“Has the weatherman ever told you stories that just made you laugh?”
-The Stanglers; Always the Sun
The weather forecast sounded like a typical winters day:
Cloudy. Slight (30%) chance of a shower. Winds N 15 to 20 km/h. Partly cloudy. Medium (40%) chance of showers. Light winds becoming N/NW 15 to 25 km/h later.
It was going to be cold so I put on some extra layers. The wet weather kit was put in the car just in case but when I got to Upper Ferntree Gully at 6:30 am the weather seemed fine. Just cold so I opted to leave my waterproof booties & rain jacket in the car. I put the word out for a group ride around the Dandy’s. I was lucky to be joined by David White, Matthew Shanks & David Louis. During the week I had copped a virus & had come down with a sore throat which knocked me for six for a couple of days. I wasn’t 100%, but then when am I 100%?
The aim of this ride was to introduce the guys to a loop that I enjoy doing around the southern side of the Dandenong’s. We started up Albert Avenue (next to the Angliss Hospital). This is a challenging 2 km climb which is quite steep for long sections, and has about 600 metres of challenging dirt to get up to the top. Dave Louis & Matt set a cracking pace & I was working hard to keep up. All 3 of the guys had ridden to the rendezvous and were warmed up. On cold legs I wasn’t feeling that great. I was struggling at the top. Lucky that Dave & Matt went and hit Roma Parade which is this insane 200 metre climb out of a court with a 23% average.
Meanwhile I was up dry heaving and recovering. I wasn’t feeling so well.
The first part of the course was very challenging but rewarding and the day was going well. We made it down to the Cardinia Reservoir where our day really started. The ride along the viewing wall is amazing, but we could feel a sudden drop in the temperature down to a little over 2 degrees.
It started to rain, and at first I thought that it would be a passing shower, but the rain picked up. When we turned left onto Beaconsfield-Emerald Road we found things quite challenging. We were pushing into a head wind, but worse still was the fact the wind was blowing the rain right into our eyes, and it was quite heavy at times and it was hard to see. We soon became soaked to the skin, and with the temperatures little over 2 degrees were battling to stay warm.
I was regretting leaving the wet weather kit in the car.
It was a hard slog, and I kept myself sane as I knew we would soon could get out of the wet for our brunch stop at the Emerald Bakery.
The km’s really dragged by soon we reached our haven.
Where we discovered a whole heap of cyclists trying to hide out from the rain. I was covered in mud & soaked to the skin, and one of the riders said to me “your not giving me much hope of getting out there…..”.
Most of the time riders will be macho, and pretend that nothings wrong, and ride through a lot. Pretty much every rider was talking about getting someone to pick them up, or pulling the plug. It was belting down, and was absolutely freezing.
30% chance of Showers my Ass! Puck you weatherman!
I had to admit we were in damage control. My clothes were saturated, my shoes were completely soaked. My gloves were waterlogged & I knew the first 10 minutes leaving the bakery were going to suck big time until we could warm-up. It was tempting hiding out the storm in the bakery, but I looked at all the riders sitting at the tables. They were all perfectly dry & looking pristine. It had been raining over 3/4 hour so they must have been hiding in the bakery for ages. They must have been city riders, and there was no way I wanted to be soft. I wanted to get my hands dirty & back on the road.
The first 10 minutes were a nightmare. Most of it was downhill & I have never been so cold on a bike in a long, long time. My teeth were chattering, & after awhile I physically started to shake. The worse was my toes were saturated & felt frozen. When we turned off onto Emerald-Patch Road we finally came upon a hill & I had never been so relieved to start climbing. The exertion warmed me up enough to stop shaking but I knew it was short lived. Any descent we hit the shakes came back and I was cursing the rain.
If you were out riding in conditions like these you were either bad ass, brave or stupid…..
David White peeled off at the Patch & headed off, & David Louis left us at Kallista. It finally stopped raining & Matt & I headed up the Crescent on the way to descending the 1:20. The weather started to stabilise but I was cooked. My hands and toes were just too wet & I was pretty darned cold. I took Matt up Old Forest Road which is 1.3km’s @ over 10%, before he headed home to defrost.
I had a great time chatting with the guys today. Although it was unfortunate that this ride turned to be one of survival. I can’t speak for the other guys but I sure went through my own personal demon’s today. Cycling can be like a game of Poker. We all try & hide our pain faces, and I’d hate to think what I looked like today. Everyone rode strong & given the horrendous conditions were really solid. I’ve battled some really bad weather in the past.
This was certainly up there with my challenging experiences.
The weather was so bad that I ended up having a blast.
Though in saying that, I’ve never been this tired after a ride in a long, long time.