I remember reading somewhere that Dame Nellie Melba made more comeback appearances than anyone else in history. While this may once have been true, I suspect that her unenviable record was surely broken by the unstoppable Crasher Lewis last Thursday. Anyone who has known Crasher will no doubt know that his entire cycling history has been punctuated by a continuous succession of crashes, mishaps and injuries. When he first joined the Ghostriders about 5 years ago, he somehow managed to fall off his bike on EVERY ride. The main reason (ie excuse) for this cycling ineptitude was that it was because he was “riding too slow”.
As the weeks and months progressed Crasher seemed to gradually tire of the constant cheering that accompanied every new crash on the trail and he started to stay upright for progressively longer periods of time. In place of his crashes he found another way to excuse himself from any rides that he didn’t want to participate in. Hence began a long sequence of mysterious illnesses and body injuries. “I think I’ve pulled my rear obdurate muscle”, or some other such nonsensical excuse became the order of the day whenever Crasher needed to justify staying home in bed, rather than joining his mates on the trail.
Over the past few years I thought I had heard every possible excuse and thought that Crasher might eventually become a regular at every Thursday and weekend ride. After he had somehow managed to avoid completing any of our previous Donna Buang Lungbuster ride it appeared that we would finally see him participate in the 2007 event.
It was not until the week prior to the 2007 Lungbuster that Crasher once again mysteriously went missing from the regularThursday afternoon ride. On the morning of the Lungbuster there was (yet again) no sign of him. Just about every other Ghost Rider in Melbourne was gathered at the start but Crasher was nowhere to be seen. When he still had failed to appear at several subsequent rides I decided to ring him to see what was the matter.
“I’ve think I’ve pulled by groin”, he carefully explained on the phone. I tried to keep a straight face and pretended to sympathise with his misfortune. He went on to explain that he had been training to achieve the first sub 60 minute ascent of the mountain when something snapped in his groin. I wondered if it might just have been the elastic on his knicks, but he assured me that, with a damaged groin he would not have been able to perform on Donna.
Thus the 2007 Lungbuster was, once again, completed “sans Crasher”. It was not until November 1st (over a month later) that he finally reappeared at a Thursday ride. I had to admit that the rides had not been the same without him. If it were not for characters like Crasher the Ghostriders would not have become the unique entity that it now is. On his 47th comeback ride, Crasher spent most of the time telling us about the intimate details of his groin (information I would rather have not have devoted any of my diminishing neuron count to storing) and how that he would be “taking it easy from now on”.
Of course that was until he reached the final climb to Warburton where he disappeared into the distance with a spin of his back wheel and sending a cloud of dust into our faces. Some things never change.