Monday, 29 August 2016


Stats for the day
Distance: 164 km's
Ride Time: 6:03:02
Ave Speed: 27.1 km/h
Max Speed: 71.5 km/h
Climbing: 1490 metres
Min Temp: 3 degrees
Max Temp: 24 degrees

Road Kill Count by Sydsey and Sergio.
45 Roos 10 bags of bones, 25 Uf smells, 4 foxes, 1 turtle, 1 cannondale bike

Day three of the Smiddy Challenge has always been my most favourite day of the entire tour. Here's why...
The course is beautiful, with rolling hills for most of the day and a ten kilometre climb up the Monto Range.

What goes up must come down, and the descent is one that the lads are let loose on to go at their own pace, and that pace is ballistic! The grins from ear to ear at the bottom where we regroup is testament to the fun that takes place.

School visits, not one but two. Firstly at morning tea the small school of St Teresa's State Primary School, which is a warm up school to the bigger primary school at Thangool in the afternoon. At each school we deliver a sun-safe message and have some fun with the riders who get their faces painted with zinc by some of the students.

The Thangool 15 kilometre sprint after the school visit, is a chance for the faster riders to let off a little built up steam from patiently chugging along at Smiddy pace for the majority of the ride. It is a hotly contested go-at-your-own-pace session, with the first male and female receiving the coveted stuffed toad as a reward for their efforts. And yes they are real stuffed toads mounted to a plaque!

The afternoon tea at Thangool is the culinary highlight of the entire eight days on the road. This is thanks to the parents of all the children cooking up a storm for the riders. After gorging yourself on everything imaginable, so much food is left over that we are invited to take the rest of it on the road, which normally lasts an additional three days of eating!

The community of Biloela and Thangool extend their country hospitality like no other town I have ever experienced. Each and every person on this journey, riders and road crew. Are billeted with a local family. How unbelievable is that? And how beautiful is it that these families open up their homes to us! For seven years now this community have been doing it and I am still gobsmacked each year.

To finish off the most amazing day these astonishing local people, and their local businesses, then put on an incredible function at the Thangool Racing Club. All costs are covered by the community and even more money is raised for the Smiddy and Mater cause thanks to their generosity.

So you may now be getting an inkling of why day three is pretty special to me. I know there will be no-one here tonight, as this blog is being read out, that would disagree with me.

6:30a.m. Roll Out In Three Degree Temperature
Today we left the Eidsvold Showgrounds to the delightful sound of Kevvy's cow bell being rung by Allan Smiddy. The riders have pulled up well from their first two days in the saddle and were straight into a good rhythm as the average speed checked in at 29km/h for the first 20 kilometres. Our scheduled stop, as per our day cards that we carry in our back pockets and are handed out by Mr Smiddy each morning in quick-draw fashion, at St Teresa's had us arriving there at 8:45 and we were right on time at 8:55a.m.

School Visit at St Teresa's Monto
The visit went well with Krista Page doing an amazing job with the kids. The zinc off was a hit with the ten riders, who were chosen by the kids, definitely not getting burnt faces today. The principal, Chris Ferguson, asked the school captains to step forward, who made a lovely presentation of a Smiddy money tin that had $250,00 from a school disco that the school organised. How gold is that? The Shark Hat made an appearance as well, with many of the children remembering Shark from previous years. All the riders then presented each little person with a special commemorative Smiddy wrist band.

Cherie Nicolas, who is our program manager for Smiddy, was so overawed by her first Challenge School visit, that she jumped on her bike, complete with helmet but forgetting a minor part of her cycling attire, thankfully not her pants but her bike shoes! The thing with Smiddy rides is that there is always someone watching...

Today I rode that first section into Monto, but not until I successfully displaced all the empty beer cans that were affixed to my bike last night while I slept. You can tell when the group is bonding extremely well once the practical jokes begin, and boy have they started early on this trip! Old mate Slippery James Schneider found his pajama pants around his ankles and his Velcro bag straps not done up prior to roll out. Anyway I am back in the lead vehicle tapping away on this blog since leaving the school. I am so excited that tonight we can deliver a blog to this wonderful community of Biloela and Thangool that is about the actual day we spent on the road and not about the day before. Thank you to Peter Hickey for not saying no to me when I asked him to be the blog reader for this special night.

Epic Efforts Up Monto Range
Once again, the inform Scotty 'Pup' Manning, tempo'd his way to the top of the ten kilometre long Monto Range. He makes each climb look easy and I will be interested to see how he goes in today's King Of The Toad out of Thangool go-at-your-own-pace session against the likes of our track rider in the group James Schneider. Robyn Lever, is climbing like a seasoned pro on this journey, and once again was the first female to the top, ahead of a vast majority of the lads. Nice work Robyn.
Sean Lever, who has a internal hernia and advised by his doctor to take it easy, (riding to Townsville is easy right and perfectly normal when you have a hernia...) just couldn't help himself, when on the climb and descent, he had a little play and was fourth rider to the regroup spot at the bottom of the descent.

Lunch By The Side Of The Road
So back in the car and feeling extremely envious of the riders and the sweat on their brows and their silly grins from having their fun on that little hill. I'm good and I'm happy for them but... how dare they have a good time without me! Ha, ha! Just kidding... Old mate Peter Hickey is my company in the back seat for this leg and we will both get back on the bikes after lunch for the run into Thangool school.

