Wednesday, 29 March 2017

2017 New Zealand Smiddy Challenge - Day 4

Day 4 Stats
Average speed: 27.2 k/h
Time: 4 hours, 56 minutes, 10 seconds
Elevation: 1267 m
Temp: min 1C; max 19C
Max speed: 70.6k/h
Category Jersey winner: Nathan Jacobson

Written by Prue Mowry & Monique Clarke

At last night’s gathering we heard the Day 2 blog from Ross Noye and the Day 3 blog from Scott McGeever.

There was an excellent Q&A session with Andrew Friebe and Phil Anderson and Matthew Crook shared his reason for joining the Smiddy ride.  The Category Jersey was awarded to Carl Airey and the Perky Nana award to Brendan Whipps for reasons we won’t revisit.

The day was off to a great start with Prue and I feeling very honoured to be asked by Kevvy to ring the cowbell as the riders rolled out at about 7.30 am.

The riders slowly climbed the long, windy and oh so cold, Lindis Pass and we were lucky enough to be able to follow the riders descent which was both exhilarating and terrifying.

We visited the Tarras School for our morning tea break.  The school has all of 16 students.  Krista and Christian chatted to the children about what the Smiddy ride is all about and the importance of being sun safe and Phil spoke about his career as a professional cyclist.

We were also treated to a traditional Maori song from the students, who no doubt enjoyed the break from their classes to greet and meet the riders.

From there it was back on the road to head towards our final destination of the day—Wanaka.

Prue had the chance to ride with Kevvy behind the Peloton, where she witnessed the true mateship that bonds the Smiddy riders at various times with Paula, Tim and Matt Muir all giving a helping hand to other weary riders.

There was also a flat tyre and several stupid drivers, but most importantly the chance to observe the skilled moves of the road crew to keep our riders safe.

Arriving in beautiful Wanaka we were welcomed with a beautiful sunny afternoon and we all came together for the Smiddy huddle beneath the trees before enjoying a well-deserved lunch.

Lunch preparations were temporarily marred by the discovery that Wendy had left the cutting knives behind at Tarras School.  Fortunately, Ant came to the rescue and sweet talked the embroidery club ladies into lending us a knife.  Said knife was returned and we waited patiently for Anthony to stop flirting with the ladies, who were clearly enjoying his company.

Prue and I have so enjoyed this excellent adventure to date.  We work for Russells and Steve Russell generously allowed us to take a week away from work to be part of the Smiling for Smiddy road crew.

During the course of the last four days we have laughed so hard and so often and cried almost as much with a hefty dose of ‘goosebumps’ moments thrown in.

This experience is something we find hard to put into words.  The genuine gratitude that has been shown to us, and all of the road crew, by the riders has made this adventure all the more worthwhile.

It will be sad to say goodbye to all of the wonderful new friends we have made to go back to our everyday lives, but we take with us fantastic memories that we will talk about for a long time to come.

Thank you for having us.

Monday, 27 March 2017

2017 New Zealand Smiddy Challenge - Day 3

Day 3 stats
160 km
28.8kph average speed
Time: 5 hours 32 minutes
Elevation: 767m
Temp: min 5C, max 20C

By Matthew Crook

Tekapo to Omarama (Hump Day)

After Day 1 being so nice, Day 2 really took the freshness out of the legs and the beds at Peppers were nice, while it was dark and cold outside. 

I know most of us were grateful for the 7.30 am cowbell, although we still managed to delay the ringing of it until 7.50am. Bisso was given the honours as he really has had a shocker start to the week, but is glad to be back among his adopted Smiddy family.

Did we mention it was cold?  Sitting around 4.5C and threatening rain most people learnt something from the day before and there were a lot more clothes in the peloton than in the day bags. Pagey was not so quick on the uptake wearing the short-fingered gloves, much to her discomfort.

The Whip let it slip that he double knicked before we pulled out … any chamois cream between the knicks, Whip? And for goodness sake next time, wash your hands! Speaking of butt cream, the estimates are that usage increased this morning by 50 per cent as application moved from a two finger to a three-finger scoop, where are things going to be on Day 5?

A few kms out of Tekapo we turned onto the canal roads which were fantastic, but the gravelly bits not so much.  Only a couple of flat tyres however and it was great to be off the busy roads and enjoying the Kiwi scenery.

Speaking of flat tyres, it turns out Phil Anderson is a better rider than a mechanic. And being a competitive guy who loves a race, he really wanted to get the flat he was changing fixed faster than resident mechanic Ben Hola who was working on the other flat. When pumping it up, all the time looking down the road to see where Ben was up to, he let the canister off while the tyre was over the rim for at least 6 inches. Ooopsy.

Ben 1 – Phil 0

After about 20kms we dropped down to Lake Pukaki which was our companion for the next 100kms or so to Mt Cook and back. How good was the last 55kms? It was all downhill, well apart from the uphill bits; with a tail wind, well apart from the headwind towards the end.

