In Which we Watch some other Elite Athletes

It is not every day that the average person gets the chance to watch elite cyclists in action. Of course, for the people along the Warburton Trail, they get to see us ride past every Thursday afternoon, but for the rest of the population the only pro cyclists they see are on the rare TV coverage.

Taking into account the fact that 10 of our riders will be participating in the Round the Bay in a Day ride on Sunday we made the decision to cancel the Thursday ride and go and watch some other top cyclists in action. I also thought that some of the young riders on the Sun Tour Time Trial might benefit from my encouragement and advice.

Although I had planned to be up at Olinda by 10 am in time to see the Dash for Cash, delays at work meant that I didn’t actually arrive until about 12 noon. By that time the preliminary race had already been run and won and the first riders in the time trial were already under way. Road closures between Monbulk and Olinda meant that I had to take the long way to the top of the mountain, via Ferny Creek and Sassafras.

Apart half way to the top I passed a familiar face huffing and puffing his way up the mountain on his bike. After his impressive performance on the recent Donna Buang Lungbuster Dean “Me Bean” Yagis had decided to undertake his own Time Trial from Pakenham to Olinda. I tooted and waved as I passed and expected to see him at Olinda a few minutes later.

The only parking I could find anywhere near the race was below the Cuckoo Restaurant, leaving me a fairly long and brisk walk to our scheduled vantage point near the Golf Club. It was hear that I meant Mal sporting his brand new “chrome dome” number 0 haircut. I asked him where all the rest of the Ghost Riders were gathered, but he looked puzzled and said “What others?”. Apparently we were the only two who had made the effort to attend the big race.

Mal had already decided to move locations and drive back to Monbulk to watch the riders depart, leaving me as the sole representative of the Warby Ghost Riders. Perhaps it is just as well we weren’t asked to officially open the race with a ride down the main street of Monbulk after all. I might have found it a little embarrassing to be riding down the street all by myself.

I made myself comfortable (or as comfortable as you can be sitting on a boulder by the side of the road) and watched the riders fly past at about 60 second intervals. This gave me a great chance to pass on valuable suggestions concerning their choice of bike brands, gear selection and seat heights, etc as they passed by. I am sure they were appreciative, but seemed intent on reaching the nearby crest so didn’t have enough time to thank me for my assistance.

About 20 minutes later I was finally joined by Mr Bean. He did not look happy. In fact he looked worn out. “How did you enjoy the climb?” I asked. “I would have liked it better if I could have used the small chain ring”, was his disappointed reply. Apparently his ongoing litany of cycle problems has now extended to a front detailer that refuses to engage the small ring, in spite of repeated attempts at adjustment.

“They seem to think the whole frame is out of alignment, I don’t know what to do about it”. I tried to console him by offering him advice that next time he should get a hand made bike (such as a Cannondale) instead of the mass produced (and obviously inferior) machine he had ended up with. “It’s only 18 months old, but they reckon the problem with the gears is not covered under warranty”. Just because it’s got an Italian sounding name doesn’t mean it was made in Italy. I suggested that he could just throw it in the bushes and get a ride back with me but he thought that the return ride would not be so bad, because it was mostly downhill.

We then settled down to watching the remainder of the riders complete the climb. Some of the more fancied riders were closely followed by their team car with their manager hanging out the window and bellowing instructions. I wondered if such antics actually help or hinder the rider. After all, I had often ridden alongside Hooters on the Trail offering him advice, but it never did him any good at all.

By 1.30 pm it was time to walk back to Olinda and enjoy a cappuccino. Just because I wasn’t on the bike, it didn’t mean that my body didn’t have a serious need of caffeine. With the live band playing across the street and a huge throng of Warby Wannabees all about it made for a very enjoyable 30 minutes or so, before walking back to the car for the ride home.

I missed the afternoon on the Warby Trail, but it had been a pleasant variation. I could only wonder how Dean was going to “enjoy” the rest of his afternoon as he laboured his way back to Pakenham.