Tuesday, 24 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE DAY 2: Hamner Springs To Reefton

STATS FOR THE DAY
Distance:  138 kilometres
Average speed:  23.9 kmph
Ride Time: 5hrs 47min
Maximum speed:  82 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 2 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  16 degrees
Metres climbed: 1587
Wind direction: Headwind from 10km until lunch at 93km's

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Wal 23 possums, 13 bags of bones, 2 feather fascinators, 1 owl, 1 hedgehog, slingers chain, Sharky's jacket and Harry's sunnies

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Ben Walding for being a real team player today and helping out many riders who were under duress due to the difficult conditions.

GUEST SPEAKER: Rod Tanner spoke about his love for his Father, who survived a battle against Prostate cancer but passed away from a brain cancer 9 months later. Rod's Father  was a heavy gem miner and Rod noted how appropriate it was that he was speaking on this night that we were staying in Reefton, which is an old Gold mining town.

ADDITIONAL STATS BY KARL AND BEN
60 mega joules of energy produced by the group (equivalent to heating 600 cups of tea)
139km, 1740m of elevation gain, 8h11m of riding
3000 Calories of effort by the average rider
5 minute top average speed - 54.2km/h
60 minute top average speed - 27.9km/h
Equivalent to burning 1.2kg of methane

TODAY'S COURSE
Roll out was from 7am and the course today took in a yellow room stop at 27km's and today I was super proud of my aging bladder when it co-operated and held out until that first stop. Morning tea was held at a rest area at a small place called Engineers Camp at 50km's, where all the engineers in the peloton felt very special indeed that a camp was named after them. St James Walkway or Lewis Pass, saw the peloton regroup at 72km's, which was nearly at the top of the major climb up to 900 metres today. Lunch was at 93km's at Junction Springs where the coffee was horrible but the food delightfully yummy thanks to our beloved and huggable road crew. A last pee stop was scheduled at the 125km mark by the side of the road where a pet rock was adopted by Andy and Sharky. (More on that later in tomorrow's blog)Then the finish was at a quaint little town called Reefton at 138km's, with a short stop for the riders to admire the old suspension bridge that lead to many long ago closed Gold mines. It was here where Paula was most immature by bouncing on the suspension bridge and toppling 5 weary riders into the raging torrent of water many hundreds of metres below... We are now down 5 riders but from a road crew perspective their job just got a little easier! Okay I may have exaggerated a little there. The creek was flowing, just... The drop was 20 metres and none of the riders actually fell in, but  it is true that Paula was immature!

SHARKY'S TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS
1. Rolling out of Hanmer Springs today just as the sun was beginning to warm this part of the world, the air was a crisp snuggly 5 degrees, the mountain backdrops were visually stunning as the fog and mist clung to the sides in a gentle caress. The golden glow of the sunshine enticed the sheer mountainside cliffs to show their true colours, as does a peacock displaying her feathers to attract attention of the opposite sex. I can tell you now that Mother Nature this morning got the attention of all the peacocks in the Smiddy peloton.

2.It was tough going today with a very strong headwind appearing instantly at the 10km point of the ride, and I mean instantly. One moment it was dead-calm, the next we were pushing into a 30-knot headwind, and of course this coincided perfectly with the exact moment the road began to rise. So for the next 62 grueling kilometres, the elevation went from 200 metres up to just shy of 900 metres. It was hard going and you know what pleased me the most about this? It was the pure display of guts and determination from all the riders. The not so strong guys and girls just toughed it out, while I'm sure cursing under their breath, while the strong guys really pitched in to help. Guys like Rocket Rod, Jumping Jackson, Big Bad Ben, The Kill Man and Handy Andy, Perfect Paula and of course my Bro! What legends they were today and appreciated by all.

3.Two riders in the peloton are more famous than they have let on. First we have Harry Nina and we ride past a national park that is named after him, and then blow and behold, exactly and precisely 14.2 km's down the road, we happen upon Jackson Bridge, named after our esteemed rider and guest speaker from last night in Jackson Gerard. From this day on, our respect levels for these great men, has risen by 2.2 millimetres!

