By Mark "Sharky" Smoothy
Welcome to the intro blog for the inaugural Far North Qld Smiddy Challenge. Who would have thought, just over a year ago, that we would go an entire year without a Smiddy event on the calendar... Well the stars have aligned and here we are in tropical Cairns, the night before the big event.
While tonight, over the pre-ride dinner, we celebrate each other's company and the successful coming together of Smiddy event number 69, tomorrow morning the real work begins.
At 6:30am, 50 apprehensive but excited riders, along with 20 enthusiastic volunteer road crew members, will begin the hilly and arduous task of riding from Cairns via Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, Atherton, Ravenshoe Loop and finally back to Cairns. Ahead lies either 680 kilometres and over 8000 metres of climbing for those riders doing the five day event. Or 410 kilometres and 3700 metres of climbing for the three day event.
And let's not forget, the real reason we are all here and what started this entire journey back in 2006... For our fallen comrade in Adam Smiddy, and along the way raising important life-saving funds for research. Of course each and every person on this ride are here for their own personal reasons.
In 2006 with just 3 riders and no support crew, none of us three could have completed that first epic 1600 kilometre event without helping one another. Sixteen years on and nothing has changed, sure it’s bigger now with more riders, and thankfully road crew members, but as any experienced Smiddy rider will attest, its the team of individual Smiddy riders looking out for one another, that makes the difference in, not only surviving the 3 or 5 days ahead, but arriving home safely into the waiting arms of love ones.
For the road crew it’s the same. This year we have many new faces ready to tackle the job at hand. Possibly what you're not prepared for is the emotional journey you are about to witness. It is what makes any Smiddy event so spectacular, the human interaction, the loving and caring affection that you will see over and over again, not just amongst the riders and road crew, but the communities that we pass through and their incredible acts of kindness.
As founder of Smiling for Smiddy, and I know that David Smiddy and all the team at the Mater Foundation will mirror these words, I just wanted to finish by expressing my sincere gratitude to each and everyone of you for coming on board this Smiddy event. Whether it’s your first or tenth Smiddy event, the fact that you are here is what is important. For without you guys caring enough to look outside your own personal sporting goals, and look inside the Smiddy and Mater cause, we would not have raised over 10 million dollars for research since 2006.
Smiddy events, right from the start, have attracted people, such as assembled in this room tonight, that care more of others than themselves. So please when the going gets tough out there, and it will, lean on your mates for support, keep digging deep into that reserve of courage that we all possess, for it takes events like these to realize it’s in all of us. And most of all remember the people you are going to help for years to come. All because you had the guts to do something about it for just three or five days of discomfort in this Far North Qld Smiddy Challenge.