It is amazing how exercise and a disciplined mind can bring such a remarkable change to a person’s physique. When Tubby Clark entered the police academy just 6 short months ago he was the lightest rider in the peloton – only 40kg wringing wet!
Now that Tubby has completed his intensive training I could not wait to see what changes the past few months had brought. I had to admit that it was a very impressive body that I was looking at – powerful shoulders, tight stomach and rippling leg muscles that would surely be the envy of any man. I could have sat in my car for far longer, admiring myself in the rear vision mirror, but I knew I should get out and see if Tubby had also changed.
It did not take long to see that, if anything, he had actually got smaller. Even Bruno looked positively obese by comparison. I had visions of Tubby standing with his police issue revolver, only to pull the trigger and find himself thrown head over heels backwards by the recall. Although such a body would make cycling uphill quite effortless, I am sure that he would never become a fast downhill rider. It takes a real body with at least 90 kg of fat and muscle to do that properly.
By the same token it was good to see Paul’s smiling face back with us and we kept him busy throughout the afternoon with inane questions about life in the police force. Apparently the demands of the academy had meant that he had not been on his bike for many months and was therefore finding the going a little difficult.
I was also pleased to see that Willy Schadd had decided to ride the whole trail from Mt Evelyn to Warburton. It was obvious that he has made a great deal of improvement over the past six months. He also informed us that Hooters would not be riding this afternoon. Apparently Hooters has now decided to drop all pretense of being any sort of a cyclist and just stop riding altogether. Thus his lamentable riding history has now disappeared up its own vanishing point. I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Anthony den Hartog was another rider who had decided to give us another go. he had first joined us a couple of weeks ago and had come back for another exciting ride with the Ghost Riders.
As has become the custom the section from Mt Evelyn to Woori Yallock was undertaken at a brisk pace with all riders digging deep. At Woori Yallock we slowed the pace somewhat to enjoy the beauty that was all around us. Neville Hoare was also riding with the Thursday peloton for the first time and seemed to be enjoying the experience.
I was also keeping a lookout for another new rider, Glenda, who would be joining us for her first ever ride. Glenda has just signed up for the 2007 China Ride and has also purchased a new bike from Peter. She is now starting on her own journey of discovery and Peter had undertaken to get her started. Just past Launching Place I noticed Peter and Glenda on the trail ahead. By the unsteady cycling action I could see that one of the riders was having a little difficulty staying upright. You would think that by now Peter would be able to ride properly, but apparently Glenda volunteered to stay behind and make sure that he made it all the way to Milgrove.
At the coffee shop we had plenty of time to get to know our newer riders better. This is always one of the highlights of every ride. It would be hard to imagine what a ride without a coffee stop would actually be like. It was also while we were gathered at the coffee shop that we noticed a strange apparition fly past up the Highway on a bicycle. “That looked like Bob”, someone shouted. A few moments later we discovered that it was Bob. He had finally mustered up the resolve to come back out with his mates again, although he had chosen to ride up the road instead of the trail. In any case it was good to see him back again. Somehow the last few weeks have just been too politically correct without him.
The return ride was again undertaken at a considerably slower pace, which was just as well as Constable Clarke was starting to look a little the worse for wear. Once (2) Bob noticed that Tubby was slowing down he decided to up the ante and start a race up the hill to Mt Evelyn. Anthony, who had been quietly coasting with the peloton, dug deep and bolted up off the hill. By this time the group was in tatters, so I decided to just keep Anthony in sight to see if he was going to slow down. I did not realise that Bob had been silently sitting on my wheel up the hill and allowed him to race past just before we reached COGS. He seemed quite pleased with himself. Some time later Tubby also made it back to the car park.
Can you imagine a better way for middle aged guys to pass a winter’s afternoon? I can’t.