In Which Big Al Makes His Comeback

Although I was still not feeling recovered enough to complete a full transit of the trail, the weather was just too perfect not to at least ride as far as I could. With the temperature hovering in the low 20s and a blue sky overhead from horizon to horizon I cleaned off the mud that was still caked on the HASA after its last ride and loaded it onto the back of the car. I had decided to wind back the clock a few years and start my ride from Woori Yallock station and thus complete a ride of Hooters’ like proportions.

Arriving at about 1.15 pm I couldn’t see any other riders about so upacked the bike and headed off on a solo ride. The freshly cut grass filled the air with the delicious smells of nature (and also served to trigger my first bout of hay fever for the afternoon). With the warm sun on my legs it was a great feeling to be back on the bike and making my way along the familiar trail. Since I was riding by myself I could set any speed I wanted, but was content to roll along and just soak up the experience. My plan was to ride up to Warburton and then wait for the rest of the peloton at the Milgrove coffee shop.

The further I rode the better I felt, although I was sure that I had made the correct decision in shortening the ride. As it turned out I made Milgrove in good time and then headed up the hill towards Warburton. About half way up I thought I might have been hallucinating for I thought I could see an attractive girl making her way down the path dressed only in a bikini. Pulling the stomach in and throwing the shoulders back I did my best to give the impression that I really was a ‘serious cyclist’. It was only when I got closer than I realised that the scantily clad jogger was none other than our own Merilyn. Apparently her bike was being repaired and she had decided to run down the trail instead of sitting astride her usual two wheels.

I said hello as I passed by and continued my way up the slope. My real concern was for Crasher Lewis – such a sight can be very hazardous for someone of his age (not only for his blood pressure but for causing a severe case of whiplash). After reaching the top of the climb I turned and headed back down again, once again passing Merilyn just before Milgrove. It was at this point that I met up with Spanner and Big Al.

This was the first time that Big Al had been out on his Thursday afternoon ride since his huge crash at the Anderson turnoff a few weeks ago. It was good to see that he has finally feeling well enough to get back up in the saddle again. I turned around and decided to accompany them back up to Warburton, thus passing Merilyn for the third time in the process.

I was thoroughly enjoying the luxury of being able to ride at a sedate pace and just enjoy the sheer pleasure that cycling gives us. By the time we had reached Warburton and were making the descent we finally started to meet up with the riders of the main group making their way up. Back at Milgrove we were able to settle down for lunch while the others steadily arrived. Not only did we have a sizable group of riders but it was great to see that almost every one of them was wearing the official yellow jersey.

The next 30 minutes was pleasantly spent drinking coffee and chatting in the warm afternoon sun. There may be a better way to spend an afternoon, but I certainly can’t imagine what it would be. It was with some reluctance that we finally got back on the bikes and started the return ride. I suspect it was because of the conditions, but no one seemed in any hurry to rush and we actually managed to hold an organised formation all the way back to Woori Yallock. Pelotonic discipline of biblical proportions!

What a perfect ride.