Thursday, 9 June 2016


DAY 3 Port Augusta To Woomera

Distance: 178km's
Average: 26 km/h
Max Speed: 42km/h
Climbing: 675 metres
Riding time: 7:30
Temp Min: Minus 9 degrees
Temp Max: 19 degrees
Wind:Very light crosswinds and tailwind in the afternoon.
Windmills: nil
White horses: nil

Blog By: Ollie Clissold

What a pleasure it was wake up without the wind and rain of the first two days. The forecast was good and the skies were blue as we assembled and signed in for the day with the usual bountiful breakfast put on by our amazing road crew. We were all looking forward to a day of flat dry conditions on the Stuart Highway.
We started the ride with our acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the countries through which we were to ride today, the Nukunu and Banggarla people. We paid our respects to the people, their culture and their elders, past, present and future. Sadly, both the Nukunu and Banggarla languages are now moribund, with no known speakers since census and research in the 1970s. In recent years, the Banggarla people have undertaken a language reclamation initiative to try to revive the language based on some 170 year old documents. We reflected, as we do each morning, on the long history of the people who inhabited these regions and the importance of recognising and acknowledging their special relationship to the land.

It was a relatively late start today, at 7 am, but we felt we had deserved the lie in after the brutal 215 kms from Clare into that headwind and rain. We turned right out of town to be greeted by a sign directing us to Alice Springs and Darwin, which listed the names against some intimidating numbers of kilometres to the north. The cold temperatures had us wrapped up in our various colours of outer layers and you might not have recognised it for the Smiddy peloton had it not been for the excellent formation riding and discipline, assured by the great example set by our ride leaders. We snaked our way northwards as the sun rose to greet us and warm our weary limbs. As the temperature rose, the peloton slowly exfoliated layer after layer until, by morning tea, we were, for the first time this trip, all proudly displaying our recognisable Smiddy attire. We settled in to a good rhythm and without the wind and rain we could finally enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other through the traditional passing conversations and jokes up and down the line.

We all know that starting a Smiddy day can be cold, dark and confusing, and people can be forgiven for making silly mistakes. Dougie Hughes however, has managed to pick out mismatched socks for three days in a row. Fluorescent pink on one side and yellow on the other, you’d almost think that he was doing it on purpose!

We were pleasantly surprised by the road surface, pretty smooth and very few holes to point out. The only real danger was the cattle grids every few kilometres, especially with the unpredictable location of the expansion breaks. Some riders managed to hop almost the full grid while most of us just rose to the occasion to save our bruised behinds. The rattling over the second grid saw Andrew Freebie lose his front light while Kevin Moultree blew a spoke.

At morning tea, we noted that Jayden Swarbrick had ‘been here’ from the graffiti over the latrines, although he denied any connection!

Some of us were fooled by what appeared to be Uluru in the distance, almost like a scale model on the horizon, a mirage perhaps!

We had covered most of the ‘serious’ climbing in the first two days, but we still seemed to be doing a fair share of uphill, albeit very gentle by Smiddy standards. Some of us decided we would need to redefine the categorisation system for the climbs on this trip, and declared the 2 percenter that we were on a ‘Cat 3’ climb by these standards. Perhaps the only ‘HC’ climb on this trip would be Uluru itself. A friend of mine told me he would sponsor me $100 for the ride, as long as I promised that I would not be climbing Uluru when we arrived there; he felt strongly about that issue. I’m always looking for smart ways to increase the sponsorship for this fantastic cause, so I told him another friend had already offered me $200 if I did climb Uluru. He promptly increased his offering to $200, and made me wonder what other types of auction we might create to raise more funds!

There would certainly be no ‘king of the mountains’ award on this trip, but we did have a couple of Queens of the Desert awarded the night before and Andrew Freebie and Adrian Cross dutifully wore their rainbow gloves and other adornments for the whole day.

Lunch was served at the Maria CafĂ© by a pipeline that seemed to go on forever, some of us sat on the pipe to eat our lunch, I think that just being able to sit on something that wasn’t a bike seat was a welcome relief! As we left the lunch area, Harry Notaras managed to get himself involved in a single vehicle accident by trying to balance against a guide post, which turned out to be one of the fallover types!.

Bretty Geoble worried Kim Gryllis by repeatedly asking ‘have you seen my glasses’, she replied ‘they are on you’; ‘where’ he said, patting down his pockets and looking around himself; ‘on you!’, Kim insisted, ‘on your face’!
We had a welcome guest on our ride today, Aaron, who became a great supporter and sponsor this year. He joined us for dinner and caught the midnight bus back home to Port Augusta; what a legend!

We had a few road trains roar past us today, some blaring their sirens as they past, and demonstrating a full range of the Doppler Effect to our ears.

As we approached Woomera, we were pleased to note it was still light and something triggered one of those amazing Smiddy hug-fests, the end of a hard day and the celebration of friends, old and new.


Ollie 'Oozo' Clissold

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