Stats by David 'Stinky' Colahan
Distance: 139 kilometres
Average speed 26.9 kmph
Maximum speed: 65 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 13 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 32 degrees
Metres climbed: 987
Ride time: 4 hrs 21 min
Nice Police Escorts: 1
Road Kill by Nick 'TinkerBell' Bourns and Hava Mendelle
Too numerous to mention but many dogs, sheep, cats, cows, birds, giraffes and the odd American Brown Bear.
Video by Liam
Want to see what a day in the Smiddy peloton is like on the road? Well thanks to our old mate Liam Cavanagh or Cav. You can by following this link to see the excellent very last and final day 14 video into Brisbane http://youtu.be/kHmBS9j9_do
Category Jersey won by:
Captain Kev, for 7 years of loyal service for following my butt around Australia and for 8 years of Smiddy volunteering for nearly all our events on the calendar. Kev lost his Father to cancer and has always wanted to give something back. Well he has well and truly gone above the act of giving and me personally, and everyone at Smiddy and thr Mater Foundation are grateful for it. Thanks Kevvy and I can't wait for our next adventure together one day soon.
This final blog for the Sharky OZ 7in7 is dedicated to Maria and David Smiddy. The Smiddy family was dealt a severe blow when she was diagnosed with a tumour in her Pancreas shortly after this year's Smiddy Challenge ride up to Townsville. Since then she has undergone surgery to have the tumour removed successfully and has been in hospital close on 3 weeks now. Life is not fair sometimes and to hit the Smiddy family with this, after all that they have done for so many people over the years, is just plain wrong! But in typical Smiddy fashion they attack it with their heads held high and remain their beautiful cheery and positive selves. Thank you David and Maria and please know thousands of your friends, family, Smiddy riders, road crew and supporters, are thinking of you and sending you their love.
The Honour of the Cow Bell
Here it is now two days after we finished at UQ pool in what seemed liked a sea of people there to welcome the riders and road crew home to Brisbane. I knew I had this final blog to write, but celebrations, followed by sleep, followed by much eating and catching up with friends and family, consumed all available spare time. So roll out last Saturday from Kingscliffe was set for 7:30am. The ringing of the 100 year old cow bell is a tradition that has started nearly every Smiddy Challenge event and definitely every 7in7 event. To ring it is an extreme honour but one that must be earned. Under no circumstances do you ever ask Kev can you ring it.
Now not once during a Challenge event have I been asked and maybe just once many years ago did Kev get me to ring it in a 7in7 event. So when kev asked me last Saturday to ring these blessed bell, that has touched the hands of so many people, with their own cancer stories, over these past 8 years, his voice broke and that was the end of me. We were both a blubbering mess and as I hugged him we shared tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of pain and tears of a job well done as we got to this point in time by working in with one another and by being the greatest of friends. Thank you Captain Kev, you know I love you mate and will forever be grateful for what you have done, not just for me, but for Smiddy over the years. As I rang that bell I was a happy man as I looked around and spotted Michael and Cathy Jennings, who had spent the night at their home in Burringbar, but returned that morning to see the riders off and lend their support. Oh and the free smorgasbord breakfast offered by the resort may have attracted them as well!
The Border Crossing
After some wise words of wisdom about staying switched on and getting us all home safely from Stinky Dave the peloton rode the short 15km's to the NSW/Qld border crossing at Coolangatta. You see it was here that I asked Killer if we could stop as it was where our journey began back in 2008. That year Scott 'Falcon' May, Kev and myself, stood in that very same spot and asked a passer by to take a photo of us. The journey for Kev and I was complete. Having Falcon here riding the last 4 days and having completed 2 stages of the 7in7, we decided an identical photo, taken 7 years on, was the order of the day. A group shot followed and after Katie Dick and Sarah Crealy did a headstand in honour of Russell Conway, the group remounted their bikes and we continued on our way.
