Thursday, 15 March 2018

2018 Tassie Smiddy Challenge - Day 4

Freycinet to Orford
Written by Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy

Daily stats by Matty Muir 
Distance: 115 kilometres
Time: 4 hours 16 minutes
Average speed: 27.2 km/h
Maximum speed: 79 km/h
Min temp: 11
Max temp: 15
Elevation: 910 m

Road kill count by Natalie and Serge 
1 Cat, 1 visor, 1 left knee, 1 Garmin, 1 budgie, 1 rear derailleur, 1 pair of cleats, 1 turtle, 1 Bad Leech, 1 Bad attitude, 2 rabbits,4 bags of bones, 6 bags of fur, 6 Bad smells, 14 oysters.

Thank you Kelly
A huge thank you to the Road Crew’s Kelly for giving me a night off from writing the blog yesterday. Your words were so well received on the luxurious boat cruise, that even I, with being as deaf as a doornail, heard the calls of ‘Sharky is sacked’!

Well, my apologies to everyone on this tour, but I am back and I draw confidence that there is at least one person out there that enjoys reading my blogs—my Mum—and it counts for a lot.

For three mornings in a row we have had the same time slot for breakfast and roll out. Breakfast from 6 am and roll out at 7am.

Remember back on the first day when we were spot on time and I was bitterly disappointed? Well I am happy again, as not once since then have we been on time, including this morning’s 7 am roll out which saw us leave at 7.11 am. I could not have been happier. The Smiddy staff are back to normal! You little ripper.

So after Kevvy asked our birthday boy, Brett Goebel, to ring the 100 year old cow bell, the peloton pushed off into a brisk 10 degree air temperature with very little wind, and the excellent chance of a magic sky opening up before our first stop at Devils Corner, 33 kilometres into our short day on the road.

Well, the sun never did come out as the clouds decided it was time to take over this east coast of Tasmania, but it was a clear enough day to be rewarded with the stunning vista that presented itself at Devils Corner.

Smiddy school visit - Swansea Primary 
A further 30 kilometres down the road and clearly the highlight for today—especially for those riders that have never experienced one—was the visit to Swansea Primary School, where we delivered a sun safe message to the students in the most fun way possible; with lots of zinc and screaming and getting the kids so worked up so the teachers were left to try and control them for the remainder of the day.

The beauty of today’s visit was that the riders and Road Crew outnumbered the 25 Kindy to Grade Three kids two-to-one, which made them feel pretty special.

Martin ‘Goldfish’ Millard kindly teamed up with me, and we took them through the sun safe message using a couple of riders, Andrew “Leachy” Leach, who stands at 6ft6 tall and 90 kilos, while Gary “Dr Koala” Leong is 5ft2 and weighs in at 32 kilos!

We played them off as good cop (Dr Koala) and bad cop (Leachy), making examples of what they were doing right and wrong for sun protection.

After Martin’s very well received and educational message to the little ones, the zinc game which is always a winner, allows them to go crazy colouring in their chosen riders face with as much zinc as possible, in a 60 second race against the clock and their fellow class mates.

The last 10 seconds is counted down by the rest of the crew not participating and the noise is deafening and reaches a crescendo as the game finishes. The students are then judged, and a winner announced and paraded.

It ended up being a tie between the two girls, Rebecca Phillips and Keiren Egan and their little helper children.

Birthday boys celebrate
We wrapped up our visit with the school by handing out Smiling for Smiddy arm bands to the children, and welcomed them to join us for morning tea. It finished on a funny note when we all sang happy birthday to Brett, but before we started singing a little boy by the name of Roland told us that it was his birthday as well, so he was included in the song and everyone went off to eat. Brett later told me that Roland’s twin sister came up to him afterwards and told him that it was his birthday a week earlier. Cheeky little kid. Love it.

Fourdyce has the right aura
Another beautiful story came out of the school visit when Michael Fordyce partnered up for the zincing with a young boy with Autism who is normally very reserved and incredible shy.

Yet for the ‘Dice Man’ this cute little fella not only made eye contact, but shook his hand and even remembered Dicey’s name. The teacher told us that if his parents had seen it they would have cried. It was a monumental thing for the young fella. And isn't it just a perfect fit that it happened thanks to a Smiddy rider?

Our events always bring out the best in people, not just in ourselves and our attitude, but those we touch as well. Well done Michael!

As today was a short day of 115 kilometres, lunch was at the end of the ride in the small coastal town of Orford. The run into Orford presented a a few problems for those riders feeling the effects of the past three days riding.

The last 56 kilometres saw a slight headwind and for another ‘flattish’ day we still climbed 800 metres of vertical altitude, which was enough to make it uncomfortable for some.

