In Which we Welcome Back Summer

We were gathered at the new coffee shop, being careful not to destroy any more of the proprietor’s new plants than was absolutely necessary. Since it was the first day of Summer for 2005, Gary had come along clutching a huge two way radio scanner and earnestly scanning the horizon for the first signs of smoke. It was certainly true that Summer appeared to have arrived in a hurry. With the temperature already hovering in the low 30s we knew that this was going to be a hot and thirsty ride.

It soon became evident that we were not the only ones who had been studying the weather conditions. When my mobile phone rang it was Hooters saying that “under the circumstances, he thought it wise to stay home and spend the afternoon relaxing in the pool”. When I passed this message on to the rest of the group they made some very creative suggestions as to where they would like to see Hooters spend the rest of his day. (For reasons of good taste I have decided NOT to publish those suggestions).

Our group consisted of Warby Phil, Gary, Little John, Peter, Crasher, Lex and myself. I was pleased to see that Peter had discarded his Raccoon hat of last week and resorted to his familiar helmet once again. After a final swig of drink we were soon underway once again. A final tramp across the new garden was all that remined before departure. It did not take long for us to appreciate how much thirstier you get when the temperature is a little higher. It is very important to keep replacing your fluids at regular intervals, rather than waiting until you are dehydrated.

Fortunately the wind was favourable and we were able to make quite good time. When Big Al joined us near Killara we reached a peloton of 8 riders and this allowed us to form a nice formation of 4 rows of 2, which we actually maintained for quite a long distance. I am very impressed by the dramatic improvement in Alan’s stamina and speed. He has no trouble keeping up with the group on the flat and is getting stronger every week. Well done. (What a pity that Hooters doesn’t have even 1% of the same tenacity that Alan has.)

Since I was unsure of the number of riders we were going to get I had not ordered the sandwiches this week. Looking at the nearly empty pie warmer I decided to take another chance with a sausage roll. A few minutes later as I was looking at the sad, dried out object sitting on my plate, I wished I had made another choice. The filling tasted a little like chewing on the rubber seal from my fridge door. On the other hand, the milk shake was quite refreshing.

AS we were enjoying our rest in the shade we looked up to see another rider roll up to join us. With his massive arms and legs pumping and his unique fearsome countenance, there could be no doubting who it actually was. It was great to see Garth (aka “Incredible Hulk”) Kotnic out for his second weekday ride. On his first ride he dramatically wrote his name into Ghost Rider history by setting a new record on the El Capitan incline. We had not seen him since.

Apparently he had been chasing us all the way from Mt Evelyn, starting about 5 minutes after we left (and arriving at Warburton about 15 minutes after us). “I though I could catch up to you” he panted. I shook my head in disbelief at his naivety and told him that it is always good to have lofty ambitions.

The return ride was held under a hot sun, blazing down on us from a cloudless sky. It’s not so bad while you are moving, but as soon as you stop you quickly realise just how hot it is. In such conditions it is not surprising how much water your body loses through perspiration and evaporation.

After parting company with Alan and Lex at Woori Yallock the rest of us headed on to our next scheduled stop at the Seville water trough. There followed some silly antics with water bottles and water fights, but it did serve to cool us down for a short time. It was also about this time that Garth announced that he had to “get home in a hurry”, and then bolted off up the hill to Wandin. The rest of us set off at a much more sedate pace. In spite of the heat we were still well within our normal schedule and felt no need to hurry.

Back at Mt Evelyn our computers indicated that we had travelled over 64 km for the afternoon. In the same period of time Hooters had floated from one end of his pool to the other on his inflatable horse. We all knew which of us had enjoyed the better afternoon.