2022 Challenge in the Tropics

Day 1 Blog—28 April 2022

Day 3 Blog - 23 March 2023

Tamar Valley Loop

Written by: Our awesome road crew

Daily Stats

Distance: 106 kms
Average Speed: 23 kph
Climbing: 1382 metres
Moving Time: 4:47
Temperature: 8 min / 21 max

It's hump day!!

The day started off with riders and road crew lining up waiting for the buffet and their triple shot coffee. The vibes were high, and smiles were on most faces even at the early hours. It definitely helped that bags did not need to be packed up and loaded into the cars this morning as we were returning the same accommodation tonight and so the crew got to enjoy a slightly less frantic morning.

There were still the usual chores to be completed to ensure on time roll out. Packing of day bags, stocking of the catering van and even taping of some knees mid breakfast. Anthony Wilkinson added some fun to the mix this morning as he had left his ride warmers in the dryer which had been locked overnight. The crew feeling bad for the shivering Anthony who was about to encounter a 108km ride with 8-degree crisp weather, ran around like headless chickens looking for the keys to open the laundry to get his warmers. It was a success and 1 minute before rolling out Anthony’s goose bumps were no more.

Today was also a very exciting day for riders and road crew. Not only did the riders welcome the two 3 days cyclists, Stirling Grant and Elliot Hinkley, we also welcomed a special guest, cycling super star, and Tasmanian local who has podiumed at the Tour de France, Richie Porte.

We watched the blue peloton roll out first today at 7am (the crane speeding up to join the peloton), with the red peloton 10 minutes behind. Steve Russell (aka Furious) hosted the intermission entertainment today gifting Mark Trayner (aka Hollywood) with a red pair of lace undies and tutu as punishment for not being punctual and the previous days tardiness. Hollywood lived up to his name and looked all pretty. Not only was he ready for a day of cycling, but he was ready for a ballet performance now too.

Once both pelotons took the road and pedaled into the distance, road crew quickly got back to business. Jess, Prue, Lu, Jenny and Neil headed off to set up for morning tea at Lilydale with a scenic drive. The road crew enjoyed the Tasmanian east coast drive with cotton candy skies, green paddocks and the sightings of sheep, cows and horses.

Catering set up was efficient today. By day three road crew know exactly what needs to be done and the timing for each task. Jess and Neil unload the Van which is filled right to the brim with tables, utensils and an entire Coles supermarket. De-loading the catering van is like playing Jenga, pull out the wrong block at the wrong time and all comes toppling down. Meanwhile, Jenny, Lu and Prue set up and layout the order. The fruit is cut first, Jenny’s home bake is then assorted and then the rest follows. The 160 saos are the last item to be put together at Café Maria and are timed to be made 5 minutes before the riders roll in. Nobody wants soggy saos.

The morning teas are always such a hit. As road crew we clap and usher or the riders as they roll in. We look forward to being greeted with a proud smile and stories from the ride. Riders keep catering busy and are always so grateful for the fuel. Today, the riders were hungry after their 74km in the morning. It was also noticed that Richie Porte even came back for seconds of Jenny’s rocky road at Café Maria. Richie needed the second piece to power up the hills and assist in the 1310 meter climb and remaining kilometers.

A nice gap between both pelotons is welcomed as road crew see out the blue peloton, a quick restock of the fair and in come the red to devour their morning tea.

Once both pelotons rolled out to begin their uphill battle back towards Launceston, road crew pack up again and in record time today. While the riders are climbing out of the stop today they will quickly be enjoying a fast and furious descent back into Launceston and the finish—road crew need to work fast to get ahead of them today. To help out the riders chipped in by putting their own day bags in the ute which was of great appreciation. Not only did it save time to allow road crew to get back for lunch prep, but it saved deadlifting extraordinarily heavy bags filled with BRICKS!!! Thanks team and sorry Zane Williams (aka Zano) , your heavy day bag had nothing to do with the road crew, might have to follow that one up with Dave Colahan (aka Stinky). Tetris was then played to reload then van. Neil is the best and hence the roll of packing was assigned to him after Tayla and Jess got fired from the job after day 1. He has now reloaded the van over 50 times.

During all this Nic, Em and Tayla stayed back at Launceston to run all the errands. Nic spent the day at the laundromat getting all the smelly kits washed and dried. In between washes, trips to Woolworths were required. Another 35 boxes of muesli bars were purchased today. Can you believe that in just the first two days 480 bananas have been consumed along with 500 bags of lollies! The cooler southern temps requiring extra fuel for the riders.

Nic was also busy picking up tea towels for Bardo to pad his crutches and 8 chickens for lunch that needed to be shredded. With a shorter day's riding, lunch is being served at the finish with hot chickens, salad on rolls and of course hot chips and gravy! All road crew quickly shredded chicken, made coleslaw and set up everything up for lunch. A last minute run off to pick up the hot chips and gravy was required for the very hungry seagulls ready to feast in the park.

With a beautiful Launceston Autumn day on offer, the park was stunning and according to Stinky the “second best team huddle and speeches”… “but he hasn’t heard the first”. The huddle is always a core memory for the day and a time when all the riders and road crew come together as one. It’s a time where you stop, look up at everyone all linked together and think, how good is ‘dis’. How lucky am I to be where I am, supported by such an amazing Smiddy family. Brett Goebel put it together perfectly in his speech, using an analogy of an ecosystem. An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, other organisms, as well as weather and landscape work together to form a bubble of life. Without one of these things an ecosystem cannot survive. Just as an ecosystem needs a community of interacting organisms so does Team Smiddy. We cannot do this ride without the riders. They are strong and brave and every day they go out there and push their physical and mental limits. Similarly, the riders cannot do this ride without the road crew to organize accommodation, feed the riders or ensure they are safe and healthy to be on the road. But finally, we cannot do this ride without the support of sponsors and families and everyone else following along. Christopher Johnstone finished off with a touching speech about the event and why we ride which certainty touched many people.

After lunch the riders had the afternoon off. Nic took the riders through an active mobility and stretch session in the park that I know many cyclists’ muscles were grateful. Massage, laundry and snack bag making then consumed the afternoon for the road crew. Prue, Jenny, Neil and Lu made up another 1000 lolly, pretzel and nut bags for the very hungry riders to power through the next few days. Jess, Nic, Chez and Sam massaged for 3 hours before dinner, although Sam spent much of his time in awe of how many Kudos Richie Porte had on his Strava and how Smiddy had helped even the local champ hit PBs today. Although a big shout out to Sam Wood (aka Woody) for being one of the cyclists, but also the physiotherapist. Over 20 massages were performed today and quite a few cries of agony were heard down the hallways as Jess smiled with Joy and told the riders to “relax and breath”.

Dinner at James Boag Brewery tonight and we had some good pizza, chicken, onion rings, sweet potato chips and even popcorn chicken. We spent much of the night debating over whether pineapple belongs on pizza with even Mr Smiddy agreeing it does not (our former pineapple farmer Kevvy doesn't agree)! We then heard an inspiring speech from Chuckie about his past visits to Tassie, not by bike but sailing down the east coast in a little race called the Sydney to Hobart riding in the big boats. On a Smiddy ride you just never know the stories and background of people sitting right beside you. Peter Somers was awarded the teamwork spirit mateship jersey for his great support of all the riders and amazing fundraising. Well-deserved to Peter.

We finished off the night with two birthday cakes. Celebrating Robert Knight and Robert Riddell to get everyone through tomorrows 150kms heading to Swansea.