In Which John Makes a Frightening Discovery

Over the past few weeks I have a succession of inquiries from the web site from potential riders wanting to know “what they would need to do in order to become a Ghost Rider”. Of course when I tell them what high standards we have, many of these potential recruits must go away sorrowful, knowing they would never be able to reach the required level of performance. Maybe it is time we raised the standard even further with a two hour entrance examination (covering such topics as Ghost Rider History and Traditions, Derailleur adjustment, puncture repair, correct decleating techniques and so on).

When I arrived at Mt Evelyn for the week’s ride I was somewhat surprised to find an unfamiliar face waiting for me. At first I thought he might have been one of those who had rung me over the past week, but it turned out that he was yet another “closet web site reader” named Andrew, who had finally gathered up the courage to come and meet his heroes. Although he looked rather too young to possess the requirements to become a real Ghost Rider I welcomed him nevertheless and we sat down outside COGS to await the arrival of further riders.

AS the peloton was forming we were once again confronted with the disgraceful spectacle of Hooters driving past in his car, tooting his horn and yelling out “Why do we do this?” for all the town to hear. We tried to pretend we didn’t see him and continued introductions as each rider joined the group. At about 1.05 pm we assumed that no further riders were coming and headed off.

With a new rider in the group it is important to make them aware of the true pecking order in the peloton, so a brisk early pace was set. After the recent storms there was a significant amount of debris on the track, whcih we had to frequently dodge as we flew down the hill. Unfortunately Young Andrew seemed to have no trouble with the pace.

At Woori Yallock we found another collection of riders waiting to join the fun. Peter was also waiting with his mobile bike shop. Apparently Warby Phil had ordered a jersey and spent some minutes trying them on to get the correct fit. The charade continued for some time. “Try this one on for size” Peter would say. “It’s too small”, replied Phil fighting to get it over his head. Peter disappeared back into his van and reappeared a few moments later. “Try this one”, he said. “That’s better, but it’s still too small”. The process repeated several times until Phil seemed happy with the fit. (What Phil didn’t know was that it was the same jersey that was coming back each time – Peter just spent some time vigorously stretching and straining at the seems betwen each fitting). I wondered why Phil didn’t notice Peter’s greasy fist marks all over the back of the bright yellow lycra.

Even though some of our riders are now back at work we still achieved a large peloton with about 17 riders in the group. We rode through to Warburton before turning back for lunch at the Trail Blazer’s coffee shop. As we settled down to enjoy the coffee and sandwiches, Little John made a frightening discovery as he searched for his lunch money. “My car keys have fallen out somewhere on the trail”. When I considered that we had ridden about 30 km or more already, I secretly didn’t hold out much hope of finding them on the return ride.

Crasher Lewis looked up and said that “I noticed that they were just about to fall out, but didn’t say anything because I assumed that John knew about them”. He looked at the rest of us and added “You don’t win National Titles by helping other riders.” It’s amazing how old age does muddle one’s thinking I guess. At least it did give us an idea as to where they may have fallen. Trish set off in search while the rest of us sat down to serious eating.

This also gave us a chance to meet another rider who had joined us for the first time. This turned out to be Hooters’ brother-in-law Reinhardt, who had come down from Queensland to ride with us for the day. Reinhardt said that he was very interested in starting the Sunshine Coast Chapter of the Ghost Riders. I informed him that this would mean that he would have to provide free accomodation for any of us travelling up North. His enthusiasm seemed to diminish a little.

Abbout ten minutes later Trish returned in triumph, waving a set of car keys over her head. I wondered if they were John’s or whether someone else might have also dropped their keys, but fortunately we had a happy ending as the missing keys were reunited with their owner. At least that saved the rest of us from having to look out for them all the way back to Mt Evelyn.

The afternoon weather was fine and cool, providing perfect riding conditions for the return ride. After the recent hot weather it was great to be able to enjoy the ride without wondering if your key organs were about to melt down in the process. The only near mishap occured near the water trough at Seville when Bob and I momentarily touched wheels. Fortunately I was saved from disaster by my finely honed skills and managed to stay upright.

It had been another highly successful and enjoyable ride, with Young Andrew indicating his intention to ride with us again (at least every time the moon was blue).