In Which TWO new riders join us for the First Time

During our New Year’s Eve celebrations at Ross and Estelle’s house the conversation turned to the inevitable topic of “when are we having our next ride?” It was quickly decided that the first day of the new year would be an ideal day for a ride, provided the weather was favourable.

When my alarm went off at 7 am on New Year’s Morning I looked out the window to a perfectly blue sky from horizon to horizon. The ideal day for a ride (or so it seemed). I rang around the other members of the Warby Riders and quickly raised the necessary numbers for a riding quorum We were even going to have the pleasure of Mal’s brother-in-law joining us for the first time. At this rate of growth we may have to start considering selling Warby Ghost Riders franchises.

John was also invited to join in the ride but stated that he had several hours more sleeping to do and would have to give it a miss.

The arranged meeting place was at the Mulgrave Reserve, with a plan to ride down to Carrum and then follow the Bay around for a few km. As usual I was the first to arrive, but I did not arrive alone – I arrived at the same time as a sky full of menacing dark clouds! By the time Mal and Daryl had arrived the sky opened up and bucketed down rain on our lycra clad bodies. This was NOT an auspicious start to the ride.

The three of us huddled under the verandah of the cricket clubrooms while we waited to see if Ross would show up. Thirty minutes later Ross did show up, but the rain was still pouring down. It looked as if the ride would have to be cancelled, but fortunately the deluge decided to abate long enough for us to mount our bikes and head off.

Twenty seconds into the ride Daryl decided to demonstrate his own unique style of riding by falling off at the exit from the car park. He must have been to the same cycling school as Bob. Since there was no apparent harm done we headed off again for another 10 minutes at which time a mighty cry of “STOP” resounded down the trail. This time it was Ross’s Massey Ferguson that had decided to blow a rear tyre. Although staging spectacular blowouts was a skill that I thought was unique to me, it was nevertheless a refreshing change for me to watch someone else battling with tyre levers and leaky tubes.

About twenty minutes later we were back underway and Mal took it upon himself to try to personally set a new land speed record all the way down to Carrum, while the rest of us battled on in his wake. At least I knew that there was a good coffee shop at Patterson Lakes and a couple of stiff cappucinos would soon have us all feeling much better.

By the time we rolled into the shopping centre my heart rate monitor was clocking about 156 and it was about 1 hour past our normal lunch time. Boy that coffee shop was sure sounding good. The only problem was that when we rolled up to the front door the sign proudly proclaimed “Happy New Year”. It also proclaimed “CLOSED”. This was indeed a bitter blow that would take us some time to recover from.

The next 30 minutes were spent cycling around Carrum loking for another lunch shop, but eventually we had to admit defeat and head off to Mordialloc where Mal confidently assured us “there were heaps of great coffee shops”. So off we headed into the wind, legs pumping, lungs puffing, heart rate climbing – all in search of the cyclist’s Holy Grail – a good cup of coffee.

At about 2.30 pm we rolled into Mordialloc and started the search all over again. Apparently all the great coffee shops must have relocated elsewhere because all we could find was a greasy looking fish and chip shop with some rather sad looking dim sims and chiko rolls languishing under a sun lamp. Just when all looked lost we did spy a SUBWAY shop across the road and so headed off yet again looking for food. We did eventually get some nice rolls to eat but unfortunately there was not a cappucino in sight. Without the caffeine fix I was not confident that I would have the stamina to get back to the car, but we had no alternative other than to mount up and head off.

The senility of our newest member was also demonstrated when Mal noticed that Daryl was no longer wearing his helmet. The only trouble was Daryl could not remember where he had left it, in fact Daryl did not seem able to remember anything about the ride at all. The missing helmet was eventually located in the Subway store, but the proprietor had mistaken it for an ice-cream container and filled it with Dairy Snow. Why can’t anything ever go right with our club? Sometimes I wonder why I bother trying to help these guys.

Unfortunately we had not gone more than 50 metres before Mal, Ross and Daryl all decided that their kidneys had failed and they would require an immediate pit stop. It is getting increasingly obvious just how geriatric our group of riders is becoming. Ross even told us that he was a year older than he was when we went on our last ride only a few days ago. At this rate he should make 100 before the end of February.

After the bladders had been emptied (illegally) at the local railway station we again headed off. Somehow I was not surprised when Mal announced that he would (again) not be able to complete the ride. Apparently the pace had been a little too demanding and he and Daryl would have to ride back to the cars via a much shorter and easier return route. I started to search my memory in an effort to recall whether Mal had EVER actually finished any ride we had been on together but came up blank.

Mal and Daryl said their goodbyes and started to head off however before Daryl had gone 2 metres he proceeded to stage another, even more dramatic, crash. Accompanied by a wild cry, thrashing arms and legs trying to free themselves from his new PitBull cleats, he hit the ground with a resounding thud and a torrent of oaths. This was definitely NOT a pretty sight, even Bob would be hard pressed to crash in such spectacular fashion. I can only assume that Daryl must make a habit of this on all his rides. If that is indeed true, it will certainly add some extra spice to our future club outings this year.

Without Mal and Daryl in the reduced peloton, Ross and I were able to push along at a more appropriate speed and soon the kilometres began to rush by. We even had a tail wind from Carrum back to Dandenong, so it began to look like we would be able to outrun the dark clouds that were again filling the sky.

By 4 pm we were almost back at the carpark when a most remarkable event took place – I FELL OFF. Actually it was not my fault, the bike somehow decided to make a cracking noise and then I experienced a complete loss of forward propulsion, resulting in me being thrown unceremoniously onto the concrete path. After I had extricated my feet from the cleats and examined the bike I discovered that the chain had come off the inner cog. Since I knew how to fix this, I relocated the chain, examined my skinned knee and headed off again. Only about 1 km to go now.

I don’t know who ever said that lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but he obviously wasn’t a cyclist. About 100 metres further on the unfolding saga continued with an almighty crack, accompanied by pieces of shredding metal flying from my rear derailleur and me again falling to the concrete. By the time Ross had finished laughing I had had some time to again examine the carnage that had been wrought. The rear derailleur had disintegrated and lodged between the spokes of the rear wheel. The bike was now completely unrideable (it was even unpushable) and would need some serious surgery by a licensed bike surgeon.

Ross rode off to check out the car park while I carried the remains of my bike and clip clopped down the path on my cleats. Fortunately the incident had happened only about 500 metres from the end of the ride, so I tried to look on the bright side of life.

When I finally joined Ross at the car, we met Daryl who had been waiting for us after taking the short way back. When we asked him how his ride had gone he told us that Mal had somehow crashed over a concrete kerb, buckled his wheel and broken (another) spoke. It had surely been an interesting ride.

By the way, if you are wondering who the other new rider was that joined us on our ride, his name was MURPHY. Oh well, I guess things can only get better from here.