In Which we Do the Snail Slalem

Although I don’t mind riding through the occasional passing shower on the bike, I must admit that I am not so keen when the rain is already pouring down at the start of the ride. When I arrived at COGS it was obvious that the white coated weather wallahs at the Bureau of Meteorology had once again made a serious error in their predictions. Unlike the fine afternoon we had been promised, the rain was coming down steadily and the low clouds overhead suggested that the rain would be with us for some time.

In the light of the the prevailing weather conditions I was a little surprised to see quite a group of yellow shirted riders already gathered for the start of the ride. I climbed from the safety of my car and tried to explain to those at COGS that, due to extenuating circumstances, I would be starting my ride at Woori Yallock instead of Mt Evelyn. “When you arrive could you gently tap on my window to wake me up” I instructed. The (already saturated) mob did not look overly impressed, but I was already running back to my car before they could respond.

As I rode on to Woori Yallock I tried not to feel guilty about leaving the enlisted men to the mercy of the elements, but the steady swish of the windscreen wipers soon convinced me that I had made a wise decision. I arrived at Woori Yallock just in time to meet Mal Doswell unloading his bike. I had been hoping for a rest in the car but felt duty bound to get out and have a chat instead. I managed to convince Mal of the utter folly of riding back towards Mt Evelyn and that it would be much more sensible to ride around in circles instead.

We eventually decided to head off towards Warburton instead. By this time the rain had relented although the trail was still quite muddy. A smallish group headed off slowly anticipating that the main group would soon overtake us. It was a good chance to roll along slowly in an attempt to restrict the amount of mud being thrown up our bikes from our back wheels. (It didn’t work).

By Milgrove the rain had stopped altogether and thus we had no real excuse for not continuing on to Warburton. It was only on the way back down that we started to encounter the first of the serious riders flying up the hill towards us. Their mud speckled faces and filthy backsides indicated that they had experienced a dirty transit of the trail. As for me, my only thoughts at this stage were for a hearty lunch. I felt that I had earned it.

Gathered outside the bakery,riders kept steadily appearing out of nowhere until we built up to a sizeable group of about 20. Considering the earlier weather this was a most commendable achievement. After lunch, as we headed back towards Melbourne, the skies cleared to give us great riding conditions. The warm sunshine seemed to combine with the moisture to encourage hundreds of snails to venture out onto the trail. This soon gave rise to a new sort of bike handling challenge. We discovered that it is actually quite difficult to ride directly over a moving snail (or even a stationary one for that matter), but when you do manage to achieve a direct hit there is a most satisfying popping sound produced. This gave us a new way to pass the time as we rode back to Woori Yallock. At the same time I am sure we were doing the local gardeners a favour by reducing the rampant snail population.

I was quite content to climb back into my car, even though I had only covered about 32 km. Even half a ride is better than no ride at all.