August 25th 2010
Islander is oldest in 1600km bike challenge
Three years ago a cyclist was tearing down the big hill into Horseshoe Bay around 60kph when the dreaded death wobbles set in. It was just before the final turn to the left where the rider, 61 year old Rob Jarvis from Nelly Bay, knew he couldn’t pull out. He doesn’t remember much else until the emergency crews found him in the scrub with a broken back, punctured lung, broken ribs, and a collar bone fracture. But as a testament to human fortitude and the fine work of the Magnetic Island Clinic, Rob Jarvis is about to set out on the most gruelling ride of his life - 1600kms from Brisbane to Townsville at 200kms per day but in support of a very good cause.
Rob is participating in the Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge begun in 2006 by cyclist Mark “Shark” Smoothy whose friend, triathlete, Adam Smiddy died from melanoma at the age of 26. (Read here). The ride is a fundraiser for the Mater Hospital’s cancer research and other support services.
Rob with his steed: a "6 or 7kg" Merida supplied by 99 Bikes of Fortitude Valley. "It's a good stiff bike and rides very comfortably"
Now, at 64, Rob Jarvis, who came to Magnetic Island and is often seen in training on the Island’s testing hilly roads, will be competing as the ride’s oldest participant.
Rob started road riding about six years ago following a hip replacement. “A friend gave me a bike and it got me around fast and didn’t hurt the hip at all.”
After his brush with death wobbles on the Horseshoe hill, Rob spent six weeks before he slowly returned to his bike. But return he did. He had begun road charity rides and has ridden in three Townsville to Cairns Children’s Cancer Institute rides but admits that after the Horseshoe crash he had to pull out of one due to “a stiff back”.
The Smiling for Smiddy Challenge will however be far harder than any other event and training time on the trainer and in the saddle stretches from 2 – 4 hours at a time, 2 or 3 times a week on Magnetic’s steep 14 – 17% percent hills.
Rob, formerly of Sydney and later Cardwell, a long term boatie, who says he’s worked under a “pocket full of hats” and presently works with Seaquest tours as a certified skipper while managing some Island apartments, say the Island’s roads, from a rider’s perspective, are “certainly difficult”. He’s experienced road rage abuse three times during his long spells training but is full of praise for the Island’s bus drivers. “In the early days I had a bus behind me on the hill and I waved him past but heard a voice call out ‘No way - Im staying here’ - It made me ride harder not wanting to keep the bus waiting. They get to know you.”
But the Smiddy Challenge looms now with the start on September 4 in Brisbane. “All the other rides are tame by comparison. (200 kms a day) is bloody hard but once you get into the rhythm you keep going,” says Rob, adding, “Let’s hope we make it!”
Rob is keen to attract donations towards his cancer-fighting feat and for all the information regarding his ride and links to the Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge, why not visit Rob Jarvis’s fundraising page (Read here).
Story and photos George Hirst
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