Tuesday, 24 September 2013


By Rusty Conway and JL
Stats for the Day
Distance: 160.3 kilometres
Average speed: 23.1 kmph
Maximum speed: 58.0 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 7 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 26 degrees
Metres climbed: 819
Ride time: 6hrs 56mins
Wind direction: ESE, NSN and afternoon hacky head cross tail rubbish wind

Road Kill Count by Bryan 'Walt'

1 Cat, 1 lounge, 1 bunch of feathers.

So it begins… then ends.
Well... here ends a great week. Last morning and an earlier start due to a big day and potential windy conditions, some organised stops and Melbourne peak hour traffic beckoning us from our slumber. 6:30 roll out today. All week we’ve had 7am roll outs so the earlier start is a tough one for us.
The get up was probably toughest for Road Crew Legend Sponge Bob, who thought it wise last night to off-set hours of sleep with bottles of wine in a ratio of one to one. He was last seen wandering through the caravan park at Barwon Heads with a jar of Peanut Butter in one hand and a jam jar in the other. Muttering to himself about condiments.
As they have for the past six mornings, the road crew provided a great breakfast from a quantity perspective, but also from a quality and rationing point of view. We had jam and both the good and rubbish peanut butters. This morning had the added bonus of left over bolognaise from last night. Optional extra - toast.
Not all the road crew was involved in providing breakfast treats. Katie Cox’s challenge to climb Mount Washmore had her wandering the laundry halls looking for the owner of lost knicks, bras and little, little underwear till the early hours of the morning. Katie also got the gong today for the most appropriate T-Shirt to date as she was sporting a Bill Murray “Bike Thief” shirt. No custom jobs here – straight off the rack.

A truly special way to start the day
We rolled out for the first time all week prior to 7am. Aim as I mentioned was 6:30 however due to blogging issues of the Shark, we rolled at 6:48. Great work guys. We’re awesome. We rolled out and the continuing saga of Paula’s front wheel continued to play out on the driveway of the caravan park. We hadn’t even hit the road yet.
The group headed out in the mist, but this was short lived as the sun formed a perfect filtered sphere in the sky. We did about 15km before pulling up on the side of the road for what was a beautiful gesture. We stopped out front of Bryan’s Mum’s house and tipped our helmets in her honor. One of the great memories of the week after Bryans heartfelt poetry earlier in our journey. Bryan lives about 20 minutes from Barwon Heads so this was his backyard. Armed with local knowledge Bryan assisted the group this morning to reach Geelong and lined up an interview with the local paper who’ve been strong supporters of his fundraising for this trip.

As our journey has progressed the group has contracted some form of the flu. It has now developed into a strain known as Mick-Farragio, or Phlegm Symbol, the Flu formally known as Smiddy Challenge Kennel Cough. The wind was starting to create some issues for the riders who prefer the Bushman style Snot Rocket. Especially those like Kate Warren who like to mark territory and launch rockets on every new road. My road, she says.
We reached a jetty on the far western side of Port Phillip Bay and the morning was spectacular. The view was such that Peter Knight decided to quickly drop his bike and immerse himself in mother nature’s glory….head first. Sharky and Alyssa were the consummate professional tourists and went all the way to the end of the jetty, Sharky on his bike of course.

Back on our bikes and off into a horrible head wind towards Port Arlington. Mick and Kate were on the front and Mick was a little uncomfortable in the 30km/hr head wind. Kate advised him to lock his core and put his head down. Over the next kilometer Mick slowly pulled away from Kate and she was heard to mutter, “Your core must be really tight today Mick”. When the call of “Ease up” came, Kate mentioned that she was relieved. “Oh thanks goodness,” she said.

The rollers into Geelong
We pulled over at Port Arlington for a toilet stop and sunscreen application session just before 9am. A few of us were looking at the clock. We’d done about 38km and based on the last few days we were ready for a coffee. Capt’n Kev quickly stepped in, gave everyone a bar and said “On yer bikes kids”.
We struggled out of Port Arlington due to 10km of single file rolling hills. Some of us had very tired legs and the extra efforts after 7 or 15 continuous days on the road were a stretch. We rolled into Geelong at 10am for a coffee (well some of us) and a photo shoot. Mel lined up a triple shot of soy flat white energy and was ready for another 10 rounds in the ring.

Mystery Tour
Now anyone who has been on a Sharky shortcut knows they can be summed up with one word, fundamental. Being that they are one part Fun and one part Mental. Our new tour guide “Weave” lived up to his name because the next 20km to Lara was insane. There were footpaths, cycle ways, drains, railway bridges, up steps, down steps, late breaking right hand turns. It had all the elements and the suggestion was, as homage this ride, that the term “Sharky Shortcut” be put on Wikipedia.

