With only 3 Thursday afternoon rides remaining for 2006 I was looking forward to a respectable turnout of riders. As I pulled into the car park at COGS I was pleased to see a group of yellow shirted riders getting ready for the ride. I quickly unhooked the HASA from my car and joined in the throng. At 1 pm sharp we were, once again, rolling down the long hill on yet another transit of the trail.
We weren’t rolling for long, however, before Glenda took up a position at the front of the peloton and started cranking up the pace. The speed quickly increased to over 30 kph and the trees started flashing past in a blur of colour and motion. Glenda’s legs started pumping even faster as she seemed determined to leave the slower riders (such as 2Bob) floundering in her wake. I could hear the rasping sounds of ancient respiratory systems trying to cope with the unexpected workloads. At first I thought that Crasher Lewis must have been close behind me, but soon realised that the noises were coming from my own chest cavity.
The wild bunch of geriatric pedallers continued their headlong sprint with little though for their own safety or the state of their arteries. I could only wish that Banjo Patterson could have seen the spectacle, since I am sure he could have used the inspiration as the basis of another memorable poem. At the bottom of the first hill we settled down a little for the short climb to Wandin, where we waited to regroup and catch our breath.
It was not long before Glenda bolted off again, leaving her male companions struggling to keep up with her frantic pace. I wondered if this was indeed a wise thing for people as old as Bob and 2Bob to indulge in. Surely lawn bowls would be a more appropriate choice of pastime for men of their advanced years.
The frantic early pace did eventually settle down to something more akin to a canter and soon the group was brought back together again at Woori Yallock. Here we stopped for a drink and chat (and also a chance for heart rates to settle back down again). We were then back on the bikes for the second leg of the outwar ride.
Near Yarra Junction we were met by a large group of teenage school kids, obviously out on their bikes as an end of year excursion. As we passed by Mark exclaimed loudly “School excursion – good to see”. I did not have the heart to tell him that I had just overheard one of the (ruder) teenagers comment to his friends “Nursing home excursion – good to see”.
After passing Milgrove the pack of riders settled down for the customary sprint to the top of the trail at Warburton. The manner that certain individuals throw themselves into this section would suggest that they were chasing “King of the Mountain” points, but all that it at stake is valuable kudos. Whatever the reason it is a good excuse to get the heart pumping before the much easier cooldown ride back to the coffee shop at Milgrove.
When we arrived back at the customary watering hole I discovered Warren (aka Spanner) carrying a HUGE box full of some cream and sugar filled pastry creation. I thought at first that it was a just a slightly bigger lunch than he usually eats, but found out that it was in fact the cake for his daughter’s wedding. The rest of his family was also on hand to make sure that the precious cargo did not get dropped or eaten before it made its way safely back to his home.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by what they hide under their mattress, and the Warbies were about to see a side of Glenda that had previously been well hidden. Recently had come into my possession a collection of rather risque photos of the male Ghost Riders. Apparently these had been taken secretly by Glenda with the aid of an extremely long telephoto lens and a vast amount of perseverence. These pictures had now been compiled into an impressive 2007 calendar. I could not understand why Glenda had felt the need to “enhance” the physiques of most of the male bodies, but had left mine absolutely untouched.
The prototype of the calendar was passed from person to person and a problem soon became apparent. With 17 riders present in the Thursday peloton and only 12 months in 2007, it was obvious that some were going to miss out. Some of the louder (and older) members of the group complained that none of the female Ghost Riders were in the calendar. Maybe we need to organise a Petticoat Peloton Calendar as well. Since I have a couple of good digital cameras I could surely assist with the photography.
After an extended lunch break it was time to get back on the bikes for the long ride back. As I gazed on the dust covered HASA it reinforced in my mind just how dry the last few weeks have been. The surface of the trail is now about as dry as talcum powder and our bikes (and our bodies ) are soon covered in a fine layer of white dust on every ride. As the scattered clouds began to clear the temperature soon began to rise.
The orginal forecast had been for 36C, but so far it had only been somewhere closer to 26C. It was now obvious that the temperature was about to increase quickly. This gave us an excuse to stop at Seville for a water fight at the trough. Soon we were all drenched in cool water and in high spirits for the remaining few km back to the cars.
What a sensational way to spend a Thrusday. As Hooters used to say (when he was still able to ride) “Beats working for a Living”.