Since Bob’s return to the cleats a couple of weeks ago, the peloton had been starting to return to something resembling its former glory. Although he is still insisting that he only pedalling with one leg, he already is managing to average about 30 kph up the long hill to Mt Evelyn. It was therefore not surprising that when I arrived at Mt Evelyn Bob was ready with a big grin on his face from ear to ear. Obviously he was looking forward to giving me another lesson in “dust eating”.
We headed off down the hill and managed to make good time all the way to just past Woori Yallock. It was at this point that we were confronted with a rather disturbing sight. About 20 or so fierce looking bulls had escaped from one of the nearby paddocks and were spread all along the trail ahead of us. As we gingerly approached they turned and eyed us suspiciously. I wisely dismounted to assess the situation but Bob charged ahead, showing neither common sense or compassion as he yelled and cajoled the cattle in his path.
The bulls looked somewhat startled to see an elderly one-legged nutter on a bike, but the element of surprise was apparently in his favour as they did not fully focus their aggression until Bob had flashed past them to safety. By this time they were all looking in my direction, just daring me to ride through them.
I suppose any ordinary guy would have just given up at this point and headed back to safety, but I was determined to reach the sanctuary of the Warburton Coffee Shop and so I steeled my nerves, shut my eyes and slowly headed into their midst. By a combination of gentle talking and skillfull navigation I somehow managed to pass the Slough of Despair and head on to the land of milk and honey. (Apologies to Pilgrims Progress).
Once safely past the bovine hazard we steadily improved the speed and made great progress all the way to Warburton. John had indicated that he would not be able to join us until later, so we were not impeded by his pleas to “slow down” or his interminable trackside calisthenics stops.
The remainder of the path was Warburton was completed without puncture or crash and we were soon enjoying the spoils of a good ride – coffee, conversation and cakes.
By the time we were ready to begin the return ride, John rang to say that that he was almost ready to start out. We had to remind him that we had to be back before nightfall so we finally arrived at a compromise arrangement. He would start further back and then ride towards us and then when we met he could turn around and ride back with us. He was not very happy when it dawned on him that this meant that he would not be able to get his cappucino, but what else could we do????
Thirty minutes later we met John and Pete riding the trail towards us and we formed a combined group for the ride back to John’s car. It was at this point that the speed of our progress reduced from 35 kph to about 15 kph. But at least we were all on our bikes and there was no head wind to grizzle about.
As we headed into the rapidly setting sun we did not need reminding of the fact that the days are becoming very short and that we need to be back to our cars by no longer than 5 pm. In fact Bob had decided to ride all the way back to his house and needed an extra 20 mins or so up his lycra sleeve. In spite of this time pressure we did safely make it back and were able to record yet another successful transit of the trail.
Back at my car I was left to ponder why it is that I have never heard Bob puff going up a hill.