Friday, 4 September 2015

2015 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge—Day 6 Clermont to Belyando Crossing

Day 6 highlights written byRay Smith & Russell Conway

Stats of the day by Dave 'Stinky' Colahan:

Moving time—9 hours or there about
Average speed—25 km/hr or there about
Total distance—176 km
Vertical gain—644 m
Min temp—14 degrees
Max temp—32 degrees

Road kill count by Michael zinc 7 Deputy Luke Horsfield:

116 Kangaroos
76 bag of bones
1 Emu
2 Pigs
8 Birds
1 Black-headed python

**Note: a second Deputy has been hired for tomorrow which is road crew member Lesley Ray.

Category Jersey's

Spirit Jersey: Anna Tate—awarded for her efforts in organising school visits, and her amazing energy and hugs.

Team Jersey: Damien Peall—awarded for being a team player and as Sharky put it "damn helpful". 

Mateship Jersey: Sammi Jo—awarded for years of commitment and ensuring that no one goes untreated when in need of a massage.

After a most welcomed sleep in, the riders were greeted to a balmy 14 degree morning for a 7.30 am roll out. With a great turn out by the ever supportive community of Clermont, Geevesy called an important meeting to announce they had upgraded Captain Kevvy's support vehicle to cater for his small man syndrome. Right on cue a huge shiny Kenworth prime mover rounded the corner and Captain Kevvy immediately grew two feet. After the driver helped him into the cabin, Kevvy played with his gear stick and blew his air horns and the riders commenced the day. The honour of ringing the cow bell this morning was given to Jackie Martin. Our thoughts were conveyed to the Martin family as previous Smiddy rider—John Martin—lost his father last week.

Conditions this morning started out perfect with a gentle tail wind, then 10 km before we reached our destination at Belyando Crossing, there was an intermittent cross wind that at times reminded us of the tough afternoon the previous day. With the carrot of a 'go at your own pace session' in the afternoon, the riders didn't seem to mind digging a little deeper when required.

The riding this morning wasn't much to talk about, but as the extremely wise Cameron 'Habo' Habermann was overheard explaining to a fellow rider, "It sure beats working hey mate". In fact, I've decided that Habo is so wise I've started calling him the Beareded Yoda. Habo and I connected in the first few days over a conversation about the unsung heroes of Smiling for Smiddy. The Smiddy riders are often heralded for their efforts, but without the support of family, friends and workmates, most of us wouldn't even make the start line. Our colleagues cover for us whilst we take time off work to ride. Our friends join us for those extra kilometres so we can prepare for the mammoth task of riding so far, and our families keep the home fires burning, doing the extra miles themselves managing all that's involved with domestic life. On top of this, all of them help us reach our fundraising commitments. It's these people we need to constantly acknowledge as the 'extended Smiddy family', as without them the riders simply wouldn't be 'the riders'.

About the only unusual goings on for the morning were the frequent solo toilet stops by James 'Schlipery' Schneider. On at least three occasions Schlipery darted off the front of the peloton, gaining sufficient distance so he could relieve himself before the rest of the riders caught up. Questions quickly started to flow from the group as to why he needed so many trips to the 'yellow room'. The consensus seemed to be that Schlipery drank a few extra beers at the Clermont function and was merely getting rid of excess fluid. The most likely explanation was he was hosting a 'bush tic', and was frequently stopping to ensure it hadn't found a forest in which to multiply.

The road crew once again provided a delicious feast for morning tea and given the remoteness of today's lunch stop, did an amazing job of creating an oasis in the desert. Lunchtime also saw the road crew grow with the addition of a trainee who apparently had been trying for years to get a spot to help further his career within his current organisation. Nigel—who had CEO of Mater Foundation on his application—was so eager to volunteer he flew to Emerald and paid Lesley Ray in mixed lollies to pick him up and drive him to our lunch destination. To his credit, Nigel very quickly offered to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in. The well-oiled machine that is the 2015 Smiddy Challenge road crew seemed reluctant to alter any of their systems and let the new kid get involved, but I'm sure if Nigel continues to show his enthusiasm his new team will soften and welcome him with open arms.

In 2006, Sharky, Ron and Ollie made the inaugural journey from Brisbane to Townsville carrying everything they needed for the trip on their backs. If you've spent any time at all with Ollie then you'd already know this. As a tribute to the original three pioneers the riders were asked to carry their day bags until the next stop at afternoon tea. Some of the riders found their day bags somewhat heavier after a few of the lads thought it'd be funny to fill their mate's day bags with rocks.

Much of today's talk was about the afternoon 'go at your own pace session'. At the final roadside stop for the day, the riders were given the choice of three groups in which to ride with. Depending on who you talk to, you'll get a different account of how the 15 km hit out unfolded. Regardless of what happened it's only the first rider across the line that counts. In the first group our two resident pros Damo and Ken went head-to-head, with Ken taking the win by a tyre's width. Naomi was the first female rider to cross the line after making a big contribution within the second group.

Our destination today—Belyando Crossing—is a favourite for many of the riders as it's the first night we get to spend the evening by ourselves. After six days on the road it gives us the opportunity to relax with friends old and new. Mandy and the team at Belyando put on a super feed before the night's official proceedings started. Mandy also featured in tonight's speeches and her honesty and openness had the crowd in stitches.

The evening started with a few cracking jokes from Sean 'Lofty' Lever. We then got to know a little about the new trainee Nigel. Like an episode from Undercover Boss gone wrong, it was revealed that Nigel was actually Nigel Harris, CEO of Mater Foundation, and that the only way he could get face-to-face time with his incredibly hard working staff was to leave the luxury of his air-conditioned digs and make his way to outback Queensland. Our resident DJ Tony conducted a mock on-air interview with Nigel, with Tony asking the tough questions about his true commitment to the Smiling for Smiddy cause. Nigel came up smelling roses and I think his role in the road crew will be secure for some time.

The riders that shared their stories tonight were Jason Sams, Brad Hartmann and Chris Geeves. It's often hard for people to share something so personal, but it's really appreciated by everyone and is a big part of the journey for all.

Beylando Crossing was one of Maria Smiddy's favourite stops on the Challenge, so we took a moment to reflect on how dearly she is missed this year, and the affect she has had on all who were lucky enough to score one of her amazing hugs.

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