Monday, 29 August 2016

2016 SMILING FOR SMIDDY BOTTLEMART CHALLENGE - DAY 3 EIDSVOLD TO BILOELA

Stats for the day
Distance: 164 km's
Ride Time: 6:03:02
Ave Speed: 27.1 km/h
Max Speed: 71.5 km/h
Climbing: 1490 metres
Min Temp: 3 degrees
Max Temp: 24 degrees


Road Kill Count by Sydsey and Sergio.
45 Roos 10 bags of bones, 25 Uf smells, 4 foxes, 1 turtle, 1 cannondale bike

Day three of the Smiddy Challenge has always been my most favourite day of the entire tour. Here's why...
The course is beautiful, with rolling hills for most of the day and a ten kilometre climb up the Monto Range.

What goes up must come down, and the descent is one that the lads are let loose on to go at their own pace, and that pace is ballistic! The grins from ear to ear at the bottom where we regroup is testament to the fun that takes place.

School visits, not one but two. Firstly at morning tea the small school of St Teresa's State Primary School, which is a warm up school to the bigger primary school at Thangool in the afternoon. At each school we deliver a sun-safe message and have some fun with the riders who get their faces painted with zinc by some of the students.

The Thangool 15 kilometre sprint after the school visit, is a chance for the faster riders to let off a little built up steam from patiently chugging along at Smiddy pace for the majority of the ride. It is a hotly contested go-at-your-own-pace session, with the first male and female receiving the coveted stuffed toad as a reward for their efforts. And yes they are real stuffed toads mounted to a plaque!

The afternoon tea at Thangool is the culinary highlight of the entire eight days on the road. This is thanks to the parents of all the children cooking up a storm for the riders. After gorging yourself on everything imaginable, so much food is left over that we are invited to take the rest of it on the road, which normally lasts an additional three days of eating!

The community of Biloela and Thangool extend their country hospitality like no other town I have ever experienced. Each and every person on this journey, riders and road crew. Are billeted with a local family. How unbelievable is that? And how beautiful is it that these families open up their homes to us! For seven years now this community have been doing it and I am still gobsmacked each year.

To finish off the most amazing day these astonishing local people, and their local businesses, then put on an incredible function at the Thangool Racing Club. All costs are covered by the community and even more money is raised for the Smiddy and Mater cause thanks to their generosity.

So you may now be getting an inkling of why day three is pretty special to me. I know there will be no-one here tonight, as this blog is being read out, that would disagree with me.

6:30a.m. Roll Out In Three Degree Temperature
Today we left the Eidsvold Showgrounds to the delightful sound of Kevvy's cow bell being rung by Allan Smiddy. The riders have pulled up well from their first two days in the saddle and were straight into a good rhythm as the average speed checked in at 29km/h for the first 20 kilometres. Our scheduled stop, as per our day cards that we carry in our back pockets and are handed out by Mr Smiddy each morning in quick-draw fashion, at St Teresa's had us arriving there at 8:45 and we were right on time at 8:55a.m.

School Visit at St Teresa's Monto
The visit went well with Krista Page doing an amazing job with the kids. The zinc off was a hit with the ten riders, who were chosen by the kids, definitely not getting burnt faces today. The principal, Chris Ferguson, asked the school captains to step forward, who made a lovely presentation of a Smiddy money tin that had $250,00 from a school disco that the school organised. How gold is that? The Shark Hat made an appearance as well, with many of the children remembering Shark from previous years. All the riders then presented each little person with a special commemorative Smiddy wrist band.

Cherie Nicolas, who is our program manager for Smiddy, was so overawed by her first Challenge School visit, that she jumped on her bike, complete with helmet but forgetting a minor part of her cycling attire, thankfully not her pants but her bike shoes! The thing with Smiddy rides is that there is always someone watching...

Today I rode that first section into Monto, but not until I successfully displaced all the empty beer cans that were affixed to my bike last night while I slept. You can tell when the group is bonding extremely well once the practical jokes begin, and boy have they started early on this trip! Old mate Slippery James Schneider found his pajama pants around his ankles and his Velcro bag straps not done up prior to roll out. Anyway I am back in the lead vehicle tapping away on this blog since leaving the school. I am so excited that tonight we can deliver a blog to this wonderful community of Biloela and Thangool that is about the actual day we spent on the road and not about the day before. Thank you to Peter Hickey for not saying no to me when I asked him to be the blog reader for this special night.

Epic Efforts Up Monto Range
Once again, the inform Scotty 'Pup' Manning, tempo'd his way to the top of the ten kilometre long Monto Range. He makes each climb look easy and I will be interested to see how he goes in today's King Of The Toad out of Thangool go-at-your-own-pace session against the likes of our track rider in the group James Schneider. Robyn Lever, is climbing like a seasoned pro on this journey, and once again was the first female to the top, ahead of a vast majority of the lads. Nice work Robyn.
Sean Lever, who has a internal hernia and advised by his doctor to take it easy, (riding to Townsville is easy right and perfectly normal when you have a hernia...) just couldn't help himself, when on the climb and descent, he had a little play and was fourth rider to the regroup spot at the bottom of the descent.

Lunch By The Side Of The Road
So back in the car and feeling extremely envious of the riders and the sweat on their brows and their silly grins from having their fun on that little hill. I'm good and I'm happy for them but... how dare they have a good time without me! Ha, ha! Just kidding... Old mate Peter Hickey is my company in the back seat for this leg and we will both get back on the bikes after lunch for the run into Thangool school.

Today's lunch spot is just a little dirt patch off the side of the road, the perfect distance out from Thangool to kill some time so that we make the school visit at our designated time of 2:15p.m.
Thanks road crew for the fine job you do each time of feeding us.

Thangool School Visit
The kids always come out and high five the riders as we enter their school. For nine years we have been visiting Thangool and watching them grow up over the years has been amazing. One young man named Axle, I saw him from grade one right through to grade seven and last year he was gone. I miss Axle and I miss the questions he use to ask, like the year he questioned why we didn't do the ride on our motorbikes! Which I thought was a very good question. I ponder that one often when suffering in headwinds and heat. Once again Krista and I had some sun safe fun with the children and our own Dr Gary "Koala" Leong delivered his own unique message. Thank you to the State School P&C ladies for once again providing enough food to feed an army, actually make that two armies!

King Of The Toad
Three graded bunches take off a few minutes apart and 15 kilometres later are reunited a whole lot sweatier and tired than when they started. Who would think after riding over 600 kilometres that riders would be interested in killing themselves in a sprint... But I guess they are Smiddy riders and they like suffering. The King and Queen of the Toad went to a man who controls the peloton from the back of the pack as he watches over us as a shepherd does with his flock. We are very lucky to have this great man back for the third year in a row. A huge congratulations to Kenny Woods.

