Once you have bitten with the bicycle bug there is absolutely nothing better to do on a sunny Autumn day than to ride your bike along a beautiful bike track with good friends. Tuesday 13th May was just one of those days and it was a great feeling to be heading off down the hill from Mt Evelyn, even though the air was a little cool in the shady spots.
By 1.15pm I had met up with John at Wandin and we were both in high spirits as we discussed the relative merits of having lunch before the ride as opposed to waiting to have a late lunch at Warburton. We were a little apprehensive when we passed the spot where the previous week’s dog invasion took place, but fortunately today there was not a canine in sight.
As we rode out of the forest and into the sun we started to talk about Bob. “I wonder when he gets back from Sydney” I said. John replied “We need him to inject some extra stupidity into our conversations”. We continued discussing the deteriorating state of Bob’s mental health for the next couple of km. At that stage I looked ahead and noticed an unsteady elderly rider coming towards us on the trail ahead.
“Here comes Bob now!” I said, trying to be funny. We looked at the stranger, wobbling towards us on his bike. “It certainly looks like Bob”, John noted. “He’s dressed like Bob” I added. Eventually the penny dropped and we both exclaimed in unison “IT IS BOB”.
Sure enough, there on the trail was the unmistakable form of Bob riding his Bismark for the first time since his accident. Although Bob insisted that he had no idea we were going to be riding at that time, we both suspected he had carefully planned the whole encounter. But it really was good to see him back on the trail after his three month layoff.
Bob soon explained that he had been to have more X-rays taken of his hip and that the specialist had to admit that his recovery was a miracle. (I guess not everyone realises that Warby Riders are made of much stronger stuff than mere ordinary men.) We did observe that, although Bob was riding strongly, he was favouring his left hand side and could only make left hand turns on his bike.
Robbie Williams was waiting for us near Woori Yallock and so we soon had a peloton of four elite riders powering towards Warburton. With such a still day the kilometres passed quickly and we were soon at Warburton, enjoying our coffees and cakes. Unfortunately Bob discovered that his Lavender Lady had not been informed of his appearance and was nowhere to be seen. I celebrated by having a wicked chocolate éclair, just to give me sufficient energy for the ride home.
The return ride was a real hoot as we rode along in tight formation. Even John was enjoying the ride and for a few minutes forget to ask “why do we do this?”. Although Bob had promised that he was going to behave and just ride slowly, I decided to place temptation in his path by passing him as we were going along the back ride behind Yarra Junction. I shot ahead at about 45 kph and them waited to see how Bob would react. Sure enough, within a few seconds I could hear him charging down the road at about 60 kph, bum up, head down and leg(s) pumping wildly.
When I challenged him that I was just testing him to see if he could withstand temptation, he replied honestly that he “could never resist temptation”. I guess some things will never change.
Rob left us at Woori Yallock and left the rest of us to ride on in the ever cooling late afternoon sunshine. Bob rode back to Killara and boasted boldly that next time he will ride much further, probably starting from somewhere near Bacchus Marsh, and then take the long route via Toolangi and Donna Buang, before joining us at Mt Evelyn. Just as well he was not wanting to increase his training tempo too quickly.
John and I rode on towards Wandin, by which time John started to remember his familiar role and started to complain about the steepness of the hill. I tried to reassure him that it was no steeper than last week, but he seemed unconvinced. I reminded him that I needed to get back to Mt Evelyn before nightfall and could therefore not afford to stop every 20 metres for another rest.
I did eventually get back to my car just ahead of the setting sun and was able to reflect on the ride during my drive home. Just how many sleeps until next Tuesday ????