Time really does fly! It was exactly 12 months ago today that I was packing and preparing to take on a seemingly impossible challenge, joining 49 other cyclists to embark on a journey from Brisbane to Townsville to raise money for cancer research in the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge Ride.
Here’s some essentials I packed…..
Townsville is 1600km’s from Brisbane! 1600km’s over 8 days on our bikes!! Sounds crazy right? Here’s where we travelled…..
The team at Smiling for Smiddy is seasoned and polished when it comes to coordinating such an event. There’s nothing the support crew can’t do. Whether it’s a gentle smile to send you on your way, or an embracing hug when you don’t even realise you need it most, they are wholly committed to the team with an unconditional bond of friendship and love. Even 12 months on from my own participation in the Challenge ride, I still feel blessed to know such incredible people.
In just 8 days of cycling, it is impossible to describe the wave of emotions experienced during that time. For me personally, I have not even been able to (or taken the time to really) sit for a moment and reflect on what I experienced until now, the eve of the next wave of cyclists taking this incredible journey. As a previous Challenge rider, I’m wondering how to describe it, how to explain it, how to send my wishes to my friends going this year and to complete strangers who are about to leave themselves.
My kids described it best for me….
In a single week of my life, I can honestly say that I never felt anything else like it.
- Happiness and sadness
- Connection and isolation
- Accomplishment and self-doubt
- Love and emotional pain
- Body strength and severe indescribable pain (who can forget the mind-over-matter blog?)
The emotional and physical scars I have from the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride will be with me forever. This quote sums it up best for me…..
Would I take it all back? Never!
Would I do it again? Who knows?
Would I recommend others to do it? Hell YES!!!!
The Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride changed my life. I still can’t perfectly pin point what that really even means, but it changed my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A special memory for me is that I got to spend 8 days solid with this amazing friend, Hannah Hogan, whose unconditional support helped me through some of my darkest moments. For those taking the journey this year, friendship will be your secret weapon through the tough times.
I also spent hours upon hours looking at the photo in honour of Adam Smiddy stuck onto my bike. When it hurt, I looked at Adam and knew that my pain was nothing in comparison to him losing his life to cancer. The memory of Adam and the presence of his parents David and Maria leading the support crew, ensured a level of mental strength you don’t even realise is possible. At the end of each of the 8 days, I thought about my emotions throughout the day, then I stuck a little emoticon sticker on my bike to help me through the next day. The photo of Adam and those stickers are all still on my bike 12 months later!!
This year is made even more challenging with the absence of the beautiful Maria Smiddy. Maria is one of those people in life you just can’t find words worthy of describing her. Maria sadly lost her own battle with cancer earlier this year and it still breaks my heart to fathom what the incredible Smiddy family has endured. I simply have no words and can only honour Maria by smiling each time I think of her. Every time I see this beautiful and treasured photo of us together with her husband David the night we finished riding in 2014, it warms my heart – it remains my Facebook profile picture to this very day.
I wasn’t really looking my best, as I had literally just shaved my long head of hair to raise just that little bit more money for cancer research. I can thank this guy for that….
Zane is another one of those special people you meet along this journey. Zane is riding in the Challenge again this year and I have no doubt he will be one of the nucleus members of the group. He’s fit, he’s fast and he’s actually trained for the ride this year too, having come in as a late participant last year not long after losing his own father to cancer.
It just breaks my heart that so many of us have stories of cancer taking loved ones away from us prematurely. It’s one of the reasons it drives our little family to continue raising money for cancer research beyond events like the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride. Our kids love wearing their own Smiddy gear around to show their support!
In the past 2 months we have two beautiful friends each be diagnosed with breast cancer. One friend has just had her bilateral mastectomy and our other friend is scheduled to have her bilateral mastectomy in 2 weeks time – exactly 12 months after I had my own breast reconstruction. Both women will then fight a battle with this disease and I know they’ll both win. Their stories make me even more motivated to continue volunteering my time and energy to raise money for cancer research via our World’s Biggest Garage Sale. With support from our invaluable and incredible volunteers, we are proud to have raised a combined total of $75,000 in our 2013 and 2014 events and we are looking forward to a record breaking 2015 event.
I can’t help but think that the timing of our exciting news today about the 5000 sqm warehouse space being donated to host our 2015 World’s Biggest Garage Sale in 6 weeks time was absolutely perfect. It has happened exactly 12 months after I took my own Challenge journey and on the eve of the next wave of riders leaving for theirs. Stay tuned for more exciting news about this space!!
As the 2015 riders leave tomorrow, I know in my heart that they will each travel a unique journey in their lives, which will forever remain with them as one of the most significant and memorable eternally. Every day spent on the road with new friends, strangely feels like a whole regular year of time. 8 days quickly feels like 8 years of a very unique bond.
Hair grows back, sore butts subside and even the scars will eventually heal, but the look on the face of your family when you return from something magical like the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride, is truly priceless.
Smiddy, Smiddy, Smiddy