After battling through the past Winter we were all keen for the arrival of springtime. There is nothing better than being out on the bike under sunny skies, so when the weather forecast was for 20C and sunny it appeared that a great day was in store for us.
I decided to give the racer a rest for a day and ressurect the Norco – the springs do make it a bit softer when crossing the bridges. Bob headed off from home and I met up with him at Wandin. There was still no word from Mal, so we had to assume that he was still home nursing his mosquito bite. Neverthess Bob and I headed off in search of John
We had not gone far when we realised that the day was not quite perfect, not when the wind was blowing a howling gale of about 40 knots! Normally the one good thing about a head wind is that it will be converted to a tail wind on the return journey, so we anticipated an easier ride home later in the afternoon. So on and on we pushed and puffed.
By the time we reached Woori Yallock (still no sigh of John), Bob’s stamina had all but deserted him. This became evident as we were trying to negotiate the second chicane. Bob’s face went white as the Bismark missed the bend and threw him off into the gravel (yet again). Just as well I was riding a safe distance astern, otherwise I would have run over the top of him. After a few minutes of examining his bumps and scratches we headed off again.
In the open space the full force of the wind became apparent. It was the kind of evil wind that pulls at your clothes and makes you feel that there is a lead ball and chain attached to your saddle. We stood up in the pedals and fought every rotation of the pedals with nothing but our sheer willpower and our HUGE muscles to help us. Just as well we are such outstanding male specimens.
Eventually we could see the lights of Warburton and knew that coffee (and John) could not be far off. Sure enough, about 1 km from the coffee shop, John cruised up and said that he was ready for his weekly “workout”. Although the wind had been a fierce adversary we did eventually reach the lunch stop and finally were able to enjoy the sun and the warm 20C we had been promised. We were also able to compare riding stories with a couple who had just ridden over the top of Donna Buang – now that’s a ride I would love to try sometime.
After refuelling on coffee and cream puffs we were ready for the easy run back to the car. We knew that the howling wind that fought us so strongly on the way here would be our ally now and push us all the way back. All we would have to do is steer and enjoy the scenery. WRONG ! WRONG! %$##@% WRONG!
I had read accounts of the bicyclist’s worst enemy and now I met it face to face. It was the evil BDOH (the “bi directional opposing headwind”). Such a wind is far worse than the steepest hills, the meanest dogs or the most flatulent travelling companion. It destroys your very faith in the inherent fairness of nature. It is the same type of wind that always blows the smoke in your face, no matter which side of the BBQ you are standing on. It is malicious, capricious and soul destroying.
After riding a couple of hundred metres back from Warburton John was back at his car and left Bob and I to face the enemy alone. So on we rode. The wind grew even stronger. Like a thousand banshees ripping our hearts out. Like invisible hands of iron reaching out from the bushes to grab our bikes. Like trying to climb Mt Everest with a sackload of housebricks on your back.
What were we going to do? Give up and let the BDOH win or fight on like true cycling heroes of the past? Of course we dug deep, encouraging each other with stories of the riding greats – stories of legends like Merkx and Hinault. These men had also faced adversity, almost as bad as the one we faced now, and had ridden on to cycling glory. Surely we could do the same, perhaps even exceeding their legendary efforts by finally defeating the Warburton Trail BDOH.
Slowly, slowly, inch by inch we clawed back the ground. We reached Woori Yallock and started to believe in ourselves that maybe we would complete the task after all. The wind grew even stronger, branches were falling all around us, birds were even flying backwards in the sky, but still we pushed. Beyond normal human endurance we pushed. The chains on our bikes stretched like elastic bands with the strain. We thought we had seen everything when we saw several cows being blown right out of their paddock and into the path in front of us, but at least it did give us a couple of minutes respite while the owner chased them down with her huge 4 wheel drive.
We now only had the final long climb back to Wandin to endure. The strength of the gale escalated one final notch, but by now we knew that we had it beaten. As large patches of the trail were literally torn out in front of us by the brutal onslaught, we pushed on. Like men possessed of a dream, like the search for the Holy Grail, we forged ahead knowing that Wandin could not be far ahead. It was impossible to see where we were going because of the amount of branches, leaves, dirt, horse manure, dust and rocks that were constantly being thrown in our faces. Eventually after what seemed like an eternity (but was actually more like 20 mins), we felt the slope lessen and knew that we had finally prevailed. We had reached the carpark, and hence beaten the BDOH.
This was surely an epic of human endurance to rival Shackleton’s survival in the Antarctic – we had confronted the BDOH and WON !!!! And will we do it all again next week????? Of course we will. After all we are not ordinary men – we are cyclists.