In Which we all Enjoy a “Slow Leak” (by twilight)

It had been a rather hectic morning at work so I was really looking forward to our first “twilight” ride. The red rattler had been cleaned and checked over and appeared to be once again in trackworthy condition. The weather had looked slightly threatening, but had settled down to a still and cool afternoon. Everything looked promising for a good ride as I clipped the bike on the carrier and headed off towards Mt Evelyn.

The plan had been to start from Mt Evelyn at about 3 pm and arrive in Warburton at about 5pm for tea with the support crew. I arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled start and proceeded to prepare for the ride. By the time I had the bike ready Bob came cruising up with a big smile on his face. Apparently he had spent the previous hour racing up and down the surrounding hills, pretending he was Lance Armstrong in the Pyrennees. I think the other reason he was so happy was that the late start had meant that he could sleep in until 12 noon.

We set off at a brisk pace and soon the km started to pass by. The pressures of business were soon forgotten as we settled down into a comfortable rhythm. To me that is the best part of cycling – just quietly cruising along using nothing apart from your own muscle power. It’s so relaxing and slightly hypnotic at the same time.

About 30 mins later we pulled into Woori Yallock and were met by John and Warren. As we rolled to a stop I could see that Warren was clutching the remains of a bicycle wheel in his hands. I was a little worried that he might have bought himself a unicycle, but learnt that this was, in fact, part of the “super bike” that he had been secretly constructing in his garage. Using an assortment of parts from his grandfather’s clock, his mother’s washing machine and the neighbour’s old Gogomobile he had been slowly putting together the “Mother of all Bicycles”. In the meantime, however, he had to persist with the loaner bike he had used on previous rides.

At Woori Yallock we were also joined by about 27 million flies that tried desparately to hitch a free ride up the track by firmly attaching themselves onto every exposed part of our anatomies. We have experienced this problem before and knew that the only real solution is to maintain a speed in excess of 20 kph. Apparently this speed must the the highest speed that a fly can sustain in still air, so if you ride faster than that, they just don’t stand a chance.

Warren spent a few minutes belting the daylights out of his bike seat before announcing that he was ready to start. The peloton then set off looking forward to meeting the support crew for tea, but we had not travelled for longer than 5 minutes before my rear end started to feel rather strange. Well actually not my rear end, but the rear of the bike. It was obvious that all was not really well with the rattler after all. When I looked down my worst fears were confirmed when I could see that the back wheel had started to look decidedly soft.

I dismounted to examine the tyre and to pump some more air into it. At the same time I asked Bob if he had ever had a “slow leak”. He replied that at his age, it was the only type of leak he ever had. A few pushes of the pump seemed to have the tyre looking better again and so we all mounted up again and continued the ride.

Unfortunately the rear tyre continued to deflate as we rode along, requiring a stop every 5 minutes or so. Although I considered this a real pain in the backside, Warren seemed to look on it as a blessing. It gave him a great opportunity to stop and catch his breath. He even seemed to be enjoying the ride much more than he had on previous attempts.

It was during one of these pump stops that Bob decided that he needed more attention and staged another of his spectacular crashes. When I caught up to him he was busy wiping the dirt from his hands and examining his polished calves for scratches and dents. He was also muttering something about gravitational anomolies and dust on his deraileurs. We guessed that he had just banged his head yet another time, so we tried to ignore his ramblings and press on.

In spite of the numerous stops we still managed to arrive at Warburton soon after 4.30 pm – not a bad effort at all. Within a few minutes the support crew had joined us and we set down to enjoy our pies and cappucinos. Warren must have travelled twice as far as the rest of us because he tucked into TWO pies and sauce. John asked “why do we do this?” and the rest of us answered “because we love it!”.

During dinner we were entertained by the spectacle of a large white dog chasing a chicken down the middle of the main road. The white dog was soon chased by his owner shouting “STOP, STOP”. The dog was eventually captured by the owner and the chicken settled itself down under our table. A group of local kids, looking like the cast from OLIVER surrounded the table and proceeded to catch the chicken and take it home for dinner. Just another normal day for Warburton.

By 5.30 pm the riders set off for the return ride (at least all the riders apart from Warren, who had to get home early to resume work on his secret bike). The weather had cleared into a beautiful late afternoon and, since I had replaced the rear tube at Warburton, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the ride.

Apart from getting myself enmeshed in a barbed wire gate near Killara, the rest of the ride passed without further incident.

I suspect we may plan more of these late afternoon rides during the months of daylight savings.