Today's lunch spot is just a little dirt patch off the side of the road, the perfect distance out from Thangool to kill some time so that we make the school visit at our designated time of 2:15p.m.
Thanks road crew for the fine job you do each time of feeding us.

Thangool School Visit
The kids always come out and high five the riders as we enter their school. For nine years we have been visiting Thangool and watching them grow up over the years has been amazing. One young man named Axle, I saw him from grade one right through to grade seven and last year he was gone. I miss Axle and I miss the questions he use to ask, like the year he questioned why we didn't do the ride on our motorbikes! Which I thought was a very good question. I ponder that one often when suffering in headwinds and heat. Once again Krista and I had some sun safe fun with the children and our own Dr Gary "Koala" Leong delivered his own unique message. Thank you to the State School P&C ladies for once again providing enough food to feed an army, actually make that two armies!

King Of The Toad
Three graded bunches take off a few minutes apart and 15 kilometres later are reunited a whole lot sweatier and tired than when they started. Who would think after riding over 600 kilometres that riders would be interested in killing themselves in a sprint... But I guess they are Smiddy riders and they like suffering. The King and Queen of the Toad went to a man who controls the peloton from the back of the pack as he watches over us as a shepherd does with his flock. We are very lucky to have this great man back for the third year in a row. A huge congratulations to Kenny Woods.

Queen of The Toad
Robyn Lever is proving to be unbeatable, and the thing is this lady does it all with a smile and does not even know that she is racing or climbing hills fast. She just keeps beating all the lads oblivious to the damage she is doing to all our egos! Nice work Robyn. A deserving winner.

Community Huddle
The huddle was huge today with all our billets joining in. Which was taken by local bad boy in Cameron Habermann. For a trouble maker he delivered some really nice words. From there it was on to our billet's homes for a well deserved shower and a change of clothes, a quick cup of tea and a chat with our hosts and onto the Thangool Race Track for the big community function.

As per usual the function was the greatest ending to the greatest of all days on tour. Thank you once again Biloela and Thangool communities for making the Smiddy crew feel so extremely special. By opening up your homes and attending this function you too are part of the amazing Smiddy journey that for ten years now has gifted us with unbelievable stories of human kindness. Kindness that comes from people such as each and every person that is here tonight. Thank you on behalf of the Smiddy riders, road crew, Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation. Your actions are responsible for helping people less fortunate by connecting with us and our cause.

Guest Speaker
Michelle Herlaar tonight spoke of her husband Herman Herlaar who passed away from Melanoma. Herman was a most inspirational man that did road crew for this ride back in 2010. He was also instrumental in helping to grow Melanoma Patients Australia. Thank you Michelle for sharing Herman's story.

Jersey Presentations
The first jersey was awarded to Cameron Habermann for a few reasons. 1. Because he is a real team player, always helping out where he can. 2. He is actually a nice bloke. Contrary to popular belief. 3. He is a champion for the Smiddy cause coming back for his second Challenge event in a row. And 4. But mainly because he is a local from here in Biloela. Meaning tonight, in front of his home crowd he gets a few more cheers than if we gave it to him on any other night.

The second jersey went to a quiet achiever in the group. A real nice bloke doing his first Challenge event. The big guy has a heart of gold and definitely possesses the Smiddy spirit. On day he had a fall that saw him have to do some van time, but since then has never looked back and is getting stronger every day. Congratulations went to Stephen Townsend.

And that's a wrap for day three of this arduous eight day tour. Five to go!


History of Biloela

Town in the heart of a rich mining and agricultural region.

Biloela is a rural service centre located 594 km north of Brisbane, 127 km from Gladstone and 173 metres above sea-level. Due to its location at the intersection of the Dawson and Burnett Highways, the town is well supplied with accommodation and eating facilities.

Biloela's economy is driven by pastoral and agricultural enterprises and by the local coalmines, although, mercifully, it could never be described as a mining town. Specifically, local income is generated by annual livestock slaughtering, cotton production, dairying, wheat, sorghum, lucerne and other grains and cereals.

The Gangulu tribe, who inhabited the region prior to European settlement, named the area Biloela after their totem: the white cockatoo. The first European to explore the area was Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844.

This was during an exploration expedition from the Darling Downs to open up a route to Port Essington. His reports encouraged the settlement of the area by pastoralists.

Thomas Archer, a friend of Leichhardt's, selected the region that is now known as Eidsvold Charles Archer moved further north and settled in the Biloela/Callide area. Other early landholders were the Leith Hay family, the Browns, H.C. Corfeild, James Reid, John Ross, Alex McNab and Frederick Barton. However, the town was not gazetted until 1924 and the railway arrived the following year.

Coal was discovered in the area in the 1890s but it was not developed until 1942 when an open-cut mine was established on the site of the old Callide station.

Today Biloela is a modern town characterised by very broad streets and a well-established business centre. There are few old buildings apart from Grevells which looks like it was once an old picture theatre.

The Big Valley Story, an interesting account of the history of the area, was published in 1974 to celebrate the town's fiftieth birthday. In 1994, a routine burn-off at Kroombit Tops uncovered a B-24 Liberator Bomber, lost in 1944.

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