Although the weather was fine and warm, in my heart all I could feel was an overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness as I made my meloncholy way along the trail. The pages of history are richly adorned with famous partnerships – Napoleon and Josephine, Antony and Cleopatra, Victoria and Albert and, up to last weekend, Dennis and his Cannondale. Now with my beloved Cannondale in broken pieces in the bike shop I felt betrayed and bereft. Would life ever smile again on me? Only time would tell. In the meantime I could only try to hide my emotions and carry on as best I knew how.
On the positive side, it was certainly encouraging to see so many riders turning up for our midweek ride. It did not seem so long ago that we made the first breakthrough to reaching a peloton of ten riders. And that was in the middle of the best month sof the year. Now I looked around and counted no less than 16 riders on the trail in the middle of winter.
Not only had the number of riders steadily increased, but it was so good to see the improvement being made by our newer recruits. Glenda had once again impressed us all by riding from Woori Yallock back to Killara and then all the way out to Warburton. Could this really be the same person who had made her unsteady debut only 5 weeks earlier? Ross had also thrown down the challenge by riding all the way from Mt Evelyn. Such achievements might not rate on the world scale, but for the individuals concerned they are exciting stepping stones and worthy of recognition.
I suppose that is one of the aspects of cycling that I find the most satisfying. The fact that with a little effort, anyone can make so much progress, offers hope for us all. Although I might have been feeling a little depressed about the fate of my favourite bike, it was evident that the rest of the group were really enjoying themselves. Once the peloton had formed, many of the riders tried to comfort me in my sorrow by telling Cannondale jokes. Gary reminded me of his advice to “buy an Avanti”. I tried to smile. It didn’t work.
Many of us have now ridden this trail well over a hundred times, but it is still true to say that every ride is different. Even within the same ride there can be distinct changes of pace and mood. Sometimes the group will be content to just roll along and enjoy a friendly chat and at other times someone will turn up the wick a little until we all find ourselves pumping furiously to avoid being left behind. Sometimes it feels good to just follow someone’s wheel and just settle into a steady rhythm and at other times it is better to take the lead into the wind and give a slower rider a helping hand. I feel that the peloton often takes on an vitality of its own where the combined energy is so much more than just the sum of the individual parts.
Whatever the underlying reason is, I know that riding with a group like the Ghost Riders is so much better than riding solo. What a perfect way to build lasting friendships while we are also doing our health a pile of good at the same time.
With the 2007 China Trip booked out 9 months prior to departure and numbers rapidly filling up for the 2008 adventure challenge I am really excited about the future. If anyone reading this story has not been out on a ride with us yet, why not stop thinking about it and get on your bike and start pedalling? We have an empty space just about your size.