On a fine afternoon you might have expected the trail to be full of riders, but as John and I sat forlornly in the wilderness surveying the damage, there was no help in sight. It looked as if our ride had reached a very premature conclusion (and just who was going to carry the broken bike 7 km back to the cars?). This was certainly not the way it had been planned. Why did this have to happen on the one day that we did not have our mobile mechanic in the peloton ?
Only 20 minutes earlier Little John and I had headed off from Mt Evelyn, eagerly looking forward to the ride ahead. With a fine winters day all seemed set for a good afternoon on the trail. Although we had a few cancellations from the peloton (Bob had stayed home to knit himself a pair of winter knicks and Peter could not get a leave pass from his master), we were confident of an enjoyable social ride.
It was soon after passing the water trough that things started going awry. I heard an ominous “pop” from John’s bike, soon followed by his plaintive cry of “flat tyre”. This is a somewhat frequent occurence and usually entails nothing more serious that a few wasted minutes while Peter repairs the damage. On this occasion, however, Peter was 25 km away, so we realised that the repairs would have to be done the hard way.
It was only after the new tube was inserted that we came to discover that we had a more serious problem. John’s compact pump decided to pack it in and eject its air from the wrong orifice (a bit like John Seamons). We tried pushing, pulling, twisting, unscrewing, banging, shaking without success. Unfortunately I had brought my mountain bike along and forgotten to pack a pump at all. When all our attempts to inflate the tyre came to nought, we sat in the dirt and looked forlornly at John’s dismembered bike.
“Don’t worry, someone will ride along any minute with a pump”, I tried to encourage him. After all we did not want to have to walk all the way back to the cars. Our eyes looked back and forth for approaching cyclists. The track was deserted as far as the eye could see. We waited. Ten minutes went by. Still deserted. Twenty five minutes went by. No-one in sight. Not looking good. I decided to have another play with the pump. Miraculously it decided to start working again.
A few minutes later we were joined by JCL, who had ridden back from Woori Yallock looking for us. A pity he only arrived after the work was done. Nevertheless we were soon on our way, 30 minutes late, but still ready for a ride.
Since we were all riding mountain bikes, no-one was really in the mood for the traditional sprint. We passed the time instead rubbishing Bob. “That guy is getting hopeless”, someone said. “At the first drop of rain he disappears” we all agreed. “You’d think he would have some fighting spirit”, I was about to say when I heard a noise behind me. I was surprised to see that Bob had finished knitting his new winter knicks and decided to join us after all. Apparently he had driven to Launching Place and started from there.
Although we cursed the loose screenings on the final section of the trail, it was good to have something of a peloton at last. We even enjoyed an extended lunch at Warburton, trying not to worry about the fact that the sun was almost down to the horizon.
On the return ride Bob spied a shapely female jogger on the road ahead and started to increase his pace. As he hurtled towards her from the rear I was concerned that he was going to knock her flying. Somehow he managed to avoid a human catastrophe and swerved narrowly around her. As we rode past I think I heard a voice behind me yelling “Watch out you %*&@ old fart!”. Apparently she was not impressed by either his new woollen knicks or his riding skills.
The remainder of the ride was completed without further mishap, although by the time LJ and I reached Wandin, it was almost dark. The last section was ridden by memory, but somehow we both reached Mt Evelyn safely. Another eventful weekday ride.