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?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

MEL AND MICK'S CONTINUED JOURNEY

Two Smiddy riders decided to continue on to Darwin after completing their journey up to Uluru with team Smiddy. From a peloton of 58 riders down to a peloton of two. With nowhere to hide when the winds hit, it is their determination to succeed that continues to drive them towards their destination of Darwin. Captain Kev is once again backing up with another ten days on the road to look after this pair who have energy to burn at will. Mel's Son Conner is there to help out as well and to keep Kevvy company. Below are Mel and Mick's words of their first four days on the road from Alice Springs.

Day minus one
Yalara to Alice Springs
Distance 400+
Avg speed 127
Avg cadence 3200
Road kill. Nearly one camel

This morning we left Yalara behind in the darkness of early morning as part of the Smiddy convoy to Eldundra. Stopping at the roadhouse for coffee and breakfast before bidding farewell and safe travels to the rest of the crew that were heading south on their trip back to Adelaide.

We bummed a lift to Alice Springs in the back of the Krista and Claire mobile. When I complained to our travel Mums that Melissa was being mean to me, I was told to sit down and be quiet or they would leave me to the dingos on the side of the road. Thanks for the tough love Claire.

Into Apollo to pick up Kevvy's camper van and we manage to squeeze the four of us, all our gear and nine days worth of food for two hungry cyclists and two equally hungry road crew inside.
The afternoon was spent doing the tourists thing, checking out the old telegraph station and then preparing our gear for the 1800k journey that lay ahead.


Day one Alice Springs to Ti Tree
Distance 204k
Ride time 8:15:23
Avg speed 24.7
Max 33.2
Elevation gain 736

Day one began with a quick look over the city of Alice from ANZAC hill and then we were on our way north and there to greet us was our old friend, the 30k/ph head wind.
It didn't take long for the peloton of two to gel and get 5 minute rotations happening and setting the standard of 35k before the 1st yellow room was called.
Traffic was great and we had several toots of encouragement, the truckies were very considerate and gave us plenty of room on the road.
The landscape was in constant change, from green grass and stunted trees to rocky outcrops and mountain ranges. Red dirt and ant hills to a mango farm, which had the best mango ice cream.
A quick 10k TTT into Ti Tree before the ice cream melted so we could have ice cream at the end of our first days ride
Thanks to our road crew Kev and Connor for setting up camp for the night

Day two Ti Tree to Devils Marbles
Distance 200k
Ride time 7:30:38
Avg speed 26.6
Max 44.3
Elevation gain 490

Today I awoke to the rain softly drumming on the corrugated iron roof and the warmth of the still smouldering coal in the fire place. Then my alarm went off and the drumming sound was rain on my swag. I lay there wondering how do I get out of this thing without getting everything inside wet.

The rain eased and with no breeze to speak of we left our road crew snoozing and headed off toward morning tea at the infamous Barrow creek pub, 90k down the road. We rolled into Barrow creek a little wet and had the remainder of last nights dinner heated up on wraps. The bar tender had yarns of a Smiddy group that had visited the day before. You have got to try the burgers he told me, the other guys said you can't beat them.

Further down the road at Ali Curung, Captain Kevvy was stopped by the local police and was asked to participate in a roadside breath test, passing with flying colours.

The clouds were forming spectacular shapes and layers and in those clouds was more rain and we rode the last 17k in the wet.

Hot showers and a comfy bed and dinner in the Wauchope pub, drifting off to sleep to the sound of rain on the roof and Kevvy snoring on the bottom bunk.

Day Three Devils Marbles to Tennant Creek
Distance 116k
Ride time 4:54:51
Avg speed 23.5
Max 30.9
Elevation gain 610

One of the things I wanted to see on this trip was the sunrise at Devils Marbles. But Mother nature had other ideas. It rained from the moment we arrived at our overnight stop at the Wauchope caravan park until after we rolled out the next day. A short 10k roll to Devils Marbles but we missed the sunrise due to the cloud cover but were treated to the wonderment of rock formation. We walked around in amazement at what nature has developed.

Today was also the first time I have ever seen Kevy with a camera, yes he took some pics and no it was not a box brownie.

We came across an Italian guy 'Romeo', who was spending three months cycling around Australia before heading to Alaska. We rode with him for awhile as he talked of his adventures and love of travel. His bike and gear weighed in at around 50kg.

Into Tennant Creek, domestics done, crew fed on a great minestrone soup. A call from long time Smiddy rider Kate Warren and then off to bed.

