It seems to me that the past couple of months must have been about the windiest months on record. It is also my firm belief that riding into a ferocious headwind is even more detestable than riding up a steep hill. Thursday 25th September had already clearly indicated that it was going to be yet another day of ferocious tempest. All around I could hear the ominous sounds of trees bending in protest as the howling wind sought to rip them from the ground and lift them high into the air. I could see large birds flying backwards as they vainly tried to tack into the raging cyclone.
This was definitely NOT the sort of day that I could relish the thought of fighting a BDOH all the way to Warburton and back. I guess in the recesses of my mind I was hoping for another torrential downpour which would give me a legitimate excuse to cancel the planned ride. For this reason I was probably less than enthusiastic when Bob rang me on the mobile to enquire where I was planning to start. I tried to sound hopeful, but took pains to point out to him the signs of the impending meteorological maelstrom that was sure to manifest itself within the next hour or so.
In spite of my warnings, Bob sounded cheerful and keen for a ride. “It’s bright and sunny here” he lied. It is at times like this that true leadership is never easy. “OK”, I replied “let’s give it a go”. I did, however, insist that we start at Woori Yallock. This would at least give us a 50-50 chance of surviving the storm.
I donned the lycras and hitched the rattler to the car and headed off to the trail. By the time I was half way there the skies had already opened and it was raining steadily. “This looks like an exercise in futility” I thought to myself as I drove on. Somewhat surprisingly the rain did stop by the time I reached the Woori Yallock station, although the dark clouds overhead threatened that a downpour was never going to be any more than a prayer away all afternoon. The wind, of course, was still blowing as strongly as ever.
A few minutes later Bob arrived and hobbled to the back of his car to retrieve his bike. I felt somewhat ashamed as I considered my somewhat cowardly thoughts of skipping the ride this afternoon. After all, if someone as old as Bob can ride with only one good leg, what real excuse did I have for not giving it a go?
We were soon standing on the pedals and trying to build up some momentum as we clawed our way along the trail. At least the ferocious winds had dried the trail out considerably since our last ride. It was a pity that it had also blown away most of the crushed rock away and dropped about 20 large trees across the path between Woori Yallock and Yarra Junction.
As we made slow headway I could hear an ominous creaking noise coming from Bob’s bike. In fact I was not sure if it was coming from his bike or his titanium/ platinum bionic groin, so I kept quiet and just tried to keep the pedals turning.
On the rare occasions when the wind was actually behind us we were able to pick up speed and our overall time from Woori to Warburton was a respectable 40 mins. I even managed to surprise Bob in the traditional sprint down the Main St and therefore pulled into the coffee shop a couple of metres in front of him.
We lashed down our bikes and riding gear to avoid them being swept into the Yarra and proceeded to fight a losing battle of trying to read the newspaper in a 60 knot typhoon. I wonder what John would have made of such a day???? We could picture him lying somewhere on the beach in Cairns saying “Why do we do this?” as he ordered another drink from the bikini clad waitress.
After a somewhat extended lunch break we knew we could procrastinate no longer and hence steeled ourselves for the return bout against the hurricane. Digging deep we dropped our heads and began to force our way against the foe. By keeping in tight formation we helped to share the wind load and soon we were sprinting back down the long bitumen stretch behind Yarra Junction. Unfortunately by utilising sneaky tricks Bob was able to beat me by the thickness of a bike tube in the final points sprint.
In spite of the 80 knot wind I was still enjoying myself. At least it was not raining (yet), and we only had a few km further to ride. The final push back to Woori Yallock was accomplished with a show of supreme willpower and tenacity. All too soon we could see our cars waiting for us in the carpark, indicating that the ride was almost over. By this time I was almost disappointed to have to stop early (note I did say ALMOST).
A few moments after I was headed back home in the car the rain started in earnest and did not stop for the next few hours. We had timed our ride to perfection.
Oh, and in case you were wondering who our mystery riding companion was – her name was “GALE” !!! I just hope she doesn’t decide to join us often.