Saturday, 27 August 2016


Stats for the day
Distance: 205km's
Ride Time: 8:23:45
Ave Speed: 24.9km/h
Climbing: 3080 metres
Min Temp: 8 Degrees
Max Temp: 22Degrees
Today the riders produced enough energy to heat a cup of coffee!

Road Kill by Chris Sydes and Serge Simic
A few smells, mainly from the peloton, 3 bits of fluff, basically this pair suck at road kill and they obviously did not take their role seriously as I counted 20 different species by the side of the road.

Guest Speaker
Sean 'Lofty' Lever spoke tonight of his journey into Smiddy that started with the first Noosa Smiddy triathlon in 2010, his Midi Smiddy in 2014 and Challenge event last year and again this year with his Wife Robyn. Sean this year is doing the ride for his Dad who lost his life last year six years after Challenge and the loss of his close mate Scott 'Ardvark' Penny. Who this year passed away tragically from stomach cancer.

Special Cap Presentation
Ardvark's Wife Colleen, and her friend Jodie, drove to Nanango to spend the night sleeping in swags and to present all the riders with a beautiful cycling cap dedicated to Scott. This gesture was very much appreciated by all the riders. Thank you beautiful ladies.

At this very moment in time, 1:10pm, I am sitting in the rear seat of the lead vehicle with our drivers Mick Farrag and Melissa Speare. I have just completed the run into lunch at 115 kilometres at Kilcoy. I thought it would be hard to stick to my plan of only riding part of each day's stage, but for a year now I have been promising my body an easier year during Challenge this year and have said it enough times to anyone that would listen that it's hard-wired into my brain.

The run out of Kilcoy is on the very busy D'Aguliar Highway and the calls are coming thick and fast through the two-way radio. We have a police escort in Brenton Cope, a good mate of Adam Smiddy who has ridden the Challenge many times in the past. Watching him control the traffic and direct our front and rear vehicles is like watching a world-class conductor in the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

One comment just came over the two-way from a disgruntled driver yelling a warning to his mates; "Look out ahead mate, there is all sorts of cyclists, police and shit on the road ahead." Was his exact words. Most motorists are of course patient and understanding but there is always the odd one out.

Already I hear Captain Kevvy talking to cars and trucks behind, who are enquiring as to what is going on. Kevvy always explains politely, that the group of cyclists are on day one of an eight day ride to Townsville and raising money for research for the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. He is a good man that Kevvy. Fronting up for his tenth straight Challenge event in a row. Unbelievable and so much experience. How lucky we are to have Kev as one of our Patriarch's within Smiddy.

So let's regress back to six a.m. and the roll out and all I can say is Wow! What a turn out this morning at the UQ Aquatic Centre for our send off for the 11th edition of the Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy 1600 kilometre Challenge event from Brisbane to Townsville. So many family members turned up to pay homage to their Smiddy rider, and most heart warming to see, was the awesome support from past Smiddy riders, who turned out in the dozens to make this new breed of Challenge riders feel extremely special. To get the peloton on their way of course David Smiddy was first cab off the rank to ring Kevvie's infamous cow bell that has been in his family for over 100 years.

A huge thank you to Mark and Jae, and all their wonderful staff at UQ aquatic centre, for once again allowing us to use the pool facilities and provide bacon and eggs for breakfast. A special call out to our special porridge lady in Jan Fowler, who steps up every year to provide the yummiest slow burning, energy producing, lactate diminishing and tummy warming porridge in the world! I really like her porridge. Can you tell?

The run to the outskirts of the city and into Samford was completed in record time, here's why... With two police cars and a motorbike controlling the traffic the peloton never had time to catch their breath thanks to never having to stop for any red lights. How cool we all felt getting special treatment like that and you know what? These guys and girls deserve to feel special because they are! All the training, the fundraising, the tiredness, the balance required of their lives to fit in family and work commitments; god damn it they deserved that royal treatment this morning. While on the subject of royal treatment the weather gods decided after what they put the Adelaide to Uluru peloton through back in June this year, that today they would make amends as they produced one of the most spectacular days on record.

The morning tea stop at 77km's is one of the most scenic of the entire 8 days with sweeping views of the famous Glass House Mountains. It was here that a group photo was taken and our special guest rider in Brendan Whipps of Harcourts Real Estate left us to return back to Dayboro, where his Wife Michelle was kind enough to drive out and collect him. Thanks also to Tim Russell, Ian Bisson and Mark Trembath, who rode with us to Dayboro.