4.At Lunch today road crew extraordinaire, Kirsteen Masson, approached me with a great story of niceness and thoughtfulness. A lady and her husband in a campervan, who had sold up everything, brought a van and decided to live out their lives traveling around New Zealand as she had cancer. They were impressed with the story Kirsteen told of what us riders were out here doing. She offered to give Kirsteen some banana's to share with the riders, who had not arrived yet, and enquired how many would Kirsteen require. When the answer came back at 26 banana's, the lady apologised and said they only had 3. She ended up keeping them and Kirsteen walked off with no banana's but a nice story to tell me.

5.Maria and David Smiddy sent me a nice message yesterday to share with the riders. "Just a quick message to let everyone know we are thinking of you all. We send our best wishes for an amazing NZ Smiddy Challenge over the next five days. Wishing you safe cycling, amazing views, fantastic weather and lots of laughs. Can't wait to cheer riders and road crew in to Christchurch next Friday.xxoo" Maria and David. Maria also asked that Sammi-Jo to please behave herself and please try to be as mature as Sharky! True story...

6.The last 7 kilometres of the climb up to Lewis Pass was a go-at-your-own-pace section. The strong guys were basically given permission to 'release the beast'. Players today included Ben, Paula, Zane, John, my Bro Martin, Andy and Slingers. I went along for a while so I could report all the action; which basically meant going into the 'Everest Death Zone', with copious amounts of saliva spilling from my mouth and blood wheeping from my eyes and my legs imploding with still 5km's to go, I hung in there as the 'death march' music played in my head and just prior to passing out this is what I recall. Everyone got dropped except Paula and Ben. That's all I remember...

7.A gift from Hawk today, to little old me, touched my heart and warmed it immensely, on what was a cold chilly day that never required any of the full winter wardrobe that I had on to come off. Hawk, at just 1 year of age, was walking through the streets of one of the small towns that we rode through today and happened upon a store that sold Shark helmet covers. (I have posted a copy of this attached to my Shark head on my facebook site if you wish to see.) He said to his Mum Jaye, "Mummy please can I sue my pocket money to buy that shark helmet cover for my most favouritest NOT Uncle in the entire world? How could she say no when he asked so nice? So Hawk made a fuss and presented it to me at lunchtime. The speech he made was a little over the top but I appreciate that he thinks I am the greatest Shark that has ever lived on planet Earth since life first began. But at 1 how can he really know? Anyway it is on the helmet ad although it catches the wind and slows me down by 25 kilometres an hour on the descents, it is there to stay until the end of the NZ Challenge. Thank you Hawky!

7.Charlotte Knowlman is a really cool young lady. She rides like a trooper, never complains, or if she does I can't hear her, and if I ask her to do something she never has a problem saying yes. For two days now I have asked if she spotsa New Zealand cow to please let me know immediately. Two day down and still not a single sighting but I know she will not give in until she satisfies my quest for this very important sighting of this very rare creature. Thank you Charlotte for your diligence.

8.Spider Man and Dr Koala graciously did the huddle today and while I could not hear a word they were saying, the laughs all round suggested it was heartfelt and nicely worded. I had a little giggle to myself when after telling their account of their day they immediately went into the Smiddy chant. In their excitement they forgot to mention the road crew and the riders, although at lunchtime I sat them down and briefed them on what the huddle entailed. Nice job boys.

9..And finally, while this highlight may be at number ten it so definitely is my all-time number one. You see my threat of 1000 words per journal entry has failed miserably. Yesterday's count for day one was at 1389, while today's is now at 1488. I kind of suck at writing small journals, but isn't it great that I get to tell you about, in great detail, these wonderful beautiful human beings I am lucky enough to spend a whole week with?

10. Okay a last sneaky highlight that cannot be omitted was when after lunch we had one final climb to .\attend to, which finished at the 102km point. The remaining 36 kilometres was all downhill and the group was singing along at an average of 35km/h. Our overall average was 21 at the top of that last climb and 23.9 by the time we rolled into Reefton. It was a real hoot and the smiles all round confirmed that most riders were feeling the same sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and earned, after such a tough start to the day.

That's it from me.

Cheers.

Sharky

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