I like to pride myself on the fact that I have a better attendance record than any other member of the group. On easy rides and on hard rides, up Donna Buang in a blizzard, Around the Bay on my own, fighting heatwinds in heatwaves, eaten alive by the Woori Yallock flies, punctures by the score – there I have been at the forefront of the peloton. Even though the weather had taken an unexpected turn for the worse, even though I was running about 15 mins late, I was still driven by a feeling of responsibility to stand in the pouring rain and strap the old rattler on to my car. With the rain running down the back of my neck I could not help but feel that this was a stupid way to towaste an afternoon.
Nevertheless I set off into the deepening gloom. With my windsreen wipers frantically trying to keep pace with the torrential rain I made it as far as Silvan. I glanced down at my watch. It was already 1.10pm. The rain was getting heavier. I pulled over to the side of the road, truly on the horns of a dilemma. I thought deeply for about 5 seconds, then decided that the only sensible thing to do would be to turn around and head back home. No-one in their right mind would turn out on an afternoon like this.
Later that evening I received the following e-mailed reports:
From Bob “2 Bob” Leedham:
Only 4 brave souls fronted for today’s ride; talk about ghost riders.Big John, Gary, Phil and 2 Bob were the brave ones. Sure we got a wet backside as well as other things but it was very stimulating. Blinding rain, hail, thunder and lightning did not deter us; we are obviously made of the same stuff as the original Anzacs.A newcomer named Alan also fronted at Mt Evelyn but he turned back after a short ride, he obviously knew something was about to occur for the worst with the weather which I suppose is understandable since he is 78 years old.But enough of the gloating; I think today’s ride should earn me the equivalent of 5 rides towards my Warby Ghost Riders apprenticeship, do you agree?
From Warren “Spanner” Billson:
In your absence:
The weather forecast was very promising – a few clearing showings in the morning becoming fine. They lied.
The car park at Mt Evelyn was deserted and forlorn at the normal start time. There may have been some other cars in the car park but visibility was so poor due to the drenching rain who could tell. Ever the optimists we proceeded to Woori Yallock in the vain hope it was clearing up. At this stage I finally had to remove the blindfold to allow Hooters to see that it was still raining. At this stage it was impossible to get him out of the car anyway so we stayed in the car park trying to spot some break in the continuing deluge. A brief glimpse down the trail in the hope of seeing the famous yellow jerseys was all in vain. Could it be that only Spanner and Hooters could manage the courage to turn out? A quick call to our fearless leader at home in his warm office suggested this could indeed be the case! He did think Cheryl was going to join us at some stage.
After such wonderful weather for so long and record pelatons it seemed impossible that it could all come to this. About to throw it in ourselves for the day our hopes were lifted by a 50% increase in turnout when Mal 2 arrived. (I get confused with the 2 Mal’s – which one is Malignant and which one is Melanoma?) . Another 10 minutes of waiting we determined this must be it so took the brave decision that we had an obligation to the residents of the Yarra Valley and indeed the Trailblazer Coffee Shop in Millgrove to show our true guts and determination. Together we helped Mal remove his bike from his station wagon and quickly added it to the 2 strapped on Spanners car for the quick drive to Millgrove. Cheryl was a no starter apparently concerned that her make up would be washed away. Was all lost? Perhaps the weather would change after a coffee and cake.
The rain continued. For those of you familiar with the BOM weather map – all was red or purple and the roads were awash. The coffee was hot and the cakes fresh and helped keep the chills away. After 30 minutes of moving into the black on the map it was agreed that no-one in their right mind would be out in weather like this and decided to give in. After all at least we had tried and made the effort. So we jumped back into our nice warm car and drove back towards Woori Yallock. It was just at the end of Station Road when we were shocked to see an incredible sight. 3 yellow jerseys struggling through the tide followed by another of indistinguishable description. Garibaldi was leading Warby Phil and Big John upstream together with ??????. We just couldn’t tell under the mud..
At this stage we thought about parking the car and joining the fragmented pelaton, but we soon came to our senses remembering “no-one in their right mind would be out in this weather” and drove off splashing Garibaldi with a mixture of mud water and cow manure. Hooters mumbled something about he might smell better now and Garibaldi smiled as he started thinking about the subject for his next cartoon.
