The prospect of a day in the mid 20s (both temperature & size of peloton) was enough to gladden the heart of any ageing president. In order to gain the greatest benefit from this outburst of solar energy I decided to start at Woori and ride back up the hill to COGS for the official start. I was joined by four other riders and we made god time, arriving at about 12.45 pm. It was good to see that there was already a sizeable group of Ghostriders waiting for the ride to begin. Joining us for her first ride was Connie Dekter. Her husband Jur had set the fastest time in the 2007 Lungbuster and we expected that should would have been tarred with the same “bolter brush” as her partner, but to our pleasant surprise she turned out to be a real cyclist – just like the rest of us.
It was also good to see Wendy back for her third ride and well on the way to becoming a real Ghostrider. She had also brought Danielle back for her second ride. In fact with the large number of women in the group it was beginning to look like we would actually have more female than male riders. That would surely have been a first for any of our rides. While I was counting the number of riders I noticed that a rather unsavory looking character had appeared from the bushes. Although he was not wearing his normal gabardine raincoat, his shifty look and the long white whiskers on his chin gave me little doubt that he was probably the notorious “Warby Trail Flasher”. It was not until I walked closer, to tell him to clear off, that I came to realise that it was none other than Crasher Lewis!
Crasher had been missing from the rides for an extended period due to some mysterious and ill defined injury. “I’ve got a bone in my leg”, was all he could say when asked for more information about why he was (once again) not doing the Lungbuster. Of course he wasted no time in spying out the new women and regaling them with stories of his “7 prestigious National Titles”. Wendy asked whether the National Titles were for cycling or for plasticine model making. Crasher went on to explain that, if he couldn’t win National Titles, he would simply hang up his bike. (Now when had we heard that before ?)
At the appointed start time we were, once again, on our way. At a rough estimate I calculated that we had now ridden the trail over 300 times, but it is just as much fun as the first time. Soon we settled down into a happy rhythm, enjoying the sunshine and fellowship of the other riders. About half way to Woori Yallock we spied a rather ungainly looking rider on the trail ahead of us. Dressed in baggy jeans and sporting a striped T shirt that made him look like the famous Wally in the “Where’s Wally” picture books, we decided that he should be fined by the cycling fashion police and decided that it was our duty to give chase.
Although he looked every inch like a weekend wobbler, every time we caught up to him he would put the foot down and draw away from us. This became embarrassing as we could see that he was at least 75 years old and his huge ears made him look like a Volkswagon with both doors open. Nevertheless he toyed with us all the way to Woori Yallock, finally finishing a good 500 metres ahead and then immediately turning back and riding past us with a taunting look on his face. I suspect that he was some member of the pro cycling world in disguise.
While we were waiting at Woori Yallock for our peloton to reform I noticed another Wally preparing for a ride. This one was also dressed in a striped red and white T shirt and came over and introduced himself as Bob. Since we already have far too many Bobs in the peloton we decided that we would have to coin a new name entirely, either that or maybe the five Bobs could all join up together to make their very own group – The Biking Bobs perhaps.
Also at Woori was another face we hade not seen in the peloton for a considerable time. Marg Jones has been studying Nursing for the past two years and her busy study schedule has kept her from most rides, but it was fantastic to see her able to join us and meet some of the newer recruits. Since Marg will also be our official starter for the Lungbuster it was also a good chance to go over some of the last minute arrangements for the big day.
Due to the growing number of magpie incidents over the past several weeks, the region of the trail between Launching Place and Yarra junction has now been christened as “Magpie Alley”. As we entered this most dangerous area we all debated as to who should go first and on what strategies to adopt. Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly) the much feared marauding magpies were nowhere to be seen and we were all able to make our way through the Valley of Death without disaster.
Chook and I discussed the relative merits of having first choice of pies at the Milgrove Bakery or riding the additional distance up to Warburton. The pies won on this occasion and we were soon seated in the sunshine happily munching away on the pie of our first choice and taking on an extra several thousand calories. I was very pleased to see that Connie was quick to adopt our cycling etiquette and was also indulging in a very wicked looking vanilla slice with a contented smile on her face. This girl has real potential to be a truly GREAT Ghostrider.
The lovely sunshine made it even harder than usual to get the riders roused for the return ride, but finally we were underway (at a significantly slower pace than the outward ride). Several people commented that we really are so blessed to have a trail like this within easy commuting distance. It is on days like this that you realise afresh just what a wonderful privelege it is to be able to ride such a beautiful trail with such fine friends. May the next 300 rides be just as much fun.