It certainly caught us all by surprise. The huge nearby explosion sent cream filled donuts toppling to the pavement and large mugs of cappucino splashing their contents down the fronts of our covetted yellow jerseys. Several aging hearts missed a few beats and I suspected a few pairs of knicks would need an extra long wash cycle at the end of the ride.
Up until that moment the ride has gone pretty well to the script. Since the weather was not quite perfect several riders had chosen to stay home and watch Oprah instead of joining in the weekly ride with their friends. Hooters, once again, had ‘far too much on’ to join in the ride (in fact long woolly socks, sheepskin mocassin slippers, flanelette shirt, two jumpers, scarf and woollen beanie cap). After all, a weckweational wider can never be too careful about the weather. According to Hooters’ sad philosophy, ‘risks’ are something that only other people take.
Fortunately we still had a good sized peloton of real riders and the effects of the couple of (very short) showers had been more than compensated by the fact that we were propelled all the way to Warburton by a very powerful tail wind. We hardly had to turn the pedals at all in order to maintain a speed of over 25 kph. The prospect of fighting our way all the back to Mt Evelyn against this seething head wind was not something we were actually loking forward to, but we were really hoping that a wind change might come along and save us.
At Wandin, Ross introduced us to a new rider he had brought along for the first time. Vic was somehow related to Ross ( I think Vic’s daughter’s sister in law is Ross’ mother-in-law’s uncle or something like that). In any case Vic certainly had the build of a cyclist – with not an ounce of excess fat. I figured that we could soon put that to rights. After a few dozen rides with us I was sure that we could add a couple of dozen extra kg to his present weight. One thing that would need urgent attention however, was Vic’s attire. The last person who came along dressed in long black trousers tucked into his socks and a woollen jumper was the famous ‘Inspector Gadget’ – and we all know the end of that sad saga. If Vic is to become a real cyclist Ross will need to take him shopping in a lycra shop real soon. In spite of his inappropriate clothing, Vic seemed to enjoy the experience of being on the Warburton Trail for the first time and made quite good (wind assisted) time to Milgrove.
One of the major topics of conversation on the outward ride was our recent Donna Buang Lungbuster. It seemed that all riders had pulled up very well after their monumental exertions of the previous Saturday. As we cast glances up to the towering outline of the mountains on our left we could take pride from the fact that we had ridden all the way to the summit on our bikes. Later that evening I was reading the information about the forthcoming Sun Tour bike race and the article mentioned the ‘gut busting’ climb up Lake Mountain. Further reading revealed that the climb up Lake Mountain rises over 800 metres from the base to the summit. What a joke ! Call that a mountain do they ? We had ridden over 1100 metres vertical climb up Donna Buang, so I guess our achievement is far greater than that of any of the Sun Tour riders. Some of those riders should try a real ride with the Ghost Riders to see what cycling is all about. I suspect that some of those skinny youngsters would not even know how to eat a cream donut.
Once the initial shock had passed we gathered the remnants of our dropped cakes from the pavement and tried to wipe the cappucino froth from our jerseys, while we looked about to see the source of the explosion. At first we thought it might be a deranged local with a new rifle and an irrational hatred of lycra, but soon we realised that someone’s tyre had just exploded. That is uncommon enough when you are actually riding along but even more unusual when you are just sitting down having a coffee. A quick process of elimination soon revealed that it was Ross who had been struck down by misfortune. This was even more unfortunate for Ross than it would have been for anyone else, since he was the only one who did NOT have a quick release hub on his front wheel. Fortunately Peter was close at hand and was soon covered in grease, mud and trail manure as he fought to replace the tube. Thirty minutes later Peter had finally finished and we were ready to leave.
Although we had been very fearful of the return ride into the teeth of the gale, for some unknown (but very welcome) reason the cycling gods smiled on us and rewarded us with the rarest of all cycling phenomena – the bidirectional assisting tailwind. Such occurences have only been documented a handful of times in the whole history of cycling and we were indeed lucky to be able to share in such a unique event. With the aid of such a friendly wind we were soon hurtling back down the trail in high spirits.
A short shower dampened our levity for a few minutes but soon the clouds parted and we were blessed with a blue sky for the rest of the ride back to our cars. I am sure that Vic will remember his first ride with the Ghost Riders for a long time. Peter also left in high spirits with the prospect of the sale of a new tube floating in his thoughts.