In life there are certain sights which you never expect to see. John Howard with pony tail and lip ring, Bill Gates down on his luck and sleeping in a homeless shelter, Ozzie Osbourne talking coherently, Crasher Lewis riding in the rain. I suppose the list could go on and on, however there is one sight that nothing could have prepared us for as we set out on our weekday ride on 21st July. Although I had previously made jokes about some “weird and unbelievable parallel universe where Hooters actually rides like a true cyclist”, none of us ever expected to see him actually dressed like one. And yet this is exactly what happened.
At the beginning of the ride the main topic of conversation was the brilliant sunshine. After so many rides where we have had to endure cold and wet conditions it was a real blessing to be able to ride in genuine winter sunshine. It almost felt warm. With such perfect conditions it was not surprising that we found an eager group of riders gathered at Mt Evelyn for a start. As well as Peter, Lothar, Little John and Ben we found that Trish had also played hookey from her Monbulk group to come out riding with the professionals.
Ben was proudly displaying his new “Monster Bike” that Peter had successfully flogged him earlier in the week. He was also displaying a new array of facial cuts and abrasions, apparently already caused by frequent falls from his new bike. With its huge wheels and tyres, quadruple suspension, limited slip differential, 48 speed gearbox and tow bar I was not surprised that it was difficult to ride. In fact I had seen prime movers that would have been easier to pedal than Ben’s new behemoth.
The six of us headed off down the hill accompanied by a load roar. This was caused by Ben’s tyres ripping great lumps out of the trail and throwing them at any any rider unfortunate enough to be caught in his slipstream. I had never seen a bike that was so heavy it even had to be pedalled down hill as well as up. Ben was working up quite a sweat standing up on his huge cast iron cranks trying to build up some speed.
By the time we passed through Wandin the peloton had been further boosted by the addition of Gary and JCL. The sunshine had also roused Crasher from his winter hibernation and brought him out into the light. Nine riders headed on towards Woori Yallock, but not before a short wait to allow Little John repair his first puncture of the day.
A short time after crossing the long bridge we were approached by a most unlikely looking figure. This weird apparition looked like something out of a fairy tail. Although it had the body of an ageing baby boomer, the bike of a weckweational wider and the head of a Hooters it was actually decked out with the clothes of a genuine Ghost Rider. Mouths dropped open in astonishment. Could this actually be the guy who vowed that he would never wear lycra? And yet here he was, fully decked at long last with the attire of a serious rider. We could not be sure if he was proud of his new appearance or a little embarassed, but at least we had to admit that it was a great improvement over his “pluckaduck” outfit.
It was also at this point that we had an influx of extra female riders with Marg (our latest new Ghost Rider), Chris and Cheryl all joining in the peloton. Thirteen riders in the group and four of them of the fairer sex – that had to be something of an achievement in anyone’s language. Eight of the male riders tried to pull their stomachs in to impress the ladies, while JCL tried in vain to stop his leggings from sliding down his skinny chicken legs.
Although Peter seemed to be having a little trouble keeping up with the pace of the group I was pleased to see that Cheryl stayed back with him to make sure that he arrived safely at Launching Place. Then it was on to Settlement Rd for the outward sprint. I was amazed that everyone obeyed the standing orders and ensured a tight result at the finish line. Modesty prevents me from listing the winner’s name.
The sunny day did seem to work wonders for my appetite and, by the time I reached Warburton, I was ready for a nourishing lunch. I tried to be optimistic as I entered the bakery, but a quick look at the empty pie warmer and stony face of the proprietor quickly dashed any hopes I might have entertained. “Anything left at all?” I asked timidly. “Nope” was her reply “not a crumb”. I could have gone on to tell her that we had 13 hungry cyclists outside, all cashed up and ready to spend money in her shop, but disappointment had blunted my swollen tongue.
Sometime later I was outside drinking my coffee and chewing on some forgetable pastry (if they ever run out of coffee we are DEFINITELY going to take our business somewhere else) while we chatted in the sunshine. It was interesting to see that the women gathered at one end while the guys sat around at the other end of the tables. Hooters paraded around the main street in his new Ghost Rider knicks, gathering some unwelcome comments from passing hoons in their Commodore.
On the return ride we gave Ben a chance to see if his new bike would stand any chance on El Capitan. he made an enthusiastic attack on Le Petit Capitan instead, and made it about 3 metres before crashing in defeat and adding more scratches to his bike (and his face). . Howls of laughter from the watching crowds spurred him on to try again. His second attempt was more successful, although it did seem to extract an enormous amount of energy from him. He was a spent force for the remainder of the ride.
To assist the women ride at a faster pace it was decided to make them “honourable men” for the day. Although this was a tremendous compliment, they did not seem as pleased as I thought they might be. I did notice that Marg Jones seemed to be enjoying her first opportunity to complete a mid week ride with the Ghost Riders, also that Chris has quite a competitive nature under her mild mannered exterior.
Back at Woori Yallock Little John thoughtfully took the opportunity to have his second puncture for the day, giving us a chance to have a brief rest from the ride. The reduced peloton then mounted up for the final leg of the ride. With the sun now rapidly setting and the temperature dropping the group started to spread out somewhat along the trail. It spread out even more when Little John had his third puncture for the day and vowed never to ride his bike again. We left him sitting by the side of the trail with a meloncholy countenance on his face.
Peter, however, could see the bright side of things and started estimating how much his tube sales would increase this week. Ben was still trying to push his bike along the trail, somewhere several km behind the rest of us. I suspected he would be putting it up for sale on Ebay as soon as he got home.
It had indeed been a memorable ride. Not only had we set a new record for the mid week peloton but nobody would ever forget the sight of Hooters in knicks. All someone needs to tell him now is that you usually don’t wear 6 pairs of underpants underneath them.