In Which “The Fourth is With Uth”

When the weather bureau predicts “5 to 10 mm of rain” in Melbourne you can usually safely double that prediction for the area along the Warburton Trail. Since some of our riders are rather elderly and averse to getting wet, Peter made the brave decision to alter the riding day from the scheduled Thursday afternoon to Wednesday instead. With a fine day predicted for Wednesday it was felt that the best option was to take the sunshine while we could.

The only problem with a change of date is that there will inevitably be some riders (ie “whingers”) who will complain that the change did not suit them. Should we worry about such people ? Probably not.

As we gathered at Mt Evelyn I could see that we would at least have the makings of a peloton. Roger was particularly edgy because he had been promised by Peter that this would be the day that he would finally get a yellow jersey in his correct size. A few minutes later he was busy twisting and stretching trying to work his way into the latest jersey that Peter had presented him with. Although his antics looked like Houdini performing one of his famous straightjacket escapes, he did eventually manage to don the jersey and therefore finally become an “official Ghost Rider”. Congratulations Roger.

After the initial delay we were soon off down the trail on yet another transit to Warburton. With Lex, Peter, Roger, Gary and myself all decked in the club colours we made an impressive group as we sped along at over 20 kph. It is always pleasant to wave at fans scattered along the trail. I did, however feel sorry for those who would be waiting tomorrow for the peloton that would not appear. I suspect that some onlookers must arrive at the trackside many hours before the ride just to secure a good vantage point.

As we rode to Wandin I asked Roger if he realised that today was “International Star Wars Day”. His blank look indicated that he had not given it much thought. I pointed out that the date was the 4th of May – in other words “May the Fourth be with Us”. With apologies to Luke Skywalker, it did seem funny the first time I heard it.

Cheryl joined with us at Wandin, although her clothing seemed more appropriate for a Siberian Winter than a ride on a balmy Autumn day in Melbourne. With leg and arm warmers, windstoppers, balaclavas, parkas and hot water bottles I wondered how she was planning to ride her bike. At least the first section was downhill, giving her a chance to build up some momentum.

By the time we reached Launching Place we had been joined by Hooters and the Spanner, bringing the peloton up to its final size of 8 riders. Cheryl already to be having second thoughts about her Himalayan Snow Suit and crampons. I would hate to see what she would wear on a cold day.

On Settlement Rd Lex insisted on a long fast lead out, closely followed by Roger and Gary. The pace increased to over 30 kph with the finish line still over 1 km away. I have told these guys over and over again that a sprint should never be fought out over anything longer than 50m, but they never seem to listen. All I could do was hold on and hope that both my lungs would keep functioning. Fortunately I was in the correct gear and managed to time the final accleration well enough to cross first at 44 kph. I know that Crasher Lewis will soon be back in the peloton, so I had better collect as many wins as I can before he gets back in the saddle again.

After another pleasant afternoon tea at Warburton it was back on the bikes again for the return ride. Roger was obviously overcome by the excitement of wearing his new jersey and thought that he could eclipse Tom’s recent efforts on El Capitan. With his bum up and his head down he attacked the threatening slope, managed to cover about 3 metres, and then promptly crashed to his side. Obviously the FORCE was NOT with him on this occasion! Looking a little dejected, Roger realised that Tom’s record would take some beating.

As a result of the goings on at El Capitan the peloton had become widely spread out. I reached Settlement Rd, looked back and found that no-one else had followed me. As I cruised down the bitumen in the late afternoon sunshine I was abruptly brought back to realty by on oncoming truck missing me by less than 2 feet. The inept driver had chosen to pass another oncoming vehicle at the same time as I was approaching from the opposite direction. He had swung out on to my side of the road and narrowly missed hitting me head on.

Fortunately I survived the near miss and safely made it back to Woori Yallock. Cheryl had fallen well behind, probably because of heat stroke induced by her seven layers of thermal underwear. I was not in any particular hurry and was content to enjoy the beautiful late afternoon. With the air still and the sun hanging low on the horizon, this is definitely my favourite time of day. Lex and Roger decided to wage their own sprint up the hill to Wandin.

On the day after the ride we watched the weather to see if our decision to change the date had turned out to be a wise move. Apart from about 3 drops of rain the Thursday afternoon turned out to be fine. Did it worry us? Nah, we had enjoyed a great ride anyway.