Warwick To Brisbane
Average: 27.2 km/h
Climbing: 1791 metres
Descending: 2220 metres
Riding time: 7hr 57min
Temp Min: 13 degrees, our warmest start ever out of Warwick.
Temp Max: 28 degrees
Wind: Headwinds that started out light but increased in strength throughout the day.
Our warmest ever roll out of Warwick/Beautiful sunrise
Last year the riders faced a crippling cold of minus 3 degrees out of Warwick. What a stark contrast today when the temperature read a balmy 13 degrees. Finally global warming has caught up with Warwick and we were grateful for the warm start to the day. Our roll out was right on time at six-am and the sunrise that greeted the peloton was worth the early rise out of that nice comfortable Horse and Jockey Motel bed. My old mate Simon Plumber informed me that the beauty of the sunrise was due to the formation of the Cirrocumulus Undulatus clouds, which he said always guarantee a sensational sunrise, and of course no one in the peloton knew any better so I took that he actually knew what he was talking about. To me they were big white fluffy clouds?
Thank you Horse and Jockey
I would just like to extend a warm thank you to the crew at the Horse and Jockey, who have looked after Smiddy riders for over eight years now. Each year they open their restaurant four hours early for the riders and road crew and feed them a great smorgasbord breakfast to fuel us for the big 220 kilometre trip back to Brisbane.
Our fastest ever run into Hirstglen
The first 20 kilometres out of Warwick is super fast and a perfect time to put some money, so to speak, in the bank. Meaning a little effort now saves us time and gets us in on schedule hopefully at 4:30pm. With a a ten-hour riding day ahead of us we were sitting on 25km/h and I asked Chappy, who is wired up with a radio to the support cars and a few other riders, if he could ask them to pick up the pace a little. His request was met with silence for a minute and then Matty Marshall radioed back that he would go to the front and let the lead riders know. Well I don't know what the big man said to them but next thing I know we were rocketing along at 42km/h! The Smiddy freight train express was in full speed motion and if you weren't in the slip stream then see ya later alligator! Amazingly the group kept this up for the next 20 kilometres into our first morning bathroom stop at Allora, as once again the Smiddy team of helpers were out in force and helping anyone who looked like slipping off the back. The final run into morning tea saw us drop back to a more sensible pace, but thanks to that effort into Allora and a steady pace into morning tea, the desired result was achieved with the group arriving a full 33 minutes ahead of schedule! It was an amazing section and the riders devoured all food in sight as if they hadn't eaten for months. From memory I do believe that was our fastest arrival time into morning tea in five years.
Tough times ahead
Now the great thing about this first stop at Hirstglen is that the ten-kilometre drop down the Great Dividing Range begins immediately. The riders get to go at their own pace for 14 kilometres, before a regrouping and the final push into Rosewood for lunch. Unfortunately it was a wet descent due to one of those clouds, although a different black mean looking one, dropping its load and forcing the fast descenders from taking the corners too fast. From Hirstglen to Rosewood is a 77 kilometre stage and besides that one big drop the rest of the route is nothing but rolling, roller coaster type hills, not to mention the two-kilometre climb up the Laidley range. The headwind had increased in strength and for this time of the year it was very humid. The riders were doing it tough once again and hydration and nutrition became such an important factor in finishing today's stage.
The Back Seat Crew
My plan today was to ride until the bottom of the descent and then sit out until afternoon tea. Which is what I have done and I am now sitting in the back of Kevvy and Skip's rear vehicle and getting a head start for today's blog. But I am not alone in the backseat as Sarah Collins and Melissa Crossman join me for a little R&R. Sarah has a sore back from an old bulged disc injury and Melissa was paying the price for her efforts yesterday, were due to feeling so good, decided to help out and was pushing other riders up hills the entire day. We have just gotten to the climb up the Laidley range and there has been a fall at the rear of the peloton. I would now like to welcome Jessica Geeves to the 'Backseat Crew', for it was Jess that fell. News coming in direct from the horses mouth, or in this case Jess, is that she did not touch another riders wheel, she said she just simply fell over, which she stated she did often! Well she is fine and no damage to the bike but if you fall then you get mandatory van time until the next break.
