It would certainly be hard NOT to notice the brand new tyre that I was sporting on the red rattler. After the unfortunate episode with the herniated Continental tyre that I had gone through on our New Year’s Day ride, a visit to Peter’s bike shop saw me now outfitted with a brand new Maxis tyre. If looks could kill this one would be a real Geoffrey Daumer special – bright green side walls that could almost be seen from the moon.
In spite of the rather bright colour, the tyre seemed Ok as I rode off from Mt Evelyn with Peter and Bob for our weekly ride. The weather, although overcast, was cool and still, and all looked promising for another enjoyable ride. The first few km to Wandin went well but about 20 seconds after meeting John at the carpark he let fly with his first “Why do we do this?” of the day. This guy really needs some sort of intensive counselling, but at least he had disconnected his huge Klaxon horn since our last ride.
There were a reasonable number of other riders on the trail and it was indeed encouraging to hear on more than one occasion “There goes the Ghost Riders” from awed observers as we swept past them. It is obvious that our fame is spreading even more rapidly than we thought. Maybe we should start planning a new range of GHOST RIDERS merchandise – knicks, socks, sunglasses, helmets, gloves, etc. If we start now we could live off the world wide profits and spend all our days just riding our bikes (beats working for a living, as someone silly once said).
Bob had decided to forgo the Bismark for the ride and had presented with my GT mountain bike. This at least gave us something of an outside chance in the traditional sprint sections, but unfortunately I led out far too early and ran out of puff about 100 metres short of the finish, leaving Bob to sweep past for an easy win.
Unfortunately for Bob he must have exerted a little too much force in the sprint, because, a few minutes later, we noticed his rear tyre rapidly deflating. He tried pumping it up again, but it was soon evident that he was fighting a losing battle. Closer inspection revealed a sinsister looking screw imbedded directly in the centre of the tread. Although Bob was determined to make it through to Warburton, he was soon forced to stop when the entire rear tyre decided to demount from the wheel. I suppose I could have stopped to help but since we were only a few km from Warburton I decided to ride on for my lunch. I did however encourage him by yelling that I would “wait for him at the Coffee Shop” as I rode past.
One great advantage of having a professional bike mechanic with us on our rides is that we no longer have to repair our own punctures (or bring our own tubes), and Peter soon had Bob’s bike mobile again. Lunch at Warburton was the usual lively affair and I had the opportunity to answer questions from interested onlookers about the Warby Ghost Riders. Unfortunately I did not have a pen so could not provide the much requested autographs.
Apart from an unfortunate incident with Bob’s new helmet we were soon ready to tackle the reverse ride back to Mt Evelyn. We set off at a rather modest 24 kph but were immediately beset with howls of protest from behind.
“Hey guys why so fast?”
“Hey Dad, wait for me”.
“Why do we do this?”
“I’m just a social rider, can’t go over 15kph”.
“My bum’s sore”.
This torrent inspired us to increase the pace a little and soon we were passing heaps of lesser riders all along the trail. In fact everything was going well until I started to experience that familiar sinking feeling in the rear wheel. Sure enough, I had suffered a flat tyre. Good news – Peter was there to help out so I did not even get my hands dirty and soon we were rattling along again.
Bad News – about 500m further along the rear tyre started to go down again. Obviously the replacement tube had not been up to scratch and needed replacing again. Good News – Peter was again there to help, and soon we were ready to go again. By this time Peter was starting to look like a cross between a coal miner and a chimney sweep. I am not sure that he would have been so willing to repair any further punctures if they were to occur.
Bob commented that we had not had a puncture for some time but that today we had suffered THREE of them. I replied that episodes of such punctures “seem to happen in bursts”, not realising the extreme cleverness of my unintended pun.
In the meantime John had decided not to wait but to keep going and aim to reach Wandin before us. By the time the third puncture was repaired he was a couple of km ahead of us so we set off in hot pursuit. On the way we passed a rather serious (and unfriendly) female cyclist who apparently showed no respect for the Ghost Riders and refused to even return a friendly “Hi” as we went by.
We finally caught John just before the carpark and, since he and Bob had started at Wandin, soon Peter and I were left to complete the final leg. Our surly female rider again refused to speak as we (again) passed her on the final hill. A few minutes later another ride had been completed, Peter and I exchanged a handshake and went to our repective homes to enjoy that nice tired feeling of accomplishment that inevitably follows every ride.