Day Four Tennant Creek to Renner Springs
Distance 160.8
Ride time 5:23:14
Avg speed 29.9
Max 60.2
Elevation gain 739m

Awesome day with a tailwind for most of it.
Stopped in at the three ways servo, is that a coffee machine I spy? Well yes it is, make sure you try the coffee.
Stopped in at Banka Banka for lunch, what a great place and wonderful hospitality. Can you find the pot of gold.
There is a hut that was constructed in the 1920 from mud bricks made from the local anthills. The roof of the hut was made to prevent the sun drying out bricks.

A sunset trip to Lubars lookout just south of Renner Springs produced some great photos. The colours from the sunrises and sunsets on the trip have been nothing short of spectacular.

The score card stands at
60 signs are a tie
Mel two up on the windmill count.
Road crew are one up in the pool comp.

Bye for now.

Mel, Mick, Kevvy and Conner

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

ADELAIDE TO ULURU - UP THE GUTS ODYSSEY 2016

DAY 9 Roadside Camp to Uluru

Final Blog By: Sharky

Stats For The Day
Distance:161 km's
Average: 29 km/h
Max Speed: 43.1 km/h
Climbing: 254 metres
Riding time: 5hrs 33min
Temp Min: 1 degrees
Temp Max: 23.6 degrees
Wind Conditions: Tailwind for most of the day

As I sit and write this final blog I am on the Virgin flight home to Brisbane via Sydney. Waiting for me at Brisbane airport will be my dear Wife Alyssa and a baby bump that I am sure has increased in size since I left home on May 30. Most of the riders flew out yesterday, while the road crew all left in convoy this morning at 6am to return the six hired vehicles to Adelaide. For the road crew they are rundown and tired but return to Adelaide with an enormous sense of accomplishment, of a job well done, riders delivered safe and safe to their destination at Ayres Rock.

Blog Dedicated to Road Crew
Our job as riders is hard, bloody hard as this trip proved, but without those amazing individuals that make up our esteemed road crew, who gave up two weeks of their time to work from before the sun came up and long after the sun went down, there would be no way any of us would have made it to the big red rock. Therefore I would like to dedicate this blog to our 'Up The Guts' road road crew that consisted of my Brother Terry, my Auntie Marie Barker, Captain Kev, David Smiddy, Sammi Jo So, John Curran, Wanyne Smith, Racel Pennisi, Nigel Harris, Colin Cross, Cath and Mick McDonald, Denise Barnett, Colin Fairchild, Trevor Menhinick, Laraine Dunn and Lynton Stretton.

On Behalf of team Smiddy of Cherie Nicolas, Wendy Muir, Krista Page, Christian Killeen, the Mater Foundation and myself, a sincere and heartfelt thank you. You guys rock!

A Cold Start
So back to the final day and packing up our final camp on what was the coldest morning of the entire trip. Frigid hands made slow work of the monumental task of packing up a camp built for 80 people. A welcome hot breakfast of eggs and bacon and Auntie Maria's heart warming porridge was again appreciated by the hungry riders and helped to warm our tummies. Our scheduled 7:30am start saw us get on the road close to 8am. The air temperature was one-degree and it was ever so good to be on the bike and moving and not standing around shivering and waiting for the start. Thankfully by the first toilet stop at 28 kilometres it had warmed up sufficiently to shred a layer or two of clothing.

A 160 kilometre last day was still a formidable distance, especially after already having 1600 kilometres in our tired legs. But on our side was our third day straight of tailwinds. The strength had gone out of the wind but the important thing was that it was still up our cracker and made the going a little easier, for which we were all extremely grateful.

Road Crew Surprise at Morning Tea
With 84 kilometres to cover to our morning tea break this distance was dispatched in around the three hour mark. Waiting for us was the final road crew surprise of the trip when we pulled up to the smell of freshly cooked pancakes! Hundreds of pancakes, coated with maple syrup and bananas were demolished in record time. It was here also that family members of some of the riders came out to greet us, which provided a lovely buzz throughout the peloton. A couple of former Smiddy riders were there as well in Claire Schneider and Alicia Cross-Newman.

Uluru - Here We Come and The Final Chuddle
From morning tea the final stage of a further 50 kilometres began and Ayres Rock kept getting larger and larger the closer we got. It truly is a mesmerizing sight and I understand now why they say you can't truly appreciate it from photos and seeing it on the TV. Lunch was at the Rock, as was the final huddle, which was turned into a Chuddle. I invited David Smiddy to stand in the centre, the girl riders were invited to crush him, then the road crew, followed by the many supporters that turned up to see us finish, then finally the male riders. Brendan Whipps and Matt Muir were then invited to say the final words for this final day 9 Chuddle. They spoke magnificently and with passion and emotion and I could not have been happier.

