Watching Peter’s backside rapidly disappearing into the distance as we were careering down the hill at something approaching 40 kph I could see where Banjo Patterson must have obtained his inspiration for writing the story of Mulga Bill and his immortal ride. Peter had said that he was determined to take 30 mins off his previous time, but he appeared equally determined to throw all comonsense to the wind. With powerful legs a pumpin’ and a maniacal look frozen on his face I decided that it would wiser just to let him go.
Bob had already phoned in to say that he was running late and to advise us to just let him “catch up to us on the trail”. Peter obviously was hell bent on making Bob chase us all the way to Warburton. He had even removed his leg warmers and unveiled his SIZE 16 calf muscles, just to impress us.
The trail certainly was already showing the benefit of a few dry days with most of the puddles now relegated to nothing more than slightly damp patches. Most of the fallen trees had also been cleaned up – so we didn’t have as many obstacles to duck and weave around as we rode on.
In spite of Peter’s furious onslaught at the start we were soon joined by Bob from the rear, who puffed and proclaimed “I had to ride at 50 kph to catch up”. Peter and I looked at Bob and explained “we had to slow down from 60 kph to LET you catch up”.
We successfully worked our way past Eddy the Magpie at Woori Yallock and were soon working our way up through Hellfire Pass, when we almost ran straight into a large truck heading directly down the trail towards us. It was pulling a huge chipping machine on the back and looked sinister enough to suggest that it had already eaten a number of cyclists before us.
Jumping from our cycles we dove off the trail, just in time to allow the motorised behemoth to pass between us. It was a very close call, but only goes to emphasize the importance of lightning fast reflexes.
The remainder of the outward journey was completed at a similar breakneck pace and, although I was starting to feel the effects from the 100 km ride to Phillip Island only two days earlier, still managed to complete the trip to Warburton in 1 hr 14 mins. I had sent Peter and Bob ahead to reserve a good table at the coffee shop and they were waiting for me when I arrived.
I was apparently not the only one feeling the effects of a previous ride. John was also suffering from the exhaustion of his 15 km ride on Tuesday and had decided to stay home and rest in bed. “No point in getting TOO strong”, he advised me on the mobile phone. Personally I could not see that being a problem for John for quite a long while, especially since he has been shortening his rides each week for the past 6 months.
After a leisurely chat and a cup of coffee we headed back on the return ride, this time at a more sensible pace, but still arriving back at Mt Evelyn at about 4.50 pm. I suspect that Peter is something of a dark horse, and I noticed Bob regularly sneaking admiring glances at the size of Peter’s legs. Maybe he has actually bought himself a pair of those Dean Woods inflatable calf muscles we read about.
With only a couple of weeks to go before our Bairnsdale Trip I think it is time we all started getting some km up on our mountain bikes. So it might be time to put the red rattler out to pasture for a while and start polishing up the Norco again.