Queen of The Toad
Robyn Lever is proving to be unbeatable, and the thing is this lady does it all with a smile and does not even know that she is racing or climbing hills fast. She just keeps beating all the lads oblivious to the damage she is doing to all our egos! Nice work Robyn. A deserving winner.

Community Huddle
The huddle was huge today with all our billets joining in. Which was taken by local bad boy in Cameron Habermann. For a trouble maker he delivered some really nice words. From there it was on to our billet's homes for a well deserved shower and a change of clothes, a quick cup of tea and a chat with our hosts and onto the Thangool Race Track for the big community function.

As per usual the function was the greatest ending to the greatest of all days on tour. Thank you once again Biloela and Thangool communities for making the Smiddy crew feel so extremely special. By opening up your homes and attending this function you too are part of the amazing Smiddy journey that for ten years now has gifted us with unbelievable stories of human kindness. Kindness that comes from people such as each and every person that is here tonight. Thank you on behalf of the Smiddy riders, road crew, Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation. Your actions are responsible for helping people less fortunate by connecting with us and our cause.

Guest Speaker
Michelle Herlaar tonight spoke of her husband Herman Herlaar who passed away from Melanoma. Herman was a most inspirational man that did road crew for this ride back in 2010. He was also instrumental in helping to grow Melanoma Patients Australia. Thank you Michelle for sharing Herman's story.

Jersey Presentations
The first jersey was awarded to Cameron Habermann for a few reasons. 1. Because he is a real team player, always helping out where he can. 2. He is actually a nice bloke. Contrary to popular belief. 3. He is a champion for the Smiddy cause coming back for his second Challenge event in a row. And 4. But mainly because he is a local from here in Biloela. Meaning tonight, in front of his home crowd he gets a few more cheers than if we gave it to him on any other night.

The second jersey went to a quiet achiever in the group. A real nice bloke doing his first Challenge event. The big guy has a heart of gold and definitely possesses the Smiddy spirit. On day he had a fall that saw him have to do some van time, but since then has never looked back and is getting stronger every day. Congratulations went to Stephen Townsend.

And that's a wrap for day three of this arduous eight day tour. Five to go!

Sharky.


History of Biloela

Town in the heart of a rich mining and agricultural region.

Biloela is a rural service centre located 594 km north of Brisbane, 127 km from Gladstone and 173 metres above sea-level. Due to its location at the intersection of the Dawson and Burnett Highways, the town is well supplied with accommodation and eating facilities.

Biloela's economy is driven by pastoral and agricultural enterprises and by the local coalmines, although, mercifully, it could never be described as a mining town. Specifically, local income is generated by annual livestock slaughtering, cotton production, dairying, wheat, sorghum, lucerne and other grains and cereals.

The Gangulu tribe, who inhabited the region prior to European settlement, named the area Biloela after their totem: the white cockatoo. The first European to explore the area was Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844.

This was during an exploration expedition from the Darling Downs to open up a route to Port Essington. His reports encouraged the settlement of the area by pastoralists.

Thomas Archer, a friend of Leichhardt's, selected the region that is now known as Eidsvold Charles Archer moved further north and settled in the Biloela/Callide area. Other early landholders were the Leith Hay family, the Browns, H.C. Corfeild, James Reid, John Ross, Alex McNab and Frederick Barton. However, the town was not gazetted until 1924 and the railway arrived the following year.

Coal was discovered in the area in the 1890s but it was not developed until 1942 when an open-cut mine was established on the site of the old Callide station.

Today Biloela is a modern town characterised by very broad streets and a well-established business centre. There are few old buildings apart from Grevells which looks like it was once an old picture theatre.

The Big Valley Story, an interesting account of the history of the area, was published in 1974 to celebrate the town's fiftieth birthday. In 1994, a routine burn-off at Kroombit Tops uncovered a B-24 Liberator Bomber, lost in 1944.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

SMILING FOR SMIDDY BOTTLEMART CHALLENGE - DAY 2 NANANGO TO EIDSVOLD

Stats for the day
Distance: 235 km's
Ride Time: 8:26:56
Ave Speed: 27.8 km/h
Max Speed: 74.6 km/h
Climbing: 1990 metres
Min Temp: Minus 2
Max Temp: 24 degrees

Blog Dedication
A week ago Smiddy rider Shayne Ritchings was all set to front up for his first Smiddy Challenge event. He was meant to share it with his best mate in Scott Manning, a journey they had both planned, fundraised and trained together for years since they completed the Midi Smiddy a few years ago. An accident at work resulted in a broken hand and his dream was crushed. The whole crew feel for Shayne and hope this dedication helps to ease the huge disappointment he is going through at this very moment.

Road Kill by Chris Sydes and Serge Simic
5 Roos, 1 dead mullet in a tree, couple of bands smells from Habo's bottom we think, 1 enchilada, few bags of bone, 2 foxes, 1 flat bird and 1 rabbit.

When threatened with the sack Sydsey just cheered! They have improved as you can see by the count above but gee even I counted 12 dead rabbits. Should we give them one more chance? Let me know at marksharkysmoothy@gmail.com And while you are at it if you wish to pass on any messages of suppor to your fellow rider or road crew member please drop me and line and I'll be sure to read your message out to the group.

Cow Bell Sends Peloton On Their Way
The travelling Smiddy road show left Nanango at 6:10a.m. The starting temperature was three degrees. Cameron Habermann told me at morning tea that his Garmin told him that the temperature dropped to minus two at that coldest point of the day as the sun rises. Garmin's never lie so it must be true. Captain Kev gave Colleen Penny the honour of sending the riders on their way with the ringing of the cow bell.

Mr Smiddy Runs A Tight Ship
For ten years I have rolled out of Nanango but on this 11th year, I opted to hang back with the road crew to see what actually happens after the riders leave the show grounds. First up the bike racks were broken down, then the swags, night bags and day bags were all loaded into the one truck. Mr Smiddy supervisors the whole process with the eyes of an Eagle and immediately I was the first person in trouble for not rolling up my swag properly. Thankfully another rider, who has bag number 33 (all the riders and road crew are allocated numbers for their bags and swags) and forgot to fasten the Velcro strap that ties the grab handles together and Mr number 33 was in even bigger trouble than me!

Last night David specifically addressed the riders asking that this task be completed. I fear what will happen to number 33 and will keep you informed as this awesome story unravels.

