Held in memory of Adam Smiddy, who passed away from an aggressive melanoma aged 26, Smiling for Smiddy delivers inspiring challenge events where individuals and communities alike can band together to raise funds for cancer research at Mater, the Smiddy way.
Friday, 5 September 2014
2014 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - Day 7 - Belyando to Charters Towers
Kangaroos. 677.2 cars. 1 stove. 2 Emus. 7 Birds. 2 cows. 1
cat. Adam's wheel. Melissa's bowel content. 1 Wombat. 1/2 of an
Ornithorhynchus. 60% on right. 37% on left. 3% in the middle. 1% with maths
Team Work: Went
to Ben Pearson for his undying passion to Smiling for Smiddy over the past 3
years and even though sick with the flu continued to help any rider struggling.
snapped up by the Father and Son combination in Ian and Jayden Swarbrick, who
have returned for a second year in a row and are the best of mates.
Spirit: Went to
Mark Colgate, who although crook for the past 3 days continued to support his
fellow riders with a friendly pat on the back and decided to take photos of
each and every rider with his iPhone as he rode past. Smiddy leader Matt
Marshall looked away many times as this was considered naughty in the peloton.
David Mead spoke
about beating testicle cancer and nearly losing his leg as a child to a bone
infection. He confessed that originally he was on board so that he could say he
had ticked off the Smiddy Challenge from his bucket list, but like most riders
who ride for that reason, he soon got caught up in the incredible Smiddy spirit
and was on board for the right reasons mid way through this years Challenge.
followed on from David and spoke about many reasons as to why he is a Smiddy
person. Besides having many Melanoma cancers removed personally Ben has
suffered many loses throughout his life from this debilitating disease.
Thank you kindly to all my fellow riders who
volunteered to take on the responsibility of writing the daily journals over
the past 6 days. After riding 200 plus kilometres a day, then attending the
community functions until 10pm and on back to your billet or swags, while all
the other riders are tucking themselves into bed, you have been sitting down to
write your journal through to midnight. I can't thank you guys enough!
So my journal is about day 7 from Belyando
Crossing to Charters Towers and I have decided to take a different tack on
today's ride and skim through it quite quickly. My reasons for this are because
I wish to share some stories of the special people that have been part of the
Smiddy Challenge journey this year.
Breakfast was scheduled for 5:30am with a
6:30am roll out time of 6:30am, of which we were right on time thanks to Garath
not making me late like he did when staying with my billet in Clermont on day
5! The fatigue from 6 long days in the saddle was evident from the first pedal
stroke and the consensus was that as we had reasonably good conditions, with
light headwinds, dry heat of 39 degrees and time up our sleeves, that we would
actually make an effort today not to push the group and try and enjoy the
Australian countryside. But a 200km day is still a big day in the saddle
whether you are pushing it or not, especially with 1250 kilometres already in
I can't begin to tell you just how well this
group has ridden right from day two. The bonding as friends and riders has
helped accomplish this amazingly quick translation from one of strangers, to
best of buddies; buddies that you can totally depend on regardless of the
distances or what Mother Nature threw our way over the past 7 days. And today
was no different with each and every rider completely at ease and happy with
going easier for the entire day.
Morning tea came fairly quickly after 70
kilometres and 2 and a half hours of riding. The feast the road crew delivered
was the usual perfect delicious variety of everything imaginable that can be
prepared in the middle of nowhere. And of course, delivered in the friendliest
manner that we have become accustomed to by our beautiful road crew. Lunch was
at the 122km mark and at this point last year it was 47 degrees and we were
fighting a hungry headwind that wished to devour us all. But this time around,
leaving a week early, seemed to have done the trick with the daily temperatures
being cooler than 2013 by a good 10 degrees on most days. The Smiddy Challenge
riders that returned from last year, of which there are about 10, were very
grateful and commented to the newbies of last year's tortuous experiences.
After afternoon tea the final sprint session
was meant to take place but due to road works and the tiredness of the riders,
Matt made the decision to call off the sprint and just roll in as a group on
the comfortable pace that we had been sitting on all day. This was welcomed
with a rousing cheer from the majority of riders.
