In Which Petticoats Proliferate in the Penultimate Peloton

As I unpacked my bike at Wandin it was hard to believe that this was the second last Thursday ride for 2008. With all the turmoil in the world financial systems it had certainly been an “interesting” 12 months. In such times of stress it helps to emphasise afresh just how important it is to have a regular activity where, for a few short hours at least, you can forget the worries of the world and just have healthy fun with your friends. I like to think that our weekly rides along the Warby Trail serve this very purpose.

It did not take long to see that the weather was going to be especially kind to us. In fact it was just the sort of day that is perfect for cycling – cool in the shade but warm in the sunshine. I rode up the hill to Mt Evelyn where a few of the regulars were already gathered for the start. We had a few minutes to chat while the numbers grew for the scheduled 1.00 pm penultimate departure.

Soon we were underway and I was hopeful that we might be able to hold the peloton together for most fo the way to Woori Yallock. I was pleasantly surprised to find Viv Sandler in the ride, and even more pleased when she told me that she would now be able to attend every second Thursday ride. While my concentration was diverted I did not notice that a few riders had already bolted from the front causing a premature partitioning of the peloton. I tried to yell ahead to get them to slow down but it was all in vain as they were soon out of sight in the distance.

The somwhat fractured group made it to Woori Yallock where I carefully rearranged the front riders to make sure that the would be bolters would be held in check. The habitual offenders such as Tom and John were placed well to the rear while Chook and I served as speed governors at the front, A look around the group showed that our latest two fully qualified riders were present, meaning that we would be able to conduct a “double induction” service at Milgrove. With the ever growing number of women in our rides it was hard to believe that there was a time when we were considered strictly an all male group.

Fortunately the rearrangement of riders had the desired affect and we were able to all stay together for the next 15 or so kilometres. At Milgrove some of the group continued up to Warburton, but the lure of lunch was too much for me and I headed straight for the coffee shop. Once all the riders had arrived we were able to formally welcome Karen Couchman and Denise Mack as Ghostriders number 80 and 81 respectively.

Since Paul Barnard was absent we could not repeat the baptism of tomato sauce that had welcomed Connie into the group a few weeks ago. Karen has made dramatic progress in the short time that she has been riding with us and I am sure that she will become a most capable rider. On the other hand it was hard to believe that my first contact with Denise was actually a couple of years ago when she enquired about the Ghostriders. Since then we had exchanged numerous emails but her riding had not actually got started till this year. Now it was great to see her officially complete her probationary period and become a real Ghostrider at last.

After the formalities were completed it was time to saddle up and head back towards the setting sun. Next week will be our final Thursday ride for 2008 and our opportunity to have some Christmas fun. I wonder what the next 12 months will bring?