Okay we have just pulled up at Moore, the 148 kilometre mark for the scheduled toilet stop. The weather is simply gorgeous and all the riders have huge grins on their faces. No-one looks stressed and it is a stark reminder of how the weather controls the emotions an endurance rider goes through. I clearly remember many of the past years getting to this spot after battling ferocious heat and headwinds and the peloton a quivering mess. Just six kilometres down this very road is the Nasty Blackbutt Range climb, but on a day like today, at least some of the riders, will find this climb enjoyable. While at Moore I got talking to a local chap, 65 year old Jim walker; he enquired as to the purpose of the ride, and when I filled him in on how it all started he opened up with his own story of losing his Wife to cancer. A lovely old chap and one entwined within our own story of loss because of this horrible disease that affects so many.

Okay back in the car and the day continues with the run into lunch at Kilcoy, which included the infamous Sharky shortcut, which basically means anything from dirt roads, to bumpy roads, to majestic views, to no traffic, to lots of cows and two significant climbs and one that measured 24% gradient. It used to include a water crossing but the mongrels have ruined it by putting in a concrete bridge, darn it! Six years ago this route was included to keep the peloton off the highway. I discovered it on one of my motorbike jaunts and it didn't seem that hard. Boy was I proved wrong that year, as I, and the other 49 riders in 2010 discovered. Ironically I was voted most unpopular man in the peloton that year!

At lunch Krista Page introduced all the road crew to the riders and each person spoke of themselves and explained their role throughout this eight day journey. It goes with saying these guys and girls are the salt of the earth and we could not do Smiddy events without them. Over the next week I will introduce you to these esteemed human beings.

The peloton are moving along nicely and at this very moment are climbing at their own pace up the ten kilometre Blackbutt Range. We are now at afternoon tea at Blackbutt at the 169 kilometre point. Last year we arrived into Blackbutt in terrible wet and cold conditions as the rain bucketed down on the peloton. 2016 the perfect conditions are a direct contrast to last year and still the riders are looking every bit as fresh as when they left the University this morning. Well everyone that is, except Bruce Fraser, who is at this very moment flat on his back and very much in pain.

It was such a beautiful day today that although I was enjoying the company of our esteemed front vehicle drivers I had an urgent yearning to rejoin the peloton, so I set the goal if I finished the blog before afternoon tea then my reward was I go to ride again. And that is exactly what happened and I managed 150 kilometres for the day. I could not have been happier.

The final leg into Nanango is brutal with the rolling hills continuing right up until the last few kilometres. This first day the peloton climb very close to 3000 metres, which is a huge day out in anyone's book, especially over a 205 kilometre day. We arrived just as the sun was setting and it provided a perfect backdrop for our first huddle of the trip. I took this first huddle tonight and for the next seven days a special rider or road crew will be given this honour.

For 11 years now we have been staying in Nanango and our hosts have always been Mark and Desley Gaedtke. Mark owned the butchers shop here and was involved in the local cycling scene. He has since semi retired but still helps us out each and every year. A huge thank you to the beautiful ladies at the Nanango Show Society for letting us take over their facilities for one night. The food and hospitality is always second to none. They surprised us to gift when they presented Smiddy with a cheque for $200, which was warmly received by the group.

Sharky's Top Tens Highlights from Today

Congratulations to Gary 'Dr Koala' Leong for cycling just 500 metres before getting the fist mechanical of the trip and spending the next 20 kilometres in the broom wagon. He promised he would make it up tonight after dinner!

Just outside of Samford a cool dude, who thought he was cool anyway, driving a fast red sports car (must be fast as it was bright red) decided to get a real close look at the riders as he drove past within centimeters of the peloton and giving us all a good scare. The only problem was he did right in front of our new best friend, our motorbike policeman, who immediately pulled him over and issued him with a ticket. Absolutely Gold that one!

Each day special category Jerseys, as a show of recognition, are handed out to riders who go above and beyond their call of duty. In last year's Challenge Cameron Habermann was awarded the mateship jersey and for some reason known only to him he decided to wear it today. Why? I am still to find the answer to that question...

The inform Scott Manning is killing all the climbs today and took out the King of the Mountain for Mt Mee and doubled up with a win up Blackbutt. Mick and Mel have nicknamed him Pup, as they say, with his long locks, pony tail, skinny legs, he is a younger version of Sharky, me! I'll take that as a compliment. I think.

