According to the laws of Physics, the absolute zero of temperature occurs at approximately minue 273.15 degrees Celsius. According to my frozen nose and ears, the temperature on the Warby Trail was about minus 271 degrees as I pulled up at Woori Yallock for the start of the ride. As I tried to dislodge my frozen bike from the bike carrier I was met by Michael who proudly informed me that he was trying to set a new world record for the number of layers of clothing he was wearing.
Somewhere under 3 parkas, several jerseys, a sweater and an “industrial strength” singlet was the real Michael, although I could see was a bright red mass of moving material. By comparison I was relatively lightly dressed in only two jerseys and a waterproof coat. I did, however, make sure that I had not forgotten the long fingured gloves and fleecy ear warmers. Surely this must have been one of the coldest days we had ever experienced on the trail ?
As I was about to doubt my sanity and climb back into the wamth of the car, we were met by “2 Bob” Leedham. Although I was a little surprised that anyone else had ventured out into these cryogenic conditions it did at least mean that we would have the making of a small peloton to ride back up to COGS.
After a few minutes preparation we were underway. I could not help but recollect those famous stories of Scott, Shackleton and other intrepid Antarctic adventurers as we battled to pedal our frozen bikes along the trail. Fortunately I was soon spared of further pain when I lost all sensation in my fingers and toes.
In spite of the low temperatures we managed to make quite reasonable time on the outward leg and were met by the sight of a small group already languishing in the cold at the top of the Mt Evelyn hill. I would have liked to have had a chat but my tongue was frozen to the roof of my mouth, meaning that I could only make strange gurgling sounds.
When the word was given to start the ride a small group immediately bolted off the front, leaving the rest of the riders spread out over a kilometre or more. This type of behaviour is becoming a serious problem and really does make it hard to keep the group together. After all, once a couple of riders leave the pack there is a tendancy for others to try to follow, inevitably leaving a string of riders spread out in their wake. Perhaps one approach would be to have two start times where those who want to race leave 15 mins later than those who want to have a social ride. In that way boths groups could arrive at Milgrove at about the same time.
Heading down the hill, I immediately became even more aware of how cold the air was. I could only wish that I donned even more jerseys to keep the chill factor manageable. By this time my nose started running with an output that would have put the Amazon River to shame. Ah the joys of winter riding I guess.
Although the riders regrouped at Woori Yallock, once we started moving again the same offenders flew off the front yet again. I guess Mal isn’t called “Bolter Doswell” for no reason. After a three second rest at Launching Place it was off again to the coffee shop where I was extremely pleased to find that the oven was still full of hot pies. At last things were beginning to look up.
After lunch a fragmented peloton made its way back to Woori Yallock. Although it had certainly been our coldest ride for a long time, at least the rain had held off. Even so, my bike was still covered in an ample layer of brown mud (and so was the back of my jacket). If there are 13 Thursdays in winter, at least we have now used two of them up.
I chipped the ice off my windscreen, turned up the heat and had a lovely drive home.