After missing out on a full ride in recent Thursdays I finally managed to get away for an early start, arriving at Woori Yallock at 11.40 am. I figured that, with so much time at my disposal, I would be able to enjoy a leisurely ride up to Mt Evelyn and have plenty of time to recuperate before the return ride.
Unfortunately when I arrived at Woori Yallock I found that Phil Wallens and Michael Poods were already there, examining Phil’s bike with some look of concern. Apparently Phil was worried that the pressure in his tyre was rapidly diminishing – our first puncture in quite some time. When Phil mentioned that he had an injured finger (probably suffered during his last visit to his manicurist) Michael proudly announced that he could do the job better than Phil anyway, and immediately proceeded to dismantle Phil’s bike.
Soon he had pieces of bike scattered far and wide and had also managed to cover the front of his jersey and his hands with copious amounts of grease and dirt. I felt guilty about heading off on the ride, leaving Phil and Mike floundering, so I decided that I could afford to wait the 10 mins or so it usually takes to repair a tyre.
Twenty five minutes later Michael stood up and announced that the job was done and immediately started to enthusiastically pump up the repaired tyre. He then proceeded to a frenetic bout of impressive pumping for a couple of minutes, until the air was rent with an ear splitting “pop”. Unfortunately Phil and Michael had fogotten to check that the tube was not caught between the tyre and rim.
While all this was going on Lothar, Celia, Linda, John and Mal had all arrived to watch the unfolding spectacle. Since I did not want to watch another 30 minutes pass by while the process was repeated, I announced that I had to leave to oversee the start of the ride at COGS, and peddled off hoping no one would notice my absence.
I soon found myself battling into a head wind and started to worry that I would not be able to reach COGS before the start at 1.00 pm. With lots of bluff, sweat and tears I did somehow to reach Mt Evelyn shortly before the start and was pleased to see a sizeable group already assembled. It was great to see Constable “Tubby” Clarke back after a long absence and also out for his first ride with the Ghostriders was Rick Coxhill, fresh from our recent triumphant expedition to the Himalayas. Noel had also ridden back to COGS to keep Rick company on the outward ride.
Soon we were all heading back down the hill and were joined by Michael and Phil (finally finding the recipe for successful puncture repair). The early pace was a cracker as we rushed along at near 30 kph, everybody probably trying to impress our new rider. By 1.40 pm we were back at Woori Yallock and a quick head count indicated that we had approximately 22 riders – not bad at all.
Also waiting at Woori Yallock was our newest potential rider. Bev had discovered us on the Internet and mustered up the courage to see if we were really as silly as we sounded. I can only assume that she soon discovered that in fact we are really much worse than the tame version that is portrayed for our world wide reading audience.
Within a few kilometres we had caught up to Lothar and Celia who were busy repairing a puncture on the side of the trail (puncture no 3 for the day). I warned them to keep Michael well clear while we gathered around to watch the repair being effected. After a short delay we were underway once more and managed to make it all the way to Milgrove without further mishap. It was not until after we had been settled down to lunch for a little while that we heard that Celia had suffered another puncture along the trail (number 4).
In between bites on my very hot pie I noticed that Tubby Clarke was busy pulling the wheel from his bike – he had apparently suffered a puncture (number 5 and counting). I started to wonder if someone had been along the trail spreading thumb tacks and broken glass like some sort of bike hating Johnny Appleseed. We had never had so many punctures in a s single ride.
After lunch, with our tummies bulging and our minds on punctures, we cautiously set out on the return ride. I kept wondering if we could possibly be aflicted with any more punctures. Soon after passing Launching Place we were passed by a rapidly moving group of riders led by Crasher Lewis and Werner. This ambitious burst of speed was soon slowed down when Werner became the unhappy owner of puncture number 6 for the ride. This was becoming quite ridiculous. At least Peter was happy at the prospect of yet more sales of tyres and tubes to the Ghostriders. As they say “one man’s puncture is always another man’s fortune”.
I shook my head in disbelief and tried to pedal on towards my car at Woori Yallock when I tried to ignore the uneasy feeling that all was not well with my bike. Since I was only a kilometre or so away from safety I decided to keep going in the hope that the problem would not get any worse. In fact the problem did get worse, but since I am a stubborn son of a ^%#$^%, I decided to keep going anyway. It was not until I reached the car park that my worst fears were confirmed – you guessed it, I had suffered a puncture !!!!