Visht Singh and acting sergeant Geoff Price at the 14th annual 1600km Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge as it passed through Mundubbera on Thursday, August 29.
Visht Singh and acting sergeant Geoff Price at the 14th annual 1600km Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge as it passed through Mundubbera on Thursday, August 29. Alex Treacy

Who are the Smiddy riders and why are they in Mundubbera?

THE first hint that a special convoy is coming through Mundubbera is the people gathered out the front of Three Rivers Tourist Park.

Then you see the support vehicles.

Then, the cyclists: only around 40, but as they swarm past and through the gates, it seems like dozens more.

They are participating in the Mater Foundation's 14th annual 1600km Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge, riding from Townsville to Brisbane in nine days to raise money for cancer research.

The ride is named for triathlete Adam Smiddy, who passed away from an aggressive melanoma at age 26.

Yesterday, they rode around 195km, one of their longest legs, departing Biloela at around 6.30am and arrived in Mundubbera at 4.15pm.

Most people, if they rode 200km in a day, would collapse in a jelly-legged heap, but not the Smiddy riders - there were rituals to do.

Riders and support crew lined up in rows to offer each team member a sweaty embrace, before joining arm in an enormous circle to debrief the day and offer three-cheers to the day's effort and Smiddy's memory.

Mater research profession Brian Gabrielli, participating in his second Smiddy ride said, despite some "fantastic breakthroughs” in his area of melanoma research, there is still work to do.

"I once had a patient who said to me, 'Diagnosis is facts but research is hope”, and that has always stayed with me,” Prof Gabrielli said.

"I am always looking to see how we can improve our research and give patients hope.”

He said a highlight is the reception the riders receive in smaller towns like Mundubbera, one of 32 travelled through on the ride.

"I swear in some of these towns the entire population turns out to see us, and locals even put us up in their homes for the night,” Prof Gabrielli said.

"We really appreciate the hospitality. You will find in many of these areas the people have a connection back to Mater.”

Smiddy rider Isht Singh said he is participating in the ride to provide a better future for children who may face a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives.

He has a personal connection too: wife Susanne has battled a melanoma diagnosis.

Mr Singh said they were lucky in that Mrs Singh's cancer was picked up early and she was placed in a research project which allowed her to receive a high level of treatment.

"My thing is to support other people to get the benefits of research,” he said.

"You feel tired (at the end of a big day's ride) but you know you are doing it for a reason, you can't doubt yourself.

"You are working hard to raise money to find a cure.”


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