When Bellinda Grimwade went to a corporate breakfast in 2011, she wasn’t expecting it would change her life.
But after listening to a presentation by some Smiling for Smiddy riders over a cup of coffee, the novice rider suddenly found herself signing up for a 1600 km cycling event—and all before 9 am!
And she hasn’t looked back.
"My workplace’s chosen charity was Mater Little Miracles, so we were invited to a Mater Foundation Christmas breakfast in 2011,” Bellinda (pictured in middle) recalls.
“Some of the Smiddy guys gave a presentation and I was listening to this talk thinking ‘I want to be a part of this!’
“I was very much a novice rider, but I was so inspired by the speech, I signed up on the day—I just didn’t think about it!
“I was part of a riding club at the time, but I hadn’t done many big rides and I’d never set a goal before that.”
But two weeks out from the 2012 Smiddy Challenge, Bellinda had to dig deep, when she was involved in a bike accident.
“Luckily, I just had scratches but it scared me and made me think I shouldn’t be riding.
“I received so much support from everyone and the other riders told me I just needed to get straight back on the bike. Once I did, I started to forget about the accident— I’m so glad I kept going.”
It’s that support which Bellinda says is one of the best things about being involved with Smiling for Smiddy.
And she’s stayed part of the Smiddy team, even when she hasn’t been able to ride.
In recent years, Bellinda has been focused on supporting her mother through pancreatic cancer, but has still enjoyed being involved in Smiddy events whenever possible.
“There were five other girls doing it in 2012 and we stay in touch. I’m still really close to one of the girls in particular—she was with me all the way, encouraging me to stick it out,” she said.
“Since 2012, it’s amazing how the core group of us have stayed together. There’s a real connection and so much love—it’s like a family almost.
“It hasn’t mattered if I wasn’t actually competing—I’ve always still tried to attend and help out.
“There’s always something to do, like breaking down tents or helping in some other way.”
“I still have friends who are talking about taking on a Smiddy event, but I think people are often hardest on themselves.
“It’s easy to worry that you might not be able to keep up and always feel like you’re going to hold other people back, but everyone is so encouraging.”
Bellinda is gearing up for the Noosa Smiddy Challenge, rolling out this Friday 22 April.
“I’ve been off my bike for two years and it can be daunting, but the other riders are patient—that’s what I try to get through to everyone,” said Bellinda.
“At the moment, I’m doing the Wednesday morning river loop ride, as well as working with a personal trainer on my strength and conditioning, mobility classes and indoor training.”
The 40km Wednesday ride starts at 5.30am at Adam Smiddy Park on Park Rd, Milton and is open to anyone who would like to take part and see what being part of a Smiddy ride is all about. Get in touch with the team below to find out more.
As the ever-positive Bellinda says, “I’m lucky—I’m a morning person anyway!”