In Which Jon is Thankful he’s NOT a Brass Monkey

Story Provided by Jon Bate

I looked out the window on Thursday morning, the 28 th, pondering if I’d ride or not.

I had made a promise made to myself 35 years ago after a long stint in the army, that I’d never be cold again. Peter (legs) will know what I mean.

This promise has an overriding veto on all my decisions, both riding and other, and the weather on Thursday morning looked very very cold. So I stoked up the old wood fire and settled back with a glass of red, a book and the cat, to enjoy the afternoon.

AND THEN Anne arrived home and said “It’s quite mild outside. Aren’t you riding today????!!!!”

What with guilt from wifely pressure, from having missed a few rides recently, the need to rid myself of accumulated weight from red wine indulgence, the pressure to succumb and ride was immense.

So away I went. Not like Andrew who rode from Emerald to Cogs, I exercised my gray cells AND DROVE to Wandin in a heated car, with the aim of riding back to Cogs and then so forth to Warburton.

Like all good plans, intervention by someone’s God, blew it all apart.

Valiantly pushing back up the trail from Wandin to Cogs, I spied Noel W chasing me. Now this was a challenge as I had previously endeavoured to chase him over hill and dale in China, to no avail. And here he was again. It was no use trying to speed up, for two things were against me. One was Noel’s superior riding skills. The other was the trees across the track from the recent storm. This actually made the going quite laborious, and Noel and I never did make it to Cogs before three valiant crusaders of Peter (Legs), Andrew (Horse fettler) and Paul (skin head), having started at Cogs earlier, caught us.

And so the five of us ventured through the trail roughage out of Mt Evelyn, and so forth to Millgrove where the temperature had plummeted to something several hundred degrees below zero. It was even too chilly to do the ride up to Warburton. We met a few other intrepids, like Glenda, Dennis and Steve and a few other souls who had also been misled by their wives as to the prevailing weather conditions, till there was a gaggle of 11 freezing bodies huddled in the veranda of the Trail Blazers café, pretending this was fun..

No one stood still for more than 5 mins for fear of never recovering their frozen extremities

It was too much. With my 35yr pledge in my mind, I headed back along the track via Woori to Wandin , along with Paul the skin head (suffering very badly as he had neglected to wear a bandana and the frost bite was eating into his skull) and Noel (my China nemesis).

It was tough. You pedalled hard yet try as you might you could not get warm. Rhythm escaped us/me. What was normally a 25kph doddle turned into a 18kph grind.

I even talked Paul into ceasing all endeavour of riding on to Cogs and accept a lift with me from Wandin.

Was I glad to see home with the wood fire were burning, adding to the worlds green house level but doing marvels for my frozen toes, fingers, knees, chin, nose etc. And I was further gladdened by us going out to tea that night where I had the hottest Thai curry imaginable.

Still, it meant I kept up the weekly average on the bike, and I had good company to chat and shiver with all the way.

Added comment from Dennis:

Apart from the cold alluded to by Jon in the above story, the other aspect that made this ride memorable was the amount of surface water all around the Yarra Junction area. I had previously promised Jeff, Terry and Russell that I would show them the back way up Settlement Rd, since they had never had the opportunity to join with us on our famous sprints.

The only problem was that, when we reached the turnoff, the track down to the old bridge disappeared into a lake of water. The entire area looked like an inland sea. It would have taken a very brave (ie stupid) cyclist to venture any further. We rode further up the trail looking for another opportunity to cross to the back road but discovered even more water and blocked roads. The entire section near the caravan park was under feet of water. In our five years of riding the trail we certainly had never seen anything like it. At least the frogs were croaking away merrily to serenade us as we rode past.

In spite of the rain that had obviously fallen in Biblical proportions, it was pleasing to find that the trail itself had stood up exceedingly well to the recent deluge. Apart from a few fallen trees there were very few puddles and we didn’t even get very dirty.

Earlier in the afternoon Glenda and I had started from Woori Yallock and ridden back to Seville looking to meet up with the peloton coming down the hill. When we discovered that they were obviously running late we turned back and joined Jeff, Russell & Terry for the ride back to Woori Yallock. After a few minutes wait at Woori Yallock we realised that it was far too cold to stand around and hence continued on our way up to Warburton.

After riding up to Warburton we met up with the main group at Trailblazers. They had decided against continuing their ride and had settled down to fill their bellies with hot coffee instead. Noticeable by his absence once again was Hooters, who was obviously in the middle of his winter hibernation period. This period now apparently extends from March through to November. Of course this leaves a very narrow window of cycling opportunity before his “hot weather layoff” which extends through all the summer months. For the remaining two weeks of the year he never misses a ride.