With the influx of new members into our weekday peloton I had been looking forward to getting all of our riders to turn up on the same day. Unfortunately today was not going to be the day. With Cheryl in Queensland, Roger in Sydney, Warren in Woop woop, Brendan and Little John at work and Bob home in bed, the best we could achieve would be 7 riders. At least we had Mal with us and a special guest appearance from Ben (too young to be a Warbie, but a good rider nevertheless).
As we hurtled down the track at a brisk speed I made a mental note that the dangerous overhanging fallen tree near Wandin still had not been removed from the trail. I wondered how long it would be before some stupid careless rider runs straight into it, before again putting my head back down to the handlebars in an effort to keep in touch with the rest of the sprinting pack.
The weather was cool and overcast, like much of the past summer has been. Not exactly beach weather, but pretty good for cycling. Hooters joined in the group at Woori Yallock and at about this time JCL decided it was time to bolt. Mal could not resist and soon a breakaway had started. I don’t know how it happened, but within 3km from Woori Yallock Hooters had already fallen 4 km behind the pack.
I tried to remind the offending bolters that this was meant to be a social ride and finally persuaded them to slow down a little. A short 25 minute wait at Launching Place allowed Hooters to finally rejoin the group and we were able to continue on our way.
Although I had tried to conjure up a plan to actually let Hooters win the Settlement Rd sprint, JCL would have no part of it. About halfway down the straight he changed up a few gears and flew down the outside lane. With the finish line still about a full kilometre away I knew that this was one sprint I could not win, but decided to head off in pursuit anyway. A few others jumped on my wheel and the race was on. About 100m from the finish I passed a slowing JCL, but by that time my speed was also rapidly waning. This allowed Mal and Lex to fight out the finish. (I had lost interest).
At Warburton I tried to be optimistic about my chances of a sandwich. It was a waste of time. The coffee shop lady looked at me with a silly smile and said “There’s only cabbage and tofu left”. I tried to tell her that we do this ride EVERY &#$%@ Thursday afternoon, why was it so hard for them to save a few morsels for us? Obviously such detailed planning was beyond her capacity, so I settled for a custard tart instead (the memory of last week’s sausage roll was still “fresh” in my memory).
While we were resting and planning the forthcoming Walhalla ride we were joined by Hooters and Gary (our new cartoonist). The decision had already been made that Gary was to be christened “Garibaldi” in all future correspondence, so I made this news public.
On the return ride, young Ben proved his mettle by managing to make it to the top of Le Petite Capitan. This has become something of a rite (or ride?) of passage for the nation’s elite cycling sportsmen. Hooters again explained that he did not have to complete the challenge because he was only a weckweational wider.
A little while later, as the peloton turned into Settlement Rd, several riders noticed a brown snake making it’s way across the road. Although he won’t tackle even the smallest hill, or pedal at anything over 18 kph, Hooters suddenly had a rush of blood and went to get a closer look. I suspect he pictured himself as some sort of cross between Steve Irwin and Outback Jack as he went eyeball to eyeball with the scaly creature.
Since the poor snake looked like he had been ridden over a few times he would not have won any beauty contests. But, then again, neither would John. As he approached the reptile we wondered if he was going to pick it up and wrap it around his handlebars. Instead he reached into his large handbag to retrieve his camera. I suppose one day he will be telling his future grandchildren how he fought and defeated the giant snake that had been terrorising the poor residents of Yarra Junction.
After that episode the sprint did not seem to assume as large an importance. Since I did not cross the line first I cannot report on the actual result, but I suppose that someone won it.
Garibaldi rode back with us as far as the water trough before turning back for home. The rest of us set off to complete the journey back to our waiting cars at Mt Evelyn. As the bolters charged up the hill I just put my head down to enjoy the ride at my own pace. After all it was a lovely afternoon, and I had no real hurry to get back home. Plenty of time to enjoy the fresh air and let my thoughts wander.
Just as I was lost in a world of my own I was suddenly jarred back to reality – CRACK! What was that? Oh yes, I remember – it was the large fallen tree near Wandin. I had ridden straight into it and collected a solid glancing blow on the top of my helmet. The consequences could have been much worse but the episode did give me something of a rude awakening. I still cannot understand why anyone would ride anywhere without a helmet. Although a little shocked I was otherwise quite unharmed.
Again I learned that no two rides are ever the same.