Monday, 7 July 2014


Dr. Koala and Peter D'Angelis kindly offered to write tonights blog. If I may, I would like to dedicate this blog to my good mate Herman Helaar, who is at this very moment facing his own personal battle with Melanoma cancer. Mate we are all thinking of you and while we are torturing ourselves in the high mountains of Italy, and at the same time having fun, we definitely never lose sight of the bigger picture, and that is to raise the funds needed to keep our researches at Mater Medical doing what they do best... Working to save lives through early warning detection tests and ultimately that cure that we are all praying for. Take care my friend and I will see you on my return. Cheers from Sharky.

Hi this is Dr Koala from here and I am delighted to co-write this blog with Peter D'Angelis. What can one say after an amazing week of friendship, camaraderie, and great cycling guides for our logarithmically challenging rides each day, except the Spa rest day in Bormio, which we all needed to regain new energy for the Stelvio and then today!! My My!

I know I don’t usually blow my own trumpet (especially a pink one that was the winner’s prize for today’s Individual time trial up the Passa di Fogga or as the locals call it the Mortirolo pass, but I must admit Dr. Koala exceeded his own expectations today (an probably everyone else’s) and pulled a giant rabbit out of the bag – or should I say a noisy pink trumpet and the right to wear the Mallaut Jaune or the Yellow Jersey for the rest of the ride, not that this earned a great deal of respect from the peloton– only Sharky, Matt and Ingo helped him up the hills

Now you may remember that this 11.9 km time trial up the Mortirolo ascended to 1850m and had 1296 m climbing with an average gradient of 10.5% with peaks at 18-20% regularly during the ride. Time handicaps allowed Dr. Koala a very generous a 75min time gap between him starting and Valentino our strongest guide rider starting from the Café Mortirolo, where an expresso almost shot Dr. Koala up the pass without his bike! The Gods were with us today as it starting raining soon after we arrived in Mortirolo, but as Dr.Koala mentally and physically prepared his body and mind for this first ever Smiddy trial time challenge, the sunshine came out and Smiles appeared on Dr.Koala’s face!

To cut a long story short his generous time allowance allowed him to steal the Pink Trumpet and Yellow Jersey completing the exhausting steep climb in about 1 hr 49 mins with a worthy second to Jason and third on the podium to Kerri, Alias “Alli” Climbing Contador! Jason our strongest rider did himself proud by clocking the best time and should be proud of that! But no world event could be more important presently that the Dr.K stepping up to receive his Pink trumpet and wildflowers and hugs and kisses from all the Smiddy team and all the French boys who were cheering us all on to the finish line. It was very gay time had by all! A heart rendering version of the Australian National Anthem led by Pedro stirred the emotions. The only disappointing thing about the presentation was the lack of suitable attired Italian bella donne to give Dr. K a lippy kiss on each cheek. Maybe this could be organized for the next such Smiddy event! It certainly would motivate the male Smiddy riders no –end.

The ride today was 105 km long and involved a beautiful long descent down to Mazzo where we ascended the Mortirolo Passo but and an equally beautiful long descent from Mortirolo with great views over the Valley – this is such a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, food and wine and experiences, and us Smiddy riders are so fortunate to be able to experience it while raising money for cancer research.

After a grueling ascent of the valley back to Bormio many of us, especially Dr. Koala were pretty spent or as the locals say Sono la frutta - but in true Smiddy fashion one amazing challenge a day was not enough, and we climbed Cancano to 1907 m – a 8.2 km with short switchbacks (like a mini Alp D’uez) passing two old tunnels that lead pass on old castle and fort to this cute Spa Hotel where amazingly timing wise we watched the last 30 mins of Stage 3 of the Le Tour De France won by the Giant-Shimano Team sprinter Marcel Kittel – is this great planning on part of Will and his tour team or what? Then after revival with biscotti, café, coke, chips and beers we headed down back a beautiful descent (Sharky was ecstatic again as he prefers descending then the steepness of Mortirolo – in fact just to put it on the record Dr. K was 1min faster than Sharky up the Mortirolo and this was even considering that both Dr. K and Sharky were zig (Sharkey) and Zag (Dr. K) up those steep gradients.

