For most people climate change might be a most unwelcome development, but for cyclists it does at least help to guarantee that the prospects of getting wet on a ride are now almost zero. This Thursday (like every other recent Thursday) was again warm, sunny and dry. Even better was the fact that the air was almost completely still. When you combine all these conditions with probably the best cycling track in Australia you have the recipe for the perfect ride.
Since I was running too late to start at Woori Yallock I decided to drive to Wandin instead and arrived just in time to see Tubby Clarke crossing the Warburton Highway. When he saw me arrive he stopped and waited for me to unpack the bike and join him on the final climb up to COGS. It had been a few weeks since Paul had been free to join us on a Thursday ride and it gave me a chance to catch up with what he had been doing. Was it really TWO years since he made the big decision to become a policeman ?
Alhough we arrived at COGS rather earlier than usual there was already the makings of a peloton taking shape. Over the next 20 minutes yellow clad riders started arriving from all directions and it was obvious that we were in for a large group. One sight I was not prepared for however was Hooters riding up the hill to join us at Mt Evelyn. In 6 years I could not recall a single previous instance when this had taken place. We also had several other guests riding with us for the afternoon and, by the time we were ready to leave, we had at least 23 eager riders.
In order to stop premature bolting from the front I did my best to keep the large group together so that we could enjoy the experience of riding with such a fine looking group. It was not until we passed Wandin that a small group of riders finally broke the restraints and disappeared into the distance, leaving the remaining 20 or so content to stay together all the way to Woori Yallock.
It is worth noting that as others joined in the ride later during the afternoon, the final attendance grew to 28 riders (I wonder how long it will be before we break the elusive 30 mark?) Considering we had quite a few regulars missing for various reasons I considered this a pretty impressive result. No sooner had we pulled in at Woori Yallock than two eager looking female riders came over and asked how they could get information about joining the Ghostriders. It would appear that new potential recruits are coming from just about everywhere.
In the next section of the ride to Milgrove the main peloton fractured into two groups. We later learned that this was partly caused by the pedal on Terry’s bike parting company with the crank. With the aid of some cable ties from a fellow rider’s helmet, a length of barbed wire from a farmer’s fence, a wad of discarded chewing gum, an old rubber band and a few other bibs and bobs he was soon underway again (albeit only pedalling with one foot).
Since this was Connie’s fourth ride we were looking forward to being able to formally induct her into the Ghostriders. Paul decided to pre-empt official proceedings by performing a welcoming ceremony of his own. Apparently a little known custom of the obscure Worta Worta tribe, who previously inhabited the Milgrove area, was to initiate new warriors by showering them with kangaroo blood. Paul used this as inspiration for exploding a Heinz sauce capsule and showering our newest member with copious quantities of bright red tomato sauce. At least we could be thankful that it wasn’t her official Ghostrider yellow jersey that was permanently stained with hundreds of red spots.
After formally welcoming Connie as rider number 78 we were underway again. I always find that, after everyone has a tummy full of coffee and lunch, that the mood in the ride is a lot more relaxed. With the sun sinking lower in the sky and the valley showing early signs of the approaching nightfall, it is hard not to be at peace with the world. After bidding farewell to most of the riders ar Woori Yallock a smaller group of about 6 rode on up to Wandin. This was undertaken at a relaxed pace giving us a chance to solve the world’s problems from the comfort of a bike seat.
Another amazing ride.