Day 3 - 30 April 2022
Port Douglas to Atherton 135 kms
Written by: Nettie Edmonson and Wayne Messer
The day started at 6:30 with the red peloton rolling out of the Oaks at Port Douglas followed by the blue peloton 15 minutes later with a few rusty participants in both pelotons who perhaps provided an early handicap for too much enthusiasm.
Both pelotons this morning were bolstered in numbers with our 3-day riders joining us last night eagerly awaiting the chance to commence their Challenge in the Tropics adventure.
The honour of ringing the bell and sending both pelotons on their way went to Fred Foster in front his three boys - Dan, Rowan and Brendan Foster who today, participated in the same Smiling4Smiddy edition for the first time in the event’s history. Father Fred regaled us with one of his more memorable speeches comprising perhaps three words.
The short 14 kms rollout from Port Douglas to the base of the major climb for the day was uneventful in anticipation for the Rex Range 7km climb. Dan Foster got the choccies for the quickest climb for every Strava segment after a stint in the sag-wagon much to Mr Smiddy’s delight, beating his more credentialled younger brother Rowan who was charging hard - but the elder Foster boy has learnt an extra trick or two with age.
With the climb done the pelotons resumed normal opeartion and were quickly making their way around the back roads surrounded by lush green pastures with plenty of very happy fat cows looking oddly at the strange riders whizzing by. However things were about to take a turn for the red peloton - crossing a short section of road covered by an inch deep water, unfortunately hiding a layer of moss over the concrete road surface. This made for a very slippery crossing and a few riders unfortunately missed their line and slipped on the treacherous surface. Luckily at a low speed and after a few quick repair jobs all were able to re-join the peloton quickly.
Both pelotons arrived to morning tea after 45kms to enjoy the hospitality of the road crew, once again at the small township of Mount Molloy. A long, undulating and windy stretch of road presented to the riders before reaching our special lunch stop, which provided the highlight of being able to ply ourselves with a tasting of the local gin at Mt Uncle Distillery. The consensus was the house, ‘Christmas’ and sloe gin took the honours with the ‘smokey’ gin proving an edgy alternative.
With a few light showers sweeping in during the lunch stop many were keen to remain in the tasting room a bit longer, however business to be done!!
“I’d rather be in pain than be at work” was the motto of the remainder of the day as we progressed onwards and upwards towards Atherton. Wind and rain didn’t hamper the spirit of either peloton on the roll in to Atherton itself. The roads continued to rise and fall and rise again ensuring the days riding continued to challenge the riders and their amazing teamwork. Despite a few riders feeling the weight of 3 solid days in the saddle - the 2 pelotons continued to work together cresting each rise, shepherding each team member through the winds to our finishing location in Atherton.
Team red arriving to the cheers of our amazing road crew with Team blue arriving shortly after to a team red guard of honour before an extended huddle due to the addition of the 3-day riders as mentioned earlier.
And to top off a fine days riding, here we are sitting down on sensitive derrières, double-parked drinking ‘What’s Cracking’ cocktails at the Carrington Hotel (member of the Bottlemart family of independent hoteliers and major Partner of Mater Smiling for Smiddy) as we celebrate surviving hump-day before our biggest challenge tomorrow; a 160km loop with 2200 metres of climbing around the famous Atherton Tablelands... life’s good!
Wayne Messer & Annette Edmondson