As I write this now, I’m thankful for being lucky enough to be sitting in a warm and comfortable hotel room in Adelaide, injury free and off the saddle, as I think about what has just been a week of highs & lows on the Smiling for Smiddy charity fundraising ride in South Australia.
First Things First – WHY I did the Ride
I’ll keep this really simple and I hate to state the obvious, but Cancer is really, really shit. It has affected me on a personal level too many times, including:
- My Dad died from lung cancer (smoking induced) when I was only 13 years old
- My Grandfather died from melanoma about 10 years ago
- My Step-Father died from pancreatic cancer not too long thereafter
- My Grandmother died just last year, amazingly getting to 95, but being taken out by lung cancer at the end (she quit smoking some 40 years ago, so jury’s out on the cause)
- My dearest Mum is currently battling breast cancer for the second time, just last month starting chemotherapy again.
Quite frankly, hardly anyone in my family has managed to pass away from anything other than cancer.
Add to the above list, I could rattle off an even longer list of non-immediate family members, friends who have had family members or their own spouses pass away from cancer, as well as clients over the years that have experienced the same.
And I hazard a guess that whilst your list may not be as long as mine, there will be a list that you can write. Why? Because the stats are pretty bloody shit, as far as cancer is concerned – check out these ones on Cancer Council’s website; here’s the biggest one that sticks out at me:
1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85
That’s a seriously shit statistic. Guess what that means? It might prove that my family’s track record has been somewhat over the odds; but for a second, count up your family members – your husband/wife/partner, your Mum/Dad, your brothers/sisters, even your kids. Now, consider that the likelihood is that roughly half of your family members, potentially including you, are likely to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their/your lives. That’s no bullshit, unfortunately.
The good news is that the survival rates are getting better all of the time. But this doesn’t happen miraculously – it only happens because there are incredibly talented people like Brian Gabrielli at Mater Research (who now rides with us!), who work tirelessly to find new ways to beat cancer. They’ve achieved a hell of a lot, and continue to do so.
Furthermore, because we now live in a political environment whereby government funding of research is getting poorer all the time, a significant amount of this research only happens as a result of philanthropy – the generosity of people like you, donating to a cause in the hope that their own lives and those of their family and friends, will be positively affected in the future, rather than having to watch those people pass away prematurely and in pain.
On that note – I’m asking you to think of your family members and friends, even yourself – and pitch in to the cause, in the hope that when those days of diagnosis come, that the prognosis will be far better than it would be if that day were today.
So please, click here to donate:
What About the Ride?
Drowned rats in 6 degree wet weather
Day 1 was NOT a Great Start…
Day 1 started riding out of Adelaide on Monday morning, with the skies looking a little gloomy – but we were pretty confident that it would be ok, given that everyone in Adelaide had been telling us how they haven’t had any rain for nearly 3 months! Well that confidence was short-lived…
Not too far out, the heavens opened up. Which was somewhat ok at first, but then as we climbed into the hills, the temperature dropped. Let me tell you, there is nothing enjoyable about being a drowned rat when the temperature drops to 6 degrees, particularly when you add windchill from cruising back down the hills to that!
Not too long after that, one of our riders – Dom Thompson, a former colleague of mine at Macquarie Bank – managed to come off his bike at speed on a dirt road. Suffice to say, that didn’t end up well – some serious gravel rash, a green whistle and a visit to the hospital to get his leg cleaned up and bandaged.
Add to that, as we all waited around pending Dom getting shuttled off to hospital, a few people became near hypothermic as their body temps dropped in the cold wet weather. With the conditions not getting any better, the ride leaders decided it was safest to call off the day early – which was a shame, but it was also a god-send to have a warm shower and get into dry clothes.
What Else Happened?
Ok I’m not going to bore you with cycling statistics, so here’s a few quick pictures!
(click on each of the photos to expand them)
But if you are interested in the cycling stats, you can check them out on Strava:
Cold morning starts (look closely at me here, polar gloves, leg warmers, and I have 3 layers on my top half!)… Autumn came early in South Australia, the lowest temp for the week was only 3 degrees, most mornings started with about 6!
Sam “Cookie” going a LONG way over the line, getting in full drag as a “dare for a donation” from Matt “Mad Dog” Muir at Yamba Shores Tavern
Of course you wanted a shot of my shaved legs (only done for big events, I promise!)… Complete with big long needles jammed in them!!
Well we couldn’t ride in South Australia without taking half a day off the bikes and heading to the Barossa’s wineries, could we?!
A round of Margheritas on Night 4, to remember the late great Ross Noye, our oustanding mate (and my colleague at Macquarie) who passed away on night 4 of the 2017 Smiddy New Zealand ride, hours after having shouted everyone jugs of margheritas!
A cheeky smile from Steve Russell in our “Smiddy Huddle” at the end of each day’s ride – where we all recount the day, congratulate those who pushed their limits or helped others, thank the legends that looked after us on the ride, and importantly, remember why we ride with Smiddy and the lives of those whom we ride for.
Some of our legendary road crew that look after us every day on our rides, from getting us ready and feeding us in the morning, to feeding us throughout the day, as well as driving the lead and tail cars to keep us safe on the road, and so much more…
Ready to have a wine with the great David Smiddy, the father of Adam Smiddy after whom Smiling for Smiddy is named – the 26 year old who passed away far too early from melanoma.
The incredible Wayne Messer, owner of Alpha Sport, aged 73, powers past most riders up the hill, proving that age is only a number and that it’s only in your head. Absolute legend.
As for the cycling? Well, days of up to 165km in the saddle, plenty of hills including a ridiculous 22% climb (I can’t even explain how tough it was, suffice to say many cars would struggle up it!!), potentially putting myself in hospital when a cross-wind nearly took me out as I was going downhill on a bend at about 70km/h… A week of highs & lows!!
On a Final Note… Be a Legend and Help Save Lives.
Maybe even Yours.
So please, click here to donate to this extremely worth cause:
Thanks and best wishes to you and your family.
– Mark Trayner