Following the great arctic ride of last week I was quite pleased to see that the weather was much more merciful to us this week. I was also expecting a good turn out of riders – after all this was to be the final ride of the Financial Year. Any members who had respect for tradition would certainly be keen to make it a memorable event.
Unfortunately I had to work in Brunswick in the morning and was conscious of the long drive I had to complete in order to get to the start on time. Although it was going to be difficult I knew that the President (and reigning KWT) would have to set the example.
During my drive back to Emerald I decided to have a quick ring around of the foundation members to confirm their attendance. “I have to stay home and pack my underwear for my trip” said John. “I never ride on Wednesdays” said Mal, implying that it was sort of a cyclists sabbath. At least our oldest member assured me that he would be there, even though his groin was apparently “all stuffed up”.
I tried not to think uncharitable thoughts as I charged back through the traffic and finally arrived at Wandin only 15 minutes late. Bob was already there rubbing his legs and trying to encourage some blood flow back intro his offending groin. We quickly kitted up and headed off down the hill.
During the week I had invested in a patented Dean Woods head warmer, hoping that it might help to stop my ears getting frostbitten again. After a couple of km it became obvious just how effective it was and I had to stop to take it off before I got heatstroke. A pity my hands were not as warm as my ears, but in my excitement to get going I had left my gloves back in the car.
As we rode on the conversation turned to the forthcoming Tour de France. Just as we were considering the possible winners, Bob let fly with a mighty shout of “PUNCTURE”. At first I thought that maybe one of his lungs had burst but the sight of his rapidly deflating front tyre soon showed the cause of his anguish. We were already behind schedule and this would certainly rob us of another 15 minutes or so.
While Bob sat forlornly in the wet grass and began to wrestle with his rubber we did not notice that a group of three elderly “leg shavers” were racing up the track from behind. Our solitude was therefore abruptly disturbed as they rode past at high speed with a triumphant greeting of “G’day Bob”. They were obviously in a hurry to get somehere important and could not stop to lend at hand and soon disappeared in a cloud of dust and mud into the distance.
After they were safely past I asked Bob who they were but he replied that he “didn’t have a clue”. I guess it’s a bummer the terrible things that age does to an old man’s memory.
By the time Bob had succeeded in repairing his tube he was desparate to try to catch the speeding peloton and so charged up the trail, giving no thought to his suffering groin (or to me lumbering in his wake). Since the day was just about perfect for riding we did manage to complete the remainder of the outward ride to Warburton at something of a breakneck speed, although by the time we reached Warburton I was overdue for my caffeine hit.
As we pulled into the coffe shop we noted that the 3 riders who had passed us were already enjoying the spoils of their ride. Bob tried to pretend that he knew them after all and was soon exchanging cyclical conversation with them. Apparently they were all from the Eastern Vets cycling club, but Bob later confided to me that “none of them can ride for peanuts”.
When we had finished eating we decided to head back down the trail in a combined peloton, although I was not convinced that this was a good idea. The speed soon steadily increased to somewhere over 30 kph, but I found that while we stayed close together we were able to share the effort.
As we thus charged along the trail we noticed a familiar face riding towards us. Ever since we have been riding the Warby Trail we have seen the same elderly guy on almost every ride. I had started to believe that maybe he was the resident ghost of the Warby Trail, after all how could it be possible to pass him on EVERY ride?
When we had passed the ghost I asked one of our new riding companions if they knew who he was. I was informed that it was none other than than “Walter”, the 103 year old riding legend who rode the length of the trail EVERY DAY. I guess that brought me down to earth a little. Somehow riding the trail once or twice a week did not seem such a big thing anymore when we had been passed by someone even older than Bob who actually rode it every day of his life.
As we approached Woori Yallock I started to look forward to stopping for one of John’s regular drinking breaks, but our new peloton showed no signs of stopping, or even slowing down for that matter. All I could do was hang on and keep pedalling. This tactic seemed to work until we reached the big bridge between Woori Yallock and Killara. After my unfortunate experience with the broken chain stay on this bridge I have always crossed it with a good degree of caution. This same caution was not excercised by anyone else and, by the time I reached the other side, I was somehow about 100 metres behind the others.
Bob must have looked back and showed pity on me as he slowed down and allowed me to catch up. “I have never had any trouble riding up hills on a bike” Bob said. Personally I felt that if you exchanged “sense” for “trouble” you would have a much truer statement of fact. By this time our new “friends” had siezed the chance to disappear into the distance. I guess leg shavers don’t really know what riding for fun is really all about. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say that “cleats never prosper”.
As Bob and I completed the final few km together I did note that we had made very good time on the return ride and would be back at the cars with about 30 minutes or so to spare. I did not think that stopping for the occasional drink could make that much difference.
The final climb back up to Wandin did seem a little more tiring than usual and I suspected it was because of the fast pace that we had set earlier in the ride. I think the situation was also not helped by the fact that I had also succumbed to a puncture and my rear tyre was now steadily losing air. Although I usually hate punctures it did provide me with a convenient scapegoat to justify my slow speed over the last stretch of trail.