Our finish into The School of Distance
Education was a happy occasion for all as a great majority of the riders are
suffering this year from sore bums, neck and shoulders, dodgy knees and sore
wrists from the vibration that 1450 kilometres of Qld country roads subjects us
to. The honour of the huddle went to Mark Gleeson and Michael Dunne, who were
very appreciative of being asked. Thanks Mark and Michael for the lovely words
spoken to the group. I would also like to thank Geoff Honey, who will complete
his third Smiddy challenge event in a row tomorrow when he finishes in
Townsville, for the great insightful words that were spoken to the group
immediately after the huddle. Geoff is a very wise man and his words made
immense sense and meant a lot to the group.
The nighttime function saw the road crew, and
I mean all the road crew, get up and keep David Smiddy company while he read
out the journal that they wrote last night in Belyando Crossing. They finished
with an amazing war cry that my Auntie Marie came up with that had the whole
Matt needed a night off from his MC duties and
handed it over to Anna. Who did an exceptional job. It was funny when she was
asked as she was concerned at not being able to be as funny as Matt, but let me
assure you she killed it and all in the room were in fits of laughter. The
night finished as always with some thank you gifts handed out to key people
that help Smiddy out each year. A huge thank you to John and Anne Clarke, who
for 6 years now have provided food and the use of the school grounds for the
crew to take over for the one night.
Sharky's top ten most memorable moments
from this years tour
1.Witnessing the amazing
improvements in the following riders that struggled through the first 3 days.
Hannah Hogan, who was close to not even starting the event but start she did
and was beside herself with excitement when she completed her very first day in
its entirety when she rolled into Clermont. To date she has also completed all
of day 6 and 7 although in a great deal of pain due to saddle issues. Vanessa
Trott is another lovely lady who was meant to start last years Smiddy Challenge
but had to pull out due to injury. This year she once again battled with
injuries but still managed to start but well underdone in preparation. Vanessa
completed day 6 and 7 and like Hannah her fitness is growing along with her
confidence. Jack Coward is living proof that the impossible can be achieved as
long as you have some self belief. Jack rides with a colonoscopy bag and
although he trained long and hard for this event he will be the first to tell
you that nothing prepares you for the pace that the riders need to average to
finish each day before sunset. Jack completed his first full Smiddy day on day
6 and he has always said that without the help of most of the riders this would
not have been possible. And finally Tracy Keogh did it tough to start with but
by day 4 was completing each and every day in its entirety.
2.If we were handing out
awards for courage while still grieving then my vote would go to two very
special people in the Smiddy peloton. Firstly Zane Williams for even starting
this ride when he had every right not to. You see he lost his best mate to cancer
just 3 weeks ago. That best mate was his Father. He has really struggled at
times both emotionally and physically as his preparations for this event were
hampered by first the wonderful news early in the year at becoming a Father for
the very first time and then the sad passing of his Dad. Then there is Claire
Schneider, who last year got as far as Belyando Crossing and got news that her
Dad may soon pass away. She missed those last two days of the Smiddy Challenge
but got to the hospital in time to say goodby to her Father. Well our beautiful
Claire is back to finish the journey and I assure you she will finish it and
finish it having ridden every single kilometre in memory of her father. To Zane
and Claire I say to you that the entire team are so incredible proud of you
both and you know we mean it when we say we love you.
3.This year is extremely
special for me, not only because I have the immense pleasure of sharing this
experience with 4 of my family members in my Sister Kay, my Brother Terry, my
future Brother in-law Glen Jacobs, (hurry up Glen) and my Auntie Marie, who is
the the fittest best looking and friendliest lady in the entire world at the
spritely age of 74 years of age. Marie does not look a day over 60 and she and
Terry have enjoyed their first Smiddy challenge experience as road crew
immensely, while Kay is a veteran volunteer with 6 editions now under her belt.
Mr Smiddy indicated to me that all the current road crew are under orders to
return next year or there will be trouble! When David is pleased, we are
4.I get such immense pleasure
out of not just seeing the riders form unbreakable bonds, but when the road
crew gel as well, and gel they always do no matter what the year, but 2014 was
something entirely special again. Their closeness and respect for each other
was none more evident when my Auntie Marie lead them in their own war-chant to
honour Adam Smiddy. They performed it tonight after David Smiddy had finished
reading out the journal. The room erupted and a new act was formed to rival the
great Von Trapp family from Sound of music fame.
