Since today was going to mark my first ride on the Warburton Trail since returning from the China Ride, I had been eagerly looking forward to it all week. It was a pity that events seemed determined to make it as hard as possible for me to get back with my friends. The weather also looked like it also was certainly NOT going to be co operative. In fact ever since we returned to Melbourne, every day had been cold, wet, windy and bleak. I wondered whatever had hapened to Autumn.
By the time the clock announced that it was 12 noon already, I still had a number of items to attend to before I could leave the office. At the same time, the phone kept ringing with a succession of time wasting phone calls. This was not the way it was intended to be. When I still had not been able to get away by 12.30 pm I knew that it no longer going to be possible to complete a full ride, I would have to settle for some tiny ride more akin to Hooters than myself.
When I finally jumped in the car I decided to head for Woori Yallock and ride back towards Mt Eveyn from there. The weather was still threatening but at least it wasn’t actually raining. At Woori Yallock I was surprised to see Johnny Magoo also unloading his bike. Since I had not seen him on thursday ride for many weeks, it was good to see that he was back on the trail again.
I hopped on the red rattler and headed off in serach of the rest of the real peloton. It only took a few turns of the crank for me to realise that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary ride. The wind was blowing full in my face with a manic frenzy. Although I strained on the pedals it was hard to make any headway at all. It was even lifting up lumps of manure from the trail and throwing it back in face. Although I just come back from riding up some BIG hills in China we had never to compete with a head wind of this magnitude.
Fortunately I only had to ride to the big bridge before I met the rest of the group coming down the hill towards me. Apparently they tried to stop, but the howling wind had them in its embrace and was propelling them along at a most alarming velocity. I was relieved to be able to turn around and head back downwind in pursuit. Even Johnny Magoo, who had left Woori Yallock only a minute or so behind me was struggling to make any progress into the onslaught. (When you consider that his skinny frame is usually immune to any wind influence, this was really quite unusual).
Soon we were all flying downwind surrounded by airborn leaves, manure and rocks from the trail. It would have been great if this wind assist had helped us all the way to Warburton but it was not to be. Around the next bend and the wind decided to swing around and resume its onslaught head on. This charade continued for the whole ride with the wind erratically switching from direction to direction. One thing was certain however, and that was this easily the strongest wind we had ever experienced on the trail.
Somehow we all finally made it to the watering hole at Milgrove and were able to shelter from the wind for a short rest. At the same time the sky was darkening alarmingly, giving dire warning that a downpour was not far away. In spite of the poor conditions I was pleased to see that a good sized group of riders had turned up for the afternoon ride. It gave me a chance to meet the latest recruit – John Shaw, who I had met in my days in the Emerald Rotary Club. Although the last thing we needed was yet another rider called John, this guy looked like a competent cyclist and was able to make quite good speed on his bike, inspite of the poor conditions.
I was relieved that I only had to ride back to Woori Yallock, and fortunately we made it that far before the rain set in for the afternoon. Those that had to complete the full ride back to Mt Evelyn were not so lucky.