With just a few kilometres remaining the call was made for a quick refresher stop at a town called Triabunna. It was there that Brooke surprised the peloton with a good slab of very hot chips. It went down a treat and 10 minutes later we were on the road, and 15 minutes later rolled into our destination for the day.

The Airey family take on the huddle
Today’s huddle was hosted by father and son duo, Carl and Lachlan Airey, who shared their reasons for riding. Carl blamed Furious for talking him into it one night when he was inebriated. He also joined us for last year’s New Zealand Smiddy Challenge and was keen to come back for more!

Lachlan is here because his dad suggested it would be a great adventure for them to share and I’m sure this event has brought them even closer together.

Sharky’s  Favourite Moments from Day 2

  • Hearing the back half of the peloton singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Brett while riding along in the first section of today’s ride. 
  • The threat of rain was there for most of the day, but other than a few cooling drops on our heads, our luck has held for another day. Four near perfect days in Tassie are unheard of, and the Apple Isle has redeemed itself and I am now cleansed of my suffering memories from 2013. Was there even a Smiddy ride back then? 
  • Just outside of Swansea the peloton came to an abrupt halt. Captain Kevvy looks like a gnome, acts like a gnome, is short like a gnome and mostly is cranky and wrinkly like a gnome. So when we came across Gnome City—some 200 gnomes of all shapes and sizes sitting scattered across the front lawn of someone’s house—the peloton sat back totally amused, and a little bewildered, as to why Kevvy was skipping down the road, like a primary school student just starting the anticipated Easter Holidays. 
  • Then upon reaching his destination, Kevvy lay on the ground and kissed the many gnomes, bowing before them as if they were royalty. 
  • That’s what the sight of so many gnomes does to a grown man that never got over the fact that he is human and not made of clay. When Kevvy passes on in 2088, at 134 years old, every gnome he has at home (at last count 350) will be buried with him. 
  • As we rolled into the school visit, Paula was high-fiving the little ones when she nearly came a cropper right in front of them! Thankfully she just managed to stay upright through sheer will and a bit of blind luck. 
  • The Dice Man was pretty chuffed with himself, when he was told by Leachy that instructions had come through on the rider radio that there were to be no more peloton rotations until the finish of the day’s ride. He dutifully pulled the peloton along into the headwind, suffering the entire way and did a darn fine job of it. I’m not sure if he knew that sly dog Leachy got no such instructions and had made the entire thing up. 

Category Jerseys
Two of our ride leaders were singled out tonight for their devotion over many years of Smiddy events. Birthday boy Brett Goebel and Paula Fleming were worthy and popular recipients, and well deserving of the honor. Both have been guardians in the peloton; keeping the riders safe; acting as confidants for the Smiddy HQ team with your candor and sage advice; and are just spectacular personalities to have in the peloton.

Thank you both for your efforts day in and day out (and Paula, seeing you speechless was gift enough!)

Guest speakers 
Dom, Rebecca and special guest, Tansy (Bec’s sister), teamed up to share their story with the group about their very personal reasons for riding.

Dom lost a childhood friend and on the tough days in the peloton, draws on the strength of knowing his mate would have loved the opportunity to do this ride  but can’t, so Dom pushes through. He also acknowledged how grateful he is that his dad, who was treated for prostate cancer, is now healthy after having minimal treatment.

After hearing the incredible experiences of Mark Trayner and Ross Noye last year, Dom—who heads up Business Banking at Macquarie—took the reins this year to champion a team from Macquarie Bank of Tom, Gleeso, Nathaniel and his wonderful partner, Bec.

Sisters Bec and Tansy spoke of their father preparing for his 50th birthday when he was booked into hospital for a routine draining of a benign cyst in his brain.

What the family thought would be a quick procedure turned out to be a terminal brain cancer diagnosis. At just 13 and 25, Bec and Tansy lost their father and have had to learn to live a life without him.

Ladies, thank you for your courage to share your story and Bec, we have no doubt that your dad would be so proud of everything you have accomplished these last four days.

A special tribute to a special man 
In New Zealand last year, the Smiddy peloton welcomed the kindest man with the biggest smile in the legend that is Rossco. Ross Noye came to New Zealand to ride with his mates, and spent a spectacular four days doing so.

Unfortunately, Ross didn’t make it home to Queensland after that ride, and we lost a truly spectacular man, father, husband and mate.

To tip our hat to Rossco, we held a celebration to cheers him in the most appropriate way—with delicious margaritas. After receiving the ‘Hand of Smiddy’ on his last day by six of the lads, Rossco, in the kindest of gestures, bought them each a jug of margaritas to thank them for their efforts.

To Stephen, Paula and Wayne—thank you for your beautiful tributes on a wonderful last evening together in Tassie.

Now, let’s get to Hobart shall we?

One day of riding to go and it’s a big, hilly and long day in the saddle.


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