Looking ahead at the impressive number of cyclists in our peloton it is hard to believe that so much has been achieved in such a short time. Could it really be only three years ago that three cyclists struggled to ride from Woori Yallock to Warburton and back, little knowing what would lie ahead?
It was especially encouraging to see Phil and Marg Jones, both proudly wearing their new jerseys for the first time. They have certainly settled in well into our group. The early weather forecasts had been a little dubious but as we made our way along the trail I was pleased to see that the afternoon had turned out quite well. We were even blessed with regular burts of warm sunshine.
Col Flitton (the flatlander from Bendigo) had turned up for another ride with his heroes. Things are now moving rapidly towards the establishment of our new Bendigo chapter, and I suspect he just needed a little more instruction and guidance on how a cycling group should be managed. Once they are fully underway we should be able to arrange combined rides during the year.
By the time we picked up Lisa and Roy at Woori Yallock, the group had swollen to 14 riders. Even John Dawson’s wife Kerry had come out for her first ride with the Ghost Riders. It looked like we were rapidly heading towards yet another record mid week peloton. When Cheryl joined in at Launching Place the new record looked well and truly in sight.
But where were Hooters and the Spanner??? Although Spanner had a legitimate medical reason for his absence, Hooters had decided to stay at home because of fear of a sunshower somewhere near Somerville. Even Crasher had not been silly enough to miss a ride on such a pretence, but Hooters was nowhere to be seen.
With the peloton at its full size we headed down the highway before the turnoff over the small bridge. Colin had moved to the front of the pack and was looking dangerous. As soon as we were on the narrow back road he took off, raising the speed to 30 kph. I was pleased to see Gary jump on his tail before he got too far ahead. This was looking ominous, with the rest of the group now spread out over about 500metres along the road.
The left turn onto Settlement Rd saw the speed jump to 35 kph – not a good omen when the finish line is still over a km away. Gary was still glued to Colin’s tail and I was holding on (just) to the rear. This continued for the next couple of minutes, with still no sign of any of our “Gun riders” in sight. By the time we neared the finishing post I could see that Colin was slowing down, but so was I. It was at this point I was actually glad to see the seniors brigade of Crasher, Lex and Magoo come flying past to cross the line ahead of Colin and therefore uphold the honour of the Ghost Riders. I think I might have come in about fifth, but by that time I had stars in my eyes.
It was a relief to be able to cruise the remainder of the way at a more sedate speed and eventually settle down at the coffee shop. The sandwiches have proven to be a popular alternative to cream cakes and custard tarts (and probably a bit better for us in the long run), so we will probably continue this system for the forseeable future.
While we were gathered at the coffee in the afternoon sunshine a local guy came and introduced himself to us. He explained that he already knew all about us from the web site and would like to start riding with us. It seems we are now gathering new recruits faster than a honey pot gathers blow flies. Speaking of new recruits, I remembered that Dean “Mr Bean” Yagis had indicated his intention of riding with us today but had not turned up. I hope that his will not become another “1 ride wonder”.
After the pleasant lunch we were content to roll along at a slow pace and enjoy a chat on the return ride. It was great to see so many supporters out on the trail to wave as we rode past, although sometimes it would be better if they left their unleashed dogs at home. Once we got in sight of Settlement Rd, Colin again threatened to bolt, but restrained himself until the designated starting post. I suspected that Crasher would, once again, flash past but I just managed to hold him off to win by a whisker. Lex said he would have won if he hadn’t been riding the remnants of his Great Vic “free” bike. Apparently the rubber derailleurs and plastic chain do not lend themselves to rapid acceleration.
At Woori Yallock we parted company with Lex and Johnny Magoo, who rode back to Emerald. Kerry, Lisa, Roy, Peter and Cheryl also finished their ride at this point. The reduced peloton rode on in beautiful late afternoon conditions. With the peace that descends on the valley at this time of day this is always one of the best parts of each ride.
The only disturbance was from my regularly ringing mobile phone. Each time it rang I had to stop and dismount and then have to chase the group to catch up again. This is not the best way to establish a regular rhythm. At Wandin we parted company with Roger, Phil and Marg, leaving just Colin, John D, Crasher and me to complete the trail back to Mt Evelyn.
Later that evening Dean (“Mr Bean”) Yagis rang to tell me that he had ridden all the way from his home in Pakenham and was going to join us at Woori Yallock. Unfortunately his brake cable snapped just out of Woori Yallock (probably from too much stretching on the Donna Buang ride) and he had to limp it back home. He will try again next week.