Terry Tucker Truck Sacked - Enter"Funky Ladies Fun Truck"
With the truck loaded I was allocated a seat in the formerly named Terry Tucker Truck, which I have re-named the "Funky Ladies Fun Truck". You see, this catering truck is now driven by Brooke Rose and Sammi 'Chinese Ninja Assassin' Jo So', and these girls are a load of fun. At the moment they are talking about partners, work, attempting to sing a tune occasionally, will they beat the riders into Goomeri and of course road kill. Brooke just ran over road kill that was clearly dead but she wanted to be sure that there was no suffering going on by the object that already resembled a furry pancake! I assured Brooke that the double-dead-road-kill was indeed not breathing and had ceased any life about a week ago. She seemed happy with that. We also discussed how bad our road kill counters were last night in Sergio and The Man that you would want by your Syde! We have said they get a second chance tonight to redeem themselves and if they are not up to scratch then both of them would get the sack! Don't mess with the Funky Truck ladies I say...

Thank You Mark Gaedkte
Just before leaving Nanango Brooke drove me to the Laundry Mat to see our local host in Mark Gaedtke. Due to a family commitment he was unable to attend the dinner last night for the first time in 11 Challenge events. I wanted to say hi and thank him prior to our departure. Kindly Mark once again offered to not only pay for the service but was there helping Wendy to get the job done.

The Screaming Assassin
With 20 kilometres to go to get to our morning tea stop at Goomeri the girls were a little concerned that had not caught the riders yet. Conditions were once again perfect, although cold, there was no wind and it was a brilliant clear dazzling bright morning that reminded us of why we live in Queensland. With 15 kilometres to go we stumbled upon the peloton and what a beautiful sight it was. Not often do I get to see the peloton from this perspective and I must say It was impressive. As a rider we hear Sammi Jo scream stuff at us as she whizzes past us. This time I got to experience those same screams up close and personal, and my right ear drum copped a downright flogging.

Catering Crew In Action
Once in Goomeri the crew leaped into action. Andy Loney, Allan Smiddy (David Smiddy's Brother from Toowoomba and Jenny Frazer (Wife of Smiddy rider Bruce Frazer) had already arrived and set up the bike racks, the day bags were laid out in numbered order and with the arrival of the 'Funky Ladies Fun Truck' the yummy treats were quickly assembled in preparation for the hungry riders.

With a 235 kilometre day on the cards all the stops are done in quick fashion. Kevvy is pedantic with his timing of the breaks and he needs to be to ensure the peloton arrive into Eisdvold before dark. So morning tea was dispatched faster than Maxwell Smart asking the chief if they could use the dreaded 'Cone Of Silence'.

Rambo Rambles
I have been back in the lead vehicle since morning tea and all of the above has been written while in the company of Mick and Mel and old mate Smiddy rider Ian 'Rambo' Mallyon from Emerald. Last year Ian was meant to ride and had to pull out due to contracting very nasty virus. This year he hurt his back five weeks out from Challenge while Ten-pin bowling with his family. No cycling in all that time and a back that still has not healed 100 percent has resulted in Ian having to spend time in the van at times. He is looking forward to day four when the terrain flattens out a little as the hills hurt him big time. I believe he got his nickname due to the Sylvester Stallon resemblance and in his footy days bouncing the opposition into the air like rag-dolls.

Lunch At Ban Ban Springs - Mr Smiddy Does It Tough
It was here that my time in the car ended at the 135 kilometre mark. This left me with exactly 100 kilometres to complete my goal of completing at least that distance each day. This lunch stop was a significant one for David Smiddy last year, as it was where the rider and road crew caps, in honour of Maria Smiddy and her recent passing in May, was recognised. Smiddy that day handed out 75 caps and received a heartfelt hug from each person. Today the big man struggled at that lunch stop as I spotted him spending some time alone. I spent a little time with David and tried to ease his pain. Whatever I offered never seems enough but I also know it helps and he is so appreciative. He is a good man Mr Smiddy and we are so incredibly lucky to have his support, his love and his blessing each year for this ride to continue.

Just before we rolled out David made sure he paid out on Youngy for being rider number 33 and not doing up his bag this morning.

After that good hearted ribbing gee it was good to be back on the bike with the peloton being as welcoming as ever to this half day rider! They seemed to have accepted the fact that I will be floating in and out of the peloton throughout different times each day and I am most appreciative of their support.

No Right Turn At Gayndah
Every year we get to Gayndah and we take a right turn and cross the bridge for the last 76 kilometres into Eisdvold. This year we went straight ahead. Christian 'Killer' Killeen admitted he always wanted to see where that straight ahead road went, and guess what? That road ended up in Munduberra, cut five kilometres off our normal 240 kilometre route and from today, will officially be known as 'The Killer Short Cut'. Climb after climb after climb greeted the riders, with one beauty measuring 18 percent gradient. I am now no longer the most unpopular man in the peloton with that mantle being handed over to Killer. Yippeeee! On the plus side, after ten years it was pretty awesome to ride a different stretch of road and I was extremely happy to be on the bike for it.

After another scrumptious afternoon tea in Munduberra put on by our road crew, the course went back to the original Burnett Highway for the final leg of 37 kilometres into Eisdvold. The peloton rolled like a well-oiled machine for that leg and arrived with enough daylight to snap a group photo at the 'Welcome to Eisdvold' sign. For some riders 235 kilometres was their longest day ever in the saddle.

Huddle and Nighttime Activities
Andrew Hancox and Joseph Moore, as best mates, teamed up and took on the huddle. Andrew told of the loss of a good mate to cancer just over a year ago and how he was doing this ride in honour of his mate. Joseph was there to support his good friend Andrew. Thanks lads for doing such a fine job.

Guest Speaker
Tonight Scott Manning stepped up and shared with the group his story of doing the ride in honour of his dear Father, who passed away this year from cancer. To also lose his best mate Shayne, who was out of this event with a broken hand has hit the young man hard. Thank you Scott for your dedication to the Smiddy cause and we can only hope the ride will help ease some of the pain you are going through in your heart.

Category Jerseys
Tonight two riders were awarded jerseys for their teamwork and friendship within the peloton. James Schneider and Chris Sydes. For the past two days these guys have pushed to the utmost of their ability those riders who have been struggling on the hills. Great work guys and thanks for showing everyone the Smiddy spirit through your actions.

Thank you
A huge thank you to the Eidsvold Lions and Peter and Bernice Anderson and their band of loyal helpers, for once again providing a great barbecue dinner for all the crew. For the past five years they have done this and also provide a barbecue breakfast at the Showgrounds for everyone in the morning before roll out, which is very much appreciated by all the crew. Tonight Bernice informed me her husband last Tuesday,suffered a heart attack. We wish Peter all the best and hope for a speedy recovery.

Also thank you Captain Kev for the fine job you did in reading out the blog tonight.

