Tuesday, 25 July 2017

2017 Warwick Training Weekend - Day 2

Minus temperatures greeted the riders as we pushed off for our 6.30am start for the 206km adventure back to Brisbane. 

A big thank you to Captain Kevvy for bestowing on me the immense honour of ringing the cow bell, which signifies the start of each and every Smiddy ride that we do, whether a dedicated training weekend or an event itself. 

It is just one of many Smiddy traditions that we abide by without question. Kevvy started this tradition in 2007 and it has stood the test of time. The bell has been in his family for over 100 years and Kevvy lost his Dad to cancer and it was his father’s bell, so it is pretty darn special and bloody special to be asked to ring it. In 12 years of Smiddy events I have been asked once prior to this occasion. So thank you old mate, much appreciated for sure.

The roll out of the Smiddy peloton saw the temperature start at zero degrees and, combined with the windchill factor, the Garmin reading of minus 3 degrees suggested that was the reason that none of us could feel our feet or hands. But like any early morning start from Warwick, once the sun poked its head above the horizon an hour later, some warmth began its slow movement back into very appreciative fingers and toes.

By the time we reached morning tea with nearly 80 kilometres done and dusted, everyone was back to just their Smiddy kits and no other additional layers were needed, except for a few wind jackets. The decent back down Heiffer Creek Road was a go-at-your-own-pace session, and I can testify going downhill with a bunch of pumped up and competitive Smiddy riders hurts just as much as climbing up it the previous day.

Once again the road crew treated us to a visual and gastronomic feast fit for the royal family, and as Smiddy family are indeed royal, we upheld our end of the bargain and scoffed everything down like scolded pigs. Not very royal behaviour but no scrap of food remained and the road crew were pleased.

Our next stop was at Rosewood for lunch, a further 70km closer to Brisbane. All the riders got over the nasty rollers leading into Laidley, and then were successful in negotiating the Grandchester Range. It was a tough little section that one; at times struggling to get above 10 kilometres an hour on some of those steeper pitches, while other sections, thanks to being slightly downhill and with an assisted wind up our crackers, cruising along at 54km/h!

Getting to Rosewood meant we had over 350km in our legs thus far for the two days, the affect this has on your appetite has to be seen to be believed. Thankfully once again road crew prepared enough food for hundreds, which was the perfect amount for the 40 famished riders. 

The final section back into Brisbane saw us have a short break in Wacol, and it was here where we recorded a short video message to send to Phil Anderson, our Smiddy mate who crashed out and ended up in hospital in Victoria. If you are reading this mate we wish you a speedy recovery and hope you liked the special message.
I said goodbye to the team here and made a beeline for home, which was just around the corner. My lovely wife Alyssa gave me the weekend off to do the ride, which under normal circumstances is no problem at all, but then Estelle got sick on Saturday and then Alyssa’s back went on her on Sunday, so both my girls were very pleased to see me home a little earlier than expected. Once again, thank you to the team for allowing me the luxury of leaving early and apologies to the riders for not being there for the final huddle.

I hear that Claire Schneider had the honour of taking the huddle, and she is so tuned into the Smiddy spirit, after being with us for the past four years, that I know she would have done a magnificent heartfelt job of it.

Lastly a quick message to the riders and road crew from the weekend. How fortunate I felt to ride with such a fine group of people. You all did so amazingly well and I can’t think of a better group of individuals to share my final Smiddy Challenge with once the event begins its first ever journey back to Brisbane from Townsville on August 28. 

Keep up the great work you are all doing with your training and especially your fundraising.

Oh and to all the girls taking on Girls Got Heart ride in three weeks time, all the very best of luck to you all and thank you for sharing a Smiddy experience with us over the Warwick weekend.

Take care and a big hug to all.


2017 Warwick Training Weekend - Day 1

Warwick training weekend means one thing in Smiddy folklore history… the Smiddy Challenge is just around the corner. 

Riding 420 kilometres over two days is a pretty epic weekend, and it is over these two days that a reality check is instilled into the riders. It shows if your training has been neglected or if you are in Tour De France type shape. Well as I sit here and write this after a beautiful, hot, warming, invigorating shower, with the air con turned up to 26 degrees to take the chill out of the room at the Horse and Jockey in Warwick, I can assure you that 100 per cent of the 40 riders attending this weekend are indeed ready to take on Chris Froome in next year's TDF.

We rolled in to Warwick at 4.30 pm with plenty of daylight left in the afternoon, after a good 26.3 km/h average, which is outstanding when you consider today consisted of more than 2000 m of climbing. For 12 years now we have been putting on the Warwick weekend and have always stayed at the Horse and Jockey. They have always supported us over the years and not only provide nice comfy beds and warm rooms, but a great dinner and in the morning open up their kitchen at 4.30 am to have breakfast ready for us hungry cyclists at 5.30 am. 

