Monday, 14 March 2016

2016 - The New Zealand Smiddy Peloton rolls out!

Christchurch to Hamner Springs - Monday 14 March 2016

Ride stats

Total distance:153km
Total riding time: 5 hours 38 minutes
Lapsed time: 7 hours 25 minutes
Average speed: 27.2 kmph
Elevation gain: 900m over the day
Minimum temperature: 8 degrees
Maximum temperature: 30 degrees

Road kill stats - Day One

9 kiwi echidnas (hedgehogs)
Half a possum
One beef cheek with mash
One flattened cat
21 UFOs (unidentified flattened objects)
1 real cat
1 bird
1 owl like bird

The end of day one is worth mentioning first because riders and road crew were able to visit the Hamner Hot Springs and soak away the tired legs. Apparently the bakery makes a good coffee and slice which is just about the perfect ending to a hard day in the saddle.

But back to the start and the last minute rush to be ready on the bike, luggage stowed in the car and day bags where they should be. It was 6.30 am and everyone was ready. Sir Kevvy, Smiddy royalty now that he is Australian volunteer of the year, gave the honour of ringing the cow bell to Jillian a first time road crew member and local Christchurch girl.

Then we were off - riding tentatively in the freezing cold and very dark streets. We were definitely not in QLD now and everyone, except for the hardy ex-NZ riders Kevin and Maria, were wearing layers.

By the time the sun came up we were riding through the Wairapa region along quiet country roads that weaved between the vineyards. First time Smiddy rider Ramon was heard to say "I wasn't expecting the scenery to be so beautiful", and he was right.

Overall we had a smooth transition from a group of riders to a well rehearsed peloton and the Smiddy ride leaders were handing out gold stars. Over the 153km we had no mechanicals and no punctures which must be a rare thing for a long ride.

Only 1 mishap to report at morning tea when Malcolm asked Sir Kevvy for help to lift the water container to fill his water bottle. Sir Kevvy was very helpful and pointed out that the container had a tap he could use on the side.

We had two special moments today where we met another ride group heading in the opposite direction who were fundraising for cerebral palsy under the banner of Adrian's Ride They had started at the very top of New Zealand at a place called Cape Reinga and were riding to the very bottom of the South Island to Bluff.

The second special moment was when a family approached Sir Kevvy at the lunch stop and the young man asked what we were all doing. He has a recurrent brain tumour and was recovering from a stroke after his first round of surgery. In those few short moments we heard his story and he had the opportunity to show his appreciation for a group of Australian cyclists riding 700km for cancer research. That was worth flying across the ditch for!

Today's huddle was lead by our very special ride leaders Paula and Ken who were able to show their appreciation for a great days riding. It was the first huddle for many of the new Smiddy riders but the three cheers at the end were no quieter than all the other huddles over the past 10 years.

It's only day 1 of the New Zealand tour but we already have a worthy recipient of the Smiddy teamwork jersey. This is Stephen Russell who recruited his son Tim and colleague Ian to join him on another Smiddy adventure. Between them they have raised an incredible $32,000 for the New Zealand tour and want to get to $50,000. Such an amazing effort for cancer research.

Well that's it for day one. Thank you to Sharky and Krista who are back at Smiddy HQ working hard on the next Smiddy Challenge.

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