Friday, 3 October 2014


Distance: 200.1 kilometres
Average speed: 26.4 kmph
Maximum speed: 60.8 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 10 degrees
Temperature Maximum - 20 degrees
Metres climbed: 1054
Ride time: 7hrs 36min
Wind: Mostly light winds that were sometimes in our face but mostly behind us.

Road Kill by Nick 'Cougar' Bourns and Katrina 'KatPandaBalls Cousins
3 Skippies, countless dirty rats, 7 magpies that will no longer attack unsuspecting cyclists, 6 rascally rabbits and 1 bat.

Category Jersey won by: Ryan 'Mini' Hicks is our youngest participant and today he proved that he has what it takes to complete this entire journey by digging in deep and completing his longest ride to date. Ryan is a favourite already with the other riders due to his polite nature and willingness to help others. Fittingly, his Father Wayne Hicks, who was also meant to ride but suffered a injury that kept him out of this event, has sponsored each and every promotional flyer ever done for the 7in7 since 2008. Congratulations Mini and thank you Wayne.

Welcome to the first official blog of my final leg around Australia to complete the lap I started back in 2008. This year I have been gifted with many, many fine people to help with not only the immense distance riding 2600 kilometres to get home to Brisbane, but the 28,000 metres of climbing that stands in our way. We have set ourselves a hefty task of close to 200 kilometres a day for 14 days to achieve our goal of arriving safely to the arms of our loves one's waiting for us either in Sydney or in Brisbane.

Our Brilliant Road Crew
Before I tell you about our first day on the road I would dearly like to introduce you to the stars of this ride. Let's start with the road crew, who without their sacrifice and dedication this ride would not be possible. First and foremost, Captain Kevvy Enchelmaier, who has done every Smiddy Challenge event to Townsville since 2007 as our rear vehicle driver, that keeps us safe and sound from the traffic that approaches from behind. This is Kev's 7th 7in7 leg as well and his passion arises from losing his Father to cancer and wanting to give something back. John Curran is our front escort vehicle and is here to not only keep us safe but to support his Wife Janet, who is doing both legs as a rider into Brisbane. Our very own Smiddy leader Matt Marshall, who would normally being riding, is onboard this time around for a week helping out John in the front vehicle. Peter and Liz Dick, along with their road crew duties, are also here to support their daughter Katie, who is riding both legs into Brisbane as well. Sammi Jo So, nicknamed the 'Smiling Assassin', is here as our massage therapist and has an elbow as pointy as a needle and the strength of a lion on heat! Russell Wilson, a great mate of mine from Brisbane, is helping out with driving the big truck, along with Tom Hagenson. Both men possess strength worthy of Olympic weight lifters and will earn their keep loading all the heavy assortment of bags and swags. From the Mater Foundation we have Nicole Arrowsmith who has volunteered a week of her time and her food handling skills, along with her beaming smile warm all the riders hearts. Finally we have Jess Ebelt and Christian Killeen from Smiling for Smiddy, with Jess leading the team in all the logistics of this moving circus, while Christian has planned the course, driven the course, and now will ride the course and get us all safely to Sydney and then on to Brisbane.

Our Dedicated Riders
So that was the road crew and now this next bunch of people have been hard at work fundraising, along with holding down full-time jobs, training hundreds of kilometres a week and balancing family obligations. These people are royalty and I am privileged to be riding alongside of so many fine human beings. Melissa Speare, Rusty Conway and my best mate Ron Steel have signed up for their third leg of 7in7. While Mick Farrag, Nicole Bourke, Mark Trembath and Sarah Crealy are going around a second time. That leaves all the first timers and most are past Smiddy riders such as Katie Dick, Cameron Kratzing, Kirsteen Masson, Janet Curran, Nick Bourns, Roger Hawley, Brad Scriven, Katrina Cousins, Adriel Cahir, Brett Goebel and Tony Smythe. Which leaves the first time participants to not only this 7in7 but to any Smiddy event in Ryan Hicks, Ross Andrewartha, Wendy Williams, William Bruce and his good mate Paul Hogan and finally Brendan McNally. Oh and along with all of the above, some dodgy guy that goes by the name of Sharky!

Our first day on the road
Well with introductions out of the way and hopefully I have not left anyone out, it is time to move onto the 200 kilometre ride from Melbourne to the beautiful seaside town of Venus Bay. Now no Smiddy ride would be complete without an epic start. While we had a few riders love ones there to witness the 5:45am roll out, the weather gods decided a nice wet start was in order for the 7in7 riders. Isolated showers kept the roads wet for most of the 70 kilometres into morning tea. The early start was to get us through the city and onto Beach Road before the traffic got crazy busy. Once onto Beach Road I was beside myself with excitement, not only because we had begun the long journey to Brisbane that would complete this madness that seemed like an excellent idea back in 2008, but because we were about to ride past the very point where I proposed to my Fiancée back in March of this year when we completed the Melbourne Ironman together. You see, my sneaky plan was, with the ring securely taped to my chest, and after swimming 3.8km's, riding 180km's and reaching the halfway point of the marathon course, I surprised Alyssa Coe by getting down on my knee and reciting a proposal poem to her in front of her closest friends and family, along with a couple of hundred spectators. Any of the 7in7 riders that would listen I excitedly retold the tale and was overcome with great joy and wished I could do it all over again.

