It is amazing just how much difference two days can make. When four of us had ridden the trails from Waterways to Frankston on Sunday we had been blessed with a delightful, warm and sunny day. The trails were hard and smooth and excellent for riding. We all agreed that it was a fun run and were eagerly looking forward to showing it to the rest of the Ghostriders on Anzac Day.
By Monday evening it looked like our run of sublime autumn weather had finally come to a dramatic end. I lay in bed listening to the sound of (very) heavy rain on my roof. Although this is a sound that I usually find quite comforting, I could not help but worry for the scheduled ride on the next day.
On Tuesday morning the rain was still pouring down. The sky was black in every direction. It is at times like this that it would really have been easy to take the easy approach and just stay in bed. I decided to check the weather radar instead. Although I could see an evil looking blue mass covering most of the eastern suburbs, it did appear to be clearing to the west.
For a few minutes I was on the horns of a dilemma. There was a little voice in my head telling me that “no one would turn up in these conditions”, although I also was reminded that there is a great coffee shop at Waterways. We had spent many long coffee drinking sessions there in the past. If I did happen to be the only nutter to turn up, I could always adopt the proverbial “Plan B” and go straight to the coffee shop with my book instead.
I donned my wet weather gear, loaded the bike onto the car and headed off to Waterways. I had only been in the car for a few minutes when the weather deteriorated further. The drizzle became a deluge. The windscreen wipers went into overdrive. My spirits sank. But I kept on going. I am inclined to be rather stupid like that.
When I arrived at Waterways at 9.30 am I immediately saw Janna on her bike. At least I wasn’t there alone. The rain get falling, but my spirits lifted a little.
To my surprise and relief we were soon joined by a steady succession of other riders. By the starting time we had a large group of around 17 riders. They were all looking to me for inspiration.
“It’s not so bad, I am sure the rain will soon stop”, I lied, with the rain streaming off my helmet and running down my neck. The Ghostriders really are an inspiring bunch and I could not help but feel proud of our peloton as we headed off around the lake. We might have been wet and rather old looking, but we were still out there having a go. It would have been so easy to just throw in the towel—but we didn’t.
We successfully completed the loop of the lake. The trail was muddy but firm.
“Be careful , that bit’s slippery”, I warned. Unfortunately Janna wasn’t, and took the first (and only) fall of the day. To everyone’s relief she was OK and we continued along the Mordialloc Trail. Our tyres sank into the soft surface, the rain continued to pour down and the skies got darker.
“I reckon this will soon stop”, I yelled to those behind me. It was not clear whether I was referring to the rain or the ride.
We turned onto the bike path to Paterson Lakes. This is a wide path that runs in a straight line for quite a few kilometres. In fine weather it has a good riding surface, but the rain had caused large puddles and mud to form. We sloshed along and Bob (Crasher) started to complain. While the rest of the group seemed resigned to the conditions, Bob reverted to form and repeatedly asked why we were riding at all. “Because we can”, was the only answer I could think of. Under the circumstances I think it was a fair answer.
As we progressed, the sticky mud started to form black streaks up the backs of our jackets and the rain started to find its way into every weak seam in our wet weather gear. Our brakes started to groan with the build up of wet grit. Our bikes were soon covered with an accretion of sludge. We tried to smile.
And then the bad weather arrived.
Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Not far from Paterson Lakes the real deluge started. Rain of biblical proportions tumbled from a purple sky. The peloton ran from their bikes and huddled together under a dripping tree. I could almost imagine the group all looking at me with evil intent and accusing me of getting them into this mess, however in spite of the maelstrom, everyone still seemed to be having fun. That is everyone except Bob.
When the deluge finally abated to just a steady downpour, we resumed our ride and were soon on the smooth concrete of the Peninsula Link Path. Then the rain stopped. Things started to look up.
We arrived at Seaford. “Do you want to stop here ?”, I asked. “No we want to keep going”, was the response. So we did. A few kilometres later we rolled into Frankston and settled down for lunch in the city centre.
At this point it was wonderful to meet up with John and Natalie Mudgway who had driven all the way to Frankston to meet us. John is still suffering from quite severe shingles and has been unable to ride for several weeks. I can imagine how frustrating this must be for someone who loves riding so much, however it was wonderful to be able to share fellowship (and a few bad jokes) with them both.
On the return ride the sky lightened considerably and soon the drizzle stopped completely. We were fascinated by the volume of water in the Kananook Creek and the Paterson River. It certainly made for a dramatic spectacle.
By the time we reached Mordialloc Creek we had all dried out and conditions had improved markedly. A group of our riders celebrated by racing ahead, missing the turnoff and accidentally riding almost to Mordialloc Beach. They tried to explain that they did it on purpose.
At the end of the ride about half of our riders stopped at The Nest for e celebratory cup of coffee. In spite of the conditions we were all glad we had ridden. Sometimes it is these types of rides that we remember with amusement and affection for years to come. Thanks heaps to all those who took part in this memorable ride. I did advise that you would need to come with a rain jacket and a sense of humour, and that’s exactly what we all did.