I had to admit that I was starting to get more than a little anxious. After all the time was now well past 1 pm and our guest of honour still had not showed up. The waiting peloton was starting to get rather restless and began to ask some embarrassing questions. “Why aren’t we starting?” “Who are we waiting for?” “I need to get to the toilet” and so on it went.
This was actually Naomi’s second chance to ride with the Ghost Riders. After wating for her at Launching Place last weekend we found out that she had been laid low with food poisoning and was unable to ride. But today I been speaking to her just a couple of hours earlier. Surely she couldn’t have got sick again in that space of time. Just as I was about to lose control of the restless mob, I was relieved to see her finally arrive and I was able to introduce her to the waiting throng.
For those who would be shortly leaving to take part in our 2007 Great China Ride, it would be a great opportunity to ride with the owner of Bike Asia and ask her all the questions they could think of.
Apart from Naomi’s attendance this ride was also notable for an event that apparently took place well before I even arrived at Mt Evelyn. Some of the waiting riders claimed that they had seen Hooters actually ride up the trail to Mt Evelyn, then promptly turn around and head straight back down again. Such an event was indeed so remarkable that Jon Bate rushed to take a picture with his phone, just so that he would have something to show all those who did not witness the event for themselves.
We were soon underway but we had not travelled more than a couple of km before I noticed the leading group of riders jumping from their bikes and running to the edge of the trail. As I got closer I could see that they were actually climbing the back fence to someone’s back yard. It did not take long to see the cause of the excitement. A lady had been mowing her back lawn when she somehow achieved the near impossible feat of overturning her brand new ride on mower on flat land. She was calling out for help when the peloton approached.
This was just the opportunity we were looking for to demonstrate our masculine muscle power. Fortunately for me I could see that an adequate number of people had already scaled the barbed wire fence, so I was able to safely watch proceedings from the vantage point of the trail. With yellow jerseyed cyclists all pushing together they soon had the mower bouncing back on to what was left of its wheels. The upside down state of the fuel tank had caused a significant loss of petrol but this did not seem to worry the owner who could not wait to light up a cigarette. If it had not been for Gary’s shouted warning I suspect that she might also have succeeded in setting fire to the remains of her new mower – five minutes after tipping it upside down.
After rescuing the world’s worst ride on mower driver we were back on our bikes and making up for lost time. Crasher Lewis wasted no time in riding beside Naomi and trying to remember stories of a bygone era when he won his last National Title. I guess that served her right for arriving late !
The rest of the ride was achieved without further mishap but we never saw any sight of the group of riders who had departed earlier. This seems a little sad as I would prefer all riders to share the experience of riding together on our Thursday rides. If some leave Woori Yallock so early that they arrive in Milgrove before we have even reached Woori, then they are missing out on a lot of the advantage of group riding. This is a problem that we need to address quickly.
The other exciting aspect of this ride along the trail was that it was the first chance I had to bring along the new GPS unit so that I could record a full elevation profile of the trail and the route detail for Google Earth. I must admit that the little Garmin unit was quite mesmerising, so I kept yelling out elevation and gradient readings the other riders. For some strange reason they seemed to tire of my regular (but highly interesting) commentary.
When we finally all met at Milgrove it was a thrill to see that the new Ghost Rider rest area was now complete. This gave us lovely new tables and bench seats for our members to relax on. Surely this was much better than having to crowd on the footpath and eat our lunches off the top of a wheelie bin. Now we had an official area befitting our true status.
You can see in the picture above some of our riders gathered at Milgrove in the new Ghost Riders Rest Area.
It was very flattering to see the sign naming the park after me, but I felt that I should not get all the credit for the success of the group. The rest of the riders have had some small contribution also.
The only problem that I had with the brand new tables was that the benches were liberally covered with nasty splinters, protruding angrily in all directions. I wandered just who would be the first person to rip the backside out of their knicks when they stood up.
With the new tables and our special guest in attendance we all made sure that we had even more cream cakes than was our custom and therefore we were quite late in getting underway on the return ride. Unfortunately not all riders left at the same time and therefore we had a rather fragmented group all the way back to Woori Yallock.
The remaining part of the ride was conducted at a rather slow pace and, because of the milder weather, we did not stop for a water fight at the Seville trough. Back at Mt Evelyn at about 5.20pm we were able to say goodbye to Naomi, but for many of us we will be seeing her again in 4 weeks when we arrive in Kunming.