With John about 7,000 km away in Vietnam the other members of the Warby Ghost Riders thought that this might be an opportunity to try something different for a change. Since Mal and Duncan would be taking part in the 210 km Round the Bay in Day Ride in 3 days time this would also be the last chance for a preliminary ride before the “big day”
I also had an ulterior motive for instigating a different ride – it was almost two weeks since I had become the proud new owner of a Cannondale CAD3 R900, but so far I had not had the chance to take it for a ride. The Warburton Trail would surely tear its Michelin racing tyres to shreds – so I made the suggestion “Let’s do circuits around the Yarra River”.
Mal, Bob and I met at the coffee shop at 1.30 pm where I was able to unveil the Cannondale (aka “stealth machine”). After Bob poked and prodded at its wheels and sprockets for a while he finally pronounced that it was ready for me to ride and off we headed for the circuit. First head off away from Melbourne and then TR into Riverside Ave to follow the old road along the side of the river. Then continue to the T intersection, TL and head back to Warburton and then start the whole thing all over again. Each circuit is about 7.5 km.
Since I was still learning how to use the new gears I challenged Bob and Mal to charge ahead and see how long it would take them to lap me. So off they went, heads down and bums up in the air. I continued along at my own pace, thoroughly enjoying the serenity and the quiet purr of the tyres on the pavement. B & M were soon out of sight, but I was really having fun. I turned left at the intersection and head back, past a roadgang who waved as I passed.
Soon I was on the second loop, feeling even better. I wondered how far ahead the others were as I kept turning the pedals. Average speed about 27 kph, according to the computer. No one else in sight. Turn left and head back past the same road gang. They wave a second time.
Back at the church for the third loop. Try a few short sprints, Pity about the creaky noise from the handlebars ! Can’t be a stealth machine if it creaks ….. guess a little bit of oil might be the order of the evening. Just keep rolling, turn back past the road gang for the third time. I think they are starting to wonder what we are doing.
Soon I am back for the fourth loop, time to stop and see if a twist of the spanner might stop the little creak. Nope, guess it needs oil after all. I wonder what’s happened to B & M? Oh well, maybe I should hide in the bushes and wait for them ….. no, think I’ll just keep cruising. Guess that are not as fast as I thought they would be. Hey, there’s that same road gang – this is starting to feel like Ground Hog Day!!!!
Back at the church again, heading into the fifth loop, still averaging about 26-27 kph. Still no sign of the others. I wonder where they are. Maybe I am catching up to them? Nah – maybe I am hallucinating. What a great way to pass an afternoon, even if I have a mountain of work waiting for me when I return to the office. Turn left again and aim back towards Warburton.
What’s that blasted noise? Oh no, it’s my mobile phone. I try to answer it on the go, but it’s too hard so have to roll to a stop and take the call. It’s the guys at the office needing advice so looks like I will have to take a few minutes off after all. While talking on the phone B & M finally catch up to me – but it did take them nearly 40 km to do so, so I don’t feel too bad.
After completing the call we pedal off together as a group – past the road gang for the fifth (or is it the sixth ??) time. Maybe we are starting to annoy them by this time. Back to Warburton and turn into the sixth loop. Cruise around and have a chat. Turn back to Warburton and guess what? There’s the road gang again. A friendly wave to show them we care and on we go.
By this time Mal has had enough and has to stop to gather his energy, but Bob and I decide to do one final loop. We spy three young guys on mountain bikes (maybe Massey Fergusons) up ahead. “Let’s get them” cries Bob and down goes his head, up goes his bum as he heads after them. I must admit it is a nice feeling passing guys half our age on the hill. Let them see what the rear end of a Cannondale looks like.
By this time the sky had cleared and it was another of those superb late Spring afternoons. This was to be our final circuit so we had to remember to say goodbye to our good friends in the road gang, let them know how much we cared about them. A parting smile and wave and the final sprint back down the main street and back to my car waiting at the river.
It had been a great afternoon and the Cannondale had passed the test (even though I would attack the creak when I got home). The only problem was that without John’s ghost whistle, and without John’s “why do we do this?”, and without John’s “head wind”, it just didn’t seem quite the same. Nope, I really must be starting to hallucinate after all……..