Sometimes I think it would be much easier to teach 20 chickens to dance the Swan Lake Ballet than to organise the senile members of the Warby Riders to complete their regular weekly ride. It’s a terrible job, but I guess that someone has to do it. We had been looking forward to the final ending of a long cold, wet winter and with the weather forecast for a sunny day of 19C I thought that I would have no problems getting a good attendance for our first Springtime ride.
A quick ring around of potential riders soon revealed that my hopes of a big peloton were in serious danger. John informed me that he was still recovering from the flu he suffered back in 1997 and would therefore only complete the last 100 metres or so down the main street of Warburton to the cake shop. Bob said that bits of his anatomy were still falling off and that his hip was “popping in and out” so he would be back to his regular weekly visit to the local witchdoctor. Mal didn’t say anything so I could only assume that he must be back somewhere in Kinshasha or Mumbasa. It looked like I was in for a long, solitary ride in the sunshine. Oh well, I guess that is better than a visit to the all night dentist.
There are a few consolations in riding alone, and one of these is that it gives you time to ponder the great questions of our age. One such question that I have been wrestling with lately is “Why, when they can land a man on the moon, can’t they invent a toilet roll that is easy to start unwrapping?” Now I figure that is one to keep the philosophers arguing well after I am dead and gone.
I had already decided that I would revert back to my normal starting point at Mt Evelyn and I arrived there at about 1.05 pm, only to find the parking area jammed with a mass of semi trailers and assorted other trucks. The only parking space left was up of the grass embankment at the side of the road. It was at this time that I noticed a familiar white Ford pull in front of me and who should emerge but Bob. Apparently he had spliced the remnants of his leg back together again and was ready to pit his wits against the trail one more time.
We set off down the hill eagerly anticipating when we would emerge into the full sunshine. By this time it was about 15C, almost above the threshold of nose dripping. An even better sign was that we actually had a TAIL WIND. I had almost lost all belief that such a phenomenon actually existed, but here it was pushing us strongly along the trail. Man, we hardly even had to pedal. This was like being in some sort of lycra heaven.
Somehow Bob’s errant hip bones managed to stay socketed all the way to Launching Place where John had said he would join us. The only problem was then we arrived there was no sign of him. Was I surprised? Most certainly not. But I was surprised to find that he wasn’t even answering his mobile phone. For a person who has had his phone surgically implanted this was a strange portent indeed.
Bob and I decided to ride (VERY) slowly ahead and give him a chance to catch up. We wobbled along the bitumen at about 4 kph (almost stalling speed) when we were interrupted by a mobile call from John. Apparently he was riding behind us and could not catch up. He wanted us to slow down even further! I had to inform him that my derailliers did not come with the optional reverse gear and it would therefore be physically impossible to go any slower then we were currently travelling.
About 20 minutes later John joined the peloton and we were able to continue along the bitumen in formation. It was at about this time that I heard Bob exclaim “Would you look at that!!!” I turned to look in the direction indicated and there standing in the paddock was a rather exceptionally anatomically gifted horse. We could only stop and stare with envy at the sight. No wonder the horse was smiling so broadly. When John made some sort of comment to Bob about his favourite horny goat weed, Bob replied that he wanted whatever the horse had been eating. I had to remind him that if he did share the horse’s attributes it might not only be his hip that might “pop out” at the wrong time.
I guess that sight distracted us long enough to reach Warburton without any further fuss. We sat down to enjoy the warm sunshine and the long anticipated coffee and cake and to read the paper together. It was at this point that another amazing phenomenon manifested itself. A mini tornado swept into the town, throwing anything that wasn’t tied down high into the air. When it hit us, our helmets were snatched up and my gloves went sailing out over the ledge into the abyss. When the shock had abated I went out in search of my departed gloves and managed to find one down near the river. There was no sign of the other, but as I made my way forlornly back up the main road, I was intercepted by a big guy from the panel beater’s shop. He didn’t say anything but simply threw the missing glove back at me.
I was glad to have my glove back but was left wondering how it become saturated with liquid. (And just WHAT was that liquid?) Had it blown into their urinal?. Putting such thoughts out of my mind (but NOT putting the wet glove back on my hand), we decided it must be time to start heading back. With the wet glove impaled on my handlebars to dry out we set our faces back to Melbourne and started pedaling.
It was at this time that we realised that the blessed tail wind had now become a head wind, and THAT was not blessed at all. It was hard work tacking back into the gale, especially for John who was apparently still recovering from the chicken pox he had suffered when was 8 years old. In spite of the wind, it was still warm and sunny and it really did feel like springtime. The ride back was really not such a hardship after all, especially when over 60% of our peloton were elite riders.
John parted company at Launching Place while Bob and I completed the ride back to Mt Evelyn. It really did feel good doing over 60 km on such a sunny day. Even the last climb back up the hill did not seem so bad.
On the way back Bob informed me of the problem he had been having with his computer. Apparently he had been up all night trying to get it working but without success. “Can you help me?” he begged. I agreed to go to his house to see if I could be of any assistance, even though the situation sounded bleak. Fortunately the computer was fully working again about 30 seconds after I sat down at it, and I was able to tell Bob that computers normally work much better when the keyboard is plugged into the keyboard port. I thought he would be happy but instead he started hitting himself over the head with his mouse mat while regretting that he had wasted a whole night’s sleep over the problem.
As I said at the start – it really WOULD be easier to train 30 turtles to sing the National Anthem…..