Another worthy mention today was that Pippo got out his old bike to ride with us from the bottom of the Mortirolo Pass all the way to Cancano and back to Bormio. Dr. K and his Family owes his life to him for reviving him after he nearly Passa Outed on Passa Gavia. He will forever be one of the Leong Family in Australia and we look forward to him visiting us in Sydney very soon with his Family.

In fact all members of the SMiddy team have bonded so incredibly well that I expect that all of us will keep in touch in Brisbane or Sydney via Facebook if we are busy, but for rides, dinners and reminisces about this amazing Life transforming week.
Now for Dr. K’s personal 4 Highlights out of many for the week –

I , The immense self-belief, courage and honesty shown by all the Smiddy riders to tackle some of the toughest bike rides in the world!

2. The Passa Gavia where I said I nearly Passau Outed at the top. But it was still such a beautiful ride with an enchanted forest mid-way up which I riding alone was basically able to enjoy with great tranquility – the birds twittering, the green and colour of wild-flowers, small pine cones on the road as I rode and the smell of beautiful nature – why do we need TV really – being outdoors creates new networks for better people and health and well-being.

3. Winning the Pink Trumpet and Yellow Jersey on Mortirolo today – now despite the rumours Dr.K/s amazing achievement was only achieved with a combination of legitimate drugs, including codeine, nurofen and alcohol (but only the best Roos vIno including Valpolicela) so despite the results been unofficial until Dr. K provides a urine sample there can be no doubt about it.
As Dr. K reached the half way mark (about 6km) he thinks he started hallucinating hearing cow bells ringing and one particular beautiful Italian cow called Milly whispering in his ear that if he won the Time trial he would receive a nice peck on his cheek as a reward! This with his lovely 16y old daughter Mitzi and his darlingly patient wife Micky, i.e. the 3Ms, Milly, Mitzi and Micky drove Dr. K to the finish line to seize his great prize!

4. The D’Angelis brothers – thank God we only had two and not three this time, but Phillipo likes my Mum and I quite like their parents. He is a bit of a Frank Sinatra but I am not sure he can sing that well to the Italian ladies? But we shall find out tonight.

Pedro the older brother is more mature obviously but a real gentleman with great taste in wine with a great sense of humopur and Smiddy values. I love them both as they have made the trip so much fun – but please don’t tickle me anymore Phillipo!

I have to add one more highlight – People make experiences

Valentino – I really would like to introduce him to my beautiful 23 year old daughter Julia should she break up with her current boyfriend, as I think he would make a nice son-in-law – we could go riding together in wonderful places for instance – but he would have to reveal the Dark Side of his character to me first !

Also if the beautiful Milly could become my daughter-in-law and marry my son Martino I think I would be very happy!

So that leaves Ingo, what a gentleman and great Father – I do hope the Netherlands wins the world Cup and IO do we get to see him again on another Smiddy challenge soon! He helped me get through the last kms of ice and cold and rain on Passa Gavia and is like Pippo a member of my Family. As I will planning our regular 4 yearly Leong-Lim Family Reunion in Bormio in early July 2016, it may be a chance to reunite the Smiddy Bormio support team and some of the riders!

Finally to Will an Adelaide gentleman with great organization skills, a beautiful French wife who works for Chateau Rothschild in Bordeaux and who can ride a bike too! – Please join my Leong Family too Will ? when can we come and visit you and your beautiful French wife in Bordeaux now that you are part of the Family.

Also importantly Dr. K wishes to thank his two room mates during the Challenge – Kerry Alias Ali who Dr. K had the pleasure of sharing a spa bath with her. Very nice after the first big ride up the Passa Giau and 3 other climbs – what a sore bum and legs he had so thank you Alli for helping fix that for Dr. K.

And to Matt for being such a great motivating buddy sharing with Dr.K in Bormio – and for not being too upset when Dr. K fell out of bed after a rather pleasant cow dream before the Mortirolo time trial and for not snoring too much or complaining about Dr. K’s snoring! Again please both roommates visit us in Sydney but sorry Ali I don't have a spa bath in my home.

So Arriverderci – so sad to say, but rather than the end of a great holiday it is the start of many great friendships ala Casablanca!

