In Which Size Matters

With the first month of springtime already behind us, we can really start to look forward to the best cycling conditions of the year. As I looked out my window and saw a completely cloudless sky I could not wait to say goodbye to the keyboard and hello to the Avanti. Unfortunately, as I was loading the bike onto the carrier, I noticed a large and ominous looking split in my front tyre – obviously a casualty of last Saturday’s Lungbuster ride. Although the tyre was still inflated I knew it would be very risky to ride with the bike in that condition. I decided to grab a new tyre and change it when I arrived at Woori Yallock.

Because of the delay in getting underway I arrived at Woori Yallock in time to see the main group already disappearing into the distance. Only Wendy and Danielle were yet to get underway. I explained to thgem that I would have to change the tyre before I could start and set to work with the tyre levers. Thorn proof tubes are a great invention but their thick walls do make it much harder and slower to change tyres. About 15 mins later the job was finally done and my hands were liberally covered with a layer of dirty black muck. Fortunately there was still a small portion of my yellow jersey that the filth had not yet managed to find its way onto.

While I was engaged in the tyre change Phil Hession had pulled up in the car space next to me. When I asked him why he had not turned up last Saturday for the Lungbuster, he replied that he was “too busy”. I think that is just a way of saying that the ride was too hard for him. Maybe it’s time we coined a special term for those who only complete ONE Lungbuster and then find excuses why they can’t ever repeat the effort – “One Lung Wonders”. We now have a small group of riders who could wear this title.

With the time taken to fix the tyre I knew there was no way I could ride all the way up to COGS, and since I had been fighting a headache all morning, I decided to just roll along in the sunshine and enjoy the serenity of the day. With the still conditions and warm sunshine I could not imagine any place I would rather be. I made rather slow progress and stopped at Wandin Station at about 12.50 – time enough to relax and read the information posters while the rest of the peloton arrived from Mt Evelyn. I learned that the Warburton Trail that has become such an important part of our lives, was only opened in 1998. It would impossible to estimate the number of people whose lives have now been enriched by this magnificent resource.

At about 1.15 pm I noticed yellow shirts appearing through the trees and knew that the Warby Ghost Train had arrived. What I had not been expecting was the HUGE size of the group. As more and more riders emerged I could quickly see that this would almost certainly be our biggest starting group ever. With 20 riders at Mt Evelyn and more to join along the way, it looked like it was heading into the record books.

Bill and I took up strategic positions at the front of the group and acted as speed corks to hold the peloton together. By some miracle we managed to do this all the way to Woori Yallock. What an impressive sight it must have been for the onlookers to see 20 riders riding in tight formation.

At Woori we met Glenda, Gael and Denise who had already been out on the trail and looked like they all had a nice fast ride. After a rest and drink break we were underway again but, unfortunately, we were not able to restrain some impatient bolters who flew off the front and thus ensured that the peloton exploded in disarray. We did manage to keep 16 or more of the original group together, which I guess was not a bad effort.

Before entering Magpie Alley it was time to gather our resources and our courage for the challenges that lay ahead. I noticed more of our riders had stepped over the threshold into the ridiculous zone by adorning their jelmets with cable ties of assorted lengths, colours and number. Some of these riders had more impressive head decorations than the Pakistani border guards. Nevertheless we rode on with fear and trepidation in our hearts, but discovered that the potential threat did not materialise after all. Not a single magpilian marauder in sight !

I was pleased that the headache that had been plaguing me all day had finally subsided, obviously as a result of the fresh air and fine friends all around me (and possibly also because of the 3 Panadol I had taken), neverthess I was quite content to stop at Milgrove and chat instead of continuing to Warburton. It soon became obvious that the majority of the others also made the same decision.

When the entire group had gathered it was time to welcome Danielle Bruneau as our 77th Ghostrider. In the short time she and Wendy have been with us, they have impressed us greatly with their love of cycling and their friendly good humour. It is our privelege to have them as fellow Ghostriders with us. It is worth noting that our last three inductions have all been female riders. With Denise and Connie also rapidly approaching the end of their probationary periods it is looking like we may have no less than FIVE new female members in succession – that is certainly something we never would have predicted.

Before getting back on the bikes someone pointed out that the cable ties on different helmets were of vastly different lengths. I am not sure whether any scientific studies have ever been undertaken as to what constitutes the “optimum” length for magpie deterrence, but a preliminary survey indicated that, if size really does matter, then Jo would have the best protection. There was no doubt that she really did have the biggest ones in the peloton. Speaking of size, when we finally added the total number of riders in the peloton, we discovered that we had achieved the brobdingnagian size of 27 riders. I am not sure if this is a record, but it certainly was our biggest since last summer.

Back on the bikes after the extended lunch and official pleasantries, it was time once again time to ride back into the setting sun. Since this was to to be our last ride before the introduction of Daylight Savings, we can now look forward to the sun being 15 degrees higher in the sky at the same time next week. We can even start plannning some popular twilight rides on the trail. And I wonder how long it will be before we get our first peloton of 30 riders? Will the women ever outnumber the men? What will I have for lunch next week? So many unanswered questions and so few brain cells left to answer them with…..