In Which Reptiles Run Rampant

Ah Thursday afternoon – undoubtedly the best time of the week. It is always a fantastic feeling to leave the cares of life aside for a few brief hours and get out with your good friends on the Warby Trail. In addition, this time of the year offers some of the best cycling conditions possible. After an extended absence due to a bicycle malfunction it was good to see Peter “Billy” Booth back in his usual place at the head of the peloton. I have found that Peter and “Chook” Vandendool always do an excellent job as speed governors to help hold back the perpetual bolters from splintering the peloton. With a couple of disciplined corks at the front it is sometimes possible to actually hold the group together all the way to Woori Yallock. But once a few riders manage to get past, then all chances of a cohesive group are thrown out the window as all and sundry become enmeshed in a mad scramble for sprint points.

On this Thursday I am happy to say that cohesion prevailed and the group was rolling along at about 20 kph, chatting happily in the warm conditions. It gave me a chance to look around the valley and admire the superb scenery we are blessed with every week. As I gazed around at the flat valley and the rolling mountains in the near distance I cast my mind back a few eons to the day when dinosaurs must have roamed the district. Peter started identifying each plant as we rode past and got especially excited when some large flying creature flew overhead. I could almost believe that it was a giant pterodactyl that had swooped down from the mountains to observe us at close quarters.

I imagined what the trail would have been like a few million years ago as prehistoric Neanderthals rode their primitive stone bikes through Killara with Tyrannosauruses and giant velociraptors fighting over the remains of a dead Brontosaurus. Were there gum trees then or was the area covered with giant ferns? Was there a mighty volcano belching from the summit of Donna Buang ? Were the chicanes on the trail fashioned from wood or stone ? Was the Milgrove Bakery operating from a thatched hut or a nearby cave ? And where did the coffee come from ? Thoughts of a lycra clad Rachel Welch riding her bike surrounded by friendly wooly mammoths in 10,000 BC brought a secret smile to my imagination.

As my mind was thus happily engaged I was brought abruptly back to the present day by shouts of “watch out” coming from the front riders. I looked up to see something sitting in the middle of the trail, right in front of me. To my absolute amazement it really WAS a dinosaur, a real live creature from Jurassic Park was walking across the path sending surprised riders into a panic. Actually in all honesty it was a very small dinosaur but it was unexpected all the same. We had never seen a fat Blue Tongue Lizard on the trail before, but the surprise certainly helped to wake us all up from our daydreaming. I could only wonder whether it was a distant descendent from those mighty creatures who reigned here so long ago. Fortunately no harm came to rider or reptile and all made it safely to Woori Yallock where the “Ghost Train” arrived only a couple of minutes behind schedule.

With the stop at Woori Yallock came the first opportunity to have a good look around the group to see who had joined us for the day. Apart from Peter Booth, I noted that Brian Cooper was making his fourth ride with the Ghostriders. Apparently he had taken the afternoon off work just so that he could complete his probationary period and earn his yellow jersey. As I was thinking of a suitable nickname for Brian, the term “BC” came to mind. Not only was that his initials but it would also fit in with the prehistoric theme of the ride.

Speaking of things prehistoric, there was no sign of Crasher Lewis. After his comeback of the past couple of rides he was again nowhere to be seen. I wondered if his rush of blood on the Upper Yarra Dam ride had resulted in another recurrence of one of his ancient injuries. On the other hand we did have another new rider out on her first ride with us. Answering to the name of Karen, this new prospect had entered into the spirit of the day by riding a bike straight out of Jurassic Park.

Leaving Woori Yallock behind we headed off to the next major stop at Launching Place. Here we met up with Geoff and Al who had taken the opportunity to ride to the top of Donna Buang earlier in the day. Both of them had missed out on the Lungbuster Ride and were keen to record a time (even though there were no official adjudicators present to certify the accuracy).

Unfortunately after leaving Launching Place we were not able to hold back the bolters any longer and a small group abandoned restraint and rode off into the distance leaving the rest of the group far behind. It was also at this point that we were confronted with another fierce adversary. A ferocious head wind had appeared from nowhere and made any forward progress extremely difficult. Somehow, thoughts of the nearby coffee shop provided enough incentive for us to all make it to Milgrove, where we were able to officially welcome Brian “BC” Cooper as our 79th Ghostrider. We also instituted a new tradition for welcoming new members whereby the existing members all line up and welcome the new member with a greeting and a handshake. I hope this will become a feature of all future inductions.

The return ride was achieved with a significant wind assist which made the going very easy. The predicted thunderstorms did not eventuate. No magpie (or dinosaur) attacks took place. Karen made it safely back to Woori Yallock thus completing her first ride with the Ghostriders. BC Cooper made plans to purchase his yellow jersey. And everyone looked forward eagerly to next Thursday’s adventure.