The Smiddy riders and road crew received a grand welcome into Biloela, a town which clearly exudes Smiddy spirit. After a long day 4, many riders smashed out day 5 with a few sore muscles so were relieved to see the smiling faces of billet families, some of which have been billeting Smiddy riders for many years.
We were also welcomed by the smiling face of Smiling for Smiddy's Brooke F who arrived from Brisbane in style wearing a Banana suit a tribute to the Banana Shire. And man we are so lucky she rocked up – did anyone taste the killer brownies at morning tea? They were well worth the wait Brooke. We are excited to have you with us on Reverse Challenge.
Being the inaugural Smiddy ride for both Pottsy and I (sans bike), we had heard a lot about the hospitality of the local community and the infamous community dinner, and they did not disappoint. We headed to the Thangool Race Course (or maybe the golf club, hey Wongy?).
The hall was packed full of riders, billet families and distinguished members of the Biloela community. We were treated to an amazing dinner hosted by the Rotary Club of Biloela and cold drinks served by the Thangool Race Club. Our host with the most Cameron entertained the crowd with his antics and the night kicked off with Mayor Nev Ferrier welcoming us to the town.
It was fabulous to have with us the Year 6 students from Thangool State School, a long standing supporter of Smiddy and a usual destination on the Smiddy school visits. A touching speech was delivered by the school captains and it was so great to hear the Smiddy visits really are a highlight of their school year, and how delighted they are to be part of the Smiddy community.
They did an amazing effort fundraising donating $400 some of which may have been unauthorised $2 coins pinched from their parents, but none the less a mammoth effort. We were also treated to a lovely reverse karaoke special, featuring our very own Lofty and Wongy (should this be a new tradition?) which I heard a few riders and road crew singing at this afternoon's recovery.
A HUGE Smiddy thank you must be shouted from the rooftops to the Rotary Club of Biloela for the $1000 donation and generous donations from CS Energy from their chocolate boxes, Thangool Race Club, and to the sneaky anonymous donor who gave us $1500.
We also had a number of auction items including a signed Adele picture and signed Cadel Evans Smiddy jersey being the big ticket items. There was also the auction of Sharky and Kevvy. I’m still not quite sure what exactly was being offered, however it was snapped up by Shaun Milburn for a bargain price.
Smiddy traditions were upheld with the winner of ‘I’m not a toad, I’m King of Thangool Road’ race awarded to Mel Speare and Ken Woods. Unlucky for James who unfortunately picked the wrong lead out partner in Habo—the lesson being fresh legs don’t always get you through.
Garath spoke about his belated Grandfather who he is honoring on this Challenge and the Spirit jerseys were awarded to none other than Pottsy, Boycey and Garath (the three musketeers) who exude the Smiddy values. Congrats guys, it was a treat to see the three of you in the distinct red jerseys today.
Our billet hosts never let any of us down, and we were all treated to home breakfasts and early morning drop offs for a 6.30 am roll out. The tradition of ringing the cowbell to send the riders on their way was bestowed to Stephen Thompson from Teys Meats.
Just before the riders hit the pavement, Sharky was awarded the Priscilla award for his memory lapse in advising Garath of his speaking responsibilities the night before. Sharky, the fabulous head piece really suited your outfit today.
No extra coffee was consumed by road crew this morning (not even kidding) and it was straight to prep morning tea at a great little camp area at the top of a dirt hill. The usual amazing home bake was consumed, and of course a lot of Smiddy hugs exchanged. We all left morning tea relatively unscathed, apart from Stemmy driving off with his back window open!
The next town we passed through was Monto and the road crew thought we would offer some extra security for the school visit, circling the school four times trying to find our way to it! We’d like to say no threats were reported and Google maps had us on our way (on the other side of the main road) in no time.
The school visit was attended by all the riders and was exceptionally well received. The Smiddy spirit was shared with the school along with the sun safe message, and of course zinc face painting.
The riders rolled into a superb BBQ lunch. Wendy, our fearless road crew leader, always has your best interests at heart and tried to find a green pasture for lunch, alas it wasn't that green, but there were steaks and sausages which were cooked to perfection by Andy and Force (courtesy of the amazing team at Teys).
To set the riders off on their final leg of today’s journey, riders and road crew were given a letter from their loved ones to set spirits soaring. I’m not sure tears go well with pedaling but I’m sure you appreciated all the love and kind words from home.
It was a delight to see Mr Smiddy giving some grief to the hardworking riders with a little acquired water pistol on the side of the road, however I think Mr Smiddy may have gotten more than he bargained for, with the riders clearly filling up their water bottles at lunch. Lucky he had that rain jacket!
The video is now on Facebook for you all to check out and spread the love.
I was lucky enough to ride with Captain Kevvy for the afternoon following the peloton from lunch to roll in. It was great to see the peloton in action, particularly the teamwork and the way you pull together to get up the steep inclines, all working so diligently. Stemmy, Kevvy and Jake certainly have you in good hands.
With the riders looking a little weary, Potsy handed out icy poles (lovingly donated by the Eidsvold FoodWorks) which were a well-deserved treat. The highlight of Eidsvold however has to be Yvonne, who is an elder of the Wagga Wagga people, the traditional owners of the land. She was riding a motorised scooter and had a hat donned with many pins and eclectic elements.
She told us she had been riding camels… and was rather persistent in wanting the Smiddy riders to come and see the camels and get a photo but unfortunately we had to give up this lucrative opportunity due to 'time restrictions' (right Kevvy?) but the peloton did pass Yvonne around the corner and luckily she wasn’t added to Ben and Jackie G’s roadkill list thanks to Kevvy’s impeccable driving skills.
I was also told there was a rendition of ‘There was a Smiddy rider who swallowed a fly' today, looking at you Scotty and Clare and I expect a repeat at some stage in the next day and a half.
The riders rolled into Munduberra just before 5pm where the Smiddy huddle was led by Adrian and Alicia (the still married couple) and the Smiddy cheer was heard loud and clear.
Each night, the riders writing the blog have thanked the road crew for all their amazing hard work however given we are road crew, I think it’s appropriate to thank the riders for your endless shouts of 'We love road crew' (thanks Krista), your endless hugs and delight at seeing us around every corner and despite what you think it’s pretty damn fun.
Yes we make the best Saos, change bike tyres and if you’re really lucky fill your drink bottles, but we also get to share a pretty special experience and journey so thanks to you all for that.