As we started the ride there were a couple of good reasons for excitement. After what seemed a particularly long and cold season it was certainly good to note that this would be our last ride of the winter. Ahead of us we could look forward to those balmy spring days of warming sunshine and blue skies. The thought of not having a perpetually dripping nose is enough to gladden the heart of any regular trail rider.
This ride was also special in that it would give us the chance to welcome Jo Cooper into official Ghostrider status, having completed her prescribed four probationary ride. I had to admire the way that she had thrown herself enthusiastically into her riding and we had no doubt that she would demonstrate dramatic improvement. In fact so great had her improvement been that old Crasher Lewis was starting to wonder whether she might have discovered the secret supplier of his notorious “Jungle Juice”.
When Jo arrived at the start of the ride she also brought along a mate of hers. Steve had never ridden the Warburton Trail before but he looked like quite an experienced cyclist. I explained to Jo that she would have prepare herself for the initiation ceremony that would officially mark her rite of passage and qualify her to become Ghostrider number 75. It may have been my imagination but she seemed slightly nervous at the prospect. Nevertheless the peloton rode off at a merry pace and soon become separated out over a wide distance.
At Woori Yallock we all waited for some time for the stragglers to catch up and I was a little surprised to see that Jo was apparently struggling a little. Obviously the pressure of completing her fourth ride was starting to take its toll. Steve seemed to be enjoying his first experience of the trail. After a short wait we all rolled off towards Milgrove and the awaiting coffee and cakes. I have always believed that it is the prospect of the coffee that helps propel us along this section of the trail.
I decided to continue all the way to Warburton and thus help build up my appetite a little more (and also help appease my conscience over the excessive intake of calories that I was so eagerly looking forward to). At lunch we welcomed Jo into the inner sanctoms of the Ghostiders and informed her that she could now go to Peter’s shop to pay him the $200 for her own yellow jersey. I also informed her about the “$500 membership application fee” which was now due and payable. As all this information was shared with her she seemed to turn an interesting shade of yellow. Perhaps this was the “secret initiation” she had been fearing so much.
Whatever the reason, Jo seemed to sag markedly on the return ride and was a few minutes behind the main group when they arrived back at Woori Yallock. No matter how long you have been cycling we all have weeks when the going seems much harder than usual and other weeks when you feel on top of the world. That is just the nature of the game. She did persevere to the end and eventually made it back to Mt Evelyn at about 3.00 pm on Friday afternoon.
Congratulations Jo on becoming our 75th official Ghostrider!