The Green Machine
Watching the peloton from the safety of the rear vehicle is a sight to behold. The green kits and 53 riders two abreast resemble the body of a snake the way it moves so fluently down the road. The name 'The Green Machine' has been thrown around since day one and it is an apt description of our beloved Smiddy peloton. While I miss being out there with my mates I find that watching from behind I am filled with a greater sense of pride. These boys and girls rock! Their sacrifice, their fundraising, the support they enjoy from their love ones, the generosity of their donors, all of it just fills me with immense pride. Yes 'The Green Machine' rock!
Lunch at Rosewood/Birthdays/Hidden Day Bag
Well the conditions are not holding the peloton back in any way. These guys and girls have gotten a sniff of home and are still on record pace. Rolling into Rosewood a full 35 minutes ahead of schedule. So far ahead that Matt had enough time to get everyone together to sing happy birthday to the four riders celebrating their day of birth either today or tomorrow. Happy birthday to Rob Kropp, Robyn Lever, Anthony Mole and myself. Now practical jokes are a part of every Smiddy event and Matt Marshall copped it at the Noosa Smiddy when he kept discovering his front wheel going missing at the breaks. This time around it was to be his black drawstring day bag that kept getting hung up in the branches of trees. Each time a little higher, until today's effort at lunch, which saw it hung so high that Matt pretended not to notice in the hope that by the time he finished eating it would come down by its own accord. Which of course wasn't going to happen, so road crew, slash, rider member, Garath, took pity on him and climbed the tree to retrieve it and all was good.
More good times with Skippy and Kev
Well here I am back in the car and it is good to watch Kevvy and Skip in action. Skip is now at the wheel and Kevvy is manning the two way radio. They interact so well with all the trucks and vehicles that have two ways. The ones that don't they manage to get them around the peloton via hand signals and by moving their car completely to the left of the road to allow them to pass. Meanwhile Smiddy riders Liam Kavanagh and Tom Hagenson are behind us as the sweeper/mechanical vehicle and help to collect broken down riders and bikes as they pull to the side of the road. At the moment every rider is out on the road except for myself and Jess. We will both rejoin the group for the last section into Smiddy Park after afternoon tea.
Final stage to the finish/Worlds biggest Smiddy huddle
There is nothing like that last 30 kilometres into the finish at Brisbane. Because it is our one and only event that finishes at Adam Smiddy Park it always attracts a very generous amount of the riders supporters and love ones. Emotions, as always, were at an all time high, as families were reunited and the riders and road crew express their appreciation towards one another in the form of handshakes, back slaps but mostly a lot of hugging! In my eyes you can't hug your love ones enough and I definitely made up for lost time when I was reunited with my darling Alyssa. Did I mention that we are engaged now and deeply in love? Just checking...! A special mention to my awesome best friends in Michael and Cathy Jennings, who made the trip up from Murwillumbah to be there for the finish.
Anyway back to our largest ever Smiddy huddle. A huddle so large that it circumnavigated the entire park. As it was impossible to link up the approximately 200 people in attendance I turned to plan B and implemented the Chuddle. My version of a huddle and cuddle combined. Smiddy lady riders were invited into the middle of Smiddy Park, followed by the road crew, followed by all the supporters and finally all the male Smiddy riders completed this amazingly tight packed sardine of humans in a radius no bigger than six-metres wide. Three cheers and three Smiddy, Smiddy, Smiddy chants were shared amongst the group. We then broke off and the road crew were thanked individually by Matt and presented with thank you gifts.
Closing words by Sharky
The riders did an amazing job out there on the road over the last three wonderful fulfilling days. Between them they raised a staggering amount that is closing in on $100,000. How lucky are we at Smiddy and the Mater Foundation? Let me assure you, bloody lucky! These fine individuals believe in us enough to raise these funds that the scientists at Mater Research rely on to continue their much needed research into melanoma, prostrate, ovarian and breast cancer treatment. A huge thank you to riders, road crew, family and donors and supporters of their chosen rider. On behalf of Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation we can never thank you enough but that won't stop us from trying!
Take care everyone and if you are keen to follow the Smiddy journey it is as easy as signing up to my blog site for automatic updates of my blogs from each event at www.marksharkysmoothy.blogspot.com or by going to the Smiddy Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/Smiling4Smiddy
My next blog will come from our next Smiddy adventure taking place in the Italian Dolomites July 1 to 8, where ten Smiddy riders will ride for 6 days up and over nearly 14,000 metres and 700 kilometres of terrain in the Italian Alps.