I wanted David to be infused with so much positive energy from this group that he would go out and be strong and survive until the next Smiddy infusion in August for the Brisbane to Townsville Challenge.

After the Chuddle the final road crew prepared lunch was devoured as we viewed the majestical beauty of the enormous Rock. Riders were then invited to do the 10 kilometre lap of Uluru to take in the Rock from all sides or to make their own way back to our accommodation at Yulara. Most chose to do the lap while a small group scuttled back to the comfort of a lovely Hotel room and hot refreshing shower. The journey back to Yulara measured 30 kilometres. Which in my head fitted nicely to make up that missed 30 kilometres on day four due to the dangerous crosswinds where we were transported 30 kilometres to camp 1 in the Smiddy vehicles.

Final Smiddy Function
The final function of the event was held at the Sails Resort and with so many family members present the group expanded to over 110 guests. All the usual Smiddy traditions took place! With a few little extras that included Bretty and Roger asking each rider to stand up to acknowledge their Adelaide to Uluru nickname. The two boys sat at the back of the peloton to shepherd the group and to pass away time would make up nicknames for everyone. It was entertaining and one of those things where you had to be there to appreciate it. I assure you it was funny and they did a great job on it.

Also thanks to some last minute big money donations coming in on the night the fundraising total was pushed beyond $400,000. Thank you to David Gyte for pumping up his LMG customers to throw into the kitty in excess of $10k and to Smiddy rider Zane Williams, who sponsored Whippsy to get his legs waxed by 7 of the lads to the tune of $10k. All I can say is that I am gobsmacked! From an idea to ride up the guts of Australia, has made for the Mater Foundation, a massive amount of money that will got towards the cutting edge research that we know is making significant inroads to cancer care through Mater Research.

Thank you Smiddy Riders
Before I go I just want to to thank the riders for their perseverance, determination and extreme patience over the past nine days. It is never easy taking on a new event, let alone an event that travels through the Australian outback. It tested the team at Smiddy and it pushed the road crew to the brink of their volunteering capacity. But in the end, as always, human perseverance prevailed; mateship and pushing aside individual egos is what got us through those past nine days. We accomplished our goal only because we did it as a team. For that alone, you are to be congratulated. Each and every one of you should feel extremely proud. The next time a breakthrough happens in cancer care, please know that in our small but significant way we had a part to play in that.

Think about that... How special to be able to say to family and friends that you helped to save someone's life?

I am humbled to have been in the company of such great people.

A small piece of you will always remain with me in my soul.

Please take care and I hope one day I am fortunate enough to share your company again.

Cheers

Sharky

Monday, 13 June 2016

ADELAIDE TO ULURU - UP THE GUTS ODYSSEY 2016

DAY 8 Kulgera Roadhouse To Roadside Camp

Blog By: Sharky

Stats For The Day
Distance: 208 km's
Average: 31.3 km/h
Max Speed: 42.2 km/h
Climbing: 328 metres
Riding time: 6hrs 41 min
Temp Min: 5 degrees
Temp Max: 15 degrees
Wind: Tailwind all day - You little ripper!

Today the planets aligned and the rider group was gifted with the utmost perfect conditions for a human to be on a bike. With a 208 kilometre stage needed to get to our second roadside camping spot we needed this day like no other. What was delivered on a silver platter to the very appreciative riders was a continuous tailwind of 206 kilometres, with the last 125 kilometres a direct tailwind that measured 35km/h. Only for two kilometres did we feel that same wind become a crosswind when the road tilted back to the North.

Spirits were incredibly high in the group and for the first time all week we were coming in early for the scheduled stops. The rider leaders did an incredible job containing the cheetahs in the group to keep the average speed at a constant level. Parts of this incredible day the entire peloton was whizzing along comfortably at 40km/h! What a gift and what a buzz it created.

Once again the road crew excelled in providing food fit for a king and the highlight of the day was definitely lunch when we were treated to a hot stew. As lovely as the sandwiches and wraps are the hot food was truly a lovely change and most appreciated by the eating machines called Smiddy riders. Maria Smiddy was always in charge of the food for the ride up to Townsville and would quite often surprise the group with treats such as what we got today. So thank you road crew, for I know Marie would be incredible proud of you lot, for, not what you did today, but for every day that you have been on the road.

