Ever since we started riding the Warburton Trail as a group, the “twilight ride” has been a very popular variation on our normal ride. Now, three years and a couple of hundred transits of the trail later, I discovered that they are still as much fun as ever. Instead of starting at our regular time of 1 pm at Mt Evelyn, the plan is to start two hours later and then enjoy a leisurely tea in Warburton before the ride home.
As the group started to gather at COGS coffee shop, the temperature was already near 30C, with a rising wind. Of course, one advantage of the later start, is that we would not have to be riding back in the hottest part of the afternoon. When Lex arrived he announced that he had lost Peter at Woori Yallock. Apparently Peter had turned right, instead of left, and informed Lex that he planned to ride over the top of Donna Buang and still be in Warburton before us. Although invited to join Peter in his folly, Lex took the smarter alternative of electing to ride the trail with his friends.
It was good to be able to ride along the trail without any time pressures, giving us a good chance to chat as we made our way along. We could also be comforted by the fact that the wind was not in our faces for the entire ride, for a couple of kilometres it actually provided a welcome boost from the rear. By 4.45pm eleven riders made it into the main street of Warburton and settled down at the Three Sugars Cafe. After the hot ride it took a couple of bottles of cold apple juice before my thirst was at least partially satisfied. We also soon discovered the mystery of the “delayed action sweat”.
While you are riding strongly in hot weather, your sweat evaporates as fast as you can produce it. This also helps to keep you cool. On the other hand, once you stop, you no longer have the evaporative cooling effect and your elevated core temperature means the sweat starts running off in rivers. You can imagine the horror of the other patrons in the cafe as we all sat down inside and proceeded to stink the place out with the copious fruits of our cycling labours. Elderly spinsters with blue hair reached for their perfumed hankies and held their noses in horror. We soon got their point and relocated out into the street.
The next hour or so was spent in a pleasant, leisurely fashion, talking about bikes and life in general (but mostly about bikes). Bob spent most of the time admiring his smooth legs and recounting the time when his weight once “ballooned” to over 60kg. It was at this time that his eyes lit up with his latest money making scheme (apparently a much better bet than his stock market stumbles). He decided that he could spend 6 months lying in bed (he spends most of his days doing that already) and eating cream cakes and pasta. As soon as his weight reached 150kg, he would enrol on “The Biggest Loser” and then blitz the field with the most rapid weight loss. He figured that the first prize would be his from day one.
During this time Mal Doswell had also appeared at Warburton, having ridden from Emerald. He was joined by his wife Stacey, who had driven up to meet him for dinner. It was only until the time past 6 o’clock that we realised that one of our riders was still missing. It had been well over 4 hours since Peter had headed up to Donna Buang. Even small children could have walked to the top in less time than that. Maybe some dreadful mishap had befallen him. I tried to ring him on the mobile phone. No answer. After some discussion Mal finally offered to drive up the mountain in search of Peter’s bike. I guess he figured he might be able to sell it on E-Bay.
It was not until about 6.30pm that a lone rider appeared riding unsteadily up the main street. When he finally pulled to a stop we recognised that it was Peter, although with his white face and his black hands he looked a little like some hideous inverse Black and White Minstrel show character. When he was recovered enough to speak he told us that his bike had, yet again, failed him (probably due to incorrect maintenance) and he had spent a lot of time trying to put back together again. He was a shattered man.
The return ride was undertaken at a somewhat slower pace than normal and with an admirable amount of pelotonic discipline. With full stomachs and bladders I guess no-one wanted to go particularly hard. Back at Woori Yallock, Peter accepted the offer of a lift back to Monbulk, while a smaller group continued on to Mt Evelyn. It was at about this time that I started to feel like I had swallowed a football. I had heard talk about cows who had eaten too much green grass, and had to be relieved by a tube inserted directly into their gut. At this point I was somewhat glad that our resident Vet had already left us, but I was finding it hard to concentrate on pedalling. I started to wonder whether some of the filling in the focacia I had eaten for tea, might not have been salad, but some local couch grass instead. Fortunately I did finally make it back up the hill and we were able to reflect on another enjoyable ride.