Brisbane to Toowoomba
Average: 25 km/h
Max Speed: 72 km/h
Climbing: 2199 metres
Desending: 1557 metres
Riding time: 8hr 17min
Temp Min: Minus 14degrees
Temp Max: 25 degrees
Wind: Tailwind from Mt Walker, which was 90km into the tour. First ever in Midi history.
Road Kill by Jessy Geeves the Juniper Crusher: Possum:1 Rabbit:1 Roo: 2 Unknown:2
White horses: 11
Midi Smiddy and adventures to come
Welcome to day one blog of the annual 2014 Midi Smiddy event. An epic 580 kilometre journey over three days that takes in the hilliest toughest route possible, travelling through such iconic and scenic country towns such as Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Gatton and finally up the slug of a road called Upper Flagstone Creek Road to our day one destination in Toowoomba, or 'TBar' as the locals call it. I know after the riders climbed the 22% gradient of 'The Upper', after 190 kilometres in their legs, that they will be calling Toowoomba by a bunch of other names I can't print here!
Day two of the Midi Smiddy is a gentler day with a leisurely stroll of just 160 kilometres. Again the magic of these gorgeous country towns and the friendliness of the locals will keep the riders entertained and inspired to keep turning their trusty old pedals. Pittsworth for morning tea courtesy of the local Rotarians, Clifton for lunch courtesy of the road crew, then on to Allora and our finish into Warwick.
Day three is notorious for the single digit or minus temperatures out of Warwick as the 220 kilometre day warrants an early start of 5:30am. But once again the route is gorgeous as we travel back through Allora, on to Hirstglen, down the big ten-kilometre drop of the Great Dividing Range to Laidley, Rosewood, Ipswich, Springfield and finally back to Brisbane to finish in Adam Smiddy Park.
The send off from UQ
Well on day one, this Friday May 16, turned out to be a cracker of a day. The rain had fallen overnight and while the roads were wet there was no further sight of rain throughout the day. Roll out was from UQ Aquatic Centre at 5:50am; UQ have been long time supporters of Smiddy since 2006 when I first rolled out of the Uni with two friends and rode that first epic journey to Townsville. A huge thank you to Jae Marr and all the staff for letting us take over their pool surrounds for two hours this morning. Thank you also to all the family and friends who turned up to lend their support to the 53 slightly nervous riders and 14 amazingly helpful road crew members. Matthew Marshall from Smiddy did a great job in the speech department as I only saw 13 Smiddy riders fall asleep by the time he wrapped it up. Nice work there old son!
Jimmy the time trial specialist
The run into morning tea at 77 kilometres at Harrisville was pretty uneventful for the peloton except for one person. Jimmy Acomb, our trusty mechanic, who also rides but stops whenever there is a mechanical, had to tend to 1 legitimate Smiddy puncture that happened when the call went down the line "HOLE". Ray Smith heard the call and proceeded to head straight for it and BAM! Down went his front tyre, out came his water bottle, which went through half the peloton and miraculously no one hit it and came down. So a quick wheel change and Jimmy had Ray on the road and they timed trialled and were nearly back to the peloton when Kev made another puncture call. By this stage we were not even clear of the University. Jimmy pulls up to the rider and it was not even a Smiddy rider. So off he went on another time trial back to the peloton. Jimmy was nearly back on and call from Kev goes out for another puncture. Jimmy questions Kev; "Are you sure Kev?" Yes says Kev. So jimmy turns around and goes back to the person in need and once again it was a rogue cyclist. By this stage jimmy, had lost the peloton, as had Ray, both proceeding to go in 2 separate directions and get lost and time trials for a further 14 kilometres before they both find us again. Jimmy was just in time to help Jess, who's chain had come off on the first big climb on Centenary highway. Nice work Jimmy, love your dedication to time trialling! And to Kevvy with his kind heart who wanted to help everyone!
Fast forward to what really matters on day one of the Midi
Really no matter what happens on the road during day one of the Midi Smiddy, just does not really matter. The only thing on riders minds is what is at the end of the day. And that thing is called "The Upper." A climb designed by evil road engineers to inflict the most pain possible on unsuspecting cyclists. At a 22% gradient and a narrow road surface made of the roughest granite known to man, it is a climb that last year only 6 riders managed to climb, while the other 44 riders either fell off, walked, crawled or where eaten when the road simply just opened up and swallowed them and rounded off with a good burp! The climb is demonic and I had to combat this evil by coming up with a cunning Sharky-anti-demonic-cleansing poem. I anticipated that the riders would need every bit of help possible, so as part of my look-after-my-aging-and-fatigued-valuable-body plan, I rode the first 145 kilometres to lunch and proceeded to sit out the remaining 55 kilometres to Toowoomba.