Thanks to the awesome conditions today we got into camp early at 3pm, which gave everyone time to set up their swags, have a shower, prepare all their stuff for the final day into Uluru tomorrow, but most importantly plenty enough time to get stitched up to the high nine for the Hawaiian themed night. The outfits are hilarious and in the middle of Winter here we are, 80 silly buggers, perfectly comfortable dressed in Hawaiian attire. The atmosphere has been electric all day, especially since we made our first left hand turn in over a thousand kilometres at the sign that said Uluru/Ayres Rock this way...

As we bled the last of the daylight a group photo was taken in the beautiful calming and subdued orange glow of a sensational sunset as we stood on top of a small mound of dirt with Mt Conner in the background. It was all very peaceful and somehow life-affirming. For me personally it has been a hard tour, both mentally and physically. Becoming a first time Dad I am experiencing emotions a little foreign to me. I have struggled mentally being away from my Wife Alyssa as I yearn to share every single solitary minute of the 9 month baby bliss journey. Yet at the same time, being around this latest lot of Smiddy inmates has been another one of those moments in time where I would not swap this experience for all the material possessions in the world. Tonight, as we gathered around the camp fire and shared all the usual Smiddy transitions, which included two great but sad talks by Steve and Bretty, I decided on the spur of the moment to share my thoughts with the group.

The whole day yesterday I felt extremely emotional and was thinking a lot about Maria, Adam, Geoff Honey, Declan Hegarty, Herman Herlaar, Brad Hartman and so many other Smiddy friends we have lost over the years, but strangely enough there were no tears. I knew that David Smiddy was struggling yesterday as well and I sought him out and assured him I was in the same room, that dreaded room of pain. Well those tears may not have rolled then but they surely did this afternoon as we rolled into our roadside camp.

Another dream so close to becoming reality, shared with 46 other riders and 20 road crew, who are all on the same wave-length. This delightfully refreshing and energetic energy this group is generating could power a small city. Once again a positive bubble of Smiddy energy has engulfed the group and as I said to everyone tonight; "If we could bottle this energy and sell it to the world there would be no evil or diseases in this beautiful world." While I know thats not possible, in my head I know we are making a difference to a lot of people anyway.

So in closing I will give you a few highlights from today

How often do you get to do a ride that gifts you with a 206km tailwind? Not often let me assure you, and today that was the highest of highlights.

2. How often do you get to see one of your fellow riders ride nude for 20 kilometres as a means of raising thousands of dollars for Smiddy and the Mater? Well only once I am hoping as the sight of Richard stark naked in the middle of the peloton saw many riders bring up their afternoon tea!

3. Kirsteen you deserve a million dollars for being the first wheel behind Richard for that longest ever 20 kilometres!

4. Dig In Dougie was the proud recipient of the special category jersey for living up to his knickname. Doug has dug in every day to complete the stages up to day 8. One to go champ.

5. Road crew Mick and Cath were awarded the special category jersey tonight because they have supported the Swarbrick riders for 3 years now and always done it in an unofficial capacity, that is until this journey. They are a retired couple and two of the loveliest people you could hope to meet. Congratulations guys.

6. Adrian Cross and his Father Colin were given the honour of doing the huddle this afternoon. What a lovely experience for Father (Road Crew and Son (Rider) to share a Smiddy experience.

7. Smiddy rider Nick Thorpe was given the honour of ringing the Cow Bell by Captain Kev as Nick lives in Darwin and we crossed the border into the Northern Territory yesterday.

8. The Kill Man was acknowledged due to pouring his heart and soul into this event since 2014. We hope after tomorrow's stage and final run into Uluru that he can let his hair down and enjoy the fruits of his labour.

9. To love ones back home that have a rider or road crew member that is part of this event. Smiddy always, and I mean always, attracts like-minded people that care enough to get out there and do something for people that can't help themselves. Sure we all do it for other reasons; the adventure, the travel, the friendships, the comaraderie, the fundraising, the early prevention tests and ultimately the cure for cancer, but after a few days of being engulfed in the Smiddy bubble, they all soon realise they are doing it to help ease, the great man, David Smiddy's pain. He hides it through his jokes, his smart arse demeanor, his big hearty laugh, his enormous hugs that could only have been learned from Maria. But inside this beautiful kind hearted man is someone that is hurting so bad that his heart feels like it's being crushed in a vice. So you see, your love ones, that you have so kindly supported to allow them to do this event, are helping us to save a man that I would take on as a Father if I did not already have that Angel already in my life in Ozzie Smoothy.

