Although Summer was rapidly drawing to a close, it was evident that it was NOT quite over. As I packed my bike on to the back of the car I could feel the sting in the sun and the temperature was already well over 30C. This was not going to be a ride for the fainthearted, but the legend of the Warby Riders must be maintained at all costs.
Unfortunately, with Bob still recovering from the injuries sustained in his unfortunate crash and Mal still recovering from the delayed trauma induced by an accident somewhere in his childhood, it was going to be another very small peloton. In fact we were only going to have two riders for the day, but at least that was a 200% improvement on last week.
I started off from Mt Evelyn and headed down the hill to meet John at Wandin. When I arrived at the carpark I found John riding in circles trying to video himself with his new digital video camera. It looked like an accident waiting to happen, but I said nothing and indicated that it was time we hit the trail. We were already 15 minutes behind schedule and would need to pedal hard to make up for lost time.
We set off in high spirits but our progress was soon thwarted by a “Time to stop for a drink” call from John. “But we haven’t even left the carpark yet”, I replied. I feared that this was not a good indicator of the ride ahead, but had to fel sorry for John’s gasping and rasping as he gulped down his drink of lolly water.
After John’s rest and photo stop in the carpark we finally got going again and, after further rest stops every 500 metres, finally reached Woori Yallock. John, of course, insisted that we have a long rest break in the shade. Since I had not yet had any lunch and the day was rapidly advancing I was starting to have hallucinations about sandwiches and coffee flying through the air. When I mentioned this to John he replied that there was no need to hurry since he already had an ample lunch before leaving home. I was beginning to fear that we would arrive in Warburton to find the precious coffee shop closed.
When we finally resumed the ride I managed to distract John by doing some more filming as we rode along the track. We even managed to capture some extremely rare footage of an endangered species. Near Milgrove we spotted a young guy riding a bike with the seat SO LOW he could hardly pedal. We looked at each other in amazement then reached for our cameras to prove that we really did see it after all.
It was with a HUGE sigh of relief that I finally arrived at Warburton and was able to settle down to some sustenance. This part of the day is certainly the part we look forward to most of all and by this time I was feeling hungry enough to eat for two. Forty five minutes John also arrived and got stuck into a couple of iced coffees and an enormous cake.
The return ride was even slower than the outward journey, with the temperature in the middle 30s. By this time John had invented yet another way to impede our progress – every time our speed exceeded 20 kph he sounded a loud alarm on his bike. “Speed Alert, speed alert” he would announce with conviction. (I asked him what type of alert would sound if my left arm suddenly swung out and whacked him on the nose, but got no response.)
This charade continued for the remainder of the afternoon and into the early evening, by which time we had finally made it back to the watering trough at Seville. With the impending onset of darkness, and considering I had to get back to Mt Evelyn, John and I parted company with the arrangement that we would meet again at Bob’s house.
As I pushed on up the long hills to Wandin and Mt Evelyn I had to admit to myself that the day had turned out hotter than we had expected, and I tipped what remained of my water over my head. A glance at the heart monitor showed about 165 bpm – I was working hard after all. With all this exercise, why haven’t I lost more weight ? I don’t suppose it could have anything at all to do with the huge iced coffee I had also enjoyed at Warburton. No of course not – I knew I just had big stomach bones.
Later that day John and I met again at Bob’s house to marvel at his progress and determination to be back in the saddle again. He was sitting on his front porch looking out at the far distant mountains and calculating how long it would be before he would be again pedalling up the cruel slopes. I suspect it might be sooner than any of us think.