Monday, 6 October 2014

Sharky's Oz 7in7 The Final Leg
Marlo To Nimmitabel - Day 4
By Mick Farrag

Distance:  214.5 kilometres
Average speed: 21.3  kmph
Maximum speed:  68.9kmph
Temperature Minimum -  9 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 30 degrees
Metres climbed: 3051m
Ride time: 10 hrs 3 min
Wind direction: Horrible unrelenting battering northwesterly headwind

Road Kill by Nick 'tinkerbell' Bourns and Katrina 'KatPandaBalls' Cousins
5 wombats
6 lizards
30 cockatoos
1 snake
An alive echidna
Countless evil smells
25 bags of bones
1 falcon
44 kangaroos
1 stiff eagle on a post
58 dead legs
One dragonfly
One moth in Tinkies mouth
1 robin
1 parrot
1 teddybear

Category Jersey won by: Brendan McNally for his quiet dedication to the Smiddy peloton

Guest speaker tonight was Rusty Conway from Woollongong who has been a Smiddy rider since 2011 when he first participated in the Smiddy Challenge. Rusty spoke of the impact of being a part of the Smiddy family - the life values and the inspiration this legacy that Adam, his family and the Smiddy riders share to persevere and achieve.

Sun coming up with tranquil views over the water gave us no indication of the day that lay ahead. Laying in bed wishing for the alarm to stop its ringing, I couldn't help but wonder if Roger had angered the weather gods with his taunting comments about how kind they had been to the Smiddy peloton the day before.

With the long day ahead, breakfast was up and ready to eat at 5 - which can only mean the support crew were up at some horrendous hour preparing - no doubt somewhat earlier than our alarms.

6am it's rollout with Jess taking the honour of setting us on our way with the ringing of the cow bell.  The endless hours of behind the scenes works that Jess commits to any Smiddy event may appear to go unnoticed, so today it was only fitting that she be recognised for her commitment and dedication to ensuring our every whim is catered for.  Day cards included.  Thank you Jess.

So with the ringing of bells we're on our way only to realise as we ride through the quiet back street of Marlo that the first pee stop isn't for 40k!  Sanity quickly prevailed with a quick stop at 20k where Smythey was so relieved and ready to roll, he performed the most enthusiastic celebrations by rolling out before the lead vehicle. Oh oh!

Onto Cann River, (sung to the tune of Cold Chisels, Bow River) where we stop for an extended morning tea - by one minute.  Clipping in and off we go with 20km of gentle rolling and then for the  climbing to begin.  But not before Sharky makes a surprise getaway, sprinting up the road only to be caught by the peloton as he quickly dismounts his bike to stop for the toilet stop he seemingly ran out of time for.
From this point on the road continued upward and we began to climb and descend, climb and descend.  As the climbs continued and varied in uphill gradient, the descents never once did they disappoint.

Lunch came quickly as we ticked off yet another state crossed in Sharky's quest to circumnavigate Australia as we cross the Victorian/NSW border - the fifth state in Sharky's 7 in 7 journey in our wake.  A quick celebratory photo for Sharky and captain Kevvy who has been at his side every step of the way through this amazing journey. What a milestone!!  With that box ticked this leaves only 3 more borders to cross.  1 NSW/ACT, 2 ACT/NSW and 3 NSW/Qld.  And all to come in the next 10 days.

So, with many little bike niggles fixed with the help of Ronnie - a Smiddy founding father and our awesome bike mechanic - and Roger and bellies full, Kevvy's whistle was blown and we're back on the road leaving the Victorian border.  Unbeknown to us, while we enjoyed the direct roll downhill out of lunch, we would quickly be faced with one of the toughest Smiddy afternoon riding session we have come to experience.

These final kms proved to be some of the hardest many of us would ever have the pleasure of enduring on a bike. Beginning with a nice long "go at your own pace ascent" taking in the Bondi State Forest, the peloton quickly disbursed to small groups and pairs of riders tapping away to the summit for a regroup before we once again, roll out for the afternoon 'smack session'. Smacked in the face by nothing other than a kiss by Mother Nature - a reverse tailwind.

Now we all know that when you are faced with conditions like this, there is only one choice. Band together like only a Smiddy rider knows how, and together we will get there. The Smiddy spirit in full force.  So with heads down and bums up the 29 riders set out to punch through working the peloton, easy goes it down the left, punch it steady up the right. With hands on backs, words of  encouragement, silly singalongs and  stories - whatever it took to keep the spirits up and the wheels turning.

As we approach the end of the road to a T intersection, murmurs and mumbles can be heard from the peloton - "are we turning left or right?"  A sigh of relief as the winning reggie right turn has us turning with the wind on our backs taking us all the way into our much needed afternoon tea stop at Bombala.

With pats on the backs, stories being told and bodies being stretched and refueled, our team of lead riders hatched a plan to get us throughout the next 51km of continuing climbing with the added extra challenge of the unseasonal breeze.  We head off around 4pm with the quick realisation that it's going to be a long long roll into our final destination of Nimmatebel where we knew our billets would be waiting for us.

And long and testing it was, holes and gravel left, easy on the front, the winds just didn't want to let up. Tired legs and bodies, the descents, while they were greeted with a sigh of relief, there was an equal sigh upon beginning yet another climb after climb after climb.

Broken down into two legs each 25km long, you can imagine our joy at stopping for a break with the first 25km down and being greeted by the road crew in blustering winds with ice creams in hand. Surely another 25k can't be that hard - it's just a ride home from the coffee shop isn't it?!
Well those hills and that Smiddy spirit, the teamwork, the camaraderie and support didn't waiver over that final 25km. And nor did the hills. At least not until the last 5k into town where the "yahoo's" could be heard for miles.

This day is surely has to go down as one of the longest and hardest days in the Smiddy saddle.

With dinner kindly donated and prepared by the local Lions at the Nimmitabel Country Club, day rider, Matty Marshall, takes the reins as MC while riders lean back and do all in their power to keep eyelids from closing. We listen to a recap of the days events before the generosity of this community come to once again, as our billets for the night ferry us to a night of rest in a real bed in a real house. A special thank you to the Nimmitabel community for their very generous support and kindness.




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