• "Magic can happen"

From a five time ride veteran to first time rider, the Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge has an amazing impact on anyone who takes on the 1600km ride.

We caught up Dave ‘Coolie’ Colahan, who is taking on his sixth Brisbane to Townsville ride and Julia Shaw, who is just a month into her Smiddy journey after signing up for this year’s Challenge in February (both pictured at right).

Dave knows what it’s like to feel daunted by a new event—particularly one involving cycling hundreds of kilometres.

The experienced rider embarked on his first Smiddy event in 2011, and admits he was nervous about taking the step from city rider to endurance cyclist.

“I’ve been riding for 30 years, so I’ve got a big cycling background, but I thought ‘I’ve never done anything crazy like this before!’”, Dave said.

“It was a big step up, but your first year is always when you’re the most frightened or scared.”

That’s a sentiment Julia can relate to. At her first Smiddy training ride, a 145 km ride in early March, her nerves kicked in early.

“The first two kilometres, rolling out of UQ I was already thinking 'I'm so not ready for this. I'm not strong enough yet. I'm not fast enough’”, Julia confessed.

But as Dave knows, “anyone can do it if they set their mind to it. I’ve seen people I didn’t think could do it and they get on a bike in Brisbane and they’re still going in Townsville!”

After knocking off all 145 kilometres on her first training ride, Julia’s confidence was given a big boost. Post-ride, Julia shared with her Smiddy training ride-mates: “I learned so much today. I learned about the Smiddy Spirit. I learned about mateship. I learned about peloton riding. I reminded myself of how head strong and determined I can be when I want something.” 

And on any Smiddy ride, whether it’s training or riding through central Queensland as part of the Challenge peloton, you’re never riding alone. Whether it’s a joke, some food, or a hand on the back to turbo you up a hill, that’s all part of the peloton spirit. It’s not the bike, the scenery, the road, or the jerseys but the people that truly make a Smiddy peloton.

“There’s something about people who decide to ride a bike for eight days straight, they’re already on my good list,” Dave joked. “But it’s the whole Smiddy experience—the riders, the road crew, the people you meet along the way.

“You learn a lot about people on the rides.  They share such incredible stories. Everyone’s nervous on the first day, but after that, it’s an adventure and you can just kick back, relax and enjoy the ride!

“It’s a life-affirming experience—one of the highlights of the year for me.

And Dave’s advice for anyone thinking of taking on a Smiddy ride?

“Stop thinking about it and just do it! All the obstacles are in your mind.

“Nothing can ever fully prepare you for your first big ride, but you’ve just got to be open and you’ve got to be ready for new experiences,” Dave said.

“Magic can happen.”

Julia has already seen some of this magic in her training ride. Post ride, she shared a post on the Smiddy Facebook page.

“I love the Smiddy Family. I love the Smiddy Spirit. I'm pretty emotional at the moment. I'm already looking forward to the next training ride! This is going to be an amazing journey for me and thanks all for being a part of it. Today was awesome. It was the hardest ride I've ever done. It was the best ride I've ever done and I had the most fun I've ever had on the bike!

Julia said she had been thinking of taking on a Smiddy event for years. And after just one training ride, said “now I'm asking myself why it took me so long to take on this Smiddy Challenge journey!”

Whether you’re a seasoned Smiddy veteran or thinking of taking on a Challenge for the first time, you can join Dave, Julia and 47 other amazing riders in the life-changing 2016 Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge this August.

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