Thursday, 8 June 2017

2017 Alice to Darwin Smiddy Challenge - Day 4

Written by Jamie Donnelly and Michael Donnelly

Today the Sharky Smiddy blog comes to you from Scotland & Norn Iron (northern Ireland)! If anyone feels that they will have difficulty understanding this please position yourself near someone who can translate.

Before we review the day 4 journey from Attack Creek to Newcastle Waters, lets recap on the team's first night of 'roughing' it in the bush. For the first time all of the riders and the road crew were in cattle class and experienced the joy that is sleeping under the stars. 

What's not to love with a cold bucket of water shower, no phone reception, Brooke's cremated marshmallows for dessert and being rocked to sleep by the passing road-trains! 

Seriously though, we had a great night around the camp fire, the road crew cooked an amazing BBQ dinner and we proceeded to pick on the Scottish Donnelly for much of the evening. We had a great speech from Geoff Ney on the importance of Smiddy to him and why he was inspired to ride this journey - words that ran true with many of the team.

Day 4 we were up dark and early and served up a great spread from the dedicated road crew! Spirits were still relatively high, and the temperature was more respectful to the digits than at anytime since Alice Springs! Not so pleasant was the sight of Queen Jamima Priscilla Donnelly (Jamie) in his bra and trimmings - The Queen liked the dress code so much he stripped off later in the day to flash a bit of chest to the unsuspecting and horrified people of Elliot.  

Back to the ride though ... the team were sent on their way by the amazing Jen Penfold who would join us on the ride and power out most of the day! What an effort. 

The ride started with a spectacular sunrise; it was like the Serengeti without the giraffes, but with some died coos (dead cows) and a shark! After a quick 'sharky break' we enjoyed the most undulating and spiraling ride to date - there must have been at least five corners, it was amazing! 

The undulations provided us with some amazing views of the NT landscape and what Yorky thought was his chance to claim the Polka dot jersey by sprinting ahead up one of the inclines ... maybe someday Yorky, dream on!

Powered by a welcome tail wind, the peloton raced its way into Renner Springs in good spirits. The roadcrew treated us to some great morning tea and, ahead of schedule, the peloton raced on beyond the scheduled lunch stop to make the most of the tail wind. 

The roadkill count was down on previous days, but the scenery was some of the most spectacular to date. Some of the team were just too eager to get to lunch, particularly Geoff Ney who spent so much energy getting there he felt he needed a little lie down in the sand as he came in for a bite.

We made great time and arrived way ahead of schedule into Newcastle Waters - a genuine oasis in the vast NT outback.. The crew had already prepped and amazingly were ready for our arrival. The team had a heart warming embrace and huddle with Killer and Pagey taking the lead to talk about a great day in the saddle and remember the Spirt of Smiddy on completion of an epic ride.  

It was then down to the strategic positioning of swags (away from the known snorers) and finding that glorious spot of outback to rest the head on tonight while the crew took over to look after everyone yet again. Steve Roe (or John Sammy Newman in disguise for those who follow The Footy Show) chose to go to the high ground for a quick getaway tomorrow, or maybe he wants to be close to the road trains again after last night! Special mention to Steely for getting his bike mechanic skills out yet again to follow up a 200km ride to fix and check over bikes for a couple of hours - what a quiet and unassuming legend this man is!!  

Before dinner Rob Chatfield took it upon himself to head out on his bike for a bit of a leg tester and mild panic set in among the camp when he hadn't returned after an hour and a half! Thankfully, the search party managed to pick him up after finding his bike parked up outside the pub in Elliot, 20kms down the road! Kudos to Rob for doing his bit to connect with the locals!

Over half way there - bring on day 5 and the longest ride of the tour at a bum aching 227km!! As I write this the team, led by Killer, have deforested much of the surrounding bushland around Newcastle Waters and must be planning the mother of all Bonfires... enough to burn the Witches of Elliot at the Stake ... 

Roll on tomorrow - a big day in the saddle with friends and another epic ride across the NT. The Smiddy train is steaming to Darwin on schedule!!

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