After enduring so many hot days on the Warburton Trail I suspect that we will all be relieved when this “Mother of all Summers” finally draws to a conclusion and we can savour the cool delights of crisp but sunny Autumn rides. As I pulled into the Mt Evelyn car park and stood under the blazing sun, unpacking my car, I could see that it was going to be yet another hard day of cycling under a relentless and cloudless sky. I could have almost been forgiven for asking “why do we do this?”, but when I looked across at my friends gathered on the crumbling remains that were once the thriving COGS native garden, I was quickly reminded of the real motivation behind our weekly ritual.
By 1.05 pm we had “2 Bob”, Mal, Peter, Crasher and myself. In addition Big Al and Little John had ridden back from Wandin to meet us at the starting point. Watching Alan confidentally ride up the Mt Evelyn hill, it was hard to believe that this was the same guy that only started riding with us six months ago. Not only is he substantially lighter than he used to be, but his stamina has improved out of sight.
Just as we were about to start my mobile phone rang. It was Doc Mackay asking for directions. To our amazement she had decided to ride to Milgrove the long way round – by riding straight over the top of Donna Buang. At the time she rang she was already nearing the big T intersection at the top of the Don Rd ridge. This meant that she was already over one third of the way to the summit. I had to admit that I was impressed by her display of sheer willpower, for not only was she climbing Donna Buang, but she was doing it alone and on a very hot day. I gave her directions on how to reach the summit before wishing her well on her epic quest. By comparison, riding along the trail (even if it was hot) seemed quite mediocre, when compared to her effort.
Hooters, on the other hand, always content to find the trail of least resistance by avoiding all hills, head winds or heat waves and, yet again, made the cowardly decision to complete most of the ride sitting behind the wheel of his climate controlled Calais. The fact that he now the only rider not to have made any progress whatosever in the past three years, seems to completely escape his perception.
As we progressed towards Warburton we were joined by Gary, Willem and the Spanner. It did not take long for the latter to break a spoke through premature acceleration and thus send his rear wheel into a death defying wobble. Since our resident bike mechanic had come on the ride without his collection of tools, spanner had no alternative other than ride his bucking bicycle all the way to Milgrove,all the while hoping that no more sounds of snapping metal would be heard.
Entering Settlement Rd I was hugely impressed with the incredible demonstration of subdued riding that we performed. Sticking tightly to the left hand kerb, we made sure that no-one exceeded 25 kph and maintained single file all the way to the end of the road. Now all we ask is that someone control the rabble of Commodore driving hoons and drunken Four Wheel drive fools that regularly persist in trying to run us off the roads, throw crackers and swear loudly at us on the same roads. Surely they are a greater threat to us than we are to them?
Fortunately we all arrived safely at Milgrove to settle in for a long lunch of coffee and cakes. At least that is what I thought until we did a head count and found that two of our riders were missing in action. Further investigation revealed thatthey had gone on a search and rescue mission to assist the Doc to a safe descent on the Mountain. Such heroism brought back historic memories of the search for Mallery and Irvine lost on Mt Everest. All we could hope is that they would encounter her somewhere the base of the climb and thus avoid a huge expenditure of blood, sweat and tears.
Our initial estimates determined that the Doc should be safely back at Milgrove (aka “Base Camp”) by 3.00 pm. When she had not returned by 3.15pm I decided that it was time to utilise technology and ring her on the mobile phone (something that Peter and Gary should have done before they set out on her rescue mission). When she answered I was somewhat surprised that she did not sound at all out of breath, in fact she sounded completely relaxed. Further questioning revealed that the reason for her tranquil state was that she was safely back behind the wheel of her car and was now driving to Milgrove to share a cup of coffee. Apparently she had changed her mind (she is a woman after all) part way to the summit, done a U turn and hightailed it all the way to the car park. This was fine for her but what about Peter and Gary, currently headed up Donna Buang on a completely useless Wild Doc Chase? As a matter of fact we all thought it was hysterical.
On that note it was a good time for the rest of us to remount and head off back towards Melbourne. With Warren’s disintegrating back wheel and the high temperature, no one felt like pushing the pace too hard, so we were content to roll along at a moderate speed and cheer ourselves with the thought of Peter and Gary busting their guts up Donna Buang looking for a Doc that would never appear.
After a short water fight at the Seville water trough we continued on to Mt Evelyn, where the new COGS shop is proving to be a welcome sight on a hot afternoon. Although I was 5 cents short with the money for my drink, the friendly proprietor took pity on me and gave it to me anyway. We sat down at one of the tables and spent some time chatting in the shade. It was a great way to end a ride.