Cheers,

Sharky

A Brief History of Eisdvold Below

Eidsvold
Originally founded in 1848, the town takes its name from Eidsvoll, Norway where the European settlers, Thomas and Charles Archer originated. They established two large stations, Eidsvold and Coonambula. Archer Homestead, the home of the pioneering settlers, rests on the banks of the Burnett River - just as it was over 100 years ago. Situated 8km west of Eidsvold, the homestead can be viewed by appointment.
In the 1880s, Eidsvold was a bustling gold mining town supporting a population of over 2000.

Marvel at the hard work and effort put into the historic stone pitched bridges located west of Eidsvold on Camboon and Eidsvold-Cracow Roads. The bridges are no longer suitable to take traffic, however they still stand, honouring the people who toiled to make them the memorable feature they are today.

The attractive Ceratodus rest area just north of Eidsvold on the A3 Burnett Highway - the "Country Way" - houses memorabilia from the old Ceratodus railway siding days. Ceratodus is the name given to the unique lungfish found in the Burnett and Mary Rivers.

A cairn to commemorate the Traylan Native Police barracks takes pride of place in the grounds.

Several local buildings display artistic murals depicting the lifestyle and history of the district.

The Eidsvold Historical Complex is home to a fine collection of historic buildings, including the Knockbreak homestead, Riverleigh Cottage which houses memorabilia including the Eidsvold Soldiers' corner, a display of photographs, medals and equipment from the various wars, traditional owner's artifacts, slates and desks and other school equipment and a manual telephone exchange and the original Clonave homestead.

The museum also houses the George Schafer Geological Collection and the Schultz and Duncan bottle collection.

One of this country's true icons, R.M. Williams, was born in South Australia and in the early 1950s moved to "Rockybar", a property west of Eidsvold. Some of his descendants still live in the district to this day. The R.M. Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre is currently being developed to honour this great Australian, showcase his achievements, reflect his passion and promote rural job opportunities through education and skills development.


Saturday, 27 August 2016

2016 SMILING FOR SMIDDY BOTTLEMART CHALLENGE - DAY 1 BRISBANE TO NANANGO

Stats for the day
Distance: 205km's
Ride Time: 8:23:45
Ave Speed: 24.9km/h
Climbing: 3080 metres
Min Temp: 8 Degrees
Max Temp: 22Degrees
Today the riders produced enough energy to heat a cup of coffee!

Road Kill by Chris Sydes and Serge Simic
A few smells, mainly from the peloton, 3 bits of fluff, basically this pair suck at road kill and they obviously did not take their role seriously as I counted 20 different species by the side of the road.

Guest Speaker
Sean 'Lofty' Lever spoke tonight of his journey into Smiddy that started with the first Noosa Smiddy triathlon in 2010, his Midi Smiddy in 2014 and Challenge event last year and again this year with his Wife Robyn. Sean this year is doing the ride for his Dad who lost his life last year six years after Challenge and the loss of his close mate Scott 'Ardvark' Penny. Who this year passed away tragically from stomach cancer.

Special Cap Presentation
Ardvark's Wife Colleen, and her friend Jodie, drove to Nanango to spend the night sleeping in swags and to present all the riders with a beautiful cycling cap dedicated to Scott. This gesture was very much appreciated by all the riders. Thank you beautiful ladies.

At this very moment in time, 1:10pm, I am sitting in the rear seat of the lead vehicle with our drivers Mick Farrag and Melissa Speare. I have just completed the run into lunch at 115 kilometres at Kilcoy. I thought it would be hard to stick to my plan of only riding part of each day's stage, but for a year now I have been promising my body an easier year during Challenge this year and have said it enough times to anyone that would listen that it's hard-wired into my brain.

The run out of Kilcoy is on the very busy D'Aguliar Highway and the calls are coming thick and fast through the two-way radio. We have a police escort in Brenton Cope, a good mate of Adam Smiddy who has ridden the Challenge many times in the past. Watching him control the traffic and direct our front and rear vehicles is like watching a world-class conductor in the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

One comment just came over the two-way from a disgruntled driver yelling a warning to his mates; "Look out ahead mate, there is all sorts of cyclists, police and shit on the road ahead." Was his exact words. Most motorists are of course patient and understanding but there is always the odd one out.

Already I hear Captain Kevvy talking to cars and trucks behind, who are enquiring as to what is going on. Kevvy always explains politely, that the group of cyclists are on day one of an eight day ride to Townsville and raising money for research for the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. He is a good man that Kevvy. Fronting up for his tenth straight Challenge event in a row. Unbelievable and so much experience. How lucky we are to have Kev as one of our Patriarch's within Smiddy.

So let's regress back to six a.m. and the roll out and all I can say is Wow! What a turn out this morning at the UQ Aquatic Centre for our send off for the 11th edition of the Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy 1600 kilometre Challenge event from Brisbane to Townsville. So many family members turned up to pay homage to their Smiddy rider, and most heart warming to see, was the awesome support from past Smiddy riders, who turned out in the dozens to make this new breed of Challenge riders feel extremely special. To get the peloton on their way of course David Smiddy was first cab off the rank to ring Kevvie's infamous cow bell that has been in his family for over 100 years.

A huge thank you to Mark and Jae, and all their wonderful staff at UQ aquatic centre, for once again allowing us to use the pool facilities and provide bacon and eggs for breakfast. A special call out to our special porridge lady in Jan Fowler, who steps up every year to provide the yummiest slow burning, energy producing, lactate diminishing and tummy warming porridge in the world! I really like her porridge. Can you tell?

The run to the outskirts of the city and into Samford was completed in record time, here's why... With two police cars and a motorbike controlling the traffic the peloton never had time to catch their breath thanks to never having to stop for any red lights. How cool we all felt getting special treatment like that and you know what? These guys and girls deserve to feel special because they are! All the training, the fundraising, the tiredness, the balance required of their lives to fit in family and work commitments; god damn it they deserved that royal treatment this morning. While on the subject of royal treatment the weather gods decided after what they put the Adelaide to Uluru peloton through back in June this year, that today they would make amends as they produced one of the most spectacular days on record.

The morning tea stop at 77km's is one of the most scenic of the entire 8 days with sweeping views of the famous Glass House Mountains. It was here that a group photo was taken and our special guest rider in Brendan Whipps of Harcourts Real Estate left us to return back to Dayboro, where his Wife Michelle was kind enough to drive out and collect him. Thanks also to Tim Russell, Ian Bisson and Mark Trembath, who rode with us to Dayboro.