5.Jo Lester, from our sponsor
bike shop, AvantIPlus The Valley, was our mechanic for the past 7 days. Jo was
kept busy but with all the riders adhering to a full service of their bikes
prior to the event, the majority of the mechanicals were minor. The sponsorship
from Maxxis Tyres worked a treat with each rider wearing Maxxis Refuse tyres
and only 7 punctures were recorded for the entire trip to date. Surely a Smiddy
record! Anyway a huge thanks to Jo, who came in ready to be a mechanic, but not
ready for the life changing experience that comes with volunteering for a
Smiddy event.Jo has now been converted
into the Smiddy family and has indicated he would love to return next year. Due
to a wedding on Saturday we are losing our new friend and another employee from
AvantiPlus, Julian Lang, has flown in for the final day. While we will miss Jo
the group warmly welcomed Julian into the fold.
6.To the following people I
tip my hat to for these reasons: Rowan Foster, for flying in and joining
the group from day 4. The peloton never feels right without the big man riding.
Michael Young, for returning after many years away and enjoying the
experience without his closest friends by his side, but a new batch, not better
or worse, just new. I know he does this in memory of his Father, whom he had an
amazing relationship with up until cancer robbed him of his best mate a few
short years ago. Paul Martin, the quiet American who has been living in
Tassie for a few years and great mates with Jason Overton. I loved it when Paul
rode past me on day 5 and asked me how I was going. His first words to me and
from that point in time he spoke often each day. Paul came for the ride and got
the Smiddy injection that changes lives forever. Welcome to the family champ! Captain
Kev, who fronted up for his 8th Smiddy Challenge in a row. Mate you are
irreplaceable! Sammi-Jo, the bubbliest massage therapist disguised as a
Ninja Assassin that you will ever meet. She stands 4 feet tall and will take
you to levels of pain unknown to man, but do it all with a smile on her face.
We love you Sammi-Jo. Stemmy and Mia our new lead car driver and
photographer doing the great Geevsey out of a job? You guys rock, thank you so
much for keeping us so safe, topped up with water and photographed more than
the legendary Wybrand Detoit. Helen Merry for coming up with the Smiddy
war chant that we performed in Blackwater. Why she waited until day 4 is beyond
me? It was brilliant, although now rated second best behind the road crew
chant. Ray Francis, who is as little and as light as Sammi-Jo, for
returning to the Smiddy peloton. Ray did his first Smiddy in 2012 and had to be
pushed every day. This time around, even with a cracked rib, Ray was the one
helping other riders out and smiling each and every minute of every day. An
absolute pleasure mate to have you in the peloton.
7.The most popular name on
this years Smiddy challenge was a draw with Mark and David scoring 4 a piece,
while the name Ian was a close second with 3. Kevvy and Paul and Michael came
in with a tie for third with 2 a piece. We had 19 girls in the crew this year
and all their names were different.
8.On day one, while taking
the Sharky short cut up and over a 20% gradient climb and dirt roads and creek
crossing; my old mate Zane Williams was riding beside me just as we began to
climb. He looked across at me with the Armstrong Stare, and said, see you at
the top! He then proceeded to drop me! From that point in time I knew I had
been put in my place. Thanks Zane?
9.On day 4 Matt asked me to
speak to the group just before pushing off from a water stop. I was feeling a
little emotional and after telling the group job well done and take care I let
out with a really loud Sharky "I love you guys." I recall that Youngy
looked up and was quietly amused. As we pushed off, Rowan rode up by my side
and said; "Sharky I don't think the group realised the significance of
that call." You see Row will affirm this as fact, that only once
throughout any Smiddy event will I let out one of those calls. While I meant
it, I now wish I had of saved it for day 7 when by then we were inseparable.
10.The best for last is of course Maria and David Smiddy. How
lucky are we that you allow this event to continue year in year out for 9 years
now? Thank you so much guys for your acceptance of each and every rider and
road crew member that enters your lives each year. I know I speak on behalf of
everyone here when I say that to be embraced in a Maria cuddle is something
special indeed. Even David has got in on the act over the past 5 years. Smiddy
events reflect these two wonderful human beings and I can't wait for the tenth
edition of Smiddy Challenge in 2015, just so that I get to hang out with the
Smiddy family again. I love you Maria and David tend I ask of you your
permission for this event to continue in 2015?