Sunday, 30 August 2015
Elapsed time—11 hrs 27 mins
Moving time—9 hrs 02 mins
Total distance—241.5 km
Vertical gain—2542 m
Min temp—9 degrees
Max temp— 26 degrees
Zincy owned the night with a 30 minute comedy show, complete with a live "Apprentice-style" hire and fire recruitment announcement that followed a detailed search for a deputy—which ultimately saw Luke Horsfield appointed deputy courtesy of his past career as an SAS sniper. We understood the reasoning to be that this skill-set will prove quite useful if the roadkill count is low and we need to bolster numbers. While Luke got the prized gig, Booba (aka Mick Young) was placed in a consultancy role. Zincy then proceeded to sing the Austrian national anthem before producing Sheriff and Deputy badges for him and Luke.
While Zincy's humour is widely accepted, it's not for everyone. There was a mumbling from the crowd—I think from the proprietor of Terry's Tucker Truck—that his old routine needs sub titles. Certainly, post-Challenge, Zincy could audition for a slot on SBS television. While his English is mostly okay, he did mistake "veteran" with "veterinairan" or "vegetarian" (no one's really sure which, as they just nod and smile and pretend to understand him) when describing Booba.
Spirit Jersey: Peter Barnett—one of our many 'quiet achievers'
Team Jersey: Greg Sakzewski—for his amazing work supporting his team mates throughout the day
In a throwback to 2006, Smiddy originals Sharky, Ron and Ollie got special treatment billeted with Mark and Desley Gaedtke who have supported the Smiddy visit since its first year. In carbon copy of that original year, Ollie was left to sleep on a blow-up mattress in the lounge whilst Sharky and Ron spooned one another in a king size single complete with satin sheets. As dawn broke, the three slept soundly having not bothered to set an alarm. Mark—the caring host that he is—knocked quietly on Ron and Sharky's door without response. Pushing it slightly ajar he discovered the Smiddy virtue of Mateship is evident at all times, Ron gently applying isocol to Mark's nether region.
The rest of the riders spent the night in swags at Nanango Showgrounds and as Day 2 dawned they were stoked to see the rain had gone. The Showground Society put on a tremendous hot breakfast to make sure we were all set for the 242 km ride ahead.
Outside riders were greeted by gleaming clean bikes, the result of a midnight finish by first time mechanic Trev and his trusty sidekick Ron Steel. Trev was leaving us at lunch on Day 2, which sets a dangerous precedent for Ron who takes over mechanical duties.
Slippery Jim (aka Sequel) had a new mate in tow on the morning and explained it was the result of phoning home looking for new wheels after his incident descending Mt Mee on Day 1. With busted wheels and seven days of riding ahead he put the call to Nick Simonelli and got him to drive the two hours from Brisbane to Nanango with a fresh set of wheels. Slippery thanked his mate by offering him a bed for the night ... which was simply a towel on the concrete floor.
Departing Nanango is always a special ride—quiet undulating roads and countryside make for a great start to the day. We admire the forest by the roadside and nature boy Ryan 'Razzle' Chapman pointed out how nice the tall gum trees are. Sharky's response: "yeah ... they seem to get bigger every year". Go figure Sharky.
Not far down the road we spotted a crashed Ford Falcon in the ditch. The riders cruised by, assuming it to be an old abandoned vehicle, only for the road crew to discover it was occupied by two young men sleeping the night off. After Dr Andrew was quickly summoned from the peloton to drop back and check on their state, Copey's sirens were seen flying back to the scene, only for our resident officer to declare "nothing to see here". Clearly taking his advice from fellow copper Stemmy.
Every year we quickly discover which blokes fancy themselves with their kit off, but surprisingly, short-priced favourite Dave 'Stinky' Colahan was beaten to the post this year in displaying the first full euro as Ollie—fresh from Tassie—unzipped before the mercury hit 10 degrees. Zane was not to be left out of the action either, quickly letting the wind hit his chiselled chest also.
On to Goomeri for a wonderful morning tea in the park, thanks to our road crew, and as the sun began to warm us up, the tail winds also greeted us. As we headed out on the road again and gained speed, there seemed to be confusion over the subtle nuances between the meanings of "pedal"; "pedal pedal"; and "pedal pedal pedal". Our riders chose to do none of the above, but quickly got into the swing of smooth descending to avoid rubber-banding. It was a long stretch to lunch, starting to challenge the peloton, and special mention must go to some of the gutsy rides by the group—including a lion-hearted effort by big Andrew Curthoys and Jen Penfold. Also some tough efforts being done in the road crew with a special mention to Bec Knight today. Amazing stuff.