Coffee thanks to B-Rad
B-Rad works for Coca Cola and are suppliers of coffee to many hundreds of establishments around Australia. In every 7in7 event since its inception, we have always stopped for coffee. I asked Killer if he could make it happen on this final day, of course giving the man no notice, but the Kill Man is a magician and managed to squeeze it in on our way home to Brisbane. B-Rad then came in and sorted out the cafe to visit, arranged to pay for all the coffees, orders were taken by Jess that morning and just like that, the peloton rolled into Surfers and downed a coffee that was pre-made for us and 20 minutes later we were on the road again and heading for morning tea. Thank you Killer and especially to Brad for shouting all the riders and crew a well deserved treat. Katie thank you also for sharing your croissant treat with me that accidentally fell into your back pocket from the resort breakfast that morning!
Our Welcome Police Escort
Not long after our last delicious morning tea by our fabulous road crew, the peloton pushed off and were cruising at 38km/h thanks to that mother of a tailwind, we were joined by a police car that stayed with us right up until the inner suburbs of Brisbane were reached. The transformation of the motorists was astounding. How patient and supportive they were; there were no horns, no fingers giving us the birdy, no aggression and passing us and giving the peloton heaps of room. I did not catch the policeman's name but seeing him in action sent so much positive energy through the peloton that our pace increased to over 40km/h for many kilometres. For a good hour we got to feel extremely special and just maybe we are? A huge thank you to that nice man for getting us into Brisbane in the safest manner possible.
Last lunch and Zinc Time
Matty and Anna at Smiddy were busy getting a nice welcome set up for us at the UQ Aquatic Centre. Part of that celebration was encouraging the riders love ones and friends to zinc their faces. So after eating as much of the left overs from 14 days on the road as we could in the space of the 20 minutes we had for lunch, the road crew then covered all the riders in zinc. From our lunch stop it was a short 30 minute ride to the Aquatic Centre and into the arms of our love ones. Steely, Falcon and Myself were invited to lead the peloton in and what a lovely surprise it was to see so many people turn out on what was a glorious Spring afternoon. I left my sunnies on as many of my friends and fellow riders started to congratulate me, due to it being such a bright and sunny day. Oh and okay, maybe to cover the tears that, for the 18th time that day, flowed freely down my pink zinced up cheeks!
We had 15 minutes to catch up with family and friends before a microphone was given to me and my duty of taking on the very last ever 7in7 huddle began. The huddle circle was huge on the grassy grounds of the UQ Aquatic Centre. I invited special people into the middle to acknowledge their contribution. Captain Kev was first in and a round of applause erupted for this great man; a great man that at first sight, sporting a big white Santa beard and until he smiles you would be forgiven to think he is a cranky old man, but nothing could be further from the truth, as all that just hides his true demeanor of having one of the biggest caring hearts on this planet and a nicer man you could not meet.
That is until David Smiddy came on the scene, he may actually even be nicer than Kev, definitely cheekier! Anyway I welcomed David in next, thanked him for being there for us and standing in for Maria who could not get a leave pass out of the Mater Hospital. I know she dearly wished to be there but David's words later had the same effect on everyone present; that of respect and of awe of the strength of the Smiddy family and all that they stand for since the loss of their Son Adam back in 2006.
It was then time for all the road crew members to enter the centre of the huddle and be reminded of just how special those fine human beings were over that 2 week period on the road. Without you guys Smiddy events would be nothing. You guys are just as important as the riders and together we are Team Smiddy!
Next up, all the talented beautiful and incredibly resilient and strong female riders were invited into the middle and received an amazing applause from the appreciative crowd.
Finally the male 7in7 riders went into the centre and their strengths in helping the riders that were struggling was duly noted and acknowledged.
Councilor Peter Matic
Peter Matic was instrumental in the opening of Adam Smiddy Park and I invited him along to say a few words. He reminded everyone that the ever growing Smiddy family of supporters, riders, road crew, donors and researchers were just like the Brisbane community. Brisbane was a great place to live and work and go to school in, as the respect we have for one another in Brisbane is like we are all part of the one family. Peter also told the story of the opening of Adam Smiddy park and praised the whole Smiddy and Mater community for their involvement in changing peoples lives through what we do. Thank you Peter for your kind words and giving up your afternoon to welcome us in.
