I believe that everyone needs to have an epiphanal experience at some time in their life. The sort of life changing event that spins you around in your tracks and sets the clear course for the rest of your time on earth. For me it happened about 4 years ago on one of my first rides up the Warburton Trail. As I was silently turning over the cranks and admiring the peaceful landscape that surrounded me I distinctly heard a deep voice reverberating in my head “IS BIKE IS GOOD”. Wherever it had come from, it certainly struck a chord. I had to admit that I really did enjoy riding this two wheeled masterpiece of engineering. Even though my enjoyment was sometimes punctuated with punctures and occasional falls, I had quickly come to regard my time on the bike as my favourite time of the week.
While such deep and sacred thoughts were still fresh in my mind my attention was diverted by another (much higher pitched) voice from behind squealing out “Why do we do this?” It was clear that John had not had the same experience that I had just gone through. For him every future ride would be plagued by fear, uncertainty, confusion and delusion, but for me my path was now made clear. From that moment forwards my simple goal in life would be to get “more people cycling more often”. No, wait a minute, that motto was already taken by the guys at Bicycle Victoria. I would need a unique motto of my own. Possible alternatives flashed through my mind “Cycling through the Male Menopause”, “Life’s always downhill when you’re on a Bike”, “Have an adventure – ride with Crasher” were some of the early ideas that were considered but I eventually settled on something much simpler (and therefore easier for the over 50s to remember) – “NOW GET PEDALLING”.
By the time I had thus set the course of my life, Hooters’ ramblings had turned to commenting on other obstacles – “Head wind”, “Speed alert – exceeding 15 kph”, “H-H-H-H i-i-i-l-l-l-l-l-l”. Isn’t it amazing that lightning can strike a group of people and only one of them will be hit? I suppose epiphonal moments can be really tightly focussed as well. Seeing John’s large red flag flapping merrily in the breeze at the top of his 6 foot metal mast I was tempted to wish that lightning might actually appear from a completely blue sky. I could only hope that the same voice might also speak to him at some time in the (very near) future. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Ever since that day I had eagerly punctuated the passage of each week by my regular attendance of the Thursday afternoon ride. In fair weather and fowl I had meticulously arranged my time to ensure that I would be able to lead my small band of fellow riders up and down (or is it down and up?) the Warby Trail. I had ridden through heat waves in summer, covered in snot and icycles in winter, battled my way through raging headwinds, fought off attacking dog packs, ridden through huge piles of horse manure and put up with Hooters’ never ending inane comments. I had even ridden through bushfies with the water bombing helicopters flying overhead.
That was until today. Now it was different. The president was unwell. It had come upon me quickly but all too soon I was shaking with fever and racked with pain. Not the ideal way to face the challenges of the trail, especially when the temperature was tipped to peak at somewhere around 35C. At first I was tempted to try riding from Woori Yallock to Warburton but when I found it took all my resolve to pull my wheely bin up my drive, I realised that even that any sort of ride would be out of the question.
In spite of the fact that I would not be riding I still felt an obligation to be present at the start to see the other adventurers on their way. Against the advice of my better half I struggled from my sick bed and drove to Mt Evelyn, arriving in time to see Vivienne and Linton become the latest proud owners of the covetted yellow jersey. Although I would have liked to have joined in the ride, feeling the stifling heat and seeing the trees nearly bent double in the wind, there was a significant part of me that was actually glad to be back in the cool refuge of my car. I tried to ignore the unkind jeers and derogatory comments that were eminating from some of the other riders.
With the afternoon temperature soaring to almost 37C in the second hottest October day on record I took the opportunity to finish off the book I had been reading while taking regular sips on an ice cold drink. For a short period of time I almost felt like Hooters, but then I remembered the Big Bay Ride coming up this weekend. After completing EVERY ONE of our training rides I would be bitterly disappointed if I was unable to ride on the actual day.
I heard later that evening that riders had adopted extreme survival strategies to cope with the scorching conditions. These included filling up their knicks with handfulls of crushed ice and dowsing each other with cold water. To think it was only a few weeks ago that we were complaining of the cold!