Hills, Head winds and Heat are the three pet hates of most cyclists (especially recreational ones). Although this was going to be the first planned ride for 2005 I was not exactly thrilled when the Bureau predicted a top temperature in the mid 30s. After careful consideration I decided that the smartest move would be to drive to Wandin and then ride back to Mt Evelyn for the 1 pm start. By utilising this strategy I would not be faced with the prospect of facing the long climb up to Mt Evelyn in the heat of the day.
When I headed off from Wandin at 12.40 the weather was still comfortably cool. Since there were no other riders in sight I made the solo run without incident and then U turned back towards Warburton. Within a few minutes I met Little John who had started from Woori Yallock and ridden back to Mt Evelyn. Bob had rung to say he would “catch us up from behind” and so John and I rode on together.
It was not until we were almost back to Woori that we met up with Peter. Even more surprising was the sight of Mal on the trail. At first I thought it could have been a heat induced mirage but it turned out that it really WAS Mal. He had ridden from Emerald and appeared certain to manifest another outbreak of Doswell’s Disorder by quickly disappearing into the distance.
When Cheryl met us at the Woori Yallock carpark it was obvious that the first peloton of 2005 was really taking shape. With Hooters in Queensland and Spanner Billson on yet another overseas junket we knew that the only missing rider was Bob. And where was Bob? He was still puffing and huffing trying to catch up to us. When he finally managed to gain the peloton he looked like a spend force – sweat streaming from his face. “I had to sit on 60 kph all the way” he stammered. (It’s a bleeding shame what old age does to the memory).
The outward ride was completed under very pleasant conditions and by utilising sneaky tactics I was able to catch Mal napping on the outward sprint. It was only when we arrived at Warburton that we started to become aware of the steady increase in the temperature. I suspect that the proprietor was relieved when we sat outside to have lunch. The customers sitting at the inside tables seemed relieved too.
Since it was my birthday I expected that I might have been presented with an impressive birthday cake. Instead I had to be content with a couple of “Happy Birthdays” and some rude comments about my rapidly increasing age. I could not help but think it was yet another perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black.
After a further intake of fluids we headed off into the steaming cauldron that had previously been the Warby Trail. With the mercury souring we tried to ignore the fact that our tongues had become glued to the roofs of our mouths and that we still had many kilometres left to cycle. Although Mal had been confident that he could ride all the way back to Cockatoo, by the time we arrived back at Woori Yallock he gratefully accepted the ride that Peter offered him.
On the other hand, Bob was adamant that he would be fine to ride all the way back to Lilydale. “I never feel the heat”, he bragged. As for myself, I could only be grateful that I had only to get myself back to Wandin. The water trough at Seville was a very welcome sight and allowed Bob and me to indulge in a little water fight. With the temperature in the high 30s even Bob seemed to be sagging. I was not surprised when he accepted my offer of a lift home from Wandin.
Although I had enjoyed the ride it was sure nice to be able to get into the sanctuary of my car and turn the air conditioner on. During the remainder of the evening I think I probably drank about 2 litres of liquid.