As I looked about at all the jersey clothed cyclists struglling to find a place to sit outside the Trailblazers cafe in Milgrove it was hard not to feel a little proud of what we had achieved in the past 4 short years. When I got home after the ride I looked up the official ride account for the corresponding day in 2002. I found that the ploton on that day consisted of just three riders (or more accurately two riders and a hooter). Bob’s premature senility had caused him to mount two huge artificial eyes on th etop of his helmet in an attempt to deter attacks from (the late) Eddy the Mad Magpie. What a sad spectacle we must have made on the trail.
In four years we had grown to regular pelotons of 15 to 20 riders, some of whom actually knew how to ride in an organised bunch. We now even had a uniform to wear and our reputation were known all over the country. It was so encouraging to see the progress our newest trainees had made. Glenda, who had only seen her first bicycle a couple of months ago, even announced that she was going to ride up Donna Buang in two day’s time. We even had a growing group of women in the group – surely a great achievement for a group that originally defined itself as a “men’s bike riding club”.
I cast my eyes from rider to rider and tried to recollect how they had first come into the group. It really was quite interesting that people had joined in so many different circumstances. Some had found us through the web site, others through seeing us ride along the trail, some through word of mouth, a couple from Bicycle Victoria and some from local newspaper articles. In spite of how they had come to join us, they had certainly melded together to form a unique group of elite cyclists – every one striving to improve and become the very best rider they possibly can.
Just at that point my eyes reached Hooters, sitting down on a chair and happily stuffing a huge custard pie into his mouth. A feeling of sadness crept into my spirit. Although it’s probably true that every family has a black sheep somewhere in its closet, I could not help but feel I had failed somewhere in the past. Whereas every other rider in the peloton had become an inspiration, Hooters was our one glaring disappointment. It is hard to understand how anyone can actually be a achieving less now than they were on their VERY FIRST ride, but in Hooters’ case, this was the sad truth.
Not only had he never completed any of the cycling challenges so eagerly faced by all other riders in the group, but he had slowly reduced the frequency and length of his rides. When I asked for a show of hands for those who would be riding up Donna Buang, John indicated that he wouldn’t even DRIVE up the mountain since it put too much stain on his accelerator foot. Where did we go wrong ? Was it something we said in the past? Or maybe did his mother drop him out of the pram when he was a baby? I guess we will never know the truth.
I wondered what the next four years would bring. What will I be writing about the 2010 October ride ? What adventures will we have had together in the meantime? How many Ghost Riders groups will we have bythen? Will my original pair of knicks still be wearable ? With such thoughts racing around in my head I finsished off the cream and custard pie that was still sitting on my plate. It’s a hard life but someone has to do it.