The Mt Mee Queen of the Mountain went to 'Honey', also known as Robyn Lever. She had no idea she was the winner until I told her she was. When I asked her who the first female was she pointed to her husband Sean 'Lofty' Lever. Lofty is it time for you to come out mate?

This next incident came to me from a reliable source, not mentioning any names Mr Smiddy because I would never do that! So this person informed me that after the morning tea stop that extraordinarily talented Smiddy ladies, Wendy Muir and Michelle Meredith-Herlarr, duly pulled out of the carpark and proceeded to head in the complete opposite direction to Nanango as she steered towards Brisbane. A quick about-face saw her back on the right track, blissfully unaware that many eyes saw it.

Tonight's category jersey went to Mick 'Boobah' Young, this rider has been around since 2008, has done countless Smiddy events and deserves all spirit, mateship and teamwork awards for what he has done for us over the years.

Bruce Fraser also was awarded a category jersey for his enthusiasm towards fundraising and being the first to reach his $5k total within the first three months of signing up for the event a year ago. He also did it tough today due to some breathing difficulties that forced him into the van after afternoon tea. Bruce is a real team player and would have done this so as not to be a burden to the rest of the peloton. A special mention to his supporters in Brother Lex and his Wife Diane and their daughter Ammie, who shared Bruce's journey all day today and will return tomorrow to Brisbane.

A big call out to Stephen Townsend, who took out the dubious honour of winning the award for the first low speed tumble, which happened just out of Kilocoy, managing to shred his cycling shorts on the left side but coming out okay in the end! Pardon the pun! Stephen sat out the rest of the day to live another day and will be back out there tomorrow for sure.

Nice this afternoon to see the group hugging, high fives, handshakes, back-slaps as sometimes this does not happen until day three or four. The group is already bonding and it is going to be a spectacular and special eight day journey that's for sure.

This year I wanted to share a little about each town that we stay at, so the finish of each of my blogs will be a history of each town. While it may not have anything to do with our ride some of the information is very interesting.

So until tomorrow, thanks for the support and take care.


Nanango is a moderately large country town and has a very friendly and informal atmosphere.

The CBD features impressive chainsaw sculptures and murals which reflect the town's historical connections with timber-felling, farming and mining. Nanango has a low-humidity climate (cool summers and brisk winters) and is surrounded by vine scrublands and eucalypt forests. The massive Tarong Power Station and Meandu Coal Mine are located 16km to the south of the town and the Bunya Mountains are located about 53km to the south-west.

Nanango has a very long history and a great deal of it is preserved in its buildings - especially Ringsfield House, a wonderfully restored circa 1908 Queenslander developed by architect Robin Dods. Ringsfield is open Mondays to Fridays from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and entry to the house is $5. Ringsfield also has a cafe which is open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Mondays to Fridays, too.

Nanango has a vigorous cultural and sporting life and is host to an art gallery and many craft outlets. The town also has many clubs and a range of sporting facilities including an RSL, bike, darts, golf, bowling and archery clubs. The are 13 well-maintained parklands in the area which naturalists believe are home to 250 different bird species.

Nanango has several museums and a number of live entertainment venues which regularly host performances by local theatre and musical groups. The Lee Park race track - not far south of the CBD - hosts around 6 meetings each year.

Major annual events include the Nanango Show (held at the Nanango Showgrounds in April); the Nanango Country Music Muster (held at the Showgrounds in September); the Waterhole Rocks Festival (in October) and the New Years Eve Mardi Gras (on December 31).

When was Nanango established?
The area around Nanango was first settled by Europeans in 1847 when John Borthwick and William Oliver from Ipswich took up several very large grazing selections to the west of Taromeo Station (near present-day Blackbutt).

Prospector Jacob Goode built Goode's Inn - the first commercial building in the town - beside a waterhole on Oliver's selection in 1848 and Nanango began to grow around it soon afterwards (the name Nanango has evolved from "Nunangi". The original settlement near the big waterhole was called Noogoonida by the aborigines. It means place where the waters gather together - a large lagoon or lake).

The discovery of gold at the Seven Mile Diggings in the late 1800s precipitated a population boom, and this accelerated again when Yarraman became the terminus railhead for the Brisbane Valley Line in 1913. After World War I, however, growth leveled off until the early 1970s when the development of the Tarong Power Station led to a third population explosion.
Today Nanango's principal industries are power generating and coal mining, agriculture, beef and pork production, dairying and milk processing, timber growing and milling, small crops, natural medicine, art and craftwork and tourism.

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