Thursday, 26 March 2015

2015 NEW ZEALAND SMIDDY CHALLENGE Greymouth To Bealey - Day 4

Distance: 115 kilometres
Average speed: 22.9 kmph
Ride Time: 5hrs 03min
Maximum speed:  66 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 12 degrees
Temperature Maximum -  22 degrees
Metres climbed: 1501
Wind direction: Not much wind at all to speak of

ROAD KILL BY Jayden Swarbrick and Bob Vander-Wal, 26 sets of legs, 3 possums, 2 rabbits, 2 fur pancakes, 1 dead wick, 1 dead mouse but that was in the wicks mouth, 2 unidentified birds, 1 magpie and not so rare Kiwi migrator who couldn't handle her local train tracks

CATEGORY JERSEY: Won by Harry Knowlman. Yesterday Harry was on death's door. Today he rode past a sign near the top of Arthur's Pass called Death's Corner. Harry laughed in its face, or in this case at the sign and carried on up that climb like a professional mountain climber. The man was back today and the smile on the little guys face said it all. A very worthy winner.

GUEST SPEAKER: Louise O'Brien got up tonight and shared with us her story of her father passing away from bowel cancer. He lived in Ireland and over a long period of time Louise got the call many times that her father was about to pass away, she would drop what she was doing, rush to be by his side and then he would miraculously recover. When he did pass away the call came too late and she didn't get to say goodbye.

Stats are a little different tonight as we don't have easy access to all our internet gadgetry...

Distance - 115km over 8h07m
Max Speed - 65.4km/h (of the sampled rider)
Calories for an average rider - 3124Cal
Elevation Gain - 1599m

TBD 5 minute top average speed -
TBD 60 minute top average speed -

Today was the day everyone had been talking about with the iconic climb up the legendary Arthur's Pass. Not a huge climb in length at just 4.7km's, but with an elevation gain of 500 metres over such a short distance you know the 'pain train' is awaiting you. Arthur's Pass tops out at 920 metres and some of the pitches were as high as 22% gradient. To get to that 4.7km section, first we left Greymouth and did the old gradual climb thingo up to the 400 metre mark in elevation, which equates to a touch over 90 kilometres of riding before hitting the main climb. Getting there was the fun part and a most casual schedule met with strong approval from the group, especially those riders that suffered badly yesterday. This is how it looked:

Roll out was at 7:45am and the light rain that had started in the wee hours of the morning abated just in time for the start. I definitely think we have dodged a bullet with the rain on this trip. The locals were telling me that the west coast side of this South Island generates 70 metres of rain a year. Back home we measure our rainfall in mills, I can't begin to imagine 70 metres of rain! The greenness and sogginess everywhere you look is evident that the rain does indeed fall heavy when it is falling, and thankfully not now while we are here enjoying this wonderful beautiful and scenic country, and for that we are eternally grateful for.

Our first stop was at just 11km's to visit an old long closed coal mine called Brunnerton Mine. As coincidence would have it, on this very day, back in 1896, the coal mine exploded and over 100 miners were tragically killed. The mine has been closed since and the locals have done a magnificent job in remembering those lost in the explosion by keeping the area intact and preserved. From there we rode to the 38km point for a lovely morning tea at Lake Brunner. The lake there is beyond descriptive words and the photos taken will not do it justice, but I have uploaded a few to my Mark Sharky Smoothy Facebook site so please check them out. The only disappointing thing about this stop was that the road crew used up their limited supply of banana and chocolate cake. We still had a choice of 10 different options of food, so I am not complaining, but just saying that cake was worth it's weight in gold.

From Brunner Lake, another short section of 33 km's, and onto another placed owned by Smiddy rider, Jackson Gerard in Jackson Tavern. Our old mate Jackson is loaded when it comes to bridges and taverns! It was here that Kevvy, Killer and Peter decided to go for a drive up the road and check out the climb for any safety issues. Our normal 40 minute lunch turned into nearly two hours. We all reckon they had gone straight to the pub down the road. Finally we were on our way and another short section to the base of the climb saw us get a final safety brief by Killer and Ben. The next 4.7km was our destiny for the remainder of the day.