Over the years this weekend has shared with us every imaginable weather condition known to dog and man. I will not go into details about some of the horror years, but let me assure you that after all those times Warwick made us suffer intolerably, it redeemed itself today with one of the most glorious days on Smiddy Warwick record. A huge thank you to Mother Nature. Please know that we love you, and all us Smiddy riders will think very highly of you for the rest of our lives, especially when you deliver another perfect day tomorrow, along with a tailwind push home please from 10 am.

So this is how the day panned out: roll out was from 6 o'clock from The University of Queensland with the temperature hovering between 2 and 5 degrees, the winter gear adorned by the riders kept everyone warm and in good spirits right from the get go. 

Thank you to the team for allowing me to join the peloton at Blunder Road in Oxley, as it meant I got to spend some time with my eight month old baby girl Estelle before heading off for the weekend.

For the remainder of the day we climbed lots of hills, ate lots of incredibly yummy food provided by our simply amazing road crew, climbed a few more hills, ate more food and just for something different climbed a few more hills. 

Our favourite hill was, of course, the Heifer Creek climb straight out of lunch, with full tummies and TDF tactics taking place there were more than a few riders who got to taste their lunch all over again! 

Congrats to Adrian Cross for taking out the KOM after a bit of a battle with Tony Pratt. I'm so glad Cross won otherwise he would have been cross! Get it ,Cross would have been cross… Sorry but I have to practice my Dad jokes whenever I can in preparation for driving my daughter insane, just like my Dad did with me and my six siblings.

Anyway it's not like me to get off track, so concentrate Shark, you have to get this done before dinner at 6.30 pm. Okay if I get this wrong my apologies but congrats also to Krista and Rebecca who came across the top in equal first place for the KOM. It was a tough battle as they chatted the whole way up, apparently talking about tuna recipes! 

Krista will be the only one that laughs at that I bet?

So a big regroup up the top of the range and holy bloody white man, stone the crows and starve the bloody lizards, the rolling Peloton got a sniff of the steaks being cooked at the Horse and Jockey in Warwick some 60 kilometres away, and the pedal was put to the metal! The pace was on and if you were suffering too bloody bad. 

Everyone was too scared to lose that wheel in front, hang in there, tough it out, don't show the pain, got to get to those steaks! Thankfully between the top of the range and Warwick, Allora was our afternoon tea stop, and a chance to replenish the 2251 calories lost in just 30 kilometres from the assortment of treats provided by the road crew. Hey Krista has it ever been said how much we love the road crew?

The remaining 29km into Warwick went by in a flash. The suggestion at afternoon tea was short turns at the front, with a top speed of no more than 52km/h! This was achieved and the Smiddy Peloton would have won the team time trial for Smiddy riders if it was ever added to the TDF program.

As for the huddle, this honour went to long time Smiddy supporters Mick Young and Jennifer Penfold. Youngy has been involved in an amazing amount of Smiddy events since he joined us in 2008 and that support and belief in what we are trying to achieve through our rides we truly do appreciate. Jennifer has been with us a few years now and hers is such an amazing story that I could write a blog just on this amazing woman. For now, just know she is amazing and we love her dearly.

Okay Kevvy just walked in and said dinner is being served, right on 6.30pm. I love The Horse and Jockey, they know cyclists are hungry beasts. And on that note it's bye from Shark Beast and time to introduce my stomach to more food!


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

2017 Alice to Darwin - Sharky's poem

From Alice to Darwin did we travel,
8 days, 1500 kilometres, plenty of time to unravel

34 hardy rivers, 16 passionate and amazing road crew,
Along the way $200,000 raised, for those that need a breakthrough 

Some truly special people, are this Smiddy crew,
This poem for you all, as what I'm about to say is true 

Without you makingthe choice to support Smiddy and the Mater,
No way would this event even be a starter

So without further ado, 
This special message for all of you

One rule applied, as a lot of people to get through,
Just two lines per person, some of what I say may even be true! 

Firstly, let's get to Aram Drake, hills he hates,
So Alice to Darwin is a course he surely rates 

Next up, one of the girls, Georgina Dudley,
Each day the lads lining up, for she is awfully cuddly 

Okay Matthew English, you are good with the pen,
Day 3 blog was perfect my friend 

Shaun Gamble with the pointing finger and singing bike,
Do as directed and you he will like 

Tiny Dancer, oh what a delight,
Priscilla attire on Day 7, oh what a sight!  

Now Felicity Cox, it's your turn my love
That achilles of yours, you needed help from above

Reon Holmes, can a more nicer guy be found?
Mate, we are fortunate to have you around

Anthony Johns is your name, not Andrew Johns
Your name game with Lessa, relax mate, it is now bygones 

Dave Lawrence, so calm, collected and ever so pliant
Everyone loves this beautiful gentle giant 

Hannah Lewis-Dalby, wow what a girl!
So tough and determined, for your a Sharky twirl. 