Okay we have just pulled up at Moore, the 148 kilometre mark for the scheduled toilet stop. The weather is simply gorgeous and all the riders have huge grins on their faces. No-one looks stressed and it is a stark reminder of how the weather controls the emotions an endurance rider goes through. I clearly remember many of the past years getting to this spot after battling ferocious heat and headwinds and the peloton a quivering mess. Just six kilometres down this very road is the Nasty Blackbutt Range climb, but on a day like today, at least some of the riders, will find this climb enjoyable. While at Moore I got talking to a local chap, 65 year old Jim walker; he enquired as to the purpose of the ride, and when I filled him in on how it all started he opened up with his own story of losing his Wife to cancer. A lovely old chap and one entwined within our own story of loss because of this horrible disease that affects so many.

Okay back in the car and the day continues with the run into lunch at Kilcoy, which included the infamous Sharky shortcut, which basically means anything from dirt roads, to bumpy roads, to majestic views, to no traffic, to lots of cows and two significant climbs and one that measured 24% gradient. It used to include a water crossing but the mongrels have ruined it by putting in a concrete bridge, darn it! Six years ago this route was included to keep the peloton off the highway. I discovered it on one of my motorbike jaunts and it didn't seem that hard. Boy was I proved wrong that year, as I, and the other 49 riders in 2010 discovered. Ironically I was voted most unpopular man in the peloton that year!

At lunch Krista Page introduced all the road crew to the riders and each person spoke of themselves and explained their role throughout this eight day journey. It goes with saying these guys and girls are the salt of the earth and we could not do Smiddy events without them. Over the next week I will introduce you to these esteemed human beings.

The peloton are moving along nicely and at this very moment are climbing at their own pace up the ten kilometre Blackbutt Range. We are now at afternoon tea at Blackbutt at the 169 kilometre point. Last year we arrived into Blackbutt in terrible wet and cold conditions as the rain bucketed down on the peloton. 2016 the perfect conditions are a direct contrast to last year and still the riders are looking every bit as fresh as when they left the University this morning. Well everyone that is, except Bruce Fraser, who is at this very moment flat on his back and very much in pain.

It was such a beautiful day today that although I was enjoying the company of our esteemed front vehicle drivers I had an urgent yearning to rejoin the peloton, so I set the goal if I finished the blog before afternoon tea then my reward was I go to ride again. And that is exactly what happened and I managed 150 kilometres for the day. I could not have been happier.

The final leg into Nanango is brutal with the rolling hills continuing right up until the last few kilometres. This first day the peloton climb very close to 3000 metres, which is a huge day out in anyone's book, especially over a 205 kilometre day. We arrived just as the sun was setting and it provided a perfect backdrop for our first huddle of the trip. I took this first huddle tonight and for the next seven days a special rider or road crew will be given this honour.

For 11 years now we have been staying in Nanango and our hosts have always been Mark and Desley Gaedtke. Mark owned the butchers shop here and was involved in the local cycling scene. He has since semi retired but still helps us out each and every year. A huge thank you to the beautiful ladies at the Nanango Show Society for letting us take over their facilities for one night. The food and hospitality is always second to none. They surprised us to gift when they presented Smiddy with a cheque for $200, which was warmly received by the group.

Sharky's Top Tens Highlights from Today

Congratulations to Gary 'Dr Koala' Leong for cycling just 500 metres before getting the fist mechanical of the trip and spending the next 20 kilometres in the broom wagon. He promised he would make it up tonight after dinner!

Just outside of Samford a cool dude, who thought he was cool anyway, driving a fast red sports car (must be fast as it was bright red) decided to get a real close look at the riders as he drove past within centimeters of the peloton and giving us all a good scare. The only problem was he did right in front of our new best friend, our motorbike policeman, who immediately pulled him over and issued him with a ticket. Absolutely Gold that one!

Each day special category Jerseys, as a show of recognition, are handed out to riders who go above and beyond their call of duty. In last year's Challenge Cameron Habermann was awarded the mateship jersey and for some reason known only to him he decided to wear it today. Why? I am still to find the answer to that question...

The inform Scott Manning is killing all the climbs today and took out the King of the Mountain for Mt Mee and doubled up with a win up Blackbutt. Mick and Mel have nicknamed him Pup, as they say, with his long locks, pony tail, skinny legs, he is a younger version of Sharky, me! I'll take that as a compliment. I think.

The Mt Mee Queen of the Mountain went to 'Honey', also known as Robyn Lever. She had no idea she was the winner until I told her she was. When I asked her who the first female was she pointed to her husband Sean 'Lofty' Lever. Lofty is it time for you to come out mate?

This next incident came to me from a reliable source, not mentioning any names Mr Smiddy because I would never do that! So this person informed me that after the morning tea stop that extraordinarily talented Smiddy ladies, Wendy Muir and Michelle Meredith-Herlarr, duly pulled out of the carpark and proceeded to head in the complete opposite direction to Nanango as she steered towards Brisbane. A quick about-face saw her back on the right track, blissfully unaware that many eyes saw it.

Tonight's category jersey went to Mick 'Boobah' Young, this rider has been around since 2008, has done countless Smiddy events and deserves all spirit, mateship and teamwork awards for what he has done for us over the years.

Bruce Fraser also was awarded a category jersey for his enthusiasm towards fundraising and being the first to reach his $5k total within the first three months of signing up for the event a year ago. He also did it tough today due to some breathing difficulties that forced him into the van after afternoon tea. Bruce is a real team player and would have done this so as not to be a burden to the rest of the peloton. A special mention to his supporters in Brother Lex and his Wife Diane and their daughter Ammie, who shared Bruce's journey all day today and will return tomorrow to Brisbane.

A big call out to Stephen Townsend, who took out the dubious honour of winning the award for the first low speed tumble, which happened just out of Kilocoy, managing to shred his cycling shorts on the left side but coming out okay in the end! Pardon the pun! Stephen sat out the rest of the day to live another day and will be back out there tomorrow for sure.

Nice this afternoon to see the group hugging, high fives, handshakes, back-slaps as sometimes this does not happen until day three or four. The group is already bonding and it is going to be a spectacular and special eight day journey that's for sure.

This year I wanted to share a little about each town that we stay at, so the finish of each of my blogs will be a history of each town. While it may not have anything to do with our ride some of the information is very interesting.

So until tomorrow, thanks for the support and take care.

Sharky

Nanango is a moderately large country town and has a very friendly and informal atmosphere.

The CBD features impressive chainsaw sculptures and murals which reflect the town's historical connections with timber-felling, farming and mining. Nanango has a low-humidity climate (cool summers and brisk winters) and is surrounded by vine scrublands and eucalypt forests. The massive Tarong Power Station and Meandu Coal Mine are located 16km to the south of the town and the Bunya Mountains are located about 53km to the south-west.

Nanango has a very long history and a great deal of it is preserved in its buildings - especially Ringsfield House, a wonderfully restored circa 1908 Queenslander developed by architect Robin Dods. Ringsfield is open Mondays to Fridays from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and entry to the house is $5. Ringsfield also has a cafe which is open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Mondays to Fridays, too.

