In Which we Learn the Boomerang Principle

Although we have been riding regularly together for 18 months or so, I still find it hard to believe that every ride some how turns out to be unique. You might think that, after having riden the Warburton Trail a 100 or so times, that our rides would become repetitious and monotonous – how wrong you would be! It seems that every ride brings with it something unexpected – sometimes good, sometimes bad, but unexpected all the same. The ride on November 27th was to be no exception to this principle.

When I set off from Mt Evelyn I did not know for certain whether anyone would be joining me on the trail at all, or if I would be completing a long solo ride. Bob had told me that he was still suffering from the weekend ride and our newest recruit Peter “sexy legs” Warren, was off to attend a funeral. John, of course, was as he always is and, didn’t seem to know whether he was coming or going.

I had decided to ride the Norco for a change. It had served me well over the weekend and I thought that it deserved a “day out” on the trail. It was a pity that I was soon plagued by an annoying sqeaky rattle. It seemed to be coming from everywhere on the bike all at once and the further I rode, the louder it got. Every time I turned the pedals over I was confronted with a loud “xxxxchkzzzzk”. It became infuriating. I stopped to investigate, but could find anything wrong. I continued on, it got louder. I felt that this was going to be a VERY LONG ride.

By the time I reached the cutting between Killara and Woori Yallock I had a close encounter of the prickliest kind when I had to stop to allow a little echidna cross the path in front of me. Just as well I didn’t run over it with the bike or my tyres would have been like pin cushions. When it was safely out of the way, I remounted and was immediately rejoined by the familar chorus of “xxxchkzzzkchk”. It made it seem difficult to turn the pedals over and and was downright embarrasing as well.

Fortunately I was soon joined by Bob who had approached rapidly from the rear. Apparently his knees had staged a comeback and he decided to ride after all. With someone else to help me locate the squeak, I soon found it was coming from the suspension seat post and after a few turns of the allen key, the problem was solved.

We continued on in relative peace and quiet for a few km, until we were joined by “sexy legs” Warren who also approached us at speed from the rear. Apparently he had worn his lycras under his suit and was able to make a quick getaway from the funeral and join his mates on the trail.

In the meantime I had tried several times to contact John on his mobile, but each time it answered with the strains of Bud Tutmarc and his Hawaiian guitar. There was John in the background baying like a coyote. It was obvious that he was listening to some of his ancient tapes from the 50’s in hi scar. I gave up trying to get his attention, but as we crossed at the Launching Place lights, we could see John pulled up at the car park.

The peloton was growing well as we progressed through Yarra Junction, but that was where the first disaster struck. I had the pleasure of having my first puncture on the Norco. Fortunately we had a mobile support crew member with us and Peter soon had the bike in pieces while I watched carefully from a safe distance. Within a few minutes we had the spare tube inserted and we were on our way again.

The remainder of the ride to Warburton went without incident and soon we were enjoying our cappucinos at the coffee shop. Peter had to replace all the calories he had spent repairing my tyre by tucking into the world’s longest cream cake. During lunch Bob glanced at my bike and said “Are you sure your tyre is still OK?”. I kept eating my berry slice and replied “Yes, it’s fine – it’s got one of Peter Warren’s best tubes in it”.

After lunch we started the return ride and made it back to Launching Place where I said goodbye to John. Bob and Peter rode on ahead, leaving me to catch up. The only problem was that, by this time my rear tyre was again in severe difficulty. The spare tube that had only just been inserted had obviously proved inadequate and was rapidly returning its complement of air back into the atmosphere. The problem was compounded by the fact that I had neither another spare tube OR a pump. The only alternative I had was to continue raiding and try to catch the others. (I did not fancy the prospect of having to walk the remaining 20 km or so back to Mt Evelyn.)

I spent the next couple of km trying to watch my flagging rear tyre and wave to catch the attention of the others, who were by this time, about 1 km further ahead. The tyre started to get down to the rims and I really was on the point of stopping when a small miracle occured. As I turned a bend I came across another rider on the side of the trail repairing his flat tyre. I pulled in beside him. He looked up and said “It’s OK, it’s only a flat tyre”. I replied that I had not stopped to help him I just wanted to know if he had a pump.

Amazingly he informed me that he had just found a pump on the trail and wanted to know if it was mine. It wasn’t mine but it worked a treat pushing some badly needed air back into my tyre. I gave him back the pump and resumed my ride.

I eventually caught up with Bob and Peter near Woori Yallock and recounted the story of the pump. Peter looked up and said “That’s MY pump, I lost it earlier”. He went back in search of my new friend (and to retrieve his pump). Of course, if my tyre had not been going flat I would not have stopped to chat to the guy and therefore would never have learned about the pump being found.

Bob and I continued slowly along the patch and were met by Warren pedalling up the trail through Killara. While we stopped to chat for a few moments we were rejoined by Peter and our new friend (who turned out to be called Nigel). Peter had got his pump back so everone was happy. Warren continued on his way to meet John (who apparently was last seen doing calisthenics somewhere near Woori Yallock bridge.)

We had the pleasure of Nigel’s company all the way back to Mt Evelyn and were able to give him a standing invitation to ride with us anytime in the future. Back at the cars we were able to marvel at how the afternoon had worked out and how the pump had completed its remarkable series of manouvres. We also looked forward to seeing if Nigel would be able to ride with us again in the future. Although he was only 43 he was quite strong for his age, and, if he worked hard, he might even be able to be received into membership.

As I said at the start, you just never know what is going to happen (or who you are going to meet).