I heard from Peter yesterday. He is enjoying himself up in sunny Mackay and had just finished yet another of his 200 km + marathon rides. When I rang Cheryl on her mobile this morning she happily told me that she was sunning herself in Cairns. Later in the day I was doing some organization for the 2008 China Ride and needed to ring one of the participants. The call found him relxing in Broome in WA. With Lothar soaking up the European summer back in Germany, Terry caravaning “up north” and Hooters in New Guinea I am seriously beginning to wonder if I am the only one crazy enough to last out the entire Melbourne winter.
Perhaps I am just getting old or perhaps Global Warming really is a myth and this truly is the coldest winter we have had for a long time. Whatever the reason, the ride certainly felt cold. In spite of the multiple layers of clothing I had decked myself out in I could still feel the icy tentacles creeping throughout my body as I wobbled my way up from Wandin to Mt Evelyn. At COGS I met a small number of similarly frozen looking Ghost Riders who were waiting anxiously to get their legs rotating.
We were soon flying down the trail leaving behind what little body heat we had managed to accumulate. The loss of thermal energy was soon compensated for by the rapid addition of mud to our backs, faces, arms and legs. I had never seen so much water collected in a succession of muddy puddles and slippery bogs. Before long we were coated with so much mud and horse manure that even a skunk would have run away at our sight.
In spite of the dire conditions we still managed to make good progress although I have to admit that I was starting to imagine visions of balmy summer days as I continually wiped away the stream of putrid snot that was pouring from my nose. The gentle streams that we usually encounter had been replaced by white water rapids and large areas of the surrounding countryside were converted to waterladen bogs. In the past five years of riding we had never seen the trail like this.
By the time we arrived at Milgrove we looked more like New Guinea mudmen than the proud men and women of the Ghost Riders. There was not a clean yellow shirt in sight, just a bedraggled group of mud encrusted people and the remains of our once clean bikes. At least the pies at Trailblazers went down well and the coffee was HOT. Little John had suffered a puncture on the outward ride and several others had stayed back to assist him with the repair. By the time this group arrived at Milgrove the rest of us we almost frozen in the antarctic conditions.
I can’t remember much of the return ride since my brain froze after the first couple of kilometres and did not thaw again until I was safely back home in front of the fire. When I arrived at my own front door Maggie took one look at me and made me leave the clothes outside so she could hose them off before putting them in the washing machine. I later learnt that Warburton had “enjoyed” 159 mm of rain in the preceeding 7 day period. No wonder we were so waterlogged. But. I know, we do need the rain.