It would be impossible not to admire such a display of single minded determination. Although we had witnessed many previous examples when tackling such challenges as the Donna Buang Snow Ride, The Great Traverse, The Phillip Island Bicycle Grand Prix and the Toolangi Classic, this was tenacity in its purest form.
As we stood on the trail and watched the little spiky echidna make its way across to the other side it was obvious that nothing we could do would make it change its course by 1 centimetre. It knew exactly where it wanted to go and had supreme confidence that no puny human would dare to challenge its prickly exterior.
When it had safely made it to the far side we could only wish that John had been present to see what real determination looked like. But alas, John had decided to join us “further down the trail”, apparently so that he would be in no danger of “overdoing” his exertions.
As we rode on we were also able to enjoy the perfect day we had been provided with – about 22C, fine, sunny and no wind (or so we thought at the time). It really seemed that on a day like this the bicycle just about pedals itself along. It was such a tonic to be able to ride through such a beautiful landscape, serenaded by the birds that were watching us in profusion from the trees.
We were eventually joined by John who rode along in silence for about 10 seconds and then started his old familiar refrain of “why do we do this?”. I figure that if he doesn’t know the answer to this question by now, he never will. A few kilometres further on we were met by Peter “Legs” Warren, who had again ridden all the way from Emerald.
It was easy to settle into a pleasant tight formation and head along at a respectable rate with so little effort, although by this stage we were starting to suspect that we were being kindly assisted by a tail wind after all. With “Legs” Warren in the lead we were able to admire his massive legs pumping away in his characteristic high gear. I suggested that he should rent out space on each calf for sponsor’s ads, but he thought I was joking.
The ride through Woori Yallock, Launching Place and around the Yarra Junction bypass went smoothly and (comparitively) rapidly. As we approached the end of the long straight we were anxiously awaiting to see if anyone would break for the traditional sprint finish to the sign post. Since Bob had ridden my mountain bike for the first time on this trail, he seemed to be a little apprehensive of its sprinting power.
I sat close to his wheel with the sign post getting ever closer and closer. Peter and John were close behind and (since I am no good at looking behind me without falling off) I had no idea how far back they were. Just as I thought that maybe the sprint would not be on at all I was passed by a flying Peter, massive legs pumping furiously on the pedals. This guy is really such a competitor after all. Bob immediately gave chase and I was left floundering in their wake.
It was too late to change gears so I just stood up on the pedals and gave chase. Bob was onbviously not used to the sluggish response of the mountain bike and Peter had already maxxed out so I thought I might just have a chance. The three of us were heading up the road side by side and I am sure it would have made a finish worthy of an Olympic final, but unfortunately the only people who witnessed my incredible feat were the three riders. As we passed the sign Bob had finally worked up the Queen Mary to about 40 kph and disappeared into the distance, but the race was already over.
At the coffee shop we enjoyed a long relaxing lunch in the afternoon sunshine and conversation topics ranged over just about everything known to mankind. Although it was somewhat difficult to remount for the return ride we did eventually get going back down the trail. Bob resisted the challenge to try his strength against El Capitan with some excuse about “not wanting to hurt himself”.
By the time we reached the more exposed sections of the trail we could see why it had been so easy riding outwards. We were now being blessed with a significant head wind. Somehow Bob managed to regain the sprint title on the return ride, although I think this was because I was trapped in too low a gear.
John kept asking his interminable rhetorical question, but the rest of us tried to ignore him. (I suspect that the only way to stop these outbursts is to fine him 50 cents for each incident – that way we will be able to enjoy free coffees with the takings).
A final stop at the water trough gave Bob an excuse to disgrace himself by riding onto private property and trying his legs on the steep concrete drive opposite. We were waiting for the sounds of the farmer’s shotgun, but fortunately for Bob, he did not arrive until Bob was safely back on the main trail again.
When Bob and I arrived back at Mt Evelyn, Peter headed off to his house at Monbulk. This guy is really keen – just wait until we see him on his brand new Avanti road bike that he has just become the proud owner of!!! I suspect that Bob is starting to get a little nervous at the thought.