we lost Rusty Balls to a knee that was so sore that he was hallucinating from the pain. Our first casualty of the trip and we were all devastated. Mel worked on the big fella tonight and he is hoping for a start tomorrow. We all feel for the big guy and while he is smiling and keeping up his jovial ways we all know he is hurting big time inside from not being able to ride. Fingers crossed Mel can provide the miracle he is searching for.
Sharky's first tailwind is much appreciated
After 97km's of slow traveling thanks to the hills, headwinds, rampant sheep on the road and desolate bike paths resembling war zones, we lucked onto a 50km section of relatively flat roads and a U-Buet Aussie Tailwind fresh from the West. It was the medicine I personally needed after the past two years of 7in7 getting hammered with 4 weeks of consistent headwinds, not to the mention the eight days of Challenge headwinds just a few days ago. All our spirits lifted as we cruised along at 45km/h for that 50 kilometre section, lifting our sagging average speed up to the the 26's. The last 42 was unpleasant into a strong crosswind but we rolled through consistently sharing the brunt at the front and after two refresh and food stops we made it into Meningie in one piece and in jovial spirits. I was especially pleased as I was able to do more fair share of work for the last 80km's of the day. Something I was unable to do for the last four days of the Challenge event to Townsville.
Anyway that's about all that needs to be said for today. It is now 9:20pm and all the riders are fast asleep, except for JL, who is talking on his phone, and myself. The road crew are in the cabin next door and enjoying a few glasses or red. Kevvy is a good influence on his fellow road crew members when it comes to a debrief over a few glasses. Kevvy would say it is all part of the training and who am I to argue!