Over the past couple of weeks I have had a steady inflow of phone calls and e-mails from new riders wanting more information about the Ghost Riders. One of these calls was from a school teacher named Peter. “I would like to come on a ride with you this week”, he stated. When I told him he would be most welcome to join in, he went on to add “My mother will be coming also”.
Although I was a little dubious as to whether a “seventy something” lady would be able to keep pace with the elite athletes of the Warby Ghost Riders, I tried not to be rude and assured him that both he and his mother would be welcome.
It was not until the group started to form at Mt Evelyn that I could see that his mother was not any ordinary 73 year old. With her long muscular legs and svelte body it was obvious that she had spent a lot of time on the bike. After the preliminary introductions were made it was time to once again, hit the trail.
Our initial peloton already consisted of ten riders. It was good to see that Tubby Clarke was back again for another ride. Gary was also waiting at Mt Evelyn, although a little lighter than before, having just had a tooth removed at the local bush dentist. Being a real Ghost Rider it takes a little more than a profusely bleeding mouth to keep him from his bike and his mates.
Even Crasher Lewis was back in the peloton, doing his best to show off his legs to young Dorothy (compared to Bob, even Methuselah is a baby). “I once won a National Title”, he boasted, trying to keep his teeth from jumping out onto the trail as he went over a bump. “In a raffle?”, she asked politely.
At Wandin we were met by Phil, riding in a midweek peloton for the first time. It was good to see that he has made good recovery from his recent back problems. I reckon this guy needs to reorganise his schedule to keep every Thursday afternoon free.
Several of our riders claimed to have met Trish at Woori Yallock and so we rode on expecting her to meet up with us at any moment. In fact we made it all the way to Killara with no sign of her at all.
We were amazed to see Hooters, however waiting at the Killara station. Apparently he had decided to really dig deep and add another 3 or so km to his mini ride, in an effort to impress our new guests. Dorothy took one look at him and asked me “Does he have something wrong with his legs ?” I explained to her that he used to be normal, up until the time he was born. “And why is his seat so low?” . I had to explain that he was just a “weckweational wider” and had different standards to the rest of the world. I was not surprised that she looked unimpressed.
Cheryl joined us at Woori Yallock, but still no sign of Trish. The peloton was already reaching epic proportions and, with more riders still to join, it was evident a new record could be in sight.
Another memorable sprint up Settlement Rd saw Crasher take the points, looking back to make sure that Dorothy was watching. I had been coasting, mistakenly thinking that Bob was hundreds of metres behind, and crossed in second place.
At Milgrove we caught up with Al and Lisa. Lisa is another new rider who has already signed up for our China Ride next year. She has a bright personality and I am sure she will quickly fit in to our group. There was still no sign of Trish. I began to suspect that she had gone the way of Eddy and just disappeared into a cycling black hole.
It was not until we arrived at the coffee shop that we finally found Trish, safely sitting inside and sucking on a cup of hot coffee. By the time she emerged we had achieved sixteen riders – a new midweek record. I guess it’s no wonder that we are starting to see so many people standing by the side of the trail, waiting to catch a glimpse of their favourite Warby hero.
We recently heard that Crasher Lewis is one of the most frequently downloaded pictures on the Internet, at least among the 80 year olds and over. Apparently his pictures adorn the walls of most nursing homes.
The arrangement with the sandwiches again worked very well. If every rider just remembers to bring a couple of $2 coins, everything adds up easily. I think it is popular with the coffee shop also. A real win-win situation.
On the return ride it was time to show our visitors the spectacle of El Capitan. Tubby Clarke had a rush of blood and set off to climb Petit Capitan. If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then the path up to the Capitan is paved with cyclist’s blood and tears. Tubby did his best to add his blood to the rest by amusing us all with a spectacular crash about two thirds the way to the lamp post. Falling off the path and crashing heavily into the poison ivy, he provided the best laugh we had had all day. Although a couple of others tried, on this day the Capitan defeated all attempts at success.
More impressive than our attempts at hill climbing were our efforts in maintaining pelotonic order. I think everyone was surprised that order emerged out of chaos and we managed to ride with self discipline and precision for long distances.
We were even asked by a couple of adoring young fans if they “could ride with us”. I had to explain that we were elite cyclists and maintained an incredibly high speed. They looked at Hooters and laughed.
The Settlement Rd sprint was a very impressive affair. Never have we had so many cyclists moving down the road in close formation. No wonder that the cars actually showed us some respect for a change.
With the finishing post in sight I whispered to Trish that it was time to bolt. She did. So did I. Unfortunately so did Bob. Bob won. I broke a spoke, presumably by exerting too much force. I was not happy. Peter was. He saw the cash register tick over yet again.
About halfway up the hill to Wandin I ran over something sharp and punctured my front tyre. This group has become a gold mine for Peter. Maybe we should change our names to the “Peter Warren Retirement Fund”.
Dorothy and her son kept powering up the hill and were soon out of sight. A few minutes later we were under way again, arriving back at the car park a few minutes before the rain started.
It had been another fantastic ride and gave us good cause to reminisce over how much we have achieved in the past 12 months. Surely it is now only a matter of time before we break the elusive 20 riders barrier.