Wednesday, 14 June 2017

2017 Alice to Darwin Smiddy Challenge - Day 6

Stats for the day by Ray Ray Smith
Distance:  196kms
Ride Time: 6hrs 15min
Ave Speed:  31.5 km/h
Max Speed: 53.5  km/h Done by Isht Singh
Climbing: 377  metres
Descent: 441 metres
Min Temp: 7 degrees
Max Temp:  26 degrees

Blog by Mark Sharky Smoothy

A huge thank you to the past three nights blog writers. You not only gave me a little time off but we all got to enjoy a variety of writing talents.

As I write this, at the van park in Katherine, I find myself reflecting on the past six days on the road. Along the way we have had some pretty amazing days, entertaining nights, covered some incredible distances, and set some unique Smiddy firsts. 

The first one that comes to mind, and I can honestly say, never in Smiddy history, has one of our events been gifted with such incredibly good weather conditions. Six days and 1200 kilometres covered at an average speed of 30 km/h. These days I am happy if I can do a river loop in Brisbane and average that speed for 32 kilometres.

Okay sure we have been presented with great side or direct tailwinds for most of the past six days, but still, the riders have to be strong and determined enough to sustain that type of pace. I take my hat off to all of them, they have done the work behind the scenes and are being rewarded for their dedication. So while these guys and girls have been awesome trainers, they are absolutely stunning fundraisers; 30 active riders that are fundraising and closing in on $200,000! This is simply amazing for just 30 riders, and I know all the staff at Smiddy and Mater Foundation are in awe of their contributions.

Okay let's get to today's day six stage into Katherine of 196 kilometres. After yesterday's epic and longest stage of the tour at 227 kilometres, the back slaps, hugs and handshakes were at an all time high. It meant we had reached the halfway point and the group had come together as all Smiddy groups do. The camaraderie and friendships are now at maximum capacity and we get to enjoy each other's beautiful company for another four days. The beers that night were flowing freely at the iconic, has to be 'seen-to-be-believed', Pink Panther Hotel in Larrimah. 

The owners built a small rundown and out-of-date sanctuary out the back of the pub, which was home to a variety of birds, wallabies, emus and an impressive ten foot salt water croc. Later that night Kevvy and I were discussing that croc and we swear it was in the exact same position, with the same cheeky grin, sleepy eyes and impressive sharp teeth back in 2009 when we were completing the second leg of my around Australia trip. We decided that yes it was alive and not a fake but what do you think?

The night's festivities included a great blog written by our first lead vehicle driver in Rob Chatfield. We also had another Smiddy first when our guest speaker in Isht Singh, not only spoke beautifully about his reasons for joining the Smiddy Peloton, but was also awarded the Spirit-Mateship-Teamwork jersey. Congratulations Singh. Well deserved. 

The road kill is always hilarious when the Donnelly boys take the stage and last night was no different. Jimmy actually admitted to being in awe of the road kill count because they counted 15 kangaroos. I just sat there and smiled and thought we need these lads to do road kill on the Brisbane - Townsville ride one year. Day Seven in 2008 was an ongoing two-year drought; meaning animals venture closer to the road for any semblance of greenery. It was that year, that our road kill counter in Andrew Schindler, had a mental breakdown, not to mention a permanent sinus condition, from counting over 300 kangaroos in just the one day. Since then Day Seven has always been referred to as entering the 'Kill Zone.'

Anyway I am getting off track as per usual. But I just wanted to nominate Tiny Dancer for the Priscilla Award for hiding my bike last night and creating mild panic. I came back to my room after the nighttime activities to find it gone. Five road crew went looking for it and only when they started to interrogate the locals, with fisty-cups starting to take place, that Tiny magically found my bike in his room.

Okay time to hook in to our sixth and final 200 kilometre day in a row. I have less than an hour until we meet for our team dinner, so I am willing my tired mind to focus, focus, focus and get this job done.

With this morning's roll out at 6 am. And without even realizing it, the team were once again creating Smiddy history with yet another Smiddy first ... Oh and how I like a Smiddy first, have you noticed? Anyway here is why; six mornings our start time has been 6 am. While we might not get going until a few minutes past six, doesn't really matter, the fact remains six at six is a new Smiddy first. Pretty exciting hey?

The owners of the Pink Panther sent us on our way with the ringing of the 100-year-old Captain Kevvy family cow bell, a bell that has woke up families and travellers all over Australia for the past 11 years now. While our tailwind was present right from the get go, it was once again a very fresh start, with most of us a little under-dressed as our start location suggested it was warmer than usual.

