Smiling for Smiddy cyclists hit the Tamar Valley

STAGE 1: The Smiddy riders gather to recap day one. Picture: Supplied
STAGE 1: The Smiddy riders gather to recap day one. Picture: Supplied

A peloton of 44 cyclists and 12 road crew cycled down the West Tamar Highway on the first day of the Tasmanian Smiling for Smiddy charity ride on Monday. 

The 653-kilometre Tasmania Challenge will take participants from the Tamar Valley to Hobart via the East Coast.

Created in the name of melanoma victim Adam Smiddy, the group aims to raise more than $300,000 for cancer research.

Every year cyclists join the campaign for its signature Brisbane to Townsville ride or for one of its one-off events, like this year’s Tasmania Challenge.

“The three values we keep close to our heart are mateship, teamwork and spirit and that’s the epitome of Smiddy rides,” program director Brooke Rose said.

“It’s not uncommon to see the peloton of blue Smiddy riders up a hill and someone might have a hand on the back of a rider going up the hill.”

Mr Smiddy, an amateur triathlete, died in 2006 at the age of 26 after a battle with skin cancer. 

Shortly after his death, Smiling for Smiddy founder Mark Smoothy rode from Brisbane to Townsville – a ride Mr Smiddy had always talked about – in memory of his friend.

The ride soon became an annual tradition to raise money for the Mater Foundation, with events now held across the world.

The organisation has raised $9 million since its inception.

“Everyone who has got on the bike has their own reason for riding,” Ms Rose said.

“Some riders have lost a parent in the last year, we have riders who have partners going though cancer treatment and we’ve got people who have gone through cancer themselves.

“The ride is pretty special, because it’s really giving people the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.” 

Ms Rose said there were almost 20 traditions the organisers bring to every event. 

“One of the traditions is a category jersey – someone who really emulates the spirit of Smiling for Smiddy receives the different colour jersey the next day,” she said.

“Every evening we do a run of how things went for the day and we allow a rider or road crew to share their story about why they’re riding.”