3947 m climbing
Min ambient temp 0 deg.
Min apparent temp -6
Max temp 16 deg
Max speed 84km / hr
Rain: 16 mm
Road kill: modest
Air quality index 9.7 / 10
Day 3 -Tassie Smiddy Challenge.
Before I start describing the exploits of the day, some context is appropriate. Based on the mix of weather, distance and vertical metre climbing, today had all the ingredients to be EPIC! Many of you reading this would no doubt stay up during the Tour de France for a few of the crown stages. Well - today would be one of those days you'd stay up to watch. 4kms of vertical climbing is enough to have the most accomplished mountain goats nervous. In fact, arguably Australia's toughest one day ride is called 3 peaks in the Victorian highlands and this has similar climbing statistics to today! Most that take on the epic 3 peaks ride spend months preparing..... Smiling for Smiddy style is to knock out 330km of some of the toughest riding you'll ever do, in the two days prior! Hence - I suspect for almost every rider, today actually started mentally when they jumped into bed the night before - for you knew that the moment your alarm greeted you for the 0500 breakfast it would be unconditional to strap the a-game on and tackle one of the most demanding profiles anyone could conceive (#thankskatewarren)
As I was enjoying my customary bowl of weet bix I noted Capt. Kev in stern discussion with Geevesy.... Now Geevesy is not just an accomplished past challenge rider, he and at times his son and daughters have become a fixture in the cockpit of the lead vehicle playing a key role in the safe transfer of vehicles around the riders. Further more - Geevesy is a trivia man. He has an anecdote or commentary for almost everything. What he doesn't know he makes up. Especially on this tour - being a native tasweigen. For instance, some common radio chatter may go as follows. Rear vehicle: "Geevesy, what is that yellow flowering bush to the left". Front vehicle: "ah... Well, that is the rare variety of the yellow flowering bruxmouldia shrub - full of thorns but known to be used in a number of herbal medicines...." Then a plane flys overhead.... A mere spec to the naked eye.... Geevesy "did you catch that.... That was a bombardia dash 8 Q 300... Then geevesys voice drops an octave and he says.... Pretty sure that would be VH-MJQ.... Enroute to Melbourne.... Sadly today though - Geevesy was the recipient of a stern homily from Capt. Kev about forward planning. Geevesy vehicle was running on fumes and would not have made it to the first stop at bike ride pace, so Geevesy and his crew were sent on their way, tail between their legs at 0530 to source fuel!
Wow - we never ceased to be amazed what our incredible support crew can do. They once again served up a breakfast of cereal, eggs, toast, freshly squeezed juice and necessary sustenance to survive the day. This amazing support team get up an hour before we do and deliver a spread that makes a real contribution to the riders being able to complete these grueling days. Thank you!
Day 3 - the first stanza: at rollout there was a genuine sense of intense atmosphere. Many riders were trying to ignore that little person in the back of the head saying "do you think you'll make it today'?... It didn't help with Flyn-dog (arrrrooooo!!) wandering around mentioning that the apparent temp in Queenstown (45km up the rd) was negative 11.9 deg!!)
Big Mal Burke (aka mad dog) was celebrating another 21st birthday today so Kevy gave him the honour of ringing the cow bell to set the riders on their way for the day. The first 674 metres were pristine, delightful and somewhat mezmorising as we're cruised out of Strauhan hugging the river and admiring the beautiful harbour and boat, the early glimps of the sun shimmering off these impressive vessels.... Then - we sadly turned left and there began nearly 2 solid hours of climbing.... And as the weather doomsday forecasters had predicted.... The rain also arrived! For the next few hours it was a real toil - climbing, becoming gradually soaked and all in conditions with an ambient temp of around 4 degrees.
The climb of the day:
The much talked about climb before morning tea with 98 bends arrived. I think we were all fairly nervous knowing this was a serious climb in terms of altitude and all realising the weather could be unpredictable. To be fair - what we experienced was perhaps on of the best climbs you'll ever do. Many described it as very European with exposed terrain and continual switch backs meaning you could see both ahead of you and back down into the valley. As a rider - many tough climbs are characterised by persistence. That is - you tend to be focused on the road ahead and you are often encased by tree line facades. What we had was the total opposite. It was a climb you deliberately rode up to one of your smiddy buddies and stuck by their side. The speed of this climb was not important - it was about taking in a very unique experience, and performing it at a speed you could love every minute of it! (#thankskatewarren)
The sausage roll renaissance:
We roll into morning tea. One of the great things about riding is that in my mind at least, you get a free pass on the eating front. In the real world I avoid pastries and baked goods, on Smiddy rides it's game on as guilt free I splurge, confident in my garmin telling me I have burnt over 5000 calories. It should be noted that I am yet to complete a ride without gaining weight. With Tasmanian hospitality it seems unlikely that this trend will change, man the sausage rolls are good.