Lorenze Marabini, a determined young man
His first Smiddy adventure into far Northern Territory land! 

Janet McAfee, may have been our oldest lady rider
What a pleasure it was for us all to ride right beside her

Paul Moore, or Yorky, as he is know
Don't mess with his crown, his K.O.M throne
This gentleman, I have to say
All would agree, a quiet and humble man is Geoff Ney

This next lady, Jennifer Penfold is not only as tough as a gem
But so polite and pure, surely born in Bethlehem 

Steve Roe, a man of the land, get away from the beef
A first Smiddy adventure, it was time to turn over a new leaf

Another fine young lady is Karen Short
In her day, even now, I reckon a good looking sort! 

This next rider breaking down all the barriers is our man Isht Singh
You'll go down in folklore, your name they will sing! 

Ray Ray Smith, I need a book to describe what you mean to me
Forever in the Smiddy peloton, you have the mantle of Mr Happy As Can Be 

Brooksey old mate, Mr Happy mantle belongs to Ray Ray as you know,
I'm sorry my friend, but well done on having a good go! 

Lesa Beasley, it's good to know you will never get lost
Your voice in the peloton, enough energy to thaw a frost 

Many names has Samuel Cooke, Chalkie or Cookie
One day he'll get some experience, for now just a rookie

Without this next lady at the helm, our beautiful Krista Page
No Alice to Darwin event would ever have taken centre stage 

Christian Killeen, always there by your side
A good man to help organise this epic ride 

As for Pagey's parents Russell and Helen
My apologies for killing you guys, I thought you were felons! 

Wendy Muir, always behind the scenes
Cares so much for the riders, inside she worries and screams
Brooke Rose, how lucky we are to have you as our Smiddy leaders
More people like you in the world, surely needed 

Brooke Falvey, a pearl of a girl
Her allergy to the Northern Territory, made her hurl 

Ian Brandon, I only know you as Monster
A song for you, Hey you the rock steady crew, because I'm a songster 

Tony Smythe, Smythey, another Smiddy adventure complete
Your wooden rowing arse immune from pain, you remain undefeated 

Ron Steel, Steely, thanks for looking after our bikes
I have a feeling, you, everyone here surely likes 

Mark Sturt, I have one thing on my mind
Up the Guts t-shirt, no more waiting, you are ever so kind

Jimmy and Michael Donnelly, our road kill counter extraordinares
Please join us next year, your new profession will make you billionaires 

This next bloke is a trouble make, young Greg Harmer
Holding up the peloton at Bitter Springs, maybe he should become a farmer

Norman Rydge, Stormin Norman, into Katherine and off he came
Up like a flash, no time to lie idle, the Stormin Norman train 

David Gillies, thanks for taking a punt on this Smiddy event
Your friendship and camaraderie surely heaven sent 

Your beautiful wide Stacey joined you on this journey
I'm guessing happy you didn't end up on a hospital guerney  

All the crew were chuffed to have April along
Hopefully in the future, April will join the Smiddy throng

Mick and Cathy McDonald, how lucky we are
People like you to join us, definitely part of a select few 

Andrea Thorley, I wish there was more like you
Masseus, barista, anything asked, you'd do 

Same qualities, does possess, your great friend Yvette Farry
Thanks Yvette, and one day a lucky man will marry 

Michelle Meredith-Herlaar, two Smiddy events now for you
Hermann would be so proud, please know we love you too 

Deborah Eccles you discovered Smiddy because of Michelle, 
I'm hoping you mostly had fun and Smiddy you'll go out and sell 

The next lady, Mia Stemm, gets close to a top score
You capture Smiddy memories to go down in folklore 

As for your good looking hubby in Kevvy Stemm
Lead car driver extraordinaire, we need more of them! 

I've left the rear car boys til last, in Ben and Brad 
Both lads had a cheeky time and now think Smiddy riders are rad 

Wayne Smith, The Force, your Smiddy nickname now to be revealed
We love you mate, and in 2013 Westy was the name unveiled 

Speaking of nickname, a Smiddy event brings out some of the best
2017 A2D, Rob Chatfield because the hurricane, he is not impressed 

A huge thank you supporters of riders and road crew 
Enjoy tonight and please know we love you 

I've left the best for last, 11 years now he has had a blast
For Captain Kevvy, thank god, he does not like to drive fast! 

As for Shark, yes he got the ball rolling
But without his followers, Shark would need plenty of consoling. 

Congratulations to all involved
Thanks to you, Smiling for Smiddy has evolved 

When you return home, hold your head up high 
Be proud of your achievements, from Sharky - bye bye!