Friday, 4 October 2013


Bridport To Pyengana Cheese Factory Cafe

Stats for the day

Distance: 96 kilometres
Average speed: 23.6 kmph
Maximum speed: 78 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 8
Temperature Maximum - 16
Metres climbed: 1978
Ride time: 4:04:14
Wind: no wind for first two hours then a slight tailwind.

Blog by Sharky

Thanks Sis for believing in me
I read a Facebook post from my sister Kay last night, she was commenting on day seven of my Sharky OZ 7in7 Tassie Smiddy Challenge that was cancelled 45 kilometres into the day due to the dangerous weather conditions. This is what she said to her partner Glen; "I bet you anything that Marky will go back and complete that section some time." You see Kay Kay, as I affectionately call my sister, knows me only too well.

Kay also reads my blogs religiously, so Kay Kay you were right and I was not waiting any longer than today to complete that section. This is how it panned out...

Amazing people helping me to keep the dream alive!
Pete and Rebecca Knight offered their incredible services as support team. Mick Farrag and Melissa Speare were there for me as support riders. I know other riders would have also put their hands up and I was so appreciative of all their offers and support, but we had one car and only room enough for three riders. Thanks also to Maria and Jess for sorting out an extra day on the hire car that Kevvy had used to follow our butts around Tassie these past eight days. A nice surprise on leaving the Hotel at four-am was seeing Maria Smiddy and Sammi-Jo up and about and in the car-park waiting to give each of us a warming cuddle. Thanks girls, it was so appreciated by the group.

Late night, early start
Last nights function was a great time for the team to celebrate the completion of the very first Smiddy tour of Tassie as part of my 7in7 venture. By the time my small team of Bec and Pete, Mel and Mick and myself finished the night and got to bed it was just on midnight. The alarm going off at 3:45am was not heard by myself but I certainly awoke to my bedside companion in Mick shaking me awake. Surprisingly I felt instantly awake and I guess to be honest I was excited at being able to complete that section that we missed. Not ever, not once, since I began the 7in7 journey back in 2008, has Australia brought me to a complete standstill. Not until I came to this rugged state called Tasmania. In my eyes this is unacceptable, as when I bring to completion this journey next year from Melbourne to Brisbane I need to know hat I have cycled every single solitary kilometre of the journey around Australia.

The early start was imperative due to my flight leaving today at 4:10pm. I absolutely needed to be on it, as there was no way I was missing out on being reunited with Alyssa! So there it was, all five of us on the road by four-am, with Pete driving and Bec there to support not only her husband but us three riders as well. Thanks to Ollie and Tim, we went with their suggestion to ride from Bidport to take advantage of the wind at our backs if it got up. I just needed to ride the route we had missed and connect the dots, I was perfectly okay with doing it in the opposite direction, especially as it turned out to be the hardest way to go thanks to close on 2000 metres of climbing over just 96 kilometres by doing it in that direction. Kate's Mum must have been up at the same time as us as a lovely text message came through wishing us all luck and to stay safe. Thank you Tammy and also thank you to Alyssa who was also in touch at such an early hour.

A dirt road and Mick states the obvious
So after an eventful 90 minute drive where Pete's Navcom took us on a route that involved 30 kilometres of dirt and more wildlife by the side of the road than I have ever seen in a lifetime as dawn approached, we had the bikes assembled and were on our way by 5:45am. The sunrise was spectacular as it bounced off the low cloud line creating an effect reminiscence of an exploding volcano. With my two mates by my side and Bec and Pete following closely behind you could not wipe the smile from my face. Mick on the other hand was in a world of pain and grimacing with every peddle stroke. I questioned him as to what was wrong. He said he legs were burning big time and it felt like his brakes were on. I then glanced down at his brakes and informed Mick that indeed his brakes were rubbing on his rear wheel. A quick stop to adjust and I regretted telling him as he was off like a shot, with me pleading for him to now slow down! Mel was her usual consistent self, solid as a rock and never put a foot wrong.

An incredibly fun route that passed too quickly
The four hours of riding time passed so quickly. We could not believe that just two days ago this route was too dangerous to ride due to the incredibly dangerous winds. The climbs were constant but a good gradient and the descents; I just know all the crew that missed this section would have had a blast. We peaked out at 600 metres of altitude and lost 500 metres of it in one ten-kilometre descent. That descent was what the riders were meant to ride up for the great backpack challenge. After riding down it I now know that Adam actually did us a favour by turning the weather Gods against us and canceling the event that day, as that climb would have killed the lads with 20kg of sand on their backs!
Anyway today the three of us descended it together, never going much below 60km/h and except for a few patches of gravel on a couple of corners, the brakes were never required. The smiles on our dials at the bottom meant that no words were needed to be said.

Tears of joy and breakfast at the Cheese Factory Cafe
At the 95 kilometre mark we made a right turn that would take us back to the Cheese Factory Cafe, where we had morning tea and sheltered from the weather two days ago. Mick had spotted a 60km/h sign and sprinted for it; both Mel and Mick were at it all morning at every 60 sign and the points were six/five in Micks favour after that last sign. While Mick was sprinting for that sign I was actually Getting emotional. I myself thought I understood, but really it took until that very moment of completing the missed section for it all to make sense and to sink in just how much it meant to me personally. Mel gave me a hug on the bike and eventually when we caught up to Mick he got caught up in the moment as well.

At the cafe Bec and Pete pulled up and it was all hugs and congratulations amongst the small team. To thank the team I shouted the coffees and breakfast and we basked in the glory of a job well done. I am so appreciative for their support and no matter what I say or do it will never be enough. But I know they understand, as I know all my 7in7 and Smiddy mates from this tour do. It was now 11am and time to get back to the Hotel. Mel and Mick continued to play the 60km/h sign sprinting game by pushing an arm or leg into the front compartment where Bec and Pete were seated and Pete did an excellent job staying awake at the wheel on just four hours sleep. On getting back to the hotel at 1:30pm I had two and a half hours to pack my bike, scrub myself up to look my very best for my special lady, say my goodbyes, but first a mini-Smiddy-huddle of just five people had to be completed, with Pete getting excited as he thought it was a world record, but I had to inform him that Kev, Kate, Ron and Myself hold that record when in 2011 just the four of us rode the west coast of Australia and across to Esperance. Anyway it was good fun and appreciated by all.

Well I am now on the plane and in just 30 minutes will be in the arms of my beloved Alyssa. What a journey I have had the past four weeks. I sure hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed being part of them.

Enjoy the rest of the year and see you when next I blog.


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