Saturday, 26 August 2017

2017 Townsville to Brisbane Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge - The night before

A huge welcome to the pre blog before the 49 strong Peloton and 15 enthusiastic road crew members push off tomorrow on the historic first return Smiddy Challenge journey from Townsville to Brisbane. 

I arrived last night to Townsville at 10pm after a sad goodbye in Brisbane to my wife Alyssa and our baby daughter Estelle, who is now nine months of age. 

To Kirsteen Mason; a huge thank you for collecting me at the airport and getting me to Smiddy HQ at the Mecure and to Dr Koala for helping me with my luggage at the airport.

To Lesley Ray, my thoughts are with you at having to pull out of being part of this journey as Road Crew due to catching the dreaded flu at the 11th hour. We hope you heal fast and can join us for the back half of the trip.

With the majority of riders arriving today there is a real sense of excitement in the air. While most of the Smiddy peloton flew straight into Townsville, four individuals flew direct to Cairns to start their journey by cycling the 400 kilometres back to Townsville a few days earlier than the rest of us.

First up, Claire and James Schneider are on a special journey for their father who passed away four years ago to Melanoma. This brother and sister shared a special bond with their dad through cycling and grew up in Cairns, so it was fitting for them to leave from Cairns and visit some schools and places frequented by their Dad. Mr Smiddy was a champion to their cause and offered to look after them in his own vehicle as support.

Then we had Mick Farrag and Melissa Speare; long time Smiddy riders and supporters, and when I quizzed Melissa about their reason, her response was: “because Mick asked me to join him and I couldn't say no when he looked at me with his puppy dog eyes pleading for a yes response!”.  

Mick and Mel have done a lot of my journeys around Australia and are missing a few segments of the grand lap of this big beautiful country of ours. I suspect that for Mick, this added bit of the trip was filling in a few of the missing dots.

As for the rest of the crew, everyone is busy assembling bikes, packing trucks, getting last minute items from the shops, eating and hydrating for the big grand depart tomorrow, and in-between all this controlled madness, trying to grab some momentary quiet times of rest and reflect on what the hell they have got themselves in to!

Having the start in Townsville was a perfect opportunity for the team at Smiddy to do a quick drive out to pay our respects to Maria and Adam Smiddy at their final resting place in Home Hill, which is where the Smiddy family grew up. 

While I will never lose touch of the reason why the ride started, it was a good reminder to everyone present why this journey began back in 2006 and going forward, how important this message is and must be passed on throughout new teams in the future.

The Smiddy team ran a briefing for the riders at 5pm from the Mecure and by 6pm everyone was on their way to the send off dinner being held at Bottlemart's The Sun Hotel in Townsville.

A great night was held and then it was time for bed because our big adventure awaits! 

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