Tuesday, 2 September 2014

2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 4 - Biloela to Blackwater

Day 4 - By Iain Cory & Jarod Covey
Stats – Stinky Dave Colahan
Distance – 239.85 km
Elapsed time – 11.57
Moving time – 8.49
Ave speed 27.2 kph
Climbing – 1579 m
Min temp – 4 c
Max temp 35 c

Road Kill Count
3 birds
1 fish
1 pig
55 kangaroos
24 bags of bones
17 bad smells unrelated to the riders.
Geoff's wheel
1 flat tyre
Jenno's bottom bracket
Judging by the fact that he also changed saddles today I think Jennos rear end may have also been a casualty.
Rowans rear hanger but credit to him for riding back to the group. I guess that's one of the benefits of fresh legs.

Biloela to Blackwater

Today at the Rollout we were greeted with the now traditional and iconic bag pipes playing to help awaken the weary riders senses for what many feared would be an epic Smiddy Day.  The morning safety briefing didn’t allay any of the riders fears as Killer delivered the ominous message.  Heat, headwinds, road trains, wide loads and 240kms to Blackwater.  However this was far from the riders minds as we rolled out under cool clear skys with barely a breath of wind.  The chat was about how good a comfortable bed was to sleep in, we had clicked over the first 30km with relative ease on the quiet back roads to the small hamlet of Jambin before hitting the Highway.

As the day continued the temperature quickly climbed and as we progressed further west the predicted westerly’s (read headwinds) began to show themselves.  We were progressing well and looking on schedule, however the now ever present headwind started to turn the screws on the Smiddy Peleton.

Reaching the small roadside town of Dululu was to be our first stop of the day.  The smiddy peloton has been stopping here every year and we were cheerfully greeted by local residents Noel & Gladys Duthie (aka Kevvy’s Parents) who have lived in Dululu their entire lives (over 91 years).  They kindly donated $200. The Duthie’s have also been touched by cancer having lost their daughter many years ago, and they look forward to the Smiddy peloton rolling in each year. Morning tea was once again supplied by our trusty road crew and we were treated to a great spread of food .

Immediately on roll out from Dululu it was evident that the ride was now entering the West.  Dululu is an intersection point for 2 major transport routes and immediately the traffic increased and our the two Kev’s in our pilot and rear vehicles were immediately in the action guiding the ever present road trains safely past the riders – time to earn your keep now boys.  But we are very fortunate to have these towo on board.  Kevvy, having followed cyclists all around Australia for the past 8 years  and Kev Stemm a QPS traffic officer have a wealth of experience and expertise in this role.

At the Capricorn Hwy Intersect we were met by the friendly Queensland police service from the Duaringa station.  These guys come out every year to help guide us through to arvo tea at Dingo, it also signifies another change to the smiddy peloton that many riders look forward to.  Under the QPS guidance the peloton moves to triples (3 abreast) to help shorten up the group and allow the trucks smaller passing distances.  This also gives the peloton the chance to protect the weaker riders from the onslaught of the prevailing headwinds by enclosing them in the middle lane and allowing the remaining riders to rotate around them.  Also at this point we were met by past Smiddy rider Rodney “Rocket” Enkelmann who just happened to be passing by to say hello – thanks for coming out to support us Rocket.  We were also joined by Smiddy ride co-founder Rowan Foster.

The Smiddy Express was now ready to depart for Blackwater, however the increasing headwinds would soon conspire to take the Express out of us.

Lunch time could not come quick enough as we rolled into the small out post of Duaringa150kms into the day, which saw a very exhausted Smiddy peleton peel off the road for a well earned break, to the cheers of the road crew who broke out their best fancy dress for the occassions. 

With bodies spread across the local park which was looking more like a triage area with some very sore and tired bodies.  The road crew were trying to up the spirits of the riders with ice water and a spray from the water tank to help cool them down.  But the day was also a time for celebration as it was road crew member Marie’s 74 birthday.  Marie is Sharky’s Aunt and onboard for her first smiddy adventure.  A special birthday cake for Marie and Happy Birthday before the rider remounted for the afternoon session.

Unfortunately the restart was not smooth sailing as 3 time rider Geoff Honey touched a wheel on a slow incline and promptly found himself rubber side up.  Fortunately no damage apart from the pride but a rest in the car for Geoff to ensure all was well.  The peloton battled on through the winds heading for Dingo and Arvo Tea.

The road house at Dingo (home of the famous Dingo Races – ask Sammi Jo about how they race dingoes) was an oasis in the desert as we were again treated to an array of goodies and most importantly Birthday Cake!!  But the stop was short with a job to be done and the sun getting lower in the sky still 50 kms remained and 2 hours to dark.  It was time to bring the strong riders to the front for a special effort.

The winds were not letting up and getting up to 46 kph straight in the face a team of 6 assembled to the front.  Their job is to stay there and pull the entire peloton home for the final two hours.  This role takes a special type of rider – physical strength is one thing but strength of mind, determination, compassion and dedication are even more important.  They will sit out the front with just the 6 riders rolling turns keeping the speed even and solid for the next 50 kms.  It’s a delicate balancing act – to fast and you split and blow the group, to slow and darkness will descend.  But in true smiddy style when the chips are down, when the going is tough the tough get going. And they did exactly that.  Riders were hurting, crying yelling at the winds but they kept turning the pedals and laughing in the face of whatever was coming next.

And suddenly the best sight of any smiddy rider as we crested the final hill under the coal hopper across the road – civilisation.  In the distance the water tower of Blackwater with the sun setting over the top.  The riders accelerated down into town with a spring in the pedal stroke.
As we rolled into Blackwater the cream of the crop rose to the top with all the girls bringing it home for the boys. The cheers at the end were well deserved for what will go down as one of the epic days in the smiddy peloton. 

A massive effort today by all the riders but the biggest thanks go out to the road crew and police for keeping us all safe.

Blackwater is a special town for Smiddy, with all riders being billeted in the local community thanks to the tireless efforts of larger than life Lynlea and Ian and her side kick Vicki and of course Villiage on Blain’s Don Forbes.  These people have been looking after us for years and never fail to deliver a fun evening, good food and a good bed for our riders and this year was no exception.  Thank guys – as Sharky would say “You are AWESOME”

We heard two stories from Pete Buckley and Craig Trevallion on their brushes with cancer and illness and their reasons for doing Smiddy in 2014.  Thanks guys it takes courage to stand up and open your heart to strangers.

Category Jersey recipients today went to –
-          Teamwork – Joe Lester our trusty mechanic for his tireless and selfless work
-          Spirit – Katja Rex – a softly spoken quiet achiever who just puts the head down and works tirelessly every day
-          Pete Buckley – Mateship – Pete continues to lead, help and encourage all in his own quiet manner.

After a long day the legs are weary and body tired but feeling inspired for the next edition of Smiddy 2014.

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