Over the past 8 days I have seen all of them, riders, road crew, pour out the depths of their soul to get to where we are today. They have suffered like dogs, they have cried and they have laughed so hard it hurts. Their determination to complete each stage is beyond belief. None of us could do it on our own, yet together we refuse to give in and support each other as if we were at the height of a battle, which in same ways we are.

So I guess what I am trying to say is be proud of them for what they have achieved over the past week. They will all return to you better people, they were good people before this event already, but now they are folklore great!

I know a big loving hug awaits all you love ones when you see them again. Thank you again from myself and the team at Smiddy and the Mater Foundation. We are in awe of them all, and in awe of your support back home.

Take care.

Sharky

ADELAIDE TO ULURU - UP THE GUTS ODYSSEY 2016

DAY 7 Marla To Kulgera Roadhouse

Blog By: Melissa Speare and Mick Farrag

Stats For The Day
Distance: 181 km's
Average: 28.9 km/h
Max Speed: 42 km/h
Climbing: 340 metres
Riding time: 6hrs 16min
Temp Min: 4 degrees
Temp Max: 14 degrees
Wind: Light Tailwind all day from the South


"What do you need to grow? Love!"

Dedicated to Geoff Honey

With a late start of 7am today, riders and road crew began the day with a warm breaky served at the Marla Roadhouse.

As the sun rose this morning in Marla we took a quiet moment to remember our good friend and fellow Smiddy family member, Geoff Honey, who shared in many of our adventures from Sydney to Townsville. As we rolled out, those of us who have ridden with Geoff, remember and shared stories of the true gentleman who we were so lucky to get to know. We were fortunate to begin our Smiddy adventures with Geoff in 2012 and join with him again in 2014. Many others shared rides in 2013 and 2015. Those who had not shared adventures with Geoff, shared in our sadness of his passing, knowing how incredibly special all of our Smiddy family is.

While we may ride our bikes ridiculous distances, in stupid crazy conditions, none of this would happen without so many of our family and friends joining the Smiddy family, whether they realise it or not. We know that day after day of being battered on our bikes, we need to boost each other to get us all safely to our destination.

More than ever, we see that it is not just us riders that make up this magnificent family, but each of our families is indeed such a special part of this enormous Smiddy family, whether they realise it or not.

We may not have all met but we have a common bond and care for each other as they cheer us on day after day with messages of love, holding the fort at home and work, caring for children and taking on the full load of looking after home and other responsibilities.

The care and support we see and feel...the Smith family helping out mine to ensure my son gets to Uluru safely so I can hug him at the finish line. Thank you so much Smith family. It means the world to me..

...The love messages from work mates that fill inboxes and message banks that you hear coming through as we ride into mobile range...

...The care packages that riders open each morning with words of love and encouragement that are recalled and sometimes shared during the struggles and joys of our days on the road.

To our family...Its your magnificence and the love of you all that allows us to grow, take a risk and achieve our goals...thank you!

As for our day on the road...

Well it was pretty spectacular where the peloton seemed to roll effortlessly from beginning to end. 181km day - our shortest day yet saw the first toilet break scheduled for 45km bought forward to 15km. A little early for many, I know, but for me the timing could not have been more perfect. From here on the day seemed to whip by with morning tea upon us by 10.30 am.

From here our schedule changed to take our lunch break at the SA/NT border where happy snaps galore took place to commemorate the last 7 days journey from Adelaide. From lunch we mount our bikes with a new excitement and buzz amongst the group, particularly as Raymondo, Gytey and Diesel strive to take the crown of cadence king. Raymondo grabbed the jeweled adornment with gusto with an average cadence of 100 over the distance of the day. Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

With the peleton working like clockwork all day long, we make great time as we hit our resting place for the night by 3.15.

An all time first smiddy huddle led by Peter Taylor in the driveway of the Kulgera roadhouse
The days pricilla award won by Mal Bourke for holding up the prime real estate of the ladies toilet.
Teamwork awards went to Deb Gillespie and Neil Sherrington.

Derek - our resident cycling poet has bought us to tears with his recollection of the days events. He has penned yet another spectacularly hilarious recollection of todays antics which we're sure you'll enjoy, however, I think we'll have to leave the publishing to another Smiddy blog, as we have expired our word count.

Goodnight.
X
Mel and Mick.