• Bush highways, bulls and band-aids—all part of Team Smiddy

Teamwork. It’s about being selfless. Putting yourself out there for someone else without expecting something in return. Knowing you’re part of something bigger than yourself and helping work towards it.

The spirit of teamwork can be seen in many different ways. Being able to rest your aching legs while Roger “Diesel” Hawley takes another massive turn punching into the headwinds at the front of the peloton. The hand on your back when your legs are on fire and struggling to get up a climb. The encouraging word when you think you just need to get off your bike, or the joke that helps you forget about your legs for a minute.

This Smiddy teamwork is personified in Mia and Kev Stemm, the husband and wife team who road-crewed the 2014 Smiddy Challenge. The 2014 event was quite the family affair for the Stemms, with Kev and Mia’s son Josh riding the 1600 km from Brisbane to Townsville.

Mia and Kev spent long hours in the lead car, and whether it was Mia and her first-aid kit becoming the unofficial team medic, or Kev navigating through a stretch of highway strewn with a herd of grazing cattle to make sure no one rode headfirst into a steer, the couple did whatever they could to help the riders.

“When we came across the cattle, we had to shepherd the riders through—the cows didn’t mind the sound of our van, but really didn’t like the sound of the bikes. The gears seemed to startle the cattle, so we had to try to split the herd up to get the riders through safely,” Mia recalls.

It’s not only the hard work the couple put in on the road, but also their humility which really embodies the essence of Smiddy teamwork.

“Driving to Townsville isn’t hard, riding to Townsville is,” Kev said. Mia added, “it’s just so humbling and exciting, crewing for this incredible group of people.”

Mia also saw the teamwork and bonding between riders on the long kilometres of the Smiddy Challenge. “I loved listening to everyone’s stories—the hard yards that every rider has gone through to get them on the road,” she said.

And it wasn’t just physical hard yards, with many in the peloton personally touched by cancer. Their son Josh was riding the challenge in honour of his cycling coach, who had recently lost his battle with cancer .

“There was both laughter and tears as we shared our stories, and it’s amazing seeing the strength of the riders in so many ways,” said Mia.

“I loved seeing the emotional and physical strength of this incredible group of people and the connection and teamwork between all the riders. When you see someone reach out and put an arm on someone’s back to drive them up a climb…it’s special. It’s a Smiddy hug on wheels.”

Mia and Kev’s tireless efforts saw them rewarded with the Teamwork jersey in the 2014 Smiddy Challenge, a testament to the respect and close bond between the road crew and the riders.

It wasn’t just the riders that saw something fantastic in their work either. “I’m so proud of both Kev and Josh—I saw sides of both I had never seen before,” said Mia. “We’ve been married 25 years; it was absolutely surprising and beautiful to see a new side of Kev on the Challenge.”

Mia and Kev will be back in the Smiddy van for the 2015 Smiddy Challenge and are looking forward to the teamwork and close-knit environment that comes with being part of Team Smiddy. Sporting their 2014 Teamwork jersey, they’ll be ready with words of encouragement, a trusty first-aid kit and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get their team of incredible riders and crew to Townsville.

The Mater Foundation is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission ABN 96723184640.