Nanango has a vigorous cultural and sporting life and is host to an art gallery and many craft outlets. The town also has many clubs and a range of sporting facilities including an RSL, bike, darts, golf, bowling and archery clubs. The are 13 well-maintained parklands in the area which naturalists believe are home to 250 different bird species.

Nanango has several museums and a number of live entertainment venues which regularly host performances by local theatre and musical groups. The Lee Park race track - not far south of the CBD - hosts around 6 meetings each year.

Major annual events include the Nanango Show (held at the Nanango Showgrounds in April); the Nanango Country Music Muster (held at the Showgrounds in September); the Waterhole Rocks Festival (in October) and the New Years Eve Mardi Gras (on December 31).

When was Nanango established?
The area around Nanango was first settled by Europeans in 1847 when John Borthwick and William Oliver from Ipswich took up several very large grazing selections to the west of Taromeo Station (near present-day Blackbutt).

Prospector Jacob Goode built Goode's Inn - the first commercial building in the town - beside a waterhole on Oliver's selection in 1848 and Nanango began to grow around it soon afterwards (the name Nanango has evolved from "Nunangi". The original settlement near the big waterhole was called Noogoonida by the aborigines. It means place where the waters gather together - a large lagoon or lake).

The discovery of gold at the Seven Mile Diggings in the late 1800s precipitated a population boom, and this accelerated again when Yarraman became the terminus railhead for the Brisbane Valley Line in 1913. After World War I, however, growth leveled off until the early 1970s when the development of the Tarong Power Station led to a third population explosion.
Today Nanango's principal industries are power generating and coal mining, agriculture, beef and pork production, dairying and milk processing, timber growing and milling, small crops, natural medicine, art and craftwork and tourism.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

SMILING FOR SMIDDY CHALLENGE - BRISBANE TO TOWNSVILLE - THE 11TH EDITION!

Today is Friday August 26; the day that Smiddy HQ is a hive of activity, for it is the day before the 11th edition of the annual 1600 kilometre Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride from Brisbane to Townsville. On deck today we have the likes of David Smiddy pretending to work hard, who has been annoying the team at Smiddy for over a week now! Aram Drake from Mackay, who only just signed up last week for his first ride to Townsville after completing the Midi Smiddy back in 2014, has kindly stuck his head in for a few hours to lend a hand
Yesterday we had the likes of David Colahan and Andy Loney work hard for us for a few hours. The team at Smiddy is deeply appreciative for this external help, even if Mr Smiddy is cheeky and keeps getting in the way, the important thing to remember is he does try and we’ll give him that and besides his enthusiasm is contagious!

So far Smiddy events this year have been an enormous success with over $800,000 raised thanks to the riders who have participated in the Smiddy Noosa, New Zealand, Adelaide to Uluru, the 10km Swim Challenge and now this event starting tomorrow. Our hats at Smiddy and the Mater Foundation are removed in respect for each and every person that so far has been involved in this great achievement to date. A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone from riders to road crew, to donors, supporters, and of course our loyal sponsors that stick by us year after year.

For the first time since the events conception we are starting with a reduced field of 32 riders, instead of the normal 50 riders. This is not a bad thing as many of the guys and girls that sat out Challenge event this year signed up instead to complete the Adelaide to Uluru event, which raised a staggering $400, 000. It will be a nice change for the small communities along the way, that have supported us for 10 years now, to have a little breather with the reduced field and not being stretched to capacity. For the riders and road crew, I envision our motely lot to become a very close-knit group of people as the demanding task of riding 1600 kilometres over 8 days commences.

This will be more 11th year and more importantly a turning point in my life as a Smiddy rider. With the amazing news in February of my impending fatherhood as of November this year it was time to have a good hard look at my life and make some important decisions. One of those was to look after myself and not to demand so much of my body in completing all the Smiddy events each year. So this year 100 kilometres a day is my goal and while off the bike I will be taking ownership of the blogs.

The writing of the blogs has always been shared amongst the riders and while this has been great to get a different perspective other than just my words, it is also very tiring and sometimes stressful after riding over 200 kilometres a day and then attending a community function to write a blog late into the night. I hope to relieve that pressure on the riders and also to achieve each blog is written and actually read out that same night, rather than the next night in a different community.

Anyway I’ll let you be the judge of whether this has been a good idea after we get to Townsville and you have sat through 8 days of my words.

Over the next 8 days I will bring you many stories of not only the riders and beautiful road crew but of some of the amazing individuals that live in the communities that we travel through each year. I will have the time to capture moments I would not normally be capable of when spending from sun up to sun down on my bike.

Finally, while this Challenge ride is the 11th edition it also marks the 10th anniversary of my mates passing. Wow, ten years has gone by so quickly and we have achieved such amazing things over those years. I know for David and the Smiddy family this year is quite significant, as it is with me and my thoughts will be very firmly fixed on my mate Adam, as of course it will be with Maria, especially when I eat the saos and those times I need a big loving Maria hug, as I enjoy the long road up to Townsville.

Roll out tomorrow is from 6am at the Queensland University Aquatic Centre and everyone is welcome to attend. I hope to see some of you there and if not then enjoy the words, photos and videos that will come out over the duration of this epic event.

Cheers,

Sharky




Saturday, 23 July 2016

SMIDDY TRAINING WEEKEND - DAY 2 REPORT

Wind Gods Have Taken A Holiday
What a difference 12 hours make; the wind made an exit stage left, while the sunshine and light tail winds made an entry stage right. Our second day on the road was a beauty, the kind of day that reminds you of why cycling is your chosen sport. It was a day that felt good to be alive while surrounded by your Smiddy mates.

Reminiscing Smiddy Riders
The six a.m. roll out saw a brisk 5 degrees greet the peloton and some of the old school Smiddy riders from past events reminded anyone that would listen about the year it was minus 3 degrees, the year that it rained, the year that the road melted and so on and so on. But 5 degrees is still cold enough and as you good cyclists know, once you are moving and the windchill is factored in, our hardy group of riders this morning surely braved temperatures of minus 20 degrees! Surely...

Ben Pearson Can Project His Voice
Over the last two days I have spent time in the the lead car, and this morning at precisely 6:15am, I was fortunate enough to witness the amazing Ben Pearson respond to a call that Kevvy made over the two way radio. "Ben just checking you have reset your trip metre back to zero?" Ben's enthusiastic response was "Sure have Kev." Now nothing amazing about his response except that Ben forgot to grab the two way and was talking into thin air. It was hilarious and Ben said to me he was hoping because I am a deaf barsted that I didn't hear. Sometimes my hearing miraculously does work at the most opportune times. Nice work Ben!

