In Which Bev Turns 89

Lately I have come to the conclusion that Michael must have taken up residence at the Woori Yallock car park. It seems that, no matter what time I arrive at the start of the ride, Michael is always there waiting for the group to arrive. This week, with a superhuman effort, I managed to get there at the unheard of hour of 11.15 am, expecting that there would not be another Ghostrider in sight. Of course I was wrong – apparently Michael had been waiting all night for the start of today’s ride. I guess in an age of apathy, such unbridled enthusiasm is to be commended.

Rather than wait for the “stragglers” to arrive, I suggested that we take off and get to COGS before the rest of the mob. We took off at quite a respectable pace (at least it was respectable to me, but not apparently to Warby Phil who soon overtook us at a prodigious rate of cycling knots). No wonder this guy is such a dark horse on the Annual Lungbuster.

The three of us arrived at COGS at about 12.10pm – way too early to just sit around, so I suggested (ie instructed) Michael that we would be continuing over the Mt Evelyn hill and down towards Lilydale. He did not seem as keen to respond to this suggestion as I thought he would, but nevertheless resaddled and followed me over the road. Phil decided to stay behind and chat with the others who were starting to arrive.

Michael and I continued along the trail for another twenty minutes or so before executing a U turn and returning to COGS. By that time the group had grown by the arrival of several extra riders. One rider I was surprised to see was Lothar. Since he was going to be heading off to Europe later that evening I expected him to be at home doing some last minute packing. I should have realised that, like everything else he does, his packing was already painstakingly and meticulously executed. My own idea of packing is to wait till the last minute and then run around like a madman, blaming Maggie for all the items that I cannot locate.

Although the weather was actually quite benign and there was no sign of rain, the cooler conditions had obviously served to deter some of our less dedicated riders from venturing out. This was in stark contrast to last Thursday when the sunshine swelled our numbers to about 30 riders. This time our peloton was reduced to about 8 riders as we headed off towards Millgrove, although a few joined us further along the trail.

Last week we were amazed to see Hooters emerge from his winter hibernation and join us on the ride. I was even more amazed to see him back for his second ride in as many weeks. He was even talking about refitting a “Mark 2 version” of his legendary hooters back onto his bike. If this ever comes to pass it would certainly be an event worthy of world wide press coverage. I am sure that Phil Liggett would agree to run a commentary on the ride.

Although there were the few perennial bolters who tried to set new PBs on the ride to Millgrove, the majority of riders were content to do the right thing and stay together. After the very pleasant experience we had enjoyed at the Valley Bakery last week I asked around to see who would like to repeat the experience. There were quite a lot of riders who supported the idea, but others that felt like we should not desert the Millgrove Bakery. My suggestion would therefore be that we have lunch at the Valley Bakery on the first Thursday of each month, and at the Millgrove Bakery on the other days. This would help to provide some variation and would also help to support the new proprietors who have obviously tried hard to rebuild the business. This approach could be reassessed after a few months to see if it would be continued.

While at lunch we had the very pleasant task of officially inducting Bev Gilbert as Ghostrider number 89. Bev has certainly demonstrated that she is enjoying her riding and I can only wish that she finds our group a great way to make new friends and expand her cycling horizons. We also took the chance to wish Lothar a hearty “Bon Voyage”. He will be missing for two months and I am sure that we all would like him and Celia to have a fantastic time as they return to the land of their childhood.

After lunch we had a relatively relaxed ride back to Woori Yallock. The late afternoon saw the temperature in the valley quickly drop as the sun sank towards the western horizon. This ride marked the passing of mid winter and, although it has been quite cold, we certainly have not had much rain. This does not auger well for our water storages in the coming months.

It was not until my bike was safely stowed on the back of my car that I felt the rear tyre and realised that I had scored another puncture somewhere along the trail. At least I could wait for a more convenient time before I tackled the repair job.