7in7 Final Leg Activities
After the huddle, afternoon tea was served and then we invited all the riders, road crew, families and supporters, to join us to sit on the grass for the very last tradition that we have done on every Smiddy and 7in7 event. The reading of the blog was done by the Birthday girl and head of the road crew, Jess Ebelt, thanks for that Jess and sorry for not giving you any warning as per usual! A live road crew count was done by Tinkerbell, stats by Stinky Dave and the last category jersey was handed out by me to none other than Captain Kev. You all know why so no need to repeat myself there. The guy is a dead set legend!
Special Presentation to Jae
Anna Tate then got Jae Marr up from the Aquatic Centre and presented him with a framed Smiddy Challenge jersey to say thanks for his support for Smiddy events since 2006. Jae, like many many hundreds of people we know, is the backbone of Smiddy and without these fine human's behind the scenes, Smiling for Smiddy would be not where it is today.
Puncture, Puncture, Puncture
How is that on the same set of Maxxis Refuse tyres I can ride from Brisbane to Townsville, 1600 km's in September this year, then one month later ride an additional 2600 km's from Melbourne to Brisbane, over some of the worsts roads in all of Australia, (talking all of NSW here) then in the final kilometre I suffer a slow leaking puncture? It was not until Alyssa was helping me to put my bike in the car that she told me my rear tyre was flat. Unbelievable! It was as if my bike was saying to me; "You are home, you are now resting, you are not to mount me for a week at the least - do you understand Sharky?" In my mind I replied; "Yes Mr Scott bike, that has been extremely loyal and never put a gear wrong all this time, I hear and will obey!" Thanks Matty and Mel from AvantiPlus The Valley, for yet again another fine bike to ride insane distances on!
Last Chance Pizza and Slide Show
Anna Tate, who works at the Mater and is one of the team that works on Smiddy events, had the entire office to herself while the team was away on the 7in7 Final Leg, worked long and hard to deliver that memorable finish for the crew. She also put in time to organise a celebration at the Schonell for pizza, presentations and a slide show. Kev and I were presented with a 7in7 jersey from Matt and Anna, that recognised our 7 years on the road and the slowest ever circumnavigation of Australia ever! It was a last chance to sit around in a relaxed atmosphere and chat with people that you had just spent 24/7 with for over two weeks straight. While I will miss the laughs, the riding, the food, the mateship, the good and even the shitty weather conditions, nothing beats sleeping in your own bed and coming home to someone that loves you unconditionally. Something I have not had for a very long time, but now I do and I could not be happier or more content.
Last words by Sharky
Steely and Kevvy stayed over on Saturday night and the celebrations continued in a much slower fashion. I was good for one beer and in bed by 9:30pm, while Kevvy and Steely showed their professionalism and elitism in consuming many beers and a few glasses of red while retelling stories from two weeks on the road.
I got asked a lot the question; "How does it feel to know you have rode 19,600 kilometres around Australia and in doing so covered every state and territory?" My answer has been, and always will be the same, "This stage of my life will stay with me because of the people!
The journey and the views of this ever changing Australian landscape, that only Mother Nature can produce, while beautiful and immense and great, and have definitely left a permanent stain on my cortex, will always be about the people that have come into my life and made me a better person. To each and every rider, road crew personal, family member, friends, donors, supporters, sponsors and the hundreds of random people that stopped to chat, donate, to offer accommodation, food or water, especially in those early years of 7in7 and 9 years of Smiling for Smiddy, I say a heartfelt thank you. The imprint you have left on my soul will stay with me until my time on this Earth is done and dusted. It is you that have made this trip worthwhile, and at times when it was ridiculously hard, sometimes dangerous and bordering on insanity, I thank my stubborness, for without it I would not have come in contact with each and every one of you and my life would not be changed for the better!
Until my next adventure take care.
P.S. Thanks to a few more donations that came in I am now only short $1,062 shy of my target of raising $5,000. If you wish to donate just a few dollars it would be so appreciated. It is as easy as following this link: https://thefinalleg.everydayhero.com/au/mark-1