In Which Real Ghosts Appear

Since arriving back in Australia after the recent Nepal Adventure I have been accutely conscious of my severe lack of back riding and its associated complete los of bike fitness. This was nowhere more apparent than on the Wangarrata to Bright Rail Trail ride where, for the last 30 km or so, I felt like I was sitting on a bed of broken glass. The problem is just that, I am just so busy that the poor old bike seems like an old friend that I have just lost contact with.

This week however I was determined to shake off the demands of the business and determinedly put up the “CLOSED” sign on the window at 11.00 am, hoping like mad that the phone would not ring just as I was getting into the car. Murphy’s Law of course being immutable, the phone did ring leaving me with a mad rush to grab my things and head off to Woori Yallock for the start of the ride. One thing that was going well was the weather – it was fine and still, giving promise of an enjoyable ride.

When I arrived at Woori I could see a few other cars, but no riders. I quickly unpacked the bike and started off towards COGS. At least once I was finally underway I could feel the stress of the day starting to melt away. This really is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature and, at least for a short time each week, settle down into a much simpler pace of life. With my legs rolling over and my lungs breathing deeply it was impossible not to feel priveleged at being able to participate in such a fantastic activity in beautiful surroundings.

I arrived at COGS to find the usual suspects gathered and enaged in light hearted conversation. Since I was still a few minutes early I took the opportunity to have a rest until the appointed starting time arrived. The last to arrive was Bob Andrews (4 Bob) who I had not seen for several weeks. As he pulled up at the summit, I had to interupt his puffing and panting by telling him that it was now time to leave. The peloton was soon rolling down the hill on its way to Milgrove.

As is usually the pattern with our Thursday rides we had a number of other riders join us along the way, but I was not prepared for the sight that awaited us when we arrived at Woori Yallock. There were two riders, proudly decked out in yellow jerseys, that we had not seen for a very long time. John and Warren (aka “Hooters” and “The Spanner”) had been two of our early riders but had found the pace a little too much and had gone off in search of easier, shorter and slower rides. It was good to them them out again after such a long absence.

Also at Woori was Richard Kempster (aka The Kempmeister), who I cannot ever recall joining us for a Thursday ride before, although he had been a regular on our Cockatoo Trail rides and some weekend rides. When Steve Warburton arrived we had a good sized group and were able to proceed with our heads and colours held high.

No sooner had I started riding than my mobile phone rang and, by the time the call was over, the peloton was out of sight. I did not catch them again until Launching Place, once again clearly demonstrating that I am only a pale shadow of the rider I once was. Fortunately I was able to finally catch up with Hooters and share a chat as we rode along to Milgrove.

At Milgrove I again received another pleasant surprise as we found a number of riders already waiting. Along with Glenda and Gael, I was so pleased to see Lothar and Celia enjoying a ride together. After Lother’s recent illness I am sure we were all happy to see him back on the bike. When Crasher Lewis came rolling in for his first ride in many weeks I could have been excused for thinking that it was some sort of reunion of all the old faces.

With all the ghosts materialising out of the cycling ether, I am not sure what the final count of riders was for the afternoon, but it must have been well over 20. Since this was our penultimate autumn ride I guess that was a good turnout before the cold Yarra Valley winter sets in.

After an extended and very enjoyable lunch, we finally set pedal back for Woori Yallock. It had been a most enjoyable and worthwhile ride. Now what’s that infernal noise ? Oh it’s my mobile phone ringing again.