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· Reviewer/Tester
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The day had been screaming hot. Mid summer in Australia, the temperature guage pegged on 40 degrees Celsius.

I was out riding on the trails, and every time I went down into a valley, it was like riding in an oven.

Up on the tops of the hills wasn't quite so bad, because of the light sea breeze coming in off the nearby ocean, but even that slight breeze couldn't cool off the hot aussie bush in this heatwave.

Sweat was flowing freely down my face, and every now and then I would have to wipe it from my eyes. On the western horizon I could see the thunderheads that signalled the coming afternoon thunderstorm from the Blue mountains.

I pulled up for a drink on a hill under a scraggly tree whose leaves were drooping in the heat. The cicadas were singing loudly everywhere, shrilling away their short lives in the bush around me.

I sat on a rough outcropping of sandstone and looked seawards. The ocean was very blue, fading off into the distant horizon in the shimmering heat haze.

It was almost hot enough to fry an egg on the slabs of dark rock out in the open sun. I was thankful for the small amount of shade that I sat in. My camelback was about a quarter full now, as I had been sucking on it pretty regularly during the hot ride.

Far above me in the bright blue sky, I watched a lone pelican slowly riding the air currents as it circled out towards the ocean lagoons near the coast.

I had ridden today because I was just tired of work and felt like I had to get out of the workshop for a while. Usually, I don't ride in the middle of the day as it is too damn hot, but today I had made an exception because work was driving me crazy.

The bush around me was frying in the heat, and so was I. It would be a long and hard ride back to the van and it's air-conditioned comfort. Even so, it was better being out here on the bike than at home, and it had been a great run with no crashes or incidents so far, except for a large black snake lying across the track in the sun.

I avoided it narrowly and kept on going, not willing to get involved with his sunbaking. As I cycled by, he lifted his head and observed me, but didn't move off the warm stone on which he lay.

As I sat looking out over the baking scrub-covered hills, I heard the first thunder rolling out of the clouds behind me. A look over my shoulder and I saw that the storm was fast approaching.

Lightning flashes marked the front as it raced down from the mountains towards me.

I figured that I had better get moving before it hit, as it's not a good idea to be caught out in the bush in an afternoon thunderstorm. I remounted the 29'er and turned back towards the access road. I had about 5 miles of rough bush track to negotiate before I reached my vehicle.

About half way back, I realised that I wasn't going to make it. The storm was coming fast. Every time I crested a hill I could see that it was getting very close.

The sea breeze had stopped completely, and everything was dead calm. The heat was oppressive, even the cicadas had stopped singing. The whole earth seemed hot and still, waiting for the storm to hit. The bush was baking....

I pedalled as hard as I could, but the heat was intense, and I was breathing red hot razors with every breath.

Then, the first big drops hit me, and as they did, an enormous clap of thunder right overhead followed by the wind as the front struck. The trees around me bent over in the gusts, small branches leaves and twigs flying through the air, and the scent...yes, the scent of hot dirt touched by those first big cool drops of fresh water from the dark clouds above.

I could feel the electricity in the air around me, and prayed that I didn't get hit by a lightning bolt. The rain started to come faster, the wonderful scent of the hot dirt cooled by the water surrounded me and refreshed me. I pedalled harder, straight into the teeth of the wind.

My shirt stuck to my chest, not from sweat now, but plastered to my skin by the rain as it started to come down in earnest. The coolness of the water striking the hot slabs of sandstone made smoke rise from the rock as it gave up it's heat to the cooling drops.

The scent was incredible, sweet, wonderful. I drew in great lungfulls of it, absorbed it through my skin, tasted it in my mouth, revelled in it's freshness.

All around me the hot earth drank in the rain, absorbing it, giving off an aroma that was like sweet perfume. I thought about trying to somehow capture that wonderful scent, but knew that it was impossible. Only those who have experienced it for themselves know what it is like. It is like no other smell or scent, it is unique.

As I burst out of the dense bush onto the dirt road that led to the trailhead and parking area, a gust of wind hit me and almost pushed me off the road. I held on tightly, knowing that the van was only a little further on. Out here in the open, the rain was coming straight at me, the drops stinging and cold. I put my head down and pushed hard on the pedals.

I rounded the last bend, and there was my van. I quickly loaded the bike into the back, then started to get in myself.

..................Something stopped me.

Instead, I simply stood in the rain, and let it beat down on my body. I was shivering, but something was happening to me and my senses. I felt totally connected to my enviroment, totally alive, totally aware. I looked up through slitted eyes to the sky, raised my face to the cool drops of pure water and let the rain wash me clean of the salty sweat that had streamed down my face from the heat before the storm.

I was soaked through, shivering, but I felt good inside, like the storm had washed away my troubles and worries with the sweat and left me clean and whole again. I was refreshed, the scent of the storm was in me, and surrounded me.

Finally, I got into the van and started off towards my home, calm, peaceful and ready to cope with life and anything it threw at me.

All the way home, The Scent lingered in my memory, refreshing me over and over....

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