As we left Geelong, Mel nearly went into the bay at the behest of a small dog, and the old Mt Gambier Coffee Shop Quartet of Sarah, Kate, Mick and JL rolled at the back. Paula nearly narrowly missed getting caught up in a dolphin friendly net and there was a hole the size of Laver’s Hill to negotiate.
As we got closer to Lara train station we got snippets of radio noise from the support crew, and just as we nearly had a bingle in the pack, we heard the call from Kevy, “Where the bloody hell are you?”

The long grind towards Melbourne - Satisfaction wears many cycling caps
We had super domestique Mick in full use as we rolled out from the stop at Lara along the Highway that AC/DC sang so poetically about all those years ago. Sharky had a cough and Paula offered him a Strepsil. Due to the nature of the hierarchy in the team, Sharky was unable to give the remaining Strepsils back to Paula, so Mick rolled up and assisted with the donkey work, taking the small package and rolling through to slide the packet into Paula’s back pocket. Nice work team.

Unfortunately not every outing on the bike brings breathtaking scenery or mind blowing descents. One of the great things about cycling is there's nearly always a moment in every ride that reminds you why you love getting up early and squeezing into the lycra get up. Off the back of a day like Sunday that included pedaling through rainforest, an amazing downhill run from the Otway Ranges, coastal vistas along the Great Ocean Road and coffee with Phil Anderson, the first Australian to wear the prestigious yellow leaders jersey at the Tour de France, it was going to be hard to replicate with today’s ride into Melbourne.
Today the highlights came not from Mother Nature, but from the satisfaction of getting the job done. With testing riding conditions and minds fixed firmly on the prize of a Maria Smiddy hug waiting in Melbourne, the group struggled to find "happy people that make other people happy". During a very tough section of freeway shoulder that seemed to go on forever, with energy sucking head/cross winds, the Smiddy spirit kicked in and everyone dug deep to punch out the km's. A few riders were nearing breaking point when we finally spotted the oasis of a Caltex service centre and our much needed departure from the highway to hell.
Special mention goes to Alyssa’s friend Craig aka “Weave”, for sprinting to the front of the bunch 10m before the entry to the Caltex station to ensure we made it in safely. He was also more than generous when lending his hand to a few of the struggling riders during a vulnerable period of today’s ride. The winds were violating at times, and Craig’s presence amongst tired legs was very uplifting.

Meeting the boys at Werribee
Saviours… Smiddy riders Nick and Adreil were there to meet us at Weribee. We still had about 50km to roll for the day but we had some direction, fresh legs and local knowledge to assist with the afternoon session. I did the Challenge with Nick in 2012 and Adriel did the Middy Smiddy in 2013. We had lunch and tried to protect our bikes from locals who were intent on having a bling ride home.
A few security issues warded off with peanut butter and coke, and the last of the lunches was done for the tour. Thanks again road crew for being there for us all week. Head stands from Rusty and apprentice Coxie to complete the trifecta of Great Ocean Road, Lavers Hill Pub and Werribee.

The last gasp – roll into Melbourne
The final 50km had us take a very scenic route along the bay towards Melbourne. Adriel had about 7 nicknames by the time he was with us including but not limited to:
1. The little mermaid
2. Gargemal
3. Smurf cat
Pete was disappointed with the chosen route into our final destination as he believed a conspiracy was at hand to include every hill in Melbourne… all 3 of them.
With the elongated shadows heading into the city, a rogue WRX driver pumped up some Chemical Brothers for us, and JL shadow spooned Mick. The art of shadow spooning. There is a shadow thrown on the ground by a rider (Mick) and this forms a small spoon. A second larger rider (JL) rolls up beside the smaller rider and sits just behind them. The shadows are loving, intimate and creepy. I give you the shadow spoon.
Wonderful greeting at hotel by Rusty beautiful family, we had the Smiddy huddle and the day recital was led by Alyssa. Maria Smiddy was on hand for the best hugs in the west.
Special thanks to the Avanti Plus store in Melbourne and Nick for providing bike boxes.

We were done. 1200km in 7 days through God’s own country. Some of the best riding I have ever done, and I’m sure the other riders feel the same.

A chance to relax at dinner
A surprise visit from Smiddy legend Anthony Khoo at dinner opened the floodgates to reminisce about the week just finished and relationships formed from past and current Smiddy experiences. Maria entertained with her first “selfie”, that was posted on Facebook with the hashtag #virginselfie and instantly liked by David Smiddy.
A few drinks allowed Sarah to relax amongst friends and confess her love of Christmas time and her longing for Santa to come. “It’s all about the size of the present” she stated. Clearly some unresolved childhood issues there.
The hills of Tasmania and the responsibilities of the “real world” were not on the agenda as the group relaxed and enjoy each others company. The challenges of another Smiddy adventure have again made lifetime friendships and strengthened existing bonds. Becoming a member of the Smiddy family is a unique honor that enriches one’s life. To ride in the Smiddy kit or to spend time as one of the amazing road crew, really does mean you are part of a Journey of Friends.

Rusty and JL

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