The last time we rode the trail I was almost brought to grief by a patch of soft new Lilydale toppings (christened the “Slough of Despair”). I was really hoping that the recent heavy rain might have had some positive effect in helping to consolidate this section. Just in case the hoped-for improvement had not taken place I decided to emulate John Seamons and shorten my ride somewhat.
As Legs, Lex & Little John were leaving from Mt Evelyn I was heading for a delayed start from Wandin. At least the weather was reasonable with relatively clear skies and little likelihood of rain. The biggest problem would be the perpetual wind which has been plaguing Melbourne for the past few weeks.
As it turned out, I was a little late arriving at Wandin and discovered that Lex and little John had already motored on through. At least I had Legs to keep me company (and shield me from the unpleasant head winds). Although we made good speed there was no sign of the rest of the peloton as we passed through Woori Yallock. Even Hooters and Cheryl had apparently taken up the gauntlet and ridden on ahead. With the rest of the peloton so far ahead Peter and I began to feel a little like the forsaken Burke and Wills when they confronted the famous DIG tree.
We had no alternative than to remount and head off in pursuit, hoping that we would catch them before Warburton. In spite of the wind we did manage to make good progress until we ran into another long section of trail which had just been ruined by copious quantities of soft new toppings. You could be excused for thinking that they are deliberately trying to make the path unpassable by bikes.
As we stood on the pedals, fighting for control and forward momentum, we could only hope that at some time soon the surface will be restored to something resembling what it was previously. If the surface is left in this condition I suspect we will need to start looking for an alternative venue for our mid week ride.
After expending a huge amount of energy we did eventually catch up with the other 4 riders at Launching Place. By that time I had little appetite left for the traditional sprint and let Bob have an easy win.
Soon after we collected our final rider (Spanner), and the complete peloton of 7 riders was able to safely reach the welcome coffee shop. I was somewhat amazed that we had somehow arrived about 5 minutes earler than usual. This gave us a little extra time for a leisurely chat before the return ride.
The return ride was completed without any crashes, punctures, dog bites or the like and all riders seemed to have had an enjoyable ride. With the current spate of bad weather I think we were all just glad that we had been able to achieve another transit of the trail in (relatively) fine conditions.