Sunday, 4 June 2017

2017 Alice to Darwin Smiddy Challenge - Day 1


DAY 1 Alice Springs to Ti Tree

Stats for the day by Ray Ray & Ron Ron
Distance:  195 kms
Ride Time: 6hrs 20min
Ave Speed:  30.8 km/h
Max Speed: 42.2 km/h
Climbing: 308 metres
Min Temp: minus .04 degrees
Max Temp:  24 degrees

Blog by Mark Sharky Smoothy

Blog Dedication
It would be remiss of me not to dedicate this first blog to my Auntie Marie. My beautiful Aunt lost her life last year to cancer. Marie was not only my all-time favourite person in the entire world, along with my Wife and Daughter, my parents and family, but she was a Smiddy volunteer. Two Challenge events and last year's Adelaide to Uluru. Her love and warmth, her songs and her stories brightened any persons day that she came into contact with. We were extremely fortunate to share three amazing years with this beautiful lady through Smiddy events.

Welcome to the first blog I have written since the Challenge event back in September 2016. After the successful ride last year from Adelaide to Uluru in June of 2016 this event is the continuation of the Smiddy 'Up The Guts' journey. Ahead of the riders is a massive undertaking of over 1500 kilometres of riding, that depending on the conditions, may be just stupid hard, or insanely-why-the-hell-are-we-doing-this hard!

Seven Crazies
The day prior to the official start of this year's event, seven of the ten returning riders from last year's ride to Uluru decided to fill in the dots. Meaning they got a lift out to Erldunda and rode the 200 kilometres back to Alice Springs. Mark Sturt, as part of his fundraising venture, had 'Up The Guts' t-shirts made, which featured a map of all the stops from Adelaide to Darwin. The six lads and one lady successfully completed the ride and were often heard, telling anyone that they forcibly held down, about the minus four degree start temperature and the 100 kilometres of headwinds. Well done to these crazies, but now please let me introduce you to the other amazing riders and road crew undertaking this amazing and epic Smiddy adventure.

Volunteer Acknowledgement
As you know you know, our events are only able to proceed because of our incredible volunteers. These people give up two weeks of their annual leave to look after the extremely grateful rider peloton. Wayne Smith, Mick and Cath McDonald, Ben Roper, Brad Barnett, Kevin and Mia Stemm, Kevin Enchelmaier, Rob Chatfield, Yvette Farry, Andrea Thorley, Deborah Eccles and Michelle Meredith-Herlaar. A huge thank you to all and please know how much we appreciate your sacrifices.

Smiddy and Mater Crew
Without staff working behind the scenes there would be no Smiddy events to write about. To Christian Killeen, Krista Page, Brooke Rose, Wendy Muir and Brooke Falvey, an extremely heartfelt thank you for all your hard work to get this monster logistical nightmare juggernaut up and running.

The Rider Peloton
I wish I had the time to write a piece on each and every rider that has signed up for this journey. But time is not on my side, as this blog must be finished in time to read out very soon as I sit here tapping away on the keyboard after a successful day one finish into Ti Tree, 195 kilometres from Alice Springs. But here are the riders names and please know they have all trained their butts off, fundraised intensely to reach their $5000 minimum requirement and sent off with much love and support from their family and friends. So to the 12 returning Smiddy riders from past and various Smiddy events, Ron Steel, Ray Smith, Tony Ganter, Mark Sturt, Karen Short, Jennifer Penfold, Aram Drake! Lesa Beasley, Tony Smythe, Samuel Cooke, Krista Page and Christian Killeen, thank you for continuing to support Smiddy events.

And to the virgin 21 first time Smiddy riders in Ian Brandon, Justin Brooks, Georgina Dudley, Mathew English, Shaun Gamble, David Gillies, Reno Holmes, Anthony Johns, David Lawrence, Hannah Dalby-Lewis, Lorenzo Marabini, Janet McAfee, Paul Moore, Felicity Cox, Geoff Ney, Steve Roe, Isht Singh, James Donnelly, Micheal Donnelly, Greg Harmer and Norman Ridge, a huge thank you for giving us a chance to show you the spirit, adventure and camaraderie of a smiddy ride.

