In Which we Take a Risk

“Dat weather’s way too scarewy for me”, he explained on the phone,”I won’t take a chance on anything that could get me wet”. Coming from a man who has never taken a risk on anything in his life, I guess I should not have been surprised, but I was rather disappointed that Hooters had chickened out on yet another ride because of his morbid fear of rain near Cape Otway.

As I looked out the window it certainly didn’t look too scary to me, in fact it was postively balmy. The skies were only partly cloudy and the dappled sunshine combined with a gentle warm breeze to bring the temperature up to about 24 C. In fact, it looked like a pretty good day to be out on the bike.

I decided to start at Wandin and ride back tO mt Evelyn for the 1 pm start, and as I was unloading my bike from the car I was met by Lex and JCL who had ridden from Emerald. We rode together up the hill to Mt Evelyn and were soon joined by Garibaldi and Little John. Gary also had a new rider with him and introduced him as another “Phil”. Phil apparently lives quite close to the trail and rides it almost every day. Today he had decided to lift his cycling experience to a new level by joining up with the legendary Ghost Riders for the first time.

We waited for any more starters but by 1.05 pm it appeared that the peloton was complete, so off we headed down the hill again. It was nice to be able to ride in short sleeves and enjoy the warm air as it rushed past. The pace continued at a brisk rate until we met up with Big Al and Peter near Seville. It is great to see how Al is progressively increasing the length of his ride each week. Just as well he does not suffer from the same irrational fear of everything that Hooters has.

At Woori Yallock Cheryl joined in swelling the group even further. When I stopped at the Launching Place lights I looked behind to see another THREE riders had joined in – Mal had brought along a young friend of his named Daniel, and even Crasher Lewis had taken up his position in the peloton.

The Settlement Sprint saw a long fast leadout by JCL, Mal and Lex. I tried to hang on the end of the line and hope that I still had something left for the final 100m. (I didn’t) Bob timed his attack well and flew past Mal, with Lex crossing in third place. I held on to take fourth.

The final climb up to Warburton was tarnished by a Presidential puncture, but fortunately it was repaired quickly and we were soon under way again. At Warburton we did not have any sandwiches ordered and so had to backslide back to eating custard pies and chocolate eclairs instead. I ordered a saisage roll, but soon wished I hadn’t. I suspect I could have used the dried up contents to make extra long life brake blocks for my bike.

Warren “Spanner” Billson was also already sitting outside the coffee shop waiting for his pot of tea. This was his first time back on a weekday ride since his operation. Apparently he did not share Hooters’ fear of “scawy weather”.

We were also surprised to see “Doc” Mackay come riding up. She had apparently missed the peloton at Woori Yallock and been chasing us all the way to Warburton. I think her presence increased the final group size to 13 riders – not bad for a day when thunderstorms were predicted.

As we began our return ride we were assisted by a gentle tail wind and we managed to ride with good discipline and admirable style as I endeavoured to digest the remains of my sausage roll. I really missed the sandwiches.

As we approached Woori Yallock we noticed a sight we had never seen in the valley before. A light plane had landed on the airstrip and was taxiing ready to take off again. We stopped and watched for a while while it revved the engine and bounced down the grassy runway, just managing to lift into the air before hitting the row of trees at the end. We waved to the pilot as he gradually gained altitude and circled back towards Melbourne.

It was also about this time the the sky ahead started to darken, indicating that rain was not far off. The group that finished their ride at Woori Yallock escaped without getting wet but the rest of us rode into something of a drenching. In fact it was quite spectacular as the heavy rain quickly formed rivulets on the trail. Bob started complaining about the wet, but it wasn’t really that bad. At least the temperature was still warm so we didn’t get cold.

At the final road crossing near Wandin the water had formed a river across the trail. I decided to stop and wade through, with the rapidly flowing water actually over the tops of my socks. Now that was a first.

It was good to be back at the car and towel myself dry. It certainly had been a ride with a bit of everything – fine weather, new riders, large peloton, puncture, plane and finally – a downpour. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.