In Which Heat Stress Fractures the Peloton

Out of respect for the predicted heat wave conditions I thought it only wise to reduce the length of the regular Thursday afternoon ride. Clearly posted on the web site was the advice that the ride was “to start at Woori Yallock at 1 pm”. The plan was to ride from Woori through to Milgrove, enjoy a cool drink and then relax during the relatively short ride back to our cars. I did not think anyone would be silly enough to want to ride up the Mt Evelyn hill in 38C heat.

You could imagine my surprise (aka disappointment) when I arrived at the Woori Yallock car park to find that I was the only one there. There was not another yellow jersey in sight, although I did notice a female cyclist unloading her bike at the far end of the car park. A few minutes later she came across and informed me that her name was Helen and that she would be riding with the Ghost Riders for the first time today. At least I knew that I would not be riding alone.

While we were chatting a couple of other riders appeared, although it was obvious that we would not be enjoying the normal “jumbo sized” peloton today. It was good to see that Peter was back in the saddle again after his recent catastrophe at Colac. Proudly wearing a huge bandage on his left arm and a black legging on his left leg, he would not have passed an inspection by the fashion police. After introductions were made all round it was time to head off in search of lunch. Once you are underway the heat is not such a problem; it is only when you stop that you start to feel just how hot the day is. Another advantage of getting started is that the notorious Worri Yallock flies find it difficult to maintain a speed higher than about 25 kph.

We settled into a gentle pace and started to discuss whether any of the other riders would have been stupid enough not to have checked the web site before heading to Mt Evelyn. All too soon we were at Milgrove and this served to remind us just what a short distance it is from Woori Yallock to Milgrove. It would be hard to see how any self respecting cyclist could even call this a “ride”. Although we gave some thought to continuing up to Warburton, slothfulness dictated that we should stop at the Bakery in Milgrove and get an early start on the flavoured milk.

To our dismay some of our tables outside the Bakery had been taken over by a group of bikini clad teenage girls. Such a sight can be quite dangerous to men of our age, often resulting in serious accidents as a result of forgetting to disengage the cleats before stopping. It is hard to retain your dignity while you are sprawled over in the gutter with your feet still firmly attached to the pedals. Fortunately we all managed to land safely on this occasion and proceeded to settle down for a long lunch.

After we had been happily engaged in eating and drinking for some time we were surprised to see a group of familar faces come riding up the trail. We found that these faces belonged to those unfortunate individuals who had NOT checked the web site before heading off for the ride. They had therefore ridden all the way from Mt Evelyn in clear demonstration of their stupidity. Also at Milgrove were Bruno and Natasha who have lately been seen spending a suspicious amount of time together. Bruno claimed that he has been providing Natasha with some “expert coaching”, whatever that might mean.

This was also a significant day for two our our newer riders – both Steven Warburton and Natasha Hudson have now completed their probationary period and are now entitled to purchase the coveted yellow jersey. We can only guess at what price Peter will come up with for them both. It is always great to see more yellow jerseys on the trail. Well done.

To celebrate the addition of new members to the group we blotted our copy books in grand style by riding in completely fragmented fashion all the way back to Woori Yallock. While some bolted ahead, some rode slowly while others didn’t even get started. There was just no way that this was going to be one our best pelotons. Maybe it was the heat. In spite of the chaos we all managed to get safely back to Woori Yallock where I was somewhat pleased not to be a part of the group that still had to ride all the way to Mt Evelyn. With the sun shining brightly, the flies buzzing loudly and the temperature in the mid 30’s it was a comforting thought to know my car was waiting for me in the car park.