My Thirst Is Quenched
As I sit and write this blog I have just finished a long 200km plus day with 42 magnificent human beings called Smiddy riders. These guys and girls are the salt of the earth and help me to quench my thirst of human kindness stories each and every year that Smiddy has been operating since 2006. Along with these hardy souls are of course our incredible road crew and together we can, and do, achieve amazing outcomes for those people less privileged in life to be fighting their battle against cancer.
Two Smiddy Groups, One Goal
So the training weekend went like this, two groups formed in two different locations, one group of 24 riders that are doing the Up The Guts ride to Uluru left UQ Aquatic Centre at 6am, lead by Christian Killeen and Cherie Nicolas, while the other group of 17 riders, that were either doing the main Challenge ride to Townsville, the new 4 day event in October or the Noosa event this month, rolled out of Oxley train station lead by myself.
Testing Course and Conditions and the Popular Killer
The two groups merged at 6:30am where the Centenary bike path ends at Sumner Road. We then had ourselves a Smiddy peloton to be proud of and the two groups quickly formed a bond that would not be broken through high hell and rain, and let me assure that while there was no rain the heat delivered a blistering hot day that tested each and every rider to their capacity. Not only that but throw in a route designed by the greatest bike route mapper in the world, if not the universe, Christian 'Killer' Killeen, who delivered a 170km ride for my group that finished at Rosewood, and the 200km version that finished in Mulgowie, which is out near Laidley. The course had everything including two dirt sections, one that was just 2km's, while the other was a kick-arse 6.8km's long and it was there that 7 of the 9 punctures that we got on the day happened. Killer was extremely popular after that! It was a day that saw the road either tipping up or down with only the occasional flat section thrown in for a laugh. Killer was now even more popular!
The Oldest Pub is Shut
Now I have just 1 hour to write this blog as we arrived an hour and a half behind schedule at 5:30pm due to the many punctures, the many hills, the heat and the most bizarre portage of bikes and riders over a 800 metre section of highway at Aratula that the police permit would not permit us to ride on, this section alone sucked up an entire 80 minutes, which was okay as it included lunch at what was the oldest known pub in Queensland. Now this pub was so old that it was not actually even open. Apparently being closed since back when World War Two was still at the height of the action. Now killer once again become the most popular man in the Universe as we were all hanging out for that counter meal and possible even a Shandy to wash down those salty chips and a massive steak that our imaginations had conjured up for 6 hours leading up to lunch.
That Shady Tree and The Unpopular Killer Strikes Again
So it was off to the bakery for a good old Aussie pie and a can of sugar, also known as Coke. With all the bikes and riders safely negotiating this piece of road, Denice Barnett, the most enthusiastic camera lady in the entire world, got a photo of the group under a nice shady tree that none of us wanted to leave behind. It was even suggested that the tree be transplanted into my back and the group would then follow me to take advantage of the shade. Now while this was an excellent idea, we unfortunately ran out of time as Killer was at us to get on the road and get pedaling, pedaling, pedaling. It would be remiss of me to not point out that this decision meant that Killer was once again not the most popular man in the peloton. He does try old Killer but today was just not his day! Lucky he is a nice bloke and we all are so forgiving.
Hungry Shark and The Geevsey Shandy Story Worth Starving For
Anyway I am running out of time and my stomach is growling. I know everyone is in the Mulgowrie Pub enjoying a few ales and some salty chips and I yearn for their company, not to mention a nice cold Shandy. Now while on the subject of Shandies, and I know I don't have the time to tell you this story but here it is anyway. Our lead car driver Chris's Geeves happened to pay the Smiddy team a visit at Smiddy HQ a couple of weeks back and we went to the Morrison for lunch. It was here that I accidentally left my wallet back in the office and Geevsey shouted me lunch. I then miraculously found $10 in my trousers and offered to buy him a beer, which of course was a Shandy. He was shocked of course but started to drink it and half way through finishing it these were his very words, as witnessed by all the team at Smiddy; He excitedly said this: "Sharky this is not half bad." For ten years he has paid out on me for drinking my favourite drink so this is his payback tonight!
