It had been suggested more than once before that we should try doing our weekly ride in the morning rather than in the afternoon, but up till this week we had lacked the courage (and the ability to get up early enough) to “give it a go”. However, when the weather forecast was for a predicted top temperature of 35C Bob became seriously worried that his aging constitution would not be able to cope with such extreme conditions. I made the decision to meet at Mt Evelyn for a start at the proverbial “crack of dawn“.
At 8.30 am the sun was barely risen however Mal and I were waiting at the Highway looking for Bob. As expected, Bob was nowhere to be seen. A call to Bob’s mobile soon revealed that he was still in bed, slumbering away in his teddy bear ‘jamas. Faced with expulsion from the Warby Riders, he did wake up and reluctantly agreed to meet us somewhere along the track.
Mal and I set off at a leisurely pace down the hill while I tried out the new “anti-puncture” practice of inflating my tyres to double the normal pressure. I soon discovered that with so much air in the tyres I was more floating down the trail than riding, but at least I did not puncture in the first few km.
After about 25 mins of riding we could hear a huffing and puffing noise approaching from behind. It certainly sounded even more like a steam engine than John’s ghost whistle, but it turned out to be nothing more than Bob steaming up the trail on his Bismark. No sooner had he caught up to us, than he let fly with his first blowout of the day. Soon afterwards he discovered that his rear tyre had also suffered a blowout which he tried to blame on his excessive speed on the track!
After several more minutes of huffing and puffing, pushing and pulling, he had the offending tube replaced and we resumed our ride. By this time the morning temperature had reached about 22C and conditions were just about perfect. A fellow could really get addicted to this lifestyle. We were even blessed by a tail wind (and not the type caused by John’s ingestion of too many egg sandwiches). I don’t think it gets any better than this.
By the time we reached Woori Yallock we met John unloading his new look bike from the rear of his car. Gone were all the hooters, batteries, relays, antennas, oscillators and the like. We even thought for a moment that he had shaved his legs, but he assured us again that he did not need to. Could it be that John had finally undergone some sort of miraculous conversion and turned into a lean mean riding machine?
With the group at full strength we pedalled off in high spirits under a smiling sun and blue skies. Unfortunately we had not gone far before John’s bladder started to go all funny and he said he would need to stop for a break somewhere. When a suitable clearing presented itself he dismounted and disappeared into the scrub. What he didn’t notice however was the sign that dramatically warned “BEWARE ELECTRIC FENCE”. Although I toyed with the idea of warning him, I thought it would be much more entertaining to see what happened when the inevitable happened…….sure enough the quiet was soon disturbed by a loud spark followed by a cry of anguish. It is amazing how well some liquids conduct electricity! I had never seen John sporting an afro hairstyle before and I am not sure that the look really suited him.
We all reached Warburton about 10.30 am where we enjoyed the customary coffee and made plans for our next exploit. It was agreed that we would tackle the longest rail trail in Victoria on the 30th November. The famous Wangaratta to Bright Trail would be a challenge, but one that we were confident of meeting head on. This would finally give us something to tell other nursing home residents all about.
When we started back towards Melbourne we could not help but notice the large number of elderly ladies gathering around the Milgrove crossing. Apparently they were getting ready to wait for John’s next “floor show” but we had surprised them by riding through in the morning rather than the afternoon. I am sure the afternoon must have proved a great disapointment for these poor souls.
The other undoubted highlight of the return ride was the discovery of an alternate route back to Launching Place. What a terrific little road. I am sure that this will become our new path.
We completed the rest of the ride without further incident, apart from some clown hiding in the bushes near Wandin who tried unsuccessfully to scare us from our bikes. There was also another clown who tooted us from his car at various places between Wandin and Mt Evelyn. The face and car looked vaguely familiar, especially the afro hairdo, but you can never be sure.
At least I completed the ride WITHOUT a puncture.