Brocky Yates Can't Play Cricket
It was in Allora, at the first yellow room stop of the day, at 26 kilometres, that the great Rocky Brocky Yates showed us why he is a cyclist and not a bowler for the Australian cricket team. You see, old mate Lofty asked for a nutrition bar, Megaburn I think... And Brocky tossed it at Lofty from 10 metres away and it hit our soon to be very popular Physio student, Ella Kenafake square in the head, luckily she had her helmet on and Brocky apologised and was most embarrassed. Ella is kindly volunteering to do the 8 day Challenge, under the tutelage of our head physio in Kylie Baldwin, who also rode with us this weekend.

Push-up Bob - Hard Task Maker!
Morning tea was awesome for one reason; Well two, firstly road crew Andy Loney was by the side of the road doing push-ups, while Push-Up Bob stood above him shouting at him to do them properly, get all the way down, and this is what our road crew do while waiting for the riders to arrive. Nice work Bob keeping the crew in superb shape for their Challenge events ahead. The second thing, but probably the most important thing, was the amount of food, most of it home baked, thanks to the riders love ones cooking up and storm, and it was all on display for this sumptuous feast at morning tea. Thank you love ones, thank you road crew, you all deserve another set of push ups. Bob get to it!

Lunch Is Best If It Stays In Your Guts!
The 15 kilometre descent back down the great dividing range had everyone smiling at the bottom. Mainly, well because going down hill is fun for most right...? And it also helped that the temperature change was a good 6 degrees warmer at the bottom and a few layers of clothing could come off. The run into lunch at Laidley was up and over the roller coaster hills and after filling our bellies full of more food than you could poke a stick at, we were then invited to go at our own pace over the Laidley climb and descent to the regroup spot at Grandchester. Anyone silly enough to race their mates over this section were rewarded with a gastronomical delight of their lunch being deposited inside their throat once again but from within.

Vomit and Afternoon Tea
After the regroup and the vomit was cleaned from our jerseys, no names will be mentioned here Habo, and we set off for our afternoon tea at a great rate of knots. The tailwind saw us whisking along at a 30 km/h average for great chunks of time and before Bob could get his team to do an extra set of push-ups we arrived into Limestone Park at Ipswich to yet again more food. Bucket loads of it. It just never ends. Smiddy riders always gain kilos. Ride 200km a day and put on weight. Pretty cool hey? But don't worry girls, the push-ups work it off as I hear Bob is going to start making the riders do them as well. Phew...

Goodie Bags and You Guessed It, More Food!
The final stretch into UQ and the riders could smell home and the pace increased yet again, and before you could say, "Bob please no more push-ups!" Here we were at UQ finished by 3:45 in the afternoon with bright daylight shining down upon us. Two hours earlier than the day before and just 10 kilometres less at a 207 kilometre day. Krista did a marvelous job as she took us through the final huddle. The 8 day Challenge riders were presented with their bag of goodies for their event in just 4 weeks time. While the 4 day riders will get their gifts closer to their event in October.

And just for good measure the riders were invited to consume yet more food as everything that was left over was on display across 17 tables and an area bigger than a football oval. Yep our road crew make sure no one goes hungry on a Smiddy ride!

Lastly thank you riders, thank you road crew, thank you to their families for letting us have all these amazing individuals over this awesome weekend of character building glee.

Lastly, lastly our apologies if you don't recognize any of them when they come home 10 kilograms heavier. Blame it on the road crew!

Big hug to all.

Sharky.

MICK AND MEL'S DARWIN ADVENTURE - PART TWO

Day Five Renner Springs to Dunmarra
Distance 193.58
Ride time 7:34:39
Avg speed 25.5
Max 74
Elevation gain 899
This morning was the coldest start to a days ride we have had on this trip. With the cold freezing Mel’s legs and lips it was a slow, quiet start to the morning. Even after the sun was up and we stopped Captain Kev with instructions to get the bloody kettle on,the chill was still there.

We had a Wolf Creek moment when a car full of people drove past us at a 130k and in a cloud of dust screeched to a halt a couple hundred meters in front of us. To our surprise out jumped a Smiddy tee shirt closely followed by the camera of Denise Barnett. Hugs and pics taken we hit the road again, heading to Elliott for lunch.
Just north of Newcastle Waters we stopped to talk with, the trolley guy, who we thought was suspiciously poking at some roadkill.

Christian is a Swedish documentary maker walking from Darwin to Adelaide pushing a modified shopping trolley weighing in around 100kg. And we thought our wheels over the grids was hell!! You can follow his journey on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Global-AV-Produktionen-Andreas-und-Christian-Zimmerman Global- AV.ch
So inspired by the trolley guy, Connor jumped out of the van and onto the bike only to challenge Mick to an unexpected expression session until Mick could take no more and radioed breathlessly to Kevvy to drive ahead to pick up the young swag lord and buckle him back in his seat.

Day Six Dunmarra to Mataranaka
Distance 222.12
Ride time 8:33:31
Avg speed 26
Max 42.9
Elevation gain 625
Today was the Longest day of our trip, we added a few extra by taking a detour into Daly Waters. A pie from the pub for morning tea and a look around was well worth the extra distance. Mel donated a pair of Smiddy knicks (clean ones!) that now hang proudly from the roof beam in the bar.

We met one of the more colourful locals, Fran from Larramah. Fran runs the local tea house so I figured I could get an long overdue espresso. We rolled in only to be told in no uncertain terms that we are closed. I enquired with my best country manners if I could just grab a quick double espresso. Yeah righto came the reply, but you have to wait outside. The worlds longest espresso was produced as she told me I have given you a double but have only charged you for a single, and I handed over my six dollars.

The day ended with the swag lord once again throwing out another expression session challenge. This time at Mel, where the best she could do was attempt at hanging on the wheel of her youngster. Finally rolling into the Bitter Springs caravan park we find the much talked about hot springs and spend the late afternoon soothing tired muscles floating around in the warm spring water.


Day Seven Materanka to Katherine (Plus a little bit)
Distance 150
Ride time 5:45:18
Avg speed 27.6
Max 50.5
Elevation gain 640
We rolled out of Materanka to a smoke haze hanging in the still morning air. Today was to be our shortest day to Katherine. But with a 204k day tomorrow we decided to ride on an extra 50 past Katherine. With the promise of real coffee and a whole chicken when we got back, the deal was signed. It was a long 50k in 37 degree heat and some rolling hills, but we got it done. A quick shower and with chicken and coffee quickly devoured, we headed out to Katherine Gorge for some sightseeing and sunset photos. Such wonderful scenery but so little time to take it all in.
Back into town for a quick restock of groceries (read beer) Kevvy went to the bottle shop counting on his fingers to work out the correct number of cans we needed to get us through the last couple days.
"What a deal" Kevvy announced as he arrived back at the camper with a 20 pac of gold tins. It was only when we cracked one to watch the State of Origin that he realised the cans were only 330ml. Gnome size, maybe?

