In Which New Recruits Shine

A lot can change in just 7 years. How could any of us ever forget that dreadful day when the twin towers came down ? In some ways it is hard to believe that it was just seven years ago, in many respects it seems an eternity ago. As the world watched those incredible scenes on the TV, most of us knew that, in a very real way, our world would never be the same again. Since then we have had the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the loss of countless thousands of other lives. Are we really any closer to peace ? I sincerely doubt it.

Although September 11th will always remain one of the most infamous days in history, I have to admit that my thoughts were on much more selfish matters when I arrived at Mt Evelyn to start the weekly ride. With the arrival of springtime I was really looking forward to a ride where we would not have to contend with arm and leg warmers and, worst of all, the cyclists’ curse of the perpetual dripping nose. The Bureau had teased us with the forecast of a lovely warm afternoon but the reality looked less than ideal. In fact the assembled riders at COGS were mostly attired in wet weather rain jackets and many looked apprehensively at the heavens.

One glance to the darkening skies also convinced me to return to the car to don some extra layers. With the benefit of the wisdom that ever so slowly comes with age, I have discovered that there is little real merit in freezing your backside off when you can add a few layers and remain warm. A few moments later I returned to COGS prepared for any possible cloudburst, snowstorm, polar bear attack or New Ice Age.

I was pleased to discover that two new riders had arrived, ready to participate in their first ride with the Ghostriders. Wendy and Danielle had contacted me earlier in the week and asked if they could join in a ride. Of course I said they could but I didn’t like to add that only the “experienced and highly fit elite cyclists” (like myself) started at COGS. In the past we have had some beginners start at COGS only to run out of puff after the first few km. I had to admit that they certainly seemed keen. When I met them for the first time I soon discovered that they also knew a lot about cycling.

At the appointed hour we set off down the hill with about 15 riders in the peloton. I did not want to leave our latest two guest riders behind, but needn’t have worried as neither of them seemed to have any problem keeping up with the pace. Somewhere along the first section of the ride Wendy informed me that they had already put their names down for the Alpine Classic ! The Alpine Classic ! That is something that only the certifiably insane (and Peter Warren) would enjoy. Somehow telling them about our Legendary Lungbuster did not seem so impressive any more, but when I did, they both said they would give it a go as a “preliminary warm up ride for the much tougher rides that they would be doing”.

For a while I thought about extolling the hardships of the Reefton Pub Classic and the daunting Poowong Rides but somehow even the Triple Toolangi seemed to pale into insignificance. I decided instead to concentrate on an area where we truly have no peers. “At Milgrove Bakery we all stop for MUGS of cappuccino and LOTS of cream cakes” I proudly (and truthfully) boasted. “It is the highlight of the ride each week”. I could have added that sometimes we even eat apple custard cream cakes, but by that time Wendy and Danielle had ridden well into the distance ahead of me.

At Milgrove I was tempted (as usual) to stop at the Bakery and forget the final section of the ride, but somehow I had a guilty feeling inside that I needed some extra work and I continued on up the hill. At least the threatening skies had not produced the downpour we had been fearing and the prospect of rain was looking rather remote.

By the time I finally joined the others at Milgrove I was scared that all the pies would be sold (except of course the solitary curry pie that seems to always be the last to escape the pie warmer). I entered the bakery and noted that there was only one pie left – I was not surprised. I asked the attendant what type it was, fully expecting that the answer would be something like “sardine, cheese and curry”, but when she replied that it was plain steak I almost let out a shout of pure joy. I proudly walked across to the tables carrying my hot pie and bulging brown paper bag of creamy calories and settled down for a relaxing lunch break.

During this time it was pointed out that Crasher Lewis was again absent, making it the fourth consecutive ride he had missed. I reminded them that he did exactly the same thing last year, just before the Lungbuster. His excuse was that he had a “bad groin”. I wondered what his 2008 excuse would be – hamstrings, hemorrhoids, lack of steroids or just old age ? (In fact when I rang him the next day he explained that he had “done his knee” and would “not be able to complete the Lungbuster”. In an ever changing world it is nice that some things NEVER change.

On the return ride the peloton somehow became slightly elongated over several kilometres. Although some of our regular riders were languishing, our newest riders were just getting warmed up. After we left a number of riders at Woori Yallock the remnant continued on to Mt Evelyn, where we arrived at about 4.45 pm. I was happy to hear that Wendy and Danielle had enjoyed their first outing with the Ghostiders and (unlike many of the others who join us for their first ride) promised that they would be back to do the whole thing over again.