Morning tea with the road crew
With 'Romantic Sharky Tales' done and dusted, we quickly moved onto our beloved road crew, who had not only prepared a beautiful morning tea, but had found a lovely shelter at the Pearcedale Recreation Reserve to keep us dry as the rain started to fall again just as we pulled in to devour everything that was put in front of us. The new riders, I think, quickly cottoned on to the fact that they may actually gain weight on this ride rather than lose it as we rolled out after a quick 20 minute stop.

The noisy traffic is behind us and two reasons to get excited!
It was very soon after morning tea that we made a lefthand turn onto a quiet country road where I got excited for the second time that day. Up until that point the traffic was horrendous, impatient, always noisier on wet roads and enough was enough! But that all changed, as Christian assured us it would. The flatness was now behind us and as the road began to climb the first cramps of the day hit Janet Curran, who stopped, worked them out and continued on her merry way, while Cameron Kratzing dived into the van as he just could not wait to spend time with Captain Kev. Seriously though Cameron was seriously underdone coming into this event due to ill health and the demands of a university degree. His plan is to build gradually over a few days and expects to be able to ride full days before the end of this first stage into Sydney.

Sharky Excitement number one
Now the reason I got excited was for two things; firstly I came across a lone miniature gnome, sitting atop a fence post, that was the exact resemblance of our very own Captain Kev. You see Kevvy is a dead ringer for a gnome and each and every time he spots a gnome he wants to take a picture of it. So I stopped and waited for Kev and pointed it out, just in case he missed it, and I was right, Kev jumped out of the car giggling hysterically like a little school girl and pleaded with me to take not one, but 14 photos of Kev and this country Gnome. I felt good that I had made his day and it was not until 40km's from home that 'Happy Kev' became 'Cranky Kev', when us riders were naughty and needed a stern talking to for moving in front of the lead vehicle, which was a direct violation of rule 42, paragraph 6 of the Smiddy manual.

Sharky Excitement number two
My second excitement reason was the beautiful scenery; the lush green rolling fields that would not have been out of place in the Swiss Alps, the winding roads that followed the ridgeline that afforded the golden views of the ocean, the wind farms and the fields of dreams. Not to mention the plump happy cows with huge udders, who had not a care in the world. And I will say this about those cows; they just did not give a toss about us riders. Now in Qld and NSW, cows are curious about riders and will always look up or will run away if you ask them in a Monty Python type voice; 'Run Away', 'Run Away'. But Victorian Cows are a different breed of animal and it clearly shook me to the core. I felt unloved and ignored and to be perfectly honest it hurt my feelings. But I am over that now as the road crew have just fed us an amazing dinner at the Venus Bay Caravan Park, my stomach is full and I have forgotten that disappointment.

For you Maria
But I am getting ahead of myself here. So we pull into lunch at Kernot at 124km's and after another gastronomical delight Jess pulls us all aside and instructs the group what to say in a special video message to Maria Smiddy. Without going into too much detail about why Maria needed this message, just know that at this very time she is in need of some positive affirmation. The riders of course obliged, not only willingly but enthusiastically and we can only hope that it makes a small difference when Maria receives it. Maria was also honoured when we did the first huddle of the trip. Our thoughts are definitely with Maria and David and the entire family.

The run into afternoon tea was at Inverloch, which, with it's gorgeous backdrop of the Bass Coastline and the warming sunshine saw many a rider take up position on the grassy picnic area and happy never to move until the sun went down. But we had a destination that beckoned and after Matt had introduced our ever helpful road crew, the riders plunged forward to knock off the remaining 30km's into Venus Bay.

The group have bonded incredibly fast, due I believe, to so many past Smiddy riders being involved. So when they start the hugging and backslapping, the first timers just have to go along with it, whether they want to or not. Most are cool with the emotion and those that aren't will be within another day or two. No one can resist the allure and pull of the incredible Smiddy spirit and the mateship and friendship that follows. That's just how it is!
Our day finished like any and all events that are Smiddy; our MC for the night, Christian did the recap of the day after the delicious stir fry dinner that the road crew prepared, the category jersey was presented to Ryan by myself, road kill was superbly recounted by Katrina and Nick, while our stats man Bretty did a fine first up job of delivering all the important Garmin Stats from our first day on the road. Lastly but most importantly our guest speaker Janet Curran came forward and told her reasons for being involved with Smiddy since 2006.

As Jess wrapped up the night with the details of what to expect tomorrow, I then finished with a thank you to the riders and road crew for being the next crop that will unknowingly help me to complete my goal of riding each and every single kilometre of the nearly 20,000 that make up this very large country of ours. From small origins of just two riders in 2008 making our way up to Cape York, to 26 riders doing this first leg and 38 riding into Brisbane. Together we will conquer the tough roads that lay ahead and once again the Smiddy crew have been blessed with an amazing group of likeminded good hearted individuals that care enough to do something about this terrible disease that affects so many.



1 comment:

  1. Great honour to be part of this amazing group of people who are dedicated to raising money for this cause.