For the past couple of months I have been arriving at Woori Yallock an hour earlier than usual and using the extra time to ride to complete the full length of the trail down to Maroondah Hwy before returning back to meet up with the others at COGS at 1pm. Although I have encouraged others to join me in this extended ride, unfortunately the only one to take up my invitation was Terry Drummy a few weeks ago. For that reason I was thrilled when Connie (fresh back from her recent triumphant Kiwi Ride) promised that she would join me this week. The only problem was that I had some unexpected visitors that morning and found myself running hopelessly late for a 11.15 am start. As it was, I arrived at about 11.25 and was pleased to find that not only were Connie and Juri at Woori Yallock, but so were Paul Barnard and Michael Poods.
Since Juri was having some trouble unfolding his amazing collapsable miniature bike, I instructed Paul and Michael to go on ahead while I waited behind to amuse myself at Juri’s futile attempts to assemble his collection of rods, bolts and cables into something resembling a real bike. In my time I have had the misfortune to assemble some obscure furniture from IKEA, and although the instructions promised that they could be assembled by a child in no more than 5 mins using nothing more than an Allen key, I invariably found myself a confused nervous wreck late into the evening. Early indications were that Connie and Juri were heading in a similar direction. Fortunately the final connule slipped into the rotating innard allowing the foscure valve to be tightened onto the spoon bezel and we were on our way at last.
For the first time in weeks the weather was less than perfect, encouraging me to don the plastic rain jacket. The only problem is that Juri sets such a cracking pace that I was soon wetter inside the jacket than I would have been if I had just exposed myself to the occasional drizzle from the heavens. At the first chance I discarded the jacket and decided to take my chances with the weather. I decided to tuck closely in behind Juri and thus protect him from the fierce tail wind that was blowing up the trail. This strategy must have had some merit since, by the time we were on the final climb up to COGS, we caught up with Paul who was still making his way slowly up the hill. Unselfishly I decided to protect him from the tail wind as well.
When we had only a few hundred metres to go I decided it was my time to belatedly take the lead and thus collect the valued King of the Mountain points for the climb. Paul saw my passing maneuver and immediately accelerated to about 25 kph, thus initiating some sort of slow motion sprint to the summit. What Paul did not tell me was that he had no intention of continuing any further than COGS, thus while he rested I was left continuing up the remainder of the climb to Mt Evelyn and beyond. I have to admit that I was not a pretty sight when I finally crested the summit and was able to relax a little for the roll downhill towards Lilydale.
As it turned out there were only three of us who completed the extended ride although it was good to have someone to chat to as we pedaled back up the hill from Lilydale. I was somewhat surprised to find that, when we got back to COGS, both Paul and Michael had gone missing. (We never saw either of them for the rest of the afternoon). On a more positive note however was the fact that a good peloton was rapidly forming. Especially good was the fact that we had some riders that had not been out on a Thursday for a long, long time. We were also informed that another cycling group (Whitehorse Cycling Group) was out on the trail and that we would probably meet up with them later in the ride.
Of course no ride can be regarded as a success if the peloton quickly fragments into a rabble of scattered riders and I am thrilled to say that by some miracle of nature the pelton was able to maintain a superb level of cohesiveness all the way to Woori Yallock. In fact I would go far as to say it rated a score of 8 on the Dawson Pelotonic Discipline Scale (and that is indeed something). At Woori Yallock we found that the group had been swollen even further and we were starting to resemble a peloton of Biblical Proportions. (And I am NOT just talking about the size of some of the riders’ stomachs). After a few minutes to rest and chat we resumed our ride towards Milgrove. By this time the drizzle had cleared and the sun was breaking through to add its own special blessing to the Thursday ride.
At Launching place we were met by a sizeable group of riders from the Whitehorse group so we all stopped to get acquainted with our new cycling partners. For a few minutes we were probably the biggest peloton in Australia and I am sure that the vast collection of coloured lycra clad riders would have been clearly visible from outer space. Fortunately I had my camera with me and I was able to record the historic occasion for posterity.
It was great to briefly meet other like minded riders (even they looked much older than us), but my tummy was rumbling and it was time for lunch. The two groups separated into their original configurations and parted company. Not only was I looking forward to lunch and a welcome intake of calories, but it was also the day that Sonja Fischer was due to be welcomed as fully fledged Ghostrider Number 93. In the short time she has been riding with us she has demonstrated a keen love of cycling. She also enjoys a good laugh – which is really important in a group like ours. We were soon settled down at the Milgrove Bakery celebrating the ride with much cream cake eating and laughter. Sonja was welcomed with loud applause as our latest new Ghostrider, before we reluctantly started to prepare for the return leg back to Woori Yallock.
I am happy to say that the final leg was just as much fun as the rest of the ride. In my mind it had been an exceptional day’s ride in every respect. Thanks again to all those who participated and helped ensure it was so enjoyable for everyone.