At 11.50 am my chances of being able to participate in the planned ride were starting to look about as good as the proverbial Buckleys. Although the job should have only taken about 45 mins, after 90 minutes there was still no end in sight. My anxiety was further increased by the fact that this afternoon looked like it would be only fine afternoon for the entire week. If I didn’t get to ride today, that would be the last chance until the weekend.
Eventually I summoned my courage, walked up to the client and informed him that “I have to get to another appointment, a very important one”. Although he was keen that the job be completed as soon as possible I tried to pacify him by assuring him that I would be back tomorrow and that I would be able to stay as long as required to finish the work. I am not sure he was convinced, however by that time I was already jumping in my car and heading back to the office.
In spite of my hasty departure I knew there would be no chance of getting to Mt Evelyn on time, so I decided to join the ride at Wandin instead. As I pulled into the carpark at about 1.15 pm I noticed Little John and Legs having an earnest discussion about the state of the trail. Apparently the same contractors who had been so active grading the trail had now dumped many, many tonnes of toppings along the same path. Since their budget obviously did not stretch to a heavy roller, their efforts had now converted our once familar trail to the consistency of a feather mattress. While I am sure it would be nice to sleep on, it is NOT the recommended surface for riding a bike on.
With Bob sick in bed, and with Lex and Johhny gone AWOL, we did not have to wait for any further riders. As we rode down the hill I quickly saw the object of their concern. The parts that were not soft had already molded themselves into a surface resembling a corrugated iron rooftop. It did not take long for me to actually appreciate the fact that I had wisely cut about 10km from the ride.
At least the weather was favourable and the howling wind was actually coming from behind us. In my experience a true tail wind is something often talked about in cycling mythology, but never actually experienced by any real rider. It was therefore with a large degree of pleasant surprise that the three of us were rapidly propelled towards Woori Yallock.
John (Hooters) met us at Woori Yallock and we were hoping that the healthy tail wind might help him reach a more respectable top speed (a wrong assumption). It took him exactly 16.9 seconds for his first reminder that he was “only a weckweational wider.” At Launching Place we met up with Spanner, who appeared to be a rider without a cycle. In fact his bike was still locked up in Peter’s van, but it was soon liberated and reunited with its owner.
Just out of Woori we were met by a pretty, doe eyed female on the trail. When I stopped my bike she looked me straight in the eye and started to walk towards me. Was I frightened? Not me. I have always thought that black and white cows looked just like big Panda Bears anyway.
Without Bob, Mal or Johnny in the peloton, the sprint was a little one sided but still left me gasping for air at the end. We then slowed down for the remaining stretch to Warburton, little knowing what was still ahead.
About half way up the last bitumen section of the trail I spied a couple of slim riders of the fairer sex. As I pulled alongside I remarked on the heavily loaded panniers they were both carrying. They looked over at me and, noticing the famous Ghost Riders yellow jersey, asked if I really was a member of that group. I assured them that you do not get a physique like mine from just watching TV (it takes cakes and coffee as well). I also took the opportunity to give these two new riding companions a brief tour of Warburton and finally lured them down to our favourite Coffee Shop.
When they glanced at the outdoor tables they did not seem at first inclined to stay but soon changed their mind when they caught a glimpse of Peter’s legs. They soon informed us that they were from St Kilda, but modesty prevents me from reporting much of the remainder of their conversation. They were apparently planning on staying the night somewhere and asked us if we could make any suggestions. In the following confusion I replied that we “had our own web site”, Peter started making adjustments to one of the girls’ bikes and John said he was only a weckweational wider. They did not seem impressed. I guess city girls are like that.
After our coffee we bade farewell to our new friends and headed back, hoping that the impending rain would hold off. I can also report that we had another tail wind behind us back as far as Yarra Junction (either that or we were still on a high from meeting such nice company). In any event we were soon back at the Launching Place Hotel where we parted company with Hooters, Legs and Spanner. This left just Little John and me to complete the ride back to our cars.
Before the final uphill section to Wandin we stopped for a drink at the water trough and the portly farmer came to chat with us. His little dog was apparently overcome with admiration at the sight of my lycra and decided to jump all over me. We were again informed that the rainfall had been pathetic and that he needed at least another “6 inches of rain each week until 2008” (or something like that).
As we ploughed upward in the loose toppings I could feel my skinny wheels sinking precariously into the surface. With nightfall rapidly approaching I was soon really looking forward to getting back to my car. Little John (who had to ride all the way back to Mt Evelyn), turned on his headlight and, the last I saw of him, he was puffing his way across the highway with a worried look on his brow.
Was I glad I had made the effort to ride today ? You bet your bippy I was!
Am I looking forward to summer sunshine and longer days? OH YEAH!
SPECIAL BONUS READ:
Spanner Billson has submitted his own report on the day’s happenings.
Our fearless leader faithfully reports on the weekly rides. In his creative style we appreciate a vivid account of how things could have happened and occasionally how things actually did happen. So may one of the mere lemming in the peleton of life offers his version of the days activities.
Threatening skies in the morning proved to scare away the less dedicated and those that had to work, but a certified group of 5 (or perhaps just should be certified) turned out today to show what real legends are made of.
Little John led the way with a solo effort starting at Mt Evelyn, soon to be joined by Dennis at Wandin. Chucky (or Hooters to those who have ridden with
him) was waiting at Woori Yallock. Somewhere along this trail the mighty Peter Warren joined in (mention what a nice guy he is on the net is good for a great discount at his bike store). But it wasn’t til Lunching Place (Launching to some but great food makes it a great place for lunch for me) that the peleton gained its full peak when spanner Billson was eagerly awaiting Peter Warren to arrive to unlock his bike held captive in the back of his van. He at first could not find his car keys but the appearance of a large shifter from Warrens Car boot created a bit more enthusiasm to find the key and open the door.
Taking of into a strong headwind, the 5 bravely faced the elements unsure of what was to come!. Actually not a lot did happen after that until Warburton, but it could have. The battle for line honours in Settlement Road turned into a non event with no Bobby Lewis to push everyone along. Chucky was kind enough to stay down the back pushing Wazza along (well that’s how he explains it)
We all finally arrived at the Warburton Bakery – well almost all anyway. Dennis had taken a shortcut going further down the trail to cut around the fire station whilst the real men tackled the Main Street. He did finally arrive and to our surprise had some potential new members cycling along behind him.
Now far be it from anyone to cast any asspersions on anyone’s character – well that sort of thing just would not happen on the pages of these chronicles. But it is true to say that these particular ladies were, shall we say to keep things totally above board, ladies from StKilda. They did show particular interest in the types of accommodation readily available in the area, I am sure for totally moral and innocent reasons – as I said we do not cast aspersions on anyone’s character (unless we get a good laugh from it)
They were very friendly to the men as we shared stories, some even about cycling. Peter Warren was a total gentleman as he played with one young ladies saddlebags, whilst her friend played with his glasses and made an offer Peter did in all good faith refuse. However Dennis did encourage them both to visit the Warby Ghost Riders website – I trust they do not as a law suit at my age is not a good thing.
The few spots of rain experienced were insignificant but light was fading, so time to head back.
Little John led the way with Dennis in pursuit. Peter streaked ahead to unload his van and prepare space for this next overhaul job whilst the wecreational wider plodded along asking why we did this.
So at the end of the day it was a great ride, not the most perfect but a chance to blow the cobwebs of life from our hair (for those that still have hair), meet some old and make some new friends.
Roll on summer…..