Flying up the final hill to Warburton at over 30 kph, it was hard to believe that the rider in front of me was the same guy who, only a few months previously, struggled to ride from Woori Yallock to Warburton. Even though he obviously now has the unfair advantage of riding a Cannondale bike, Big Al has certainly surprised everyone with his rapid improvement. It just goes to show what genuine enthusiasm and a love of cycling can achieve in a short space of time.
The ride had been a most enjoyable outing, with 14 in the peloton and a fine day. It was also great to see that Ross (aka “The Victim”) Hayward had also fully recovered from Black Thursday and had gone on to complete his probationary period and qualify as our 39th rider. He can now line up outside Peter’s shop with a huge wad of cash in his hand to place his order for a jersey.
Since we have apparently abandoned our traditional Settlement Rd Sprints, the final section up to Warburton has become the alternate arena for trying out our legs and getting the hearts pumping. After Black Thursday, however, I think everyone is a little more wary of following too closely behind the rider in front.
Bruno has also now completed his third ride with the Ghost Riders and is well on track to become rider number 40. On the other hand when I see a rider who only weighs 50 kg, I am tempted to raise the qualification standard for such people. Since they only weigh half as much as normal riders, maybe they should have to complete TWICE as many rides to qualify.
A glance at the date on my watch reminds me that next week will be the shortest day of the year. At least then we will be able to look forward to the days starting to get longer again. That is always a psychological turning point at least. The truth is that I am already looking forward to the warmer riding days of springtime – of warm sunshine and a nose that doesn’t continually drip. In the meantime we still have many weeks of Warburton Winter to endure.
On our return journey the peloton closes up for some close precision riding. It is always amazing just how much easier this makes our riding. When the entire group gets into a good rhythm it feels like it develops a life of its own. Perhaps for a short time it’s a bit like being a member of an orchestra, each individual blends into part of something that is much bigger than themselves. Whatever it is, it always feels good.
We arrived back at COGS about 4.45 pm, a little later than the past couple of weeks, but with all of us feeling good. What a perfect way to spend a Thursday afternoon.