In my role as webmaster I regularly get emails from prospective riders wishing to ask about the Ghostriders. I always make sure that every such email is answered with a warm invitation for the inquiring person to come on a ride with us to check us out. About 4 years ago one such enquiry came from someone answering to the name “Denise”. She said she was interested in our group and wished to be added to the weekly email mailing list. Ever since that time she had received our weekly updates but had never ventured out on a single ride with us.
From time to time I sent her a message asking whether she still wanted to be included on the mailing list, to which she always replied that “one day she would really come on a ride”. A couple of weeks ago I received another message from the mysterious Denise informing me that the time had actually come for her to keep her promises. She assured me that the following Thursday would be the day when she would finally make her debut ride with the Ghostriders. We exchanged a couple more messages concerning starting places and times and I tried to assure her that we would do our best to help her feel at home in the group.
When the appointed Thursday arrived I could not help but feel a little skeptical as to whether she would turn up or not. There have been many instances in the past when new riders have assured me that they would be attending a ride, only to never appear. Sometimes this had left our group waiting for a rider who never turned up.
Since I had a little spare time on my side and since the weather was clear and mild I decided to leave earlier than usual and ride all the way down to Lilydale and back before the start of the ride. It had been quite some time since I had ridden this section and I was also conscious of my conspicuous lack of training over the past few months. I started off from Woori Yallock at 11.00 am and rode steadily to Mt Evelyn, arriving at 11.45 am. I had no idea how long it would take me to get down to Lilydale and was surprised when I found myself pulling up at the Whitehorse Rd crossing at 12 noon. The return ride back up the hill took rather longer, but even so, I was back at the Mt Evelyn coffee shop at 12.25 pm. This was just the excuse I needed to reward my efforts with a cappucino and yoyo biscuit whil I waited for the time to pass.
At about 12.45 I rode down to COGS and found Peter Booth and some others assembling for the ride. I let them know that we would be expecting another new rider at Woori Yallock and to make sure that we kept an eye out for her. Soon we were off down the hill. It was a pleasure to be riding in such benign conditions. At time we could even feel the slight warmth of the midwinter sun breaking through the trees. On occasions like this it is impossible not to feel a sense of wellbeing and comradeship as we rolled along the trail in high spirits.
We arrived at Woori Yallock at our normal time of 1.40 pm. The group pulled up to a stop and I looked out for our new mystery rider. There was no-one in sight! I was just about to say that it looked like it was yet another case of “no show” when a slim rider with a pony tail came along the trail from the direction of Launching Place and introduced herself at the much postponed Denise. I made introductions all around and soon we were back on the bikes and looking forward to the lunch stop.
I was pleased that Denise seemed to quickly feel at home and started to get to know our riders. It must be slightly scary for a rider to muster up the courage to ride with a group they don’t know, but I am proud of the fact that we always do our best to make every new rider a friend. The making of friends is every bit as important as the cycling in my opinion.
Over lunch we had more opportunity to enjoy the afternoon while we enjoyed coffee together. I was a little put out by the fact that there were no hot pies left in the Bakery, but the sandwich was probably better for me anyway.
The return ride to Woori Yallock was again accomplished without puncture or mishap and we were all able to go home and add another 60 or so kilometres to our riding register. My final odometer reading was about 78 km and I had thoroughly enjoyed every cm of it.