It was a strange sight indeed seeing my bike placed on top of one of the cars on the bike rack. A few riders enquired did my legs get cut off accidentally by a chainsaw when I went to the toilets? You see when you have never done van time in 9 years of Smiddy events certain expectations are placed on ones shoulders. Anyway in the lead car I placed my skinny butt, and while enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of Geevseys 4WD I came up with the following poem.
Midi Smiddy riders and crew
You lot are a bloody select few.
Some old faces while many are new.
All of you though tough as nails, through and through!
Your journey to Toowoomba an arduous one.
One last bloody climb and it wont be fun!
The upper, I promise all of you, it will affect
Treat this sucker with a great deal of respect.
Now off you go you motley crew
Climb that bastard until you spew
It does not matter how you get to the top
Ride, walk, crawl, until you flop
Show that mongrel you are the boss
And that a 22% gradient you couldn't give a toss.
I am proud of you all that's for sure
Show that upper you can come back for more!
I'll see you all for the first huddle of the trip
But for now give that bloody mongrel bastard of a bitch, The Upper, some full hearted lip.
An afternoon tea we'll never forget
At afternoon tea, 175 kilometres into the ride, Matt officially introduced the road crew to all the riders. He then handed over to me and I invited the entire group to come in close and everyone had to hug; you all I know I love a good hug, especially with my sweetheart Alyssa Coe not by my side on this Smiddy adventure. Anyway I then proceeded to read out the poem with much gusto and even a few showers of sprayed saliva as my passion rose. The intention was to get all the riders revved up, inspired and scared shitless! It appeared to work as five minutes later when they rolled out it resembled a Grand Prix start and the entire peloton shattered within the first kilometre! And it was still 20 kilometres to the base of the climb! Even the support crew in their cars were gunning their engines and 'all revved up with no place to go' as they pushed off after the riders and couldn't get around them on the narrow roads.
Sharky reflects and why I am doing van time these days
So here I am now sitting in my hotel room tap, tap, tapping away. Wondering how my comrades on bikes are faring on The Upper. I feel a little guilty but at the same time I am proud of myself for doing the right thing by my sacred withering and aging body. I have smashed it for 9 years now completing each and every Smiddy event we have ever held and it is now my time to pay more respect to it. Hence my reason to not ride each and every stage of any Smiddy event I have done before. I suspect you, the riders, will understand. You know how hard just one Smiddy event a year is on the body and mind. I am super proud of this amazing Smiddy journey and I don't wish to stay so tired and fatigued that I can't continue to enjoy this incredible phenomena that is Smiddy.
Upper conquered and first time huddle guest speaker does us proud
So now the riders are back and the Upper has been conquered. The great Shepherd, Chappy, left his flock for the first time all day and was crowned the King of The Upper, while the great white Queen Anna Tate crested the top amongst the top ten mountain climbers. Now as I am sharing a room tonight with Chappy and Ray Smith I will never hear the end of it if I don't tell you that Ray 'Flatlander' Smith, who tells anyone that will listen that he can't climb, was second over the Upper. So now the stories are filtering through and the first huddle has taken place. Michael Brady from Rockhampton was given the honour of taking the first huddle due to not only being a top bloke but for his enthusiasum, Smiddy spirit and for encouraging so many from Rockhampton to join him on this tour. Spirits were incredibly high. The road crew were sensational in their organisation, friendliness and professionalism. The riders are amazing individuals, all pulling together as if a team that has been together for years. I could not be prouder of this motley lot. I am indeed one of the luckiest human beings alive, getting to not only spend time with my new mates but to form friendships that no length of time can ever diminish.
Spirit and team Jersey awards:
The team jersey went to David Lynch for not only 4 years of loyal Smiddy service but for his leadership all day today out on the road. Also his ability to inspire people to cook homemade stuff for the riders. The Spirit Jersey was awarded to Jason Andrews-Reid, the gentle giant who only took up cycling 8 months ago and today managed to complete his very first 200km ride.
Sharky's Mini Upper Conquered poem
The smiddy crew they climbed the upper
Got it done in time for supper
Over half the field tamed the beast
Tonight they celebrated with a feast
The tales are coming quick and fast
Legs smashed, breath aghast
Confidence now sky high
On wings our Smiddy riders fly
For they crested that bugger of a climb
Just so Sharky could do another poem that rhymes!
Hope you enjoyed my first blog of the Midi, tune in for more fun from the Smiddy peloton tomorrow.
PS: If anyone reading this that has someone doing the Midi and would like to send them a special massage, I will read it to them in Warwick tomorrow. Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org