Referring to it merely as a “head wind” does not nearly do it justice. For the past month or so we seem to have got stuck in some cruel cross linking between global cooling and the notorious “Roaring Forties”. It seems like every ride we set out on we are confronted by a howling hurricane, almost always blowing straight in our faces.
Because of the ongoing wind problem I had not started at Mt Evelyn for a couple of weeks but I felt like I was rapidly running out of excuses. Unpacking the car near COGS I was once again confronted by the screaming sound of the wind whistling through the gum trees. My initial concern at the weather was somewhat offset by the fact that a sizeable peloton was already forming. It was especially good to see some riders back from their winter holidays. Willem proudly announced that he would be riding the full length of the trail for the very first time. A couple of others started to unpack, but after taking a look at the wind, promptly climbed back into their cars and stated that they would be starting at Woori Yallock instead.
At 1.00 pm precisely we could delay no longer and through ourselves at the mercy of the tempest. The wind blew straight in our faces. I tried to bend lower and choose a low gear to help claw some forward progress through the forest. It was not easy riding when you found yourself constantly having to fight for every metre of trail. In fact, the wind was so strong that some sections we had to ride two or three times because the wind kept picking us up and dropping us back several hundred metres or so.
Somehow we finally made it to Woori Yallock but by that time the toll was startting to show. Not only were our bodies starting to fall apart but several of the bikes had also developed myserious malfunctions.
With riders and bikes spread around the ground Gary announced that he would be heading home to his spa – apparently the wind kept messing his hair up. Some others tried to stay and help but they were picked up by the wind and deposited some kilometres further down the trail. The peloton was in tatters (just like my knicks which had also decided to fall apart at the seams).
Finally the riders tried to remount and continue to Milgrove. The wind blew straight in our faces. I stood up on the pedals, gritted my teeth and tried to keep moving. At one point the wind decided to surprise me by blowing in from the side. It very nearly threw me into the ugly looking frog pond at the side of the trail. I wobbled and stalled and somehow managed to narrowly avoid disaster.
By the time I reached Milgrove the strain of riding 30 km into the teeth of a Force 12 gale had taken its toll. It was time for a mug of cappucino and the biggest cake I could find. After all I needed to replace the calories I had lost on the outward ride. The only thought that kept us going was the hope that we would have a tail wind all the way back to Mt Evelyn.
As we sat at the big table with the wind making our cream cakes slide from one end of the table to the other thoughts inevitably turned to the coming springtime and how nice it would be to ride on those balmy warm, sunny days of September – a mere three weeks away.
With the remnants of the final cream cake wiped from my beard it was time to get on the bikes and enjoy the wind assisted ride back to the cars. We remounted the bikes and started to ride. The wind blew straight in our faces. How could this be? I suppose by now I should have realised that the Law of the BDOH* is an unbreakable law of Physics, every bit as inviolate as the Law of Conservation of Momentum. There is NO such thing as a tailwind.
The shreds of the peloton battled slowly all the way back along the trail, cursing the BDOH and paraying for the shelter of a few trees. The wind blew straight in our faces. At times like this we could be excused for thinking that the Warburton Trail is the Bermuda Triangle of headwinds. How else would it be possible for two riders to approach each from opposite directions and each complain about the headwind they were riding into?
The section between Woori Yallock and the bid bridge was particularly bad with the wind constantly bombarding us with dust, leaves, branches, stones and horse manure. With my yellow lycra shirt flapping in the gale like some Buddhist prayer flag on the top of Everest I struggled and wobbled while the rest of the peloton tried to shelter behind me on my downwind side. The wind blew straight in our faces. At least I could be confident that, if I happened to fart, no one would have been able to hear it.
It was not until we reached the relative shelter of the forest that the going started toget a little easier. The final section up to Mt Evelyn actually seemed easier than the flat sections. Hills are hard work but headwinds are downright mean, capricious and cruel. Next week we demand a still day (and some sunshine would go down well also).
*BDOH = Bi Directional Opposing Headwind.