Which brings me to my top ten moments from day 4 on the road:

Our beautiful and talented bike mechanic Chris, was situated right at the back of the peloton as we rolled out of Greymouth. 500 metres into our roll out and train tracks on an angle had to be negotiated. The thing I love about Chris is her desire to be different; a young girl who is a bike mechanic and owns her own bike shop in Airlie Beach, a young lady who decided to throw herself to the ground when crossing those train tracks, while everyone else got through safely. Of course I was there to witness the whole thing, while ironically Karen had positioned herself at the same spot and got photos of all the action. Chris was up quicker than Jack Robinson (I don't even know who Jack Robinson is?) While Chris got her chain back on, I straightened up her bent brake hood and we were back on the peloton without anyone aware of what happened. Even Kevvy, who was right behind us, missed the entire thing.

To Rocket Rod, who saved his best performance for this day. He unleashed his beast from within and made it to the top a clear winner in the world and universe Arthur's pass championship. A big congrats to this man with a warm heart, who went for it and did the fastest time of the day to get to the top in a little over 26 minutes. Rod actually wanted to then turn around and go back to the last rider to help out but was overruled due to roadworks making it too unsafe.

Jeff Mckeon had a second tough day at the office and even though he struggles for most of the day, and was the last rider to the top of Arthur's Pass, this big man, who weighs in at a touch over 100kg, made it the entire way up that sucker without stopping.

To our road kill counter Jayden, who halfway up the climb, had his back go on him and he had to get off and walk in his cleats up a 14% pitch. He remounted and finished, and later at the regroup spot, proudly showed the bottom of his cleats, worn to the sole. Nice work our youngest Smiddy rider on this tour at just 23 years of age.

To my Bro Martin, for not only donating $1000 out of his own pocket last night to his fundraising page, but he generously shouted everyone a coffee today at the cafe where we all met after the big climb. Thank you so much mate, your generosity is most appreciated. Martin has indicated his goal is $10,000 to raise for this ride and tells me that all his mates didn't think he would finish such a tough tour and would not donate until he finished. Not only will he finish but will finish as one of the strongest 52 year olds on tour out of the three of us. John, myself and Martin!

To all the girls on tour; each and everyone of you are determined not to do van time, if ever there was a time to get in the van, today was it, and none of you even looked close to accompanying Kevvy. Well done and big hugs to you all. Your supporters and love ones are surely proud of you.

To Kevvy I feel really sad for. Every Smiddy tour someone always gets in and keeps him company. He then shares a Kevvy story with them that assures that you will never do van time again! But seriously Kevvy is sad as he feels no one wants to spend anytime with him other than at night over a glass of red. It is the van time he pines for and I have a feeling on this trip it is not going to eventuate as these guys are too bloody determined to ride every single kilometre of this journey. Sorry Kev!

I now have half the peloton keeping an eye out for a cow. In four days not one sighting of this elusive animal. With one day remaining let it be known that if no cows are sighted then I will be able to reliably report that they must have been abducted by aliens.

The Townsville crew were our guest huddle speakers today and a fine job did Rowan, Jason, and Kirsteen did deliver. In nearly every Smiddy event we hold there is always Townsville representatives in either the riders or road crew. I love Townsville and the association we have with the people associated with Smiddy. Thanks guys for your involvement and support.

Where we are staying tonight at the Bealey Spur Hotel, has views so magic that you would not find better even if you were in the French or Italian Alps. Killer has organised the route, the accommodation, the places to stop and visit along the way, and I think all the riders would agree that he has done a stellar job. Definitely a Smiddy tour to remember for so many different reasons.

Finally to each and every one of the riders to make that climb today was simply awesome. I love you all for your efforts. Be proud! That's it from me and I am sorry to say that this tour is nearly done with just one day remaining.

Until tomorrow, take care and give someone close to you hug and tell them how apsecial they are.



1 comment:

  1. Lovely to read of your day conquering Arthurs' Pass and so pleased that the weather has behaved for you all. I did this trip in a vehicle same time last year so can only imagine how difficult it would be with all the road works going on! Hope your last day is a little more relaxed and enjoyable.