Distance: 183.28 km's
Average: 22.4 km/h
Max Speed: 58.5 km/h
Climbing: 1501 metres
Descending: 1155 metres
Riding time: 8hr 10min
Temp Min: Minus 9 degrees
Temp Max: 12 degrees
Wind: Crosswind with plenty of sidewise rain
Road Kill by: 1 Cat, 1 lamb, 1 Rabbit and 1 padlock!
Windmills: 6 and 2 dead windmills (frame only - very sad!)
White horses: 3 live ones and 3 on a gate
Day 1 of any Smiddy ride is a game of pot luck. If the dice turns up a great day you can count your lucky stars. When the dice are not on your side then the alternative is downright scary and it happened today. The forecast was for rain and crosswinds and good old Mother Nature delivered in abundance.
Photos On The Jetty
Roll out was for 6am and the 170 kilometre day looked good on paper to provide plenty of time to meander the 15 kilometres down to Glenelg Beach, get a parting photo on the jetty with all the riders and road crew, and be sipping on a good red at one of the many Vineyards at our final destination in Clare by 2:30pm. But as experienced Smiddy riders already know, anything can, and does happen, during any Smiddy event.
Gifted With Dry Roads For First Two Hours
Already the wind was up but the rain was yet to be seen, for which we were extremely grateful. Once the happy snappy was taken, off the peloton headed in a northerly direction and directly into the headwind. Eventually after 20 kilometres of beautiful ocean views, a last glimpse was afforded as we realised no more water in an oceanic form would be enjoyed for the remainder of the journey. For any rider that was sad on leaving the Great Southern Ocean, they would not have long to wait before that very same ocean water, that had been very busy evaporating and forming heavy leaden clouds of water, would soon greet the fresh and enthusiastic peloton in not one downpour but many throughout a bloody long first day on the road.
Many Shivering Smiddy Riders
Two and a half hours into the ride and the heavens opened and in an instant we were all soaking wet. Unless of course you had a mudguard, which afforded one dry spot on the left butt cheek. Many a rider without a mudguard scrambled to sit behind the few that had them to avoid the dreaded rooster tail of water that hit you dead in the face. The windchill factor, combined with the rain, meant that temperatures were below 5 degrees for the run into morning tea. The only time any of us were warm was thanks to the continuous 20 kilometres of undulating climbing, but the regroup at the exposed top and then the long descent into the township of Gawler chilled the group to the bone. The beautiful road crew were ready and waiting and boy did they have their work cut out for them. A vast majority of us were shivering and struggled to strip off wet clothes and replace with dry ones. A special thanks to my Brother Terry and Auntie Marie for paying me some special attention.
Getting into Lunch
Thankfully the rain stopped long enough and we rolled out after a 20 minute morning tea and beautiful warmth seeped into our bodies and the constant shivering abated after approximately 10 kilometres. Our next stop was for lunch at Rhynie at the 132 kilometre point. The going was so slow due to the crosswinds and getting hit with another 3 rain squalls that each time wet the group to the bone.
Tough Days In Smiddy - This One Ranks Highly
In 10 years of doing Smiddy events I have seen some tough days and this one was right up there. I was struggling mentally and I know a few others were also. But gee I can't tell you how incredible proud I was of the group as a whole as they just sucked it up and got on with the job. For them to show this fortitude so early in the piece was just unbelievable! If anyone out there is reading this that has a rider doing the ride, please know that you would have been so bloody proud of them too. It's always hard to describe suffering in conditions such as what we experienced today. You kind of have to be here to fully understand. But when Mother Nature turns nasty it is probably best that you are not here as I know you would worry about them. The road crew do that for you and boy do they do a good job looking after us.
Rail Trail Surprise
After lunch Christian had a surprise in store for the riders; a series of rail trails that kept us off the main road for the last 34 kilometres into Seven Hills Winery. The sun came out briefly and the while the trail was beautiful it was definitely harder going than being on the main road. I do feel it will be one of those experiences we will all look back on and feel very fortunate that we were able to do it. The closer we got to Clare the colder the weather turned. Clare is at a tad over 700 metres and is definitely high enough to feel the change in temperature during winter. The only hiccup was when we all rode past the winery that we we're meant to visit. This meant an added 10 kilometres on the rail trail, with 5 of it back uphill. It was here where I food-bonked and as each rider passed me I asked for food, the first 4 were all out and then Adriel Cahir saved me as he handed me a half eaten Megaburn bar. Thanks champ.
With darkness descending quickly the visit to SevenHills had to be quick. The place was warm and they provided some great cheese and crackers and free wine tasting. The hosts were lovely but the riders concentration levels were at an all time low due to an 8 hour day in the saddle and longing for a hot shower and a good meal.
Michael Stark Gets Lost
Back on the bikes and a mad scramble to beat darkness but failing miserably as lights were switched on for the 3 kilometres back to the van park. Commiserations to poor Michael Stark, who took off first and timed trialled like his life depended on it to get some warmth into his body. Unfortunately he was so quick he beat the road crew, who we're scrambling to put out a sign advising riders where to turn off the rail trail. Michael did an extra 20km's looking for us and eventually ended up at a Caltex Servo. He was eventually retrieved a good hour later after the rest of us had arrived. A huge apology from us mate.
Tonight road crew treated the group to a barbecue, road kill was read out, Cherie did a recap of the day and Stinky and Bretty delivered the day's stats. I finished by reading out yesterday's intro blog and congratulated the riders for being so awesome on day one.
It is now 11pm and I need to get some sleep for the big 200 plus kilometre day tomorrow. Rain and crosswinds are predicted yet again and I fear we could be out there even longer than today. Just a quick mention and to publicly say thank you to Trevor Menhinick, our bike mechanic, who at 11pm is still going next door cleaning and servicing bikes to be ready for tomorrow. Legendary effort mate!