Now my bladder is usual the brunt of many, many jokes. All because I once needed to pee nine-kilometres into the start of a Smiddy stage many years ago, and the old-school Smiddy lads love bringing it up. For most of this trip my bladder form has been poor with stops needed after just 20-kilometres. So yesterday and again today, I was keen for redemption. Both days not requesting a stop and lasting until the 40-kilometre mark. I was pretty proud of myself. 

My apologies to those other 'early-busting-for-a-pee' riders in the peloton that each morning rely on my early yellow room stops because of my bladder. Just quickly I need to clarify one more thing about wee and pee and all things yellow. If you hear me say this; "mate my teeth are swimming"! I really need to stop. That is my critical point for urine explosion.

Okay now we have that cleared up let's move on. It is now 5.50 pm and Kevvy has just come in and said, "Have you finished yet?" "Well actually no I haven't." I replied. 
"Well you have 20-minutes before the bus comes to take us to dinner, so pull your finger out!"

I don't say anything out loud, but I think he may not recall the one time I asked him to write a blog when we were travelling down the West Coast of Australia. I gave him five days notice and it took him another three days to write 500 words. Anyway with this news delivered from Kevvy it means I know have to go into emergency highlight mode. Meaning the rest of this blog will be short highlights of what stood out for me today. Enjoy.


1.     Jenny penfold set a new Smiddy first record today when she had to get in the van three times due to asthma attacks. I do like a Smiddy first but would prefer if Jenny did not try to better this tomorrow. She is fine and kept getting back on the bike when she could and we are all super proud of her.
2.     Hannah yesterday completed her longest ever Smiddy ride of 227 kilometres,
3.     Today she needed a little van time to recoup and made a welcome return to the peloton later in the day to show true Smiddy spirit.
4.     Well done to Felicity and Leesa for riding tough today. Both girls have achilles pain and affecting their time in the peloton.
5.     So pleasing, not only today, but the past six days, seeing the crew erect the Cafe Maria banner at every food stop. Maria Smiddy lost her life two years ago to cancer and in her memory this banner is our permanent reminder. Without Maria we would not have sao's with cheese and tomatoe, for this was her creation.
6.     Morning tea at Mataranka and Bitter Springs at the 79 kilometre point. I guess now will always be remembered not for its beauty but because the entire peloton was waiting for its leader in Christian Killeen, the two founding riders of Smiddy in Steely and yours truly, and Greg Harmer off doing the touristy thing. Brooke Rose got her workout that day by running ten kilometres looking for us. Well maybe 400 metres!
7.     Lunch today at Cutta Cutta Caves at the 162 kilometre mark was simply stunning. A hot barbecue lunch of wraps, washed down with a desert of fresh fruit and yogurt. While the girls made fresh brewed coffee. Do we love road crew or what!
8.     Lunch again and the 'Bitter Springs Foursome' being banned to visit the one hour cave tour.
9.     Tiny Dancer once again up to his antics at the front of the peloton. Permission to go faster his legs ask him? His legs say yes, Smiddy ride leaders say no! Tiny still ramps it up to 45km. Tiny gets into trouble. Again...
10.  As we approached Katherine traffic was heavy, so we were directed onto a bike path for six kilometres, which was wide enough for two bikes only. Kevvy decided not to follow us.
11.  Bike path again and Stormin Norman showed his face-planting skills by stacking it as he attempted a grass shortcut. He was up faster than 'The Flash' out of fear he would be given van time. Stormin is all okay and proud of his elbow and hip injuries.
12.  Setting, what I believe, is a new Smiddy record for a 200 kilometre ride of 31.5 kilometre average. Which I believe would have gotten to 32 if not for the bike path deviation.
13.  Thank you to David Gillies and Lorenzo Marabini for opening up tour hearts and sharing your reasons for doing this Smiddy event by taking the Huddle this afternoon.
14.  Finally some info on termites. The queen can live for up to 100 years. These small insects perform amazing feats of cooperation. For example, consider a mature cathedral mound around 5m tall. Given it was built by insects around 5mm long this is equivalent to humans getting together and building a massive skyscraper over a kilometer high and covering many city blocks. After witnessing the millions upon millions of termite mounds between Alice and Darwin over the past six days, I have decided it would suggest not to buy land here and build a Queenslander! 

That's it from me.



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