There is absolutely no doubt that blue skies and sunshine in the middle of a Melbourne winter do a lot more good to us than a whole cupboard full of medicine. Although the morning dawned cold and frosty the initial frigid conditions were soon replaced by a true gem of a day. It is no wonder that I was watching the clock all morning, just waiting for the time to arrive when I could don the beloved yellow jersey, strap the Avanti on the back of the car and head off to our favourite trail.
I started at Woori Yallock and rode back to Mt Evelyn and was pleased to find a group already assembling there. Over the next 15 minutes riders started to apppear from all directions until we were loking like bees around a honey jar. What a fantastic site it was to see so many of our riders out on a mid week ride. We even had the unexpected appearance of Tom Partel – he was not due back in Melbourne until the Springtime, but an unfortunate family illness meant that he had made an unplanned return a couple of months early.
During the week I had received a couple of e-mails from another potential Ghostrider recruit answering to the name of “Jo”. She had indicated that her plan was to complete the entire trail, even though it was her first ride for some time. At least she sounded keen ! At about 12.50 pm the new rider showed up and seemed eager to get going. After a few quick introductions all around we were underway.
Although the sun was shining brightly overhead, it was still quite chilly in the shade. Fortunately the chills soon disappear once the pace starts to quicken. With arm and leg warmers, long fingered gloves and a wind jacket I actually felt quite cosy. By the time we arrived at Woori Yallock our peloton had swollen to over 20 riders and made an impressive spectacle on the trail.
Our newest recruit seemed to be enjoying the ride, but then again it had all been downhill up till now. The true test would be when the time came for the return climb but up the hill. In the meantime we could all enjoy the sunshine and reassert our ownership of the trail. At Milgrove my desire for coffee overcame my desire to ride all the way to Warburton and I was soon enjoying lunch at our customary seats. A pity that the overnight drizzle had meant that much of the seat was still wet. Since I had arrived early I was able to secure one of the few dry patches for my backside to sit on.
I was a little disappointed that, when I asked around to see who was going to the Hanging Rock Ride, just about everyone went looking for an excuse. It really is a great ride and I am sure that many of the riders don’t realise what they were missing out on. (As it turned out we did have 6 riders complete the Saturday ride and they all enjoyed it immensely).
On the return ride we noticed that Jo was starting to feel the pinch but she perservered with a smile. I later heard that she found the final section rather challenging but is determined to improve in the weeks ahead. That is the sort of spirit that we admire in all our riders.
I know we need the rain but it really does feel so good to ride in the sunshine.