Onto lunch at Twizel! We dropped below Lake Pukaki (mentioned again just because we like the name) and then back onto the canals for most of the way to lunch at Twizel (also mentioned again just because we like the name).

Sami Jo was busier than a one-legged woman in an arse kicking competition at lunch as three long days really started to take its toll.  But it was nice to see the sun shining which made the last 30 kms to Omarama a less daunting finish to the day.

Our photographer Michael Fellows has clearly lost interest in the peloton, instead taking photos of tourists and the scenery as we rode past.

Also worthy of mention is our 1,2,3 yyyyyaaaaaaaahhhhh Chinese friend we met the day before in Tekapo seems to be stalking us as he pops up EVERYWHERE!

Today is also hump day which is significant because it is the day we find out if we have it in our legs to go the distance.  We go from ‘Holy cow! 3 more days to go’ to ‘A bit sad there is only 2 more days’ to go.

A few incidents occurred during the late afternoon including a stray water bottle dropped which became a missile bouncing through the peloton. It narrowly missed a few bikes, heads and torsos until it went under Whipsy’s wheel to be claimed as the first plastic Smiddy road kill.

Karl also showed his bike skills by bunny hopping six inches to the right in the peloton, we think he was really trying to impress the girls. And Rose certainly needed to go to the toilet after the semi-trailer coming towards us at a great rate of knots blew its horn and scared the sh*t out of her.

But the great thing about hump day is that it’s also the day the peloton really starts work together. 

Let’s hear it for all our miked up ride leader champions, Captain Killer leading from the front, Mad Dog and the Jack Russell nipping around the edges of the group as well as the Gun Slinger, Kirst the Wee Lass, Turn the Page, Princess Tail-Gunner and Hola for a Marshall in the arm chair… yay!! For keeping us all in line, together and moving. We could really see the group come together.

And last but not least our terrific road crew.

The final huddle was led by Michael and TJ who gave thanks to the road crew, told everyone how awesome they were and lead the cheers and Smiddy chant!  

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

2017 New Zealand Smiddy Challenge - Day 2

159 kms 
27.6 kph average speed 
5 hrs 44 min ride time 
Elevation gain: 1052m
Min temp: 8C
Max temp: 25C

Written by Ross Noye

When Mr Russell invited me to a ‘Cheese & Wine Tour’ of the South Island of New Zealand, he mentioned there would be a bit of a ride saying, “You’ll be totally fine, NZ is flat”.

And we actually found that 500 meters of flat land in a fantastic day of riding yesterday! What a day it was with 144 km of sensational scenery and great company. Plus we were pampered by our wonderful Road Crew support team - class act guys!

We even had time for a jet boat ride which was well worth the money before finishing the day with a team dinner that absolutely hit the spot and with Scott McGeever taking out there Smiddy Category Jersey - great stuff Scotty!

Matt ‘Mad Dog’ Muir and Andrew ‘Friebs’ Friebe (who flew out from Adelaide to join the ride) provided some entertainment with an update on road statistics and we took time out to celebrate Phil Anderson’s birthday with him. It was a top night!

On Tuesday morning, Mad Dog had us rolling out on time from Methven at 7 am for our 164 km ride to Lake Tekapo. 

The NZ countryside didn’t disappoint; it was truly picture-book perfect! A little rain and breeze took a little shine off the day, but the Road Crew stepped up to take our mind off the rain and wind with hot soup, coffee and tea to warm us up at morning tea.

At lunch they had super sangers to top off an energy boosting meal for the 14.6 km uphill ride to get to the real hill. Once we made it over the hill we grabbed a tailwind and a truly breathtaking view of Lake Tekapo, what a sight! 

It just doesn’t get much better than to end a ride like that and the Smiddy Team certainly did their homework, making sure each day ended with a ride to talk about for a long time.

Tuesday’s Smiddy Huddle was lead by Steve and Tim Russell and when Tim thanked our support team a hearty three cheers echoed around the lake.

Steve spoke about the Smiddy values of friendship and generosity and why these values have made Smiling for Smiddy the organisation Russell Law supports. 

The culture of generosity and friendship is supported by the ‘leave no-one behind’ philosophy on the ride and I’ve got to thank Friebs, Ben, Mad Dog, Tim, Archie, Bill and Chalkie for getting me over those hills. 

Talk about generosity these guys have hearts as big as Pharlap! And of course the yells of ‘Go Rosscoe’ from the peloton at every turn helped! 

Being part of Smiling for Smiddy is truly amazing stuff, Steve, and I get it. It was a great call.

It was a cold and rainy start to Day 2. Photo by Michael Fellows.
Keeping warm was a challenge at morning tea. Photo by Michael Fellows.
The sky cleared for the final 30 km of Tuesday's ride. Photo by Michael Fellows.
Hands up who is happy that the sun is shining in Lake Tekapo! Photo by Michael Fellows.