There is no doubt that Dan has a prolific knowledge of Melbourne’s bike paths and he has led us many a chase along unfamiliar routes over the past few years. On this occasion Dan had promised us another journey of discovery around Melbourne’s northern suburbs. The only problem was that, on the actual day of the ride, Dan was suffering from ill health and was unable to ride. This left the ride in the hands of John Mudgway, who had prepared by coming along with a wad of maps and directions about as thick as the London phonebook. When I asked him if he knew the way, he looked rather blank, leaving me to suspect that he was in the middle of a “senior’s moment”.
With many of our riders already on their way to Europe for our 2016 rides, we had a somewhat reduced peloton of 8 riders who had braved the chilly early morning conditions. All looked just as lost as me, but we were prepared for an adventure. After all, that is what a mystery ride is all about. Soon we were pedalling our way along a creek (I think it was the Merri Creek, but I could be wrong). The bike path was quite undulating, which gave us a good chance to warm up.
The route headed north out of Melbourne and climbed steadily as we went. Fortunately there was absolutely no wind to hinder our progress and the path was sealed all the way. We found ourselves on a large windswept plateau that looked something like the Scottish Moors. After about 25 km of climbing we started to realise that we were short of caffeine. We met up with a couple of other local riders who were probably even older than us and they said they would take us to the best coffee shop in Craigieburn. John replied that it was where we were headed anyway.
Soon we were settled outside an impressive café and had a chance to chat to our new friends. I was amazed that they already knew about the Ghostriders and where our name had come from. The Internet really is an incredible source of information.
After our lunch we said goodbye to our new friends and made our way through the streets of Craigieburn to join up with another bike path which was going to take us back to our starting point. It was about here that John managed to drop all the directions (without realising it) onto the road. Fortunately I was able to collect the huge bundle and take it back to him.
The return ride was delightful cycling as we enjoyed a gentle downhill for around 20 km or so, right back to the inner suburbs. We also managed to do it only getting lost about 3 times. The final couple of km back to the start involved a short but steep climb followed by a ride through some quite busy streets, but we were all in good spirits. The ride was very interesting and I am sure will be doing it again next year.