Okay Peter D'Angelis here... Where are seated at the dinner table just about to have entre’s and I’ve been handed the laptop on the bell, so I wont waste my words.

Every time I come away with the Smiddy guys I limp away a changed man. Treasured times and sobering climbs (that rhymes!).
This trip has been no different. Such a great group of people with a common purpose and always a conscious acknowledgment of where this great charity started.

Given the time constraints I would like to focus on my 4 highlights of the trip.

Firstly my climb up Stelvio (the first time mind you! Yes bragging rights Marc, Harris and Rowy!) with The Shark Man. We got into a great groove early, with good chats and some great snap shots along the way. The cool thing about riding with Sharky is that you truly pick up some of his intellectual properties on climbs like that re. nutition and just the little tricks that guys with his Triathlon Resume pick up through the years. I won’t forget that climb Big Guy.

That same day, and my second highlight goes to Matty who I came up Stelvio with for the second time. At one stage I asked Matty how many Km’s to go thinking in the back of my mind that I would divide the number by 6 or 8 to deduce the climbing time remaining. I later discovered that we came up at an average of about 4.5km (that doesn't leave the 15K tight need Smiddy Family).

Anyway we got up together with considerable 2 way moral support.

Again a climb that I will never forget.

The third highlight was my decent with Sharky and Phillipo today down Mortirolo. 20 km’s of sheer bliss. Without a doubt the most memorable decent of my short cycling career.

Phillipo was out in front early with Sharky close behind. Not a bad frontman (blind corners taken wide at mach speed) we were really on the edge.

I then took Sharky ( which made me feel good because he’s the best descender that I’ve ever ridden with.

I then took Phillipo after his rear wheel locked up.
From there it was all on with the 3 of us pushing the limit right to the end.
Our arrival at the bottom was followed with massive hugs and laughter (a boys moment).

Absolutely 17 minutes I will never forget.

Lastly, seeing the Doc get up in the time trial today was a true highlight.

His quirky humour and enjoyment of an evening glass of Red has endeared him to the Smiddy family and particularly the De Angelis boys.

I have some concerns regarding his true cycling ability and sense that he has been foxing prior to today in the anticipation of a handicapped event (let me say that if anyone’s in the market for dodgy prescription, Dr Gary is your man).

On that note “true story” Matty who bunks with the Doc, announced at Breakfast that Dr G fell out of his bed last night after both boys had been asleep for a number of hours (“drop bear” as Phillipo put it)
If only he’d prescribed himself with Viagra this nasty incident could have been avoided!

That’s what happens when you drink with the De Angelis boys!

In closing thank you Matty and Sharky for a fantastic 6 days. You guys have gone above and beyond and this one is going to be hard to trump.

To the road crew, Wil-I-Am, Pippo, Vale and Ingo you guys have done a fantastic job making us feel safe and welcome.

To my fellow riders………….well I hope and know that I will see you all soon back home.

Over and out, Pedro

Kerri Highlights – birthday, tre cime di livaredo, support
Alyssa – Gavia, Tre Cime, Earning T Shirt
Matt – Seeing others finish Tre Cime, Ingo on Gavia providing support, Mateship & comeraderie
Valentino – Giau with Jason & entire first ride, Final day time trial, Sharing emotions with others.
Ingo – Every ride together, nobody giving up, sharing moments together
Jason – 5 climbs on day 1 & sharing with Valentino, riding with Valentino & Ingo, Watching others achieve climbs at their own rate, blog each night & the stories of the group
Pippo – Enjoying Australians trying to speak Italian, Smiling,
Phil – Being able to raise money for a great cause whilst enjoying ourselves, being associated with such a great cause, meeting great people
Will – Plenty of highlights
Ability to share a beautiful environment with the whole group – Dolomites is one of the most amazing places in the world.
I take a lot of groups but this Smiddy group reminded me of what was great about his job
Work with Great team Pippo, Ingo and Vale
Lovely evenings spending together after the rides.
Love Smiddy huddles – last one today emotions were very high
Descents – the fact that we have earnt them through the climbing
Alyssa – when she first signed she only had one month for training because of work commitments but she knocked over every climb was a real highlight and did not enter sag wagon once!

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