Now I am seriously out of time so to finish with I will say that we got to Rosewood, where road crew delivered a most welcome afternoon tea that included many cold drinks of everything imaginable, except for a Shandy of course. It was here were we lost our magnificent 17 Smiddy riders, who had to do it tough and catch the air-conditioned train home. For the remainder of the riders it was on to Mulgowrie, where we are swagging the night in the local hall, while the friendly staff are looking after us food and drink wise in their beautiful establishment that has all the character typical of so many Australian pubs.
So to finish with here are a few highlights, in no particular order as I am hungry, did I mention that? from today. Enjoy.
1. Julia, who is doing the Challenge ride up to Townsville, I just love her innocence as she is so new to the world of endurance cycling. I suggested today that she take off her front and rear lights and her saddle bag, which stripped 2kg off the weight of her bike. I assured she would now climb as she was 2kg lighter. Did it work? You'll have to check with Julia.
2. A big shout out to Jenny who shouted me lunch at Aratula. Honestly my money was in Kevvies car and he was nowhere to be seen!
3. Smiddy Road crew rock and we love their dedication to the Smiddy and Mater cause. Thank you to Bob Cage, Denise Barnett, Captain Kev, Volunteer legend of the year, Katherine Richardson, Wayne 'The Force from the North' Smith, Geevsey, Wendy Muir and of course to the Smiddy team of Cherie and Killer. Did I mention about Killer and his popularity?
4. At Aratula Brendan Whipps had a family reunion with his Wife and twin daughters that was totally unplanned. He was beside himself with excitement as they happened upon the Smiddy group as they were heading out to a camping spot near Aratula.
5. Okay we have a problem... Two Smiddy riders that are doing the ride to Uluru share the same nickname in Mad Dog. The showdown between the two will surely happen as our Melbourne Mad Dog in Malcolm Bourke was not present for this ride, while our Yamba impersonator in Matty Muir was present and accounted for. Watch this space for further developments in this epic tale where one must take on the Mad Puppy tag instead.
6. Stinky Dave Colahan was the most excitable rider in the entire peloton with his white horse calls today, his nirvana was when we passed one property that had not 1, not 2, not 3 and Not 4 white horses but 5 of the buggers. It took Stinky an hour to calm down after that sighting.
7. Okay first puncture of the day went to me, closely followed by Ray Smith who earned the honour of the first to get a broken spoke. The dirt section climbed 7 punctures by riders Julie 1, Killer 1, Bretty 2, Allan 1, Jenny with 1 and then another one while she was just standing on the dirt.
8. The first time in Smiddy history where we had two huddles in one day. One at Rosewood to farewell the riders and one at the finish at Mulgowrie. Ken Woods was given the honour of the Mulgowrie because of his heartfelt efforts today to help so many riders in the way of a push back to the peloton or words of advice or mechanical issues. A man of many talents and a heart of gold.
9. Mel Speare for her first big ride back from breaking her wrist back in February. It was painful at 100km's but finished the day with 210km's on the clock. Tough Chick!
10. King and Queen of the Laidley 3km climb went to Adrian Cross and Helen Reid, with Helen being so strong she was 4th overall to the top of the mountain. Nice work guys.
11. Having old mate Mark Trembath from Sydney back in the Smiddy peloton for the day after having a one year hiatus from Smiddy events after 5 years to spend time with his family.
12. Thank you to Kevin Moultrie from Sydney for being our guest speaker tonight and sharing with us his reason for riding was because of his Son Jake and his successful battle in beating Leakemia.
13. Lastly to our ride leaders in Stinky Dave, Melissa Speare,Ken Woods and Bretty Goebel, we are indebted to you all for your passion and strength to help out on so many occasions, not just today but on the many rides you guys have been doing Smiddy events over the years. Thank you.
Stay tuned for my day two report.