Thinking of you Bill Wearn and Michael Henley
Commiserations to Bill and Michael, who were meant to ride this event, but due to injuries were forced to pull out at the latest hour. I know they are both gutted not to be here and our thoughts are with you lads. We hope we get the pleasure of your company in another Smiddy event in the not too distant future.

A Big Shout Out To Helen And Russell Page
I finally had the pleasure of meeting Krista's beautiful parents in Russell and Helen. While they are no longer travelling with us, but will be at the finish to see us in at Darwin, I would like to acknowledge their role in helping to get the Smiddy truck, along with Wayne 'The Force' Smith, with all the gear we require to run this event, from Brisbane to Alice Springs. A drive of four days. Russell and Helen will then spend a week getting the truck home for us from Darwin. Unbelievable support and very much appreciated. 

Roll Out And Our First Distinguished Cow Bell Ringer
This honour went to an incredible gentleman that lives in Alice Springs and bent over backwards to help the Smiddy crew out with any preparations that we required. Thank you to John Herlaar. John is Herman Herlaar's Brother and Herman was a Smiddy volunteer for us back in 2008 and lost his life to Melanoma a few years later. John, along with his Daughter Carlie and her partner Andrew joined us last night for the pre-ride celebrations at The Bottlemart tavern called The Gap Hotel and we're presented with a certificate of appreciation for amazing services rendered.

Roll Out And A Balmy Three Degrees
Okay it was cold, but let's quickly regress back to this time last year and day one rolling out from Adelaide. The rain began in earnest two hours into that day and decided not to stop for the remainder of the day. Of course everyone was caught out without any of their wet weather gear and bone-drenching cold became the norm for the next eight hours. As you can imagine, those same crazy seven riders from yesterday's join-the-dots ride, once again, filled hours of conversation to all the newbies, which mainly fell on deaf ears!
Two hours into the ride and the sun was up and the temperature was a pleasant double digits and a happier Peloton could not be found anywhere in the world!

Adelaide to Uluru Riders -Thinking Of You
Now I am secretly hoping that the 50 Adelaide to Uluru riders, that chose not to return this year to complete the leg up to Darwin, are reading this. You see conditions today were pretty good, actually really bloody good, I mean exceptionally perfect! A nearly 31km/h average, compared to our 22km/h average last year, should give you an indication of what you have missed! Anyway I am not rubbing salt into the wound, I am just thinking out loud how much you are missed and that these conditions would not have suited such hard-arsed riders as yourselves. You would have hated it. We were warm, happy, laughing, telling jokes, occasionally having to pedal our bikes and had not a care in the world.

Mr Smiddy Not Here - Or Is He?
Mr Smiddy delivered the news that his presence would not be possible at this event due to a hip replacement operation. But reports have been coming in since yesterday of surprise Smiddy sightings. It could be a stunt double? You be the judge and check out the Smiddy Facebook page... Oh and if Mr Smiddy is reading this thank you my friend for your incredibly beautiful message delivered to me via Ray Ray Smith's phone.

Final Wrap Of An Incredible First Smiddy Day on the Road
It was incredible really; here we were on day one of the Smiddy ride, completing a 200 kilometre day, that included 100 kilometres of tailwind. With the last hundred into a light on-the-right-side-of-the nose crosswind and the group had already gelled like it was day four. We left right on Smiddy time at 6:15a.m. for our allocated 6a.m. roll out and we're tucking into our first celebration chocolate milk by 2:20p.m. in Ti Tree. It was a cracker of a day, spirits were high and we would not be disappointed to receive the same treatment tomorrow or for the next seven days!

The first honour of the huddle went to road crew members in Michelle Merideth-Herlaar and Deborah Eccles. About ten of the riders today completed their longest ever ride, and it was pointed out that tomorrow they would break that record again! The road crew efforts on day one were acknowledged and thanked and the riders efforts applauded.

Tonight we had a barbecue under the stars and the usual Smiddy traditions of guest speaker in Jennifer Penfold telling her personal reasons for why she rides Smiddy events  special Jersey presentations to the three Sydney girls in Hannah, Georgina and Felicity.

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