Into Ban Ban Springs we rolled with wraps and fruit salad awaiting us and loud cheers from Habo's relatives, who had driven from Bundy to catch up with the Smiddy road train. After a pleasant lunch, a touching tribute to the beautiful Maria, with custom designed cycling caps courageously handed out by David to each and every rider and road crew. The caps are complete with Maria's favourite flowers—gerbera's—and will steel our riders' resolve over the coming days. The group rolled out proudly wearing the colours of our beloved matriarch.
The journey continued and so too the bonding between the group, which has really clicked after just two days and are already displaying the values Smiddy cherishes dearly of Spirit, Teamwork and Mateship. So too the laughs we have along the way in the face of adversity.
Local Biloela girl Bathy gets a special mention for feeding some meds to her hometown buddy Habo, who was positively buzzing after lunch and making fellow riders nervous about just how excitable he may get in the lead-in to our Bilo arrival on Day 3. So excited was Habo, he was giving the trademark "honk honk" gesture to passing trucks ... until his team mates kindly informed him that only the road trains—not the Toyota Klugers—are equipped with the loud horns.
It would be remiss of us not to point out that Bathy, despite living in Bilo for many years, hasn't learned much as to the ways of the land. After Ronny Steel pointed out a deer farm, Bathy was most excited and yelled out "Look—Al Paca's!", before being set straight. Animals were generally the theme of the chat in the peloton today, with Taswegians Timmy Smith and Ollie engaged in a deep and meaningful conversation about Timmy's cat. Here's the executive summary: Timmy's cat has cost him over $12 000 in medical bills—his wife won't let him just opt for the $200 lethal injection—so Timmy has put a positive spin on the situation in waiting for his cat to poo gold. The wait continues.
Through Queensland's oldest town Gayndah and past the Big Orange, we turned for our major climb of the day—this is where Smiddy spirit is at it's finest. Hands on back, encouragement, and pure guts as riders crested to the truck stop at the peak. Descending down the other side, the wind was on the nose but it didn't stop the first show of real testosterone between the blokes as they went at their own pace to Binjour State School—enjoying the chance to really stretch their legs. A parked car on the side of the road served as a decoy finish line as most jumped too early and Westy cruise through for the win.
The rest of the day passed in a fuzzy cloud of fatigue, until finally the Welcome sign at Eidsvold once again heralded a traditional team snapshot. After unrolling our swags again, and enjoying a warm shower, we assembled under the stars on the lawn of the Lions Park—with the Lions Club again cooking us a BBQ dinner with Ian Mitcham donating 120 steaks for us and in a popular raffle win claiming the prize of a special collection made by the local Lions to commemorate our 10th annual journey.
For our new riders—after the sheer exhaustion of Day 1 in the Nanango Showgrounds—another special evening provided a glimpse into the unique bond and special communities' ties Smiling for Smiddy has and will enjoy throughout our life-affirming eight day journey.
Yak and Rowan spoke of their Smiddy journeys. Yak—who alongside wife Robyn is a long-time and highly valued Smiddy ambassador from the Sunshine Coast—trialed a few jokes on us. They went like this:
There were two snowmen. One snowman said to the other snowman "can you smell carrots?".
Two China men were robbing a liquor store. One said to the other "Is this Whiskey?", and the other replied "No, if it was a bank, that would be 'wisky'".
Row spoke of his uncle Dennis's plucky and prolonged cancer fight, and his memories of Adam—both of which have spurred him on as one of the key founding fathers of Smiling for Smiddy. He also summed up the feeling of all when he spoke of Maria, whose absence is being felt as you would expect when a family loses its mum.
Copey (aka Brucey) a close friend of Adam who rides Challenge every second year and is providing a three-day police escort this year, also spoke to the group. Copey oozes Smiddy values—his selflessness is immense and he summed up the feeling of many when he said "Don't thank me ... I'd do anything for this ride". Copey is a true character and a great bloke. And he would do anything for Smiddy—even training a recruit on the job. Constable Sammi Jo still has a little work to do on her driving skills, but looks super cute in the uniform and has the assassin hands. Who needs tasers when you have zen spray, right Sammi?
Before we conclude, it would be a shame for us not to recount how Sharky was once again nearly left behind when stopping for a bush toilet stop. It's lucky Kevvy has been around so long, following his backside around the country, and knows when it's missing from the peloton. Otherwise, Sharky would still be on his way to Eidsvold. Thankfully, he rode back onto the back of the peloton and restored order without to many noticing ... only the eagle eyes that matter for the Day 2 blog.
Editors note: There may be some inaccuracies in this blog as the authors' may or may not have reached a point of delirium after a 242 km ride. Plus road crew were left to fill in the gaps ... sorry Yak if we have ruined your jokes!