We all know that the when “the going gets tough the weak start whinging”, and never was this more clearly demonstrated than in today’s ride. For the past couple of years we have been spoilt by only having a series of “Clayon’s Winters” (The winter you have when you don’t have a winter). It is beginning to look like the Winter of 2005 might actually be a real winter at long last. The sort of Winter that separates the real riders from the pansy boys in lycra.
With the afternoon always going to be cold and wet I was faced with two choices. The easy option would be to just cancel the ride again and stay huddled in the warm office. The brave option would be to rise to the occasion and face adversity head on. Although I could have been tempted to take the easy way, I knew that we could not disapoint all those fans who had gathered along the trail to watch us pass by. The honour of the Ghost Riders was at stake.
In making that decision I fully realised that there would be many of our number who would most likely not make an appearance. Crasher Lewis, in spite of his continuous rantings about “ignoring pain” and “holding on to a wheel” always goes missing at the first sign of a dark cloud in the sky. Obviously preferring to stay home and dream about elusive National Titles that might have been, I was not surprised that he once again failed to attend a rainy day ride.
Hooters, obviously cut from the same cloth that Crasher is fabricated from, also announced that he would be missing from the ride. Spanner followed suit and explained that he couldn’t ride because “Hooters would not let him.” Lex apparently stayed home to practise some difficult slap dancing moves in front of his mirror, dressed in his short leather pants.
With all the retirements from the ride the starting group at Mt Evelyn consisted only of myself, Gary, JCL and John Green. I was pleased that John Green had come along with a new recruit for the Ghost Riders. I soon found out that Dr Chris McKay was a vetinary surgeon and therefore presumably had ready access to ample supplies of equine growth hormone. That should have been enough reason for Crasher to get out from in front of his computer and join us in a ride. I was also impressed by the fact that Chris was the proud owner of a Cannondale bike. With the tone of the peloton being recently lowered by the excessive number of inferior Avanti bikes I was pleased to see someone with a real bike for a change.
We all donned as many warm clothes that we could find and headed off into the drizzling rain. Chris seemed to have no trouble keeping up the pace but my attention was diverted to trying to keep the spray of mud and manure that was being thrown off JCL’s back wheel from getting in my mouth. I guess that is just one the hazards of riding in the rain.
After a few km we started to warm up and were joined by Peter and Little John, who had both chosen to start a little further down the trail. By the time we reached Woori Yallock the peloton was again swollen by the addition of Cheryl, who had loaded herself with so many clothes she looked like a cross between the Michelin man and Edmund Hillary. More introductions were made and we were back under way again.
The next few km gave us a chance to get to Chris a little better and also tell her the truth about the riders that were missing from today’s ride. She could not believe that Hooters had still never ridden the full length of the trail – not even on a perfect spring day. Although this was her first ride with us, Chris had chosen to ride all the way from Lilydale to Warburton and back again (in the cold and wet).
It was only when we reached Yarra Junction that Chris started to find the pace a little too much and decided to take refuge in the closest coffee shop while the rest of us continued to Warburton. In spite of the weather and a slightly late start we were only a few minutes later than usual arriving at the coffee shop. I ordered the last remaining pie in the pie warmer and settled down inside to warm up again after the ride.
John Green (aka “Eggs”) informed us that he will be away for the next few weeks, exploring the (warm) sights of Turkey. We also spent some time catching up on the latest developments in the China Ride of 2006. By the time we left the shop to begin the return ride we could be excused for thinking the temperature had dropped a few more degrees. Fortunately a few minutes of vigorous riding warmed us up again.
Passing through Yarra Junction we could see no sign of Chris. She had obviously finished her coffee and decided to get a head start on the return ride. The rest of us put our heads down and rode on into the rain. Although I am sure we would all prefer riding in fine and sunny weather, sometimes it is good to get out on rides like this, just so that we can appreciate the fine weather even more.
At Woori Yallock Eggs and JCL started a bolt back to Mt Evelyn, leaving Little John and myself some distance behind. It was not until nearly back at Mt Evelyn that I finally managed to catch up again, and it was not until we arrived back at the car park that we again met up with Chris. In spite of the poor weather she said that she enjoyed the ride and would be coming back again. I could only wish that some of our regular riders could have some of her backbone.
How many weeks is it till Spring time ???