Four inches of water over the road reassured us that we should look forward to next Thursday – this week was done. As for the other four brave souls, they were last seen trying to get some guy in a boat to give them a ride back down to their cars…………
And even from Gary “Garibaldi” Hall:
I had sent an email to our beloved leader enquiring about today’s ride, after all it had been persistently peeing down all morning. The reply was a derogatory remark comparing me to hooters and that real riders would not worry about a little rain.
Now I have always considered myself a real rider, a hard man of the peloton.
So I threw my jersey and leg warmers in the tumble dryer to take the chill of them (They felt so nice and warm against my skin).
Layer upon layer I donned, and wondered how Cheryl finds enough time to get dressed for a bike ride.(At least I didn’t have to put on make up)
After admiring myself in the mirror for 30 minutes I was running out of excuses to stay home, so I mounted the
AVANTI and braved the elements.
As I made my way down the trail Mother Nature decided to show me what she is capable of.
Relentless rain turned the gravel and horse crap to mush, very organic to put it politely.
At least there was no other cyclist out in this weather so I didn’t have to suck in my stomach.
On reaching Seville I saw a lone bike rider in the distance a sort of blue haze -“bloody idiot” I thought, and proceeded to suck in my stomach. As this apparition grew nearer it turned out to be Dr Phil so I let my stomach hang down and we stopped for a breather. (his blue colour was the result of the weather not the bike attire he was wearing).
“IS THIS IT ” I asked Phil who looked grateful to have come across another human being ” I I I tthhhink sooo”
he stammered trying not to swallow too much water when he spoke.
As we stood there trying to justify being out in this weather, and the merits of a cosy fire and Hot Toddy — THIS IS SUMMER ISN’T IT?
Three riders appeared out of the gloom, struggling to hold their line in the mush which was once the trail.
Little John was leading the way followed by Two Bob and a new rider who I think was called Alan ( I ‘wasn’t hearing too well my ears were full of water!
“WHERE’S DENNIS?’ Don’t know – probably hiding under his doonah replied Little John.
After a short pit stop we headed of to Warburton trying to avoid the river of water cascading down the trail, all I could think of was hot coffee and DISAPPEARING DENNIS hadn’t ordered sandwiches.
Allen decided to turn around at Sunnyside Drive (No pun intended) but I’m sure we’ll see him again – if the raging torrent of water didn’t sweep him out to sea.
We struggled onwards towards Yarra Junction the rain getting heavier and heavier.
I was debating about heading home, to a warm shower and 2 litres of hot coffee (mmmm coffee) but I could see the other riders needed a leader, so for the sake of the peloton I perserverd.
At Millgrove a blue Mazda came screeching around the corner on two wheels; Johnny McGoo has bought a new car I thought to myself but it turned out to be Hooters & Spanner.
Now I know it was raining pretty heavily, but why do two grown men have to wear their raincoats inside the car ? Is Hooters so paranoid, he is afraid of getting wet inside a metal box?
After a short chat (spent rubbishing Dennis!) the peloton made its way to Trail Blazers.
On arrival we sent Phil in to see if the LOST LEADER had ordered sandwiches. Thankfully he hadn’t so we ordered copious amounts of coffee and cake.
Meanwhile outside it was pis… er sorry raining quite heavily so we kept on buying even more cakes.
Dr Phil must have sampled every cake, and had to pay buy bankcard as he only had thirty dollars in cash.
We reluctantly left the coffee shop leaving half the trail and 2 inches of water on the shop floor.
After donning wet helmets ( like putting a wet cold clammy sock on your head) gloves and raincoats we headed out for the home journey.
The ride back to Junction showed a slight improvement in the weather with the sun breaking through the gloom.
“You guys might get a dry ride home!” I yelled to to the now even smaller peloton as I said goodbye.
“BRAVE BRAVE LADS” I thought to myself as I watched these fine athletes head of to Mt. Evelyn.
On arriving home I grabbed the garden hose and washed the 10 kilos of mud, horse crap and whatever else had adhered itself to the AVANTI.
Overhead the thunder was rolling in from the east and the heavens opened up again, I thought about those gallant bike riders heading back along the trail upholding the glorious traditions of the GHOSTRIDERS
ride on – lads – ride on
TO THE REST OF YOU….I HOPE YOU WERE NICE AND WARM COWERING UNDER YOUR DOONAHS!!!!!
Why does it take a rare Presidential absence to bring out all the closet cycling journalists? I have been inviting riders to submit reports for years with no response.