Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Distance: 44 kilometres
Average speed: 21.4 kmph
Maximum speed: 63 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 2
Temperature Maximum - 8
Metres climbed: 840
Ride time: 2:08:18
Wind Direction: Chaos!

Blog written by Rowan Foster

I'm writing my second journal in as many days because I've struck a deal with Sharky - I'd write the day's journal if he cleans my bike.

I thought it a good deal after the horrendous conditions we met today and I think I can write the blog in quicker time than he could clean my bike.

When my alarm went this morning I peered outside to see a 20 metre gum tree seemingly bending over itself in the wind. I got a wee bit nervous. My anxiety doubled when I saw our resident weather man Watty at brekky this morning and he said 'Row I think we cashed in all our chips yesterday'. The wind was howling, trees were bending sideways and the rain was pelting down. Gees Watty even a pre-schooler could call this one. But we'll reinstate your weatherman status - one correct prediction in 7 days ain't bad.

With Sammi-Jo sending us on our way with the cow bell we were all hopeful it would be a repeat of yesterday with skies clearing soon up the road.

Within minutes of departure we knew that wouldn't be the case. As we rolled out of St Helens the peloton leant into the wind to stay upright, the Garmins had us rolling at 10kms/hr and Marto was heard yelling out to Rupert for a push.

The first session was 42kms to morning tea and Timmy Smithers had planned the route to take us via Bay of Fires. 10kms up the road and the Siren Sisters in lead vehicle were pulled over looking at maps - they confirmed the planned route back to the highway had us going across 9kms of wet gravel road.

It wouldn't be a Smiddy ride without a gravel road somewhere in the mix but this would turn out to be the greatest Smiddy shortcut on record.

The riders ploughed on over stone and mud, even those with mudguards couldn't be spared. We reached the end of our gravel adventure looking like we'd dived in a mud pit and our bikes sprayed in wet sand. Smithers addressed the group advising it was a mere 3kms back to the highway. Mick Farragio politely pointed out that a road sign behind Tim also had St Helens at 3kms.

So, after an hour of cycling in the worst conditions imaginable we were back at St. Helens. Smithers could sense the unrest and started his next speech to the peloton with "My fellow Americans..."

Onwards we pedalled, everyone embracing the hard yards in front of them. If we thought day one up to Cradle Mountain was brutal but this was off the charts.

At times gusts of wind slowed the peloton to a standstill. We'd be pedalling with barely any forward movement. Smithers assured me the countryside we were riding through was stunning - but none of us would have known it. We couldn't even glance sideways for fear of being blown off our bikes.

Indeed a few riders did take detours off the road at times as they were caught off guard by the wind. The rain stung exposed skin as it came down on us with fury.

We made it into the Holy Cow Cafe (home of Australia's most awarded cheddar cheese) for morning tea and took shelter from the conditions. Fresh, hot scones and coffees warmed shivering riders. Captain Kev and Jess assessed conditions and made the toughest of calls - the stage would be abandoned and riders transported to the day's end in Bridport.

Smiling for Smiddy has such an impeccable safety record on the road over the last seven years and this was to be a day that challenged our limits and won.

I must acknowledge Kev and Jess for making the call - it was the right one for the safety of the group. Rest assured though if Kev blew his whistle and told us to get back on our bikes we would have.

Our road crew did such an amazing job controlling the situation and putting plans into action to get us safely up the road. Thank you for your efforts.

The call to abandon the stage was vindicated by the amount of debris and fallen trees on the road to Bridport. It could have been so dangerous. As Smithers said "A wattle on the noggin doesn't auger well."

While half the riders were being transferred to Bridport (an hour up the road), the remaining riders were left at the Weldsborough pub to sample local beers, play pool and a few card games. The roaring fire place brought us back to a normal state.

We faced the worst that Tasmania could throw at us today and sure we sit in Bridport a little defeated but the camaraderie in the group has kept spirits high.

There's not much you can do when the weather gods throw a day at you like this so the riders must be acknowledged for their understanding and acceptance of the situation.

On the bright side the pro riders in the Tour of Tasmania didn't even go out at all today. We did 40kms. They're soft.

All the riders thoughts were with Sharky when the stage was abandoned. This legend of the Smiddy peloton has ridden every kilometre around Australia so far on his 7in7 Challenge. We all know how much it means to him to ride every km of his epic adventure. Nothing has stopped him to date but today Sharky knew the safety of the group was paramount and he accepted the day's end.

I know Sharky will return to Tasmania some day to ride that lost 100kms, hopefully enjoying it alongside his wonderful gal Alyssa.

So that's it from Bridport after a wild and wet day. A quick look outside and Sharky is still cleaning my bike. Looks like I did get the better deal.


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