Day Eight North of Katherine to Adelaide River
Distance 152.2
Ride time 5:28:38
Avg speed 27.8
Max 63.5
Elevation gain 729
It was a little different driving to our departure point while sipping on a real flat white. Coffee before riding is ok, right?
Today was our hottest with the Garmin hitting 40.5 degrees
It was an epic day for our road crew with Kevvy showIng skills beyond his years when he overtook a triple road train
We rolled into the show grounds, only to miss the camel races by a couple months.
The hilight was a visit to the Adelaide River War cemetery. We have seen so much history this trip.
Connor went croc hunting and came away with all limbs, some great pics, but no crocs.

Day Nine Adelaide River to Darwin
Distance 114
Ride time 4:17:33
Avg speed 26.5
Max 49.6
Elevation gain 555

A day of lasts
A day of mixed emotions

As we rolled out of Adelaide River at 06:30, the first time we have been on time all trip, there was a silence on the bike as I took time to reflect on the last nine days and the realisation that the adventure was coming to an end.
The cold, the rain, the wind, the heat, the crap moments are part of what make these rides what they are. Without those times would we enjoy the white knuckle descents, the 60k sign sprints or the time trialling to the next coffee as much as what we do?
By this time it was so hot my eyeballs had sweat leaking out of them. We had come a long way and endured some tough conditions but it was so, so worth it.

I had my 2nd flat tyre for the trip about 15k out from the city and Kev was out of the car, with a new wheel faster than a Tour de France mechanic and I was back on the road within seconds. My only concern was my Garmin wasn't picking up the satellites, would it be on strava? Did it really happen?

A quick stop for a photo at the welcome to Darwin sign and then we rolled into see the ocean at the top of Australia. It was hard to imagine that 19 days ago we stood for a group photo at the edge of the Great Southern Ocean at Glenelg beach and now here we are in Darwin some 3400k later.

Thank you all for the messages of encouragement, you don't know how much they meant to us

Thank you to our wonderful friend Kate Warren. Kate's cards that we opened and then carried with us each day gave us strength to draw on during some of those tough times, you were riding with us each day, thank you Kate.

To our fantastic road crew of Captain Kevvy and his Lieutenant Connor. This trip would not have been possible without your support, advice, encouragement, cheesy eggs, cold beer, swag rolling skills and hugs.
It feels that thank you is somehow not enough. But, thank you.

Words from the Swag lord himself...
- I enjoyed our time at the Mataranka hot springs and looking over Katherine gorge from --- lookout the most.
- There wasn't much to see on the road... But I did get to sleep quite a lot, so that wasn't to bad.
- My least favourite part would be the heat of the past couple of days. It's been too hot for winter.

Until the next crazy adventure.
Get on your bike
Mel, Mick, Kevvy and Connor.

"If all difficulties were known at the onset of a journey, most of us would never start out at all."
Dan Rather


Mick Farrag
0419 791087

WARWICK TRANING WEEKEND - DAY 1 WIND GODS NOT HAPPY!

WIND IS NOT OUR FRIEND
Today 30 Smiddy riders training either for the 4 or 8 day Smiddy Challenge events and 10 legendary road crew set out from Brisbane at 6am under beautiful summer like conditions and near perfect still windless conditions. How all that changed so quickly, when after 75 kilometres and after our morning tea stop at Rosewood, the wind began to make its presence felt, and felt severely. The next leg into a lunch, along the historic and quiet back country Ma Ma Creek Road, saw a slog of a further 70km's and the gentle mess-up-your- hair type wind, was replaced by an angry wind that was determined to let us know that it hated cyclists.

PUSH-UP BOB
Rolling into lunch a good hour behind schedule it was a welcome sight to see our beloved road crew all standing there waiting for us to cheer us in to a delicious array of bush tucker. I asked road crew Bob what they did while waiting for us when we got behind schedule and he said 10 X 15 sets of push ups... Each to their own hey? Anyway we not only have the best looking road crew for this weekend but now the fittest after their push-up challenge. Nice work push-up Bob!

GETTING NOWHERE FAST
The little bit of protection from the wind offered during the climb up over the Great Dividing Range was soon over, and once again the peloton was struggling to average faster than 18 km/h for the next 20 kilometres. Thankfully we eventually had a course change from heading West, thanks to a sharp left turn East towards Warwick and for the last 30km's we were treated to a much nicer cross tailwind. After a quick afternoon tea break by the side of the road -literally by the side of the road- the Smiddy peloton were on a mission to make up time and get our butts to Warwick before the sun set. While we didn't beat the sunset, we did mange to finish while a whisper of pinkish light left a mesmerizing glow over Warwick as if acting as a beacon and our mission was completed right on 5:42pm.

CAPTAIN HAPPY KEV
We finished with a huddle of course and six riders raised their hands to completing their longest ride ever. Each and ever rider did an amazing job today under incredibly hard conditions. Their were no complaints, just a sturdy resolve to get the job done. Sure, a number of riders needed some time in the van, but that was more because they are good people and wanted to keep captain Kev happy. A happy Kev means a happy peloton, so my hat goes off to you guys who did van time today and took one for the team.

DON'T EVER BE SCARED TO ROOM WITH ME
We are staying at the infamous Horse and Jockey Hotel Motel tonight and we have been staying here for these Smiddy training weekends and events for 11 years now. The showers are awesome, so hot and refreshing after a day like that in the saddle. The owners super supportive and as always they delivered a great meal tonight plus will be getting breakfast for us all that will be ready by 5am. I'm rooming tonight with old mate John Martin and the irrepressible Brocky Yates. They are trying to get to sleep prior to my finishing typing this blog and I know they are scared of rooming with me due to my ability to snore, fart and talk in my sleep, sometimes all three at the same time. Some Smiddy riders have all the luck sharing with me hey?

SHARKY MAY BE A LITTLE EXCITED ABOUT A LITTLE PERSON
Goodnight and don't let the bedbugs bite. Will I say that to my new little human being that is about to enter Alyssa and my life in November? Hope so. Oh and it can expect lots of Dad jokes. All the ones my Dad told me I am sharing with whatever pops out in November.

Cheers big ears.

Sharky.

P.S. Hi Mr Smiddy...

That was a test to check if Mr Smiddy is reading my blogs. Speaking of Smiddy we are gifted to have David's Brother Allan Smiddy as part of the road crew for this weekend. I have to say Allan is way better looking! Do you think David will be reading this?