• Not normal, in the best possible way

Riding from Brisbane to Townsville takes courage. It takes toughness. It takes determination. And it takes a reason, driving Smiddy riders to spend eight days in the saddle. These attributes and more make up the Smiling for Smiddy spirit. A spirit formed over a shared bond, of a group of seemingly ordinary people doing something extraordinary.

As 2014 Challenge rider Krista Page says, “riding from Brisbane to Townsville isn’t normal. Normal people walk through a park. But it’s also the biggest thing the 60 people on a Challenge ride will ever do. It’s hands down the most amazing experience I’ve ever had.”

Like many Smiddy riders, Krista signed up due to a personal connection with the tragedy of cancer—in support of her close friend Claire Schneider who was riding in honour of her dad’s battle with melanoma.

The spirit shown and shared on a Smiddy ride develops at such a fast pace. “There’s only so much small talk you can do when you’re next to someone on a bike for nine hours a day—it leads to real talks really quick,” Krista said.

“After eight days you know the other riders better than people you’ve been friends with for years, it’s a special bond. When someone who is just as flogged as you puts their hand on your back to help you up a hill—that builds such a close relationship. You build up such a trust riding in the peloton, after a few days together you stop feeling sore and it’s just a lovely coherence. You can enjoy the scenery and the other riders and really see things for what they are.”

The effects of a Smiddy event carry over into everyday life for Krista. “It really helps put things into perspective—situations before the Challenge where I might have lost it at, but now I can easily work through it, knowing we’re going to come out the other side just fine. It’s an incredible gift.”

It’s this attitude that helped Krista earn the respect and admiration of the peloton, being awarded the 2014 Smiddy Challenge Spirit jersey at Biloela. “It really meant a lot to me,” Krista said. “And to be honest I see the Smiddy spirit in everyone on that ride, it’s so linked to everyone else on that ride with me. I don’t see that jersey as an individual honour, it’s a group thing.”

Since finishing the ride in Townsville in August 2014, Krista has become even more involved in Team Smiddy, working as a Smiddy Fundraising Coordinator since March 2015. “I get to build relationships with people who weren’t on my Challenge ride, which really gives me an insight into just how deep Smiddy’s roots go.”

With over 500 people competing in a Smiddy event in 2015, that’s a lot of Smiddy Spirit to go round.

And the Spirit jersey is still getting a workout, coming out when Krista needs extra inspiration. “I’m training for an ultra-marathon, and when I have a really tough session I always wear the Spirit jersey—it takes me back to the Smiddy Challenge and inspires me.”

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