Yamba Shores Tavern proprietor Matt Muir is preparing to ride the 2017 New Zealand (NZ) Smiddy Challenge peloton, a 700 kilometre bicycle ride from Christchurch to Queenstown.
The ‘Smiling for Smiddy’ initiative aims to raise $1.3 million for Mater (cancer) Research at various events throughout 2017.
Last Saturday he held a fundraising event in the Tavern’s Boardroom & Bar: V8 Supercar driver Tim Slade, who is sponsored by Mr Muir’s Holden dealership in Sydney, was the special guest.
Mr Muir ‘tuned up’ for the event when he rode in the Adelaide to Uluru Smiddy Challenge last year, however, the NZ event will throw up extra hurdles in the shape of, “soaring mountain climbs” through the “stunning Southern Alps and lush valleys”.
The destination, Queenstown, is spruiked as the “adventure capital of the world”.
“If the fast descents down Kiwi mountains get you going, you can complete your adrenaline fix with bungee jumping, jet boating and paragliding,” promotion for the event states.
“The most important thing about this charity … is that all the money that people fundraise goes directly to the Mater Foundation’s cancer research,” Mr Muir said.
“Also, for this particular charity, the major sponsor is Bottlemart – we’re a Bottlemart bottle shop, so there’s a connection there.
“Whatever funds I raise, I know goes to cancer research.”
Mr Muir’s motivation is two-fold.
“My best mate lost his youngest brother [to cancer] when we were 14 or 15 … so that really hit home with me.
“Luckily [cancer] hasn’t directly affected my family but, certainly, there are a lot of people who I socialise with, that it has.”
During the ride from Adelaide to Uluru, Mr Muir met Steve Bardsley, who was at the fundraiser on Saturday.
“On the second last night of the ride, Steve spoke about his wife Tracey, who was battling an aggressive form of cancer.
“I was particularly touched by his story.
“Unfortunately we lost Tracey in the latter part of last year and she left behind a great guy, Steve, and two lovely daughters.
“It’s those sorts of things that hit home; it’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate.
“When people contract cancer they have an uphill battle; so for me to ride hundreds of kilometres is really nothing compared to what cancer patients have to go through.”
Looking forward to the ride, Mr Muir is prepared for some pain after the event.
Reflecting on the Adelaide to Uluru ride, he said: “There are different parts of the body that ache at different times.
“I had a huge problem last year with my knees; with my ITBs [iliotibial band – the strong band of thick tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh].”
“Every time I pushed the peddles it felt like someone was hitting my knees with a crowbar.
“When I stopped it took about three months to recover. Being hunched over the bike for nine days, a couple of hundred kilometres a day, it had pulled all of the muscles in my back and I’d lost all feeling through my hands.
“I couldn’t do up my shoelaces, I couldn’t turn a key in a door – those little motor skills you take for granted – and had three months of physiotherapy.”
The weather will be a hit and miss factor, too; he said that two friends of his had told him it had been snowing in Queenstown.
“Up in alps, the temperature can be in late 20s or 30 degrees, or it could be snowing,” he said.