The Quiet room and the Hurt locker:
I described both of these places in a blog from the Townsville ride in 2010.... Some of you may remember. For those not aware let me assist. Smiddy riders are insanely stubborn determined and persistent people. They see a glass with no more than a little condensation on the side as half full, and they tune out to those that tell them something can't be done. This is why riders sometimes enter either the quite room, or the hurt locker. Firstly - neither are pleasant and I've spent time in both. The quiet room is a place you enter when enduring a day and conditions begin to get tough. This can happen for so many different reasons and is often personal - the wrong clothing choice, hunger flat, needing a comfort break, or a body niggle making riding challenging and painful. When this happens, you enter what is know as the quiet room. A place that when you roll through the pelaton very little is said. Your entire focus is on holding the wheel in front... What tends to be so incredible in a smiddy pelaton is the support from fellow riders prevents one from being consumed into the vortex of the "hurt locker". This is a seriously unpleasant place. The hurt locker has been considered as an alternative to waterboarding at Guantanamo! Let me tell, this is an awful place and today some of the riders endured this due to their bodies contending with niggles of the past couple of days, and circumstances making their day extremely tough. What I love about Smiddy riders and by that I mean that every single person on this Tassie ride is enduring these conditions for a reason bigger than completing a ride. It is all about making a difference in the fight against cancer, for those we love and for those we remember. Today there were a number of people in both the hurt locker and the quiet room. Even the Shark himself checked in for a short visit. Today was an incredible day as a cyclist, but I think very few could say, they did not at some point do some extremely tough hours n the road. For me, it is at these time I think of every person that has taken the time and commitment to contribute to the smiling for Smiddy cause - it lifts every rider through the tough moments.
The big climb
Today's climb was the biggest I have personally tackled. Around 10km with gradients reaching at least 23.16% (stat provided by Boydy). I joined the M team, Mick, Mel and Masso, but made a school girl error when I positioned myself in the front section of the quartet effectively locking myself in to their pace, around 20 beats per minute above my planned effort.
But as is mostly the case in life, the harder you work the greater the victory, and as usual the scenery did not disappoint, the snow capped mountains a perfect backdrop for some group happy snaps. Excellent facebook proof that we are indeed doing it tough down here.
There is something incredibly satisfying about arriving at your destination each evening. Like most things Smiddy related you're never quite sure what to expect. Today was one of those ultra bonus days. Tarralah originally built to house the workers from the local hydro scheme has been converted into a collection of holiday cottages, complete with Tavern and function room where the team shared a very civil meal (with linen and everything).
The perfect end to an epic day.
Top 10 cool things from today:
1. Shannon, on debut as a Smiddy rider, is your quintessential gentlemen complete with mustache and cravat. Today he showed Smiddy spirit of a seasoned veteran by pushing numerous people throughout the day and was fittingly awarded the Smiddy spirit award.
2. Shannon handing over said award to another great Smiddy Ambassador Tim Smith, his partner in pushing.
3. Lisa - dressed in a short sleeve jersey and knicks while the rest of us shiver under at least 4 layers - a definite contender for the upcoming Smiddy nude calendar
4. The twins rocking out the lead vehicle with Geevsie in tow, so positive and simply lovely - happily giving away their own food and clothing in order to help us out.
5. The range of tunes on offer from our resident DJs
6. The number of chicks on the radio.
5. The number of chicks in the team
6. Kevvy's sheer delight at finding his family of origin (aka garden gnomes) in Queenstown.
7. Brian sharing his poems with an audience who really got it
8. Watching other riders snake their way up a summit or cruise down a descent
9. Drinking port and eating dark chocolate at Club 70 - Nic, Iain and Antonia - rest assured the tradition continues.
10. People making the tough call of doing van time to care for some niggling injuries to increase their chances of returning to the group.
Last year when I rode the 7 my mate Karen had this uncanny ability of calling me just when I needed her. Karen lost her very brave battle with cancer in February this year. On the epic day that was Day 3, I missed my mate's call.
Anna and Boydy.