In which John exceeds 20 kph for the first time

Since we all know how hard Bob finds it to get out of bed before the proverbial “crack of noon” I decided that it is imperative that we schedule some more early morning starts. With this in mind I organised this week’s ride to begin even earlier than last week’s. I arrived at Mt Evelyn on time, not really expecting Bob to have won his battle with Captain Snooze, and I was certainly not surprised to find him nowhere in sight.

A brief phone call soon revealed that Bob was still sound asleep under the doona, so I decided to head off on my own and let him catch up in his own good time. A couple of km down the track it was obvious that Bob would have no hope of catching me unless I fitted in another of my customary puncture stops. About 15 minutes later I was just putting the finishing touches to my puncture repair when Bob came tredaling down the path, still wearing his teddy bear pyjamas. I had never seen lycra PJs before but I tried not to stare as we picked up the pace towards Killara.

Although the original weather forecast was for a hot day with 33C temperature, the goose pimples on my legs demonstrated that the actual temperature was much, much lower. To confirm this fact both our noses started to run as we rode – a sure sign of cool running.

Mal had already informed us that he had now increased his training schedule to at least 26 hours per day, and, because he had been up all night riding his bike to Sydney and back, he had decided to join us at Woori Yallock. Not be be outdone, John had also increased his training schedule to 28 hours (per year) and would also be meeting us at Woori with his new reduced bike.

We eventually met up with John about 2 km from Woori where he informed us that he had a new recruit for the Warby Ghost Riders waiting further down the track. Mal soon joined the peloton and we pedalled on in cool but still conditions – actually just about perfect for riding. Swept along by the euphoria of the moment John decided to change up to a big cog and seriously set himself a new personal speed record.

We all watched on in amazement as his speed gradually increased, 10 kph, 12 kph. This really was a momentous occasion. 14 kph, 16 kph. John’s rear mudguard started to take on a precarious lean to the right but still the speed increased. 18 kph, 19 kph. Things started to wobble and vibrate ominously as the psychological limit of 20 kph was approached (and I am refering to his body NOT his bike). John was riding like a man possessed and even forgot to ask “Why do I do this?” as he gave a last almighty push of the crank. The flickering digits on the computer told us the staggering truth – John had exceeded 20 kph!!!!!

For so many years cycling experts had regarded this figure as one of the great absolutes of the universe. Akin to the speed of light, Avogadro’s number and Planck’s constant, the so called “Seamons’ Speed” was universally accepted as the fastest speed attainable by a man of John’s ability riding a Malvern Star Special (with mudguards). But here we were, on the 19th November 2002, seeing that milestone reached and breeched as John serged on to reach a maximum speed of almost 20.1 kph.

A few minutes later Mal’s knowledge of CPR came in very handy and within about 30 mins John had recovered enough to continue the ride (but at a significantly lower speed). When we finally reached Launching Place we got to meet John’s “mystery riding friend”. We stood open mouthed as there before us was none other than Inspector Gadget himself, dressed in his unique riding attire of long grey trousers, gaberdine trenchcoat and leather kitbag of gadgets rakishly worn over his left shoulder. Even his bike was adorned with strange gadgets (dynamos and metal chain guards and the like).

Our surprise was shortlived, however as the disguise was soon lifted to reveal that Inspector Gadget was, in fact, none other than our old mate Chris Grace, who had finally recovered from his last ride (about 2 months ago) and was ready to give the trail another go. We were soon on our way again in search of the secret short cut we had been introduced to last week.

The remainder of the ride passed without further incident, although Bob and Mal started wrestling for male supremacy like two juvenile cocker spaniels. It was a close competition but Bob eventually won on a countback when we decided that his legs really were smoother than Mal’s after all. (Sometimes it is better just to humour them rather than encourage them).

Arriving at Warburton at about 10 am we decided that it really was quite close to lunchtime so we settled in to a good feed while we solved some more of the world’s major problems. Unfortunately some nutter parked his huge truck right next to us with the engine running, so none of us could hear anything that anyone else was trying to say. All we could do was nod our heads and smile. John also took this opportunity to dismantle his bike computer to see if he could make the speedo reading higher than it really was. I guess he really was determined to try to further increase his personal speed record. The guy is a veritable Malcolm Campbell on two wheels.

The return ride went without major incident, although we were slowed down by several passersby stopping Chris to ask if they needed to buy tickets to ride the track. We had to agree that he really did look a lot like a cross between a tram conductor, a member of the Corps of Legionaires and a 1940’s postman.

By the time we got back to Woori Yallock, the peloton had shrunk back to just Bob and me. Since Bob was very keen to get back under his doona to complete his customary 16 hours daily sleep we pedaled on briskly to arrive back at Mt Evelyn at about 12.15 am.

It had been another great ride and I am sure that we all hope that Chris will soon become a regular member of our strange and unlikely little group.