The weather wallahs at the Bureau had described it as “the perfect storm”. With over 150 mm of rain dumped on the Danenongs in the space of 24 hours it certainly had been a day to remember (or forget). Taking the incessant precipitation into account I had announced on the web site that the final decision regarding this planned ride would be posted at 11 am.
Although that sounded like a good idea I had not counted on the fact that I might not have electricity available on the day in question. Not only had the lack of power taken away my ability to update the web site, but had also disabled our phone system. This meant that the only communication I had with the outside world was via my mobile phone.
As we sat in the dark trying out how we were going to run a computer business by candlelight I could not help but feel concern for all the ‘lost sheep’. Without clear instructions from the President, my past experience has been that the Warbies quickly degenerate into an ugly rabble.
I drove up to Peter’s shop (after all he is the vice President) to gauge his opinion. “what do you think we should do?” I asked. “Stuffed if I know” was his unhelpful reply. After a few minutes of such discussion I decided that the ride should go ahead, provided the weather did not deteriorate any further.
A little later in the morning a mobile call from the mysterious ‘Roger’ suggested that I had made the correct call. This guy seemed quite interested in becoming our newest member and was willing to take his chances with the weather. I arranged to meet him outside Peter’s shop at about 12.15 pm.
Although the sky had darkened considerably during the morning at the appointed time I found myself at the shop waiting for our newest inductee. I was quite impressed when a likely looking guy emerged from his car, already decked out in black knicks and a yellow jersey. If I closed one eye and squinted through the other I could almost believe that he looked like a Warby already.
After introductions were made Roger and I headed off to Mt Evelyn, with the plan to meet Peter at 1 pm. Although it was a little disconcerting to see the rain falling on my windscreen as I made the 30 minute journey I still held hopes of a good ride.
At Mt Evelyn I was able to introduve Roger to Little John while we waited (and waited) for Peter (or any of the other riders for that matter). By 1.10 pm no-one else had turned up and we decided to drive on to Wandin to see if there was anybody waiting there.
Finding nobody at Wandin, and with the rain steadily increasing, our enthusiasm for a ride was rapidly replaced by a growing enthusiasm for a cappucino and warmth. So back we headed to Mt Evelyn. There we found Peter’s car – but no Peter. Since we had no phones with us there was no way we could contact him, so we decided to let him ride on down the trail while we headed to the nearby coffee shop.
The next 60 minutes was spent very pleasantly chatting about bikes and favourite rides (and laughing about Peter’s solo ride in the rain). Although we never got to turn a crank, it had still been a good way to pass an afternoon.
Later that evening (when the power was restored) I received the following e-mail account from Mal…..
The Web page said that the ride would be dependant upon the weather. After the last twenty four hours or so that made great sense to me so just to be sure a quick call was made to El Presidente just to make sure. Real riders don’t let a little bad weather stop them after all do they? One o’clock at Mt Evelyn was the final comment.
As usual my line of work kept me a running a little late and as I looked out of the windows of Dandenong Hospital the sky looked very foreboding. Nevertheless steeling my mind I set out to go home grab my bike and meet the guys at Woori Yallock. Thinking of those who would be meeting at one, I thought it best to ring Dennis and let him know what was happening.
This was to be first snag of the day as I found that Dennis had left his mobile at his office as the power in Emerald was out and therefore the phone system was not functioning. Not to be discouraged I continued on my way, got my bike and riding gear and headed off to Woori Yallock. Aside from a few drops of rain the afternoon held some promise of not dumping another 150 mm of rain on me.
At Woori Yallock I was confronted with another dilemma – would I wait or would I go? With no way of contacting anybody I decided that Warburton made sense because at least that way I could wait for them over a coffee if I was early. The ride was remarkable good aside from the unusually strong head wind. The trail was in good shape and there were no fallen trees blocking the way however just up the road, lying in wait, was an up till now never before encountered hazard!
As I thought that I might have been chasing down the other guys I decided to forgo the normal back road and follow the main road to Settlement Road (the normal site of our bidirectional sprints) and pick up the normal route form there. To my amazement, as I rounded the corner I was confronted with a water hazard of monumental proportions. Not only was it about 100 meters long, the water was flowing quite quickly as well.
Luckily for me two cars negotiated the hazard before me and gave me some idea of the depth. Whilst it never really got any deeper than a few inches it was amazing how much force the flow of water through the wheels exerted. The rest of the ride to Warburton passed without event however the wind seemed to pick up for the last few kilometers making things “interesting”.
No sooner had I finished the last mouthful of Coffee when Peter and Brendan rolled up. They had ridden from Mt Evelyn and aside from a very suspect report concerning a “fallen tree” and “an eight foot leap” executed by Brendan whilst Peter rode under said tree, their ride had been equally uneventful. We waited and waited for the all the President’s men, and the President himself but alas there was no show. So much for steely determination and gutsy courage! (I later heard he had been entertaining a new rider in the comfort of a Mt Evelyn coffee shop!)
The return ride went without event. A tail wind assisted in raising the overall speed and ensured that the return sprint would be quite fast. The only problem was the water hazard at the end of the road. I led out the intrepid threesome with Peter sitting second wheel.
I considered that perhaps the sprint should be abandoned in consideration of the water hazard but as the end drew near Peter decided to give it a go. Sometimes you just cant help yourself and so it was one. Whilst he fought valiantly, the weight and rolling resistance of the mountain bike handed me the victory. Only one problem – we were now traveling at 45 kph straight into the water hazard. Result: drowned rats on bikes! The back road to launching place also held a water hazard or two with Peter and Brendan commenting that the water level had risen since they rode through it on the way out. Good job we hadn’t stayed longer! At Woori Yallock I parted company with the other guys and made my way home. We wait with baited breath for the Presidents story!