In Which some did it in the Dark

RIDING THE DUSKY TRAIL – story by Jon Bate

Peter Warren is batching for a week, whilst wife Joan dutifully visits their new grandchild in Sydney.

And in an effort to lessen his pent up energy now he could escape the housework whilst Joan was not there to crack the whip, Peter decided to ride the Warby trail once more, though this time, at night.

A solo ride was planned for Thursday 1 Feb, starting from Mt Evelyn at 7.00 pm and then return with lights blazing at some later time from Warburton. Confiding his plan for this solo endeavour to me, he forgot that I am deaf in the right ear, and failed to hear the “solo” qualification.

I said I’d join him. I must have said it rather loudly, for Lothar (also deaf) said he’d join in too.

Peter’s solo plan was shot to ribbons. He gracefully agreed we’d rendezvous at the Mount, set a game plan and head off. I confess to a large gulp of anxiety about this venture with me trying to pace it with the two speed machines.

That night, at Mt Evelyn saw Lothar and me waiting for Peter who was late as usual, claiming his cat was pining. Lothar had his compulsory two bananas, but was also into reducing his riding weight. Too effect this, he brought a tail light that would not fit his bike and had to be left behind, made sure his head light took only the light AAA batteries not the larger AA batteries, and left his helmet at home

Naturally Peter had spare dozen or so helmets in his van.

Away we went in the pleasant dusky warmish evening…….FLAT OUT!!!!!@@@@@ Bugger!!!!!!!

It was a perfect night. The only trespassers on the track were the odd rabbit, one or two strollers and joggers (all women I was curious to note), NO PRAMS and the odd bike. The latter we dispensed with quickly for it must have been daunting sight to be confronted by yellow clad riders, three abreast on the track, heads down, bums up, going like the clappers.

It was an education for me as well.

Peter had nearly fixed his rear derailleur just prior to departing. Nearly. On the trail, he’d be pedaling at his usual rate of 30 leg turns per minute (meanwhile Lothar and I are pedaling at 100 lpm to maintain the same speed), and it would come time to change to a lower gear. Lothar’s bike and mine managed this feat with smooth effortless precision precision. Peter’s bike went from 30 lpm to 3000 lpm in one nano second. This is a changing style that should only be attempted by the well padded rider. Don’t sweat Peter, the bruising will subside!

As well, Lothar’s bike was sending out some fascinating harmonics. The back sprocket set was singing some metallica song that surely promised a forthcoming repair job. It was enjoyable riding behind him, for the cacophony he produced, drowned out my exhausted, laboured breathing.

1min 7secs to Millgrove: A record for Lothar and me, and about 10mins short of Peter’s best time. Then coffee at Warburton, by which time it had turned dark.

A slightly more relaxed ride on the return, but still 5 knots above my capabilities. The headlights worked well and were very necessary, for despite a full moon and the baying of the odd wolf it was dark. Actually, and despite the gloom, I had to request that Peter unplug his tail light. It sent out a red beacon of such intensity I felt that either a Boeing would centre on it as a landing strip light or I’d suffer permanent retina damage. You’ll also gather from this comment that I was not leading our small pack!

It was a cool, sweat and fly free ride back to Mt Evelyn, but too dark to spot the Native White Petal Orchid or the Native Evening Bluebell. We did however strike more rabbits, one stumpy tailed lizard, a couple of 15ft tall kangaroos, and (surprisingly) several women taking their dogs for a stroll. It was on this return part of the trip that Lothar complained of a sore skull, and realized Peter had provided a helmet several sizes too small. A deliberate and provocative act if you ask me. It was Peter’s revenge for us horning in on his ride. My punishment was trying to keep pace with him up the trail from Wandin to Mt Evelyn.

And so we returned: Peter to make amends to the cat and to sweep and polish the floors, Lothar to a beer and bed, me to a massage.

What a magnificent time to ride. Any time you want to repeat your solo ride Peter… I’m in

Jon Bate