In Which a Fool Waves a Red Flag in Front of a Bull

With a ride scheduled for April 1st I guess I should have arrived expecting some sort of lunacy to occur, but I was not prepared for the sight that awaited me when I arrived at Wandin. There was John proudly unloading his bike sporting the most hideous kids’ flag I had ever seen. I am sure that any self respecting 5 year old would not have been seen dead riding a bike with such a ghastly appendage, but John seemed oblivious to my embarrassment and announced that he was ready to hit the trail.

John’s Toyworld Flag

We started off together, although I soon tried to put some distance between the two of us. After all, the Warby Riders do have a degree of reputation to be preserved and it would do not any good to my position as King of the Trail to be seen riding with a companion whose bike was kitted out by Toys-R-Us.

The proud owner of the flag

My worst fears were realized a few km down the track when we noticed a group of rather angry looking bulls on the track ahead. Obviously they had escaped from a paddock somewhere in the vicinity and stood squarely in our paths, eying us with evil intent on their bovine minds.

I pulled to a stop and contemplated our predicament, but John pedaled on undaunted, tooting his hooter and telling them to make way. He did not take into account the well known fact that it is hardly prudent to ride into a potential cattle stampede waving a red flag high over your head and tooting an irritating horn. It was not surprising to see the group of bulls take one look at John and start off down the track after him.

For the next 10 minutes I was treated to the spectacle of John riding at maximum speed (about 15 kph), red flag flapping over his head, with a small herd of indignant bulls hot on his heels. I might have felt some sort of sympathy for him if it was not for the fact that he had surely brought this state of affairs on his own head.

I think that eventually even the cattle had enough of this stupidity and went off to munch grass instead. When they were suitably diverted I was able to ride through and catch up to a distraught John panting by the trackside. He muttered a few more “why do we do this’s” and announced it was time for a drink. I announced that it was time to break the silly flag off his bike, but for some reason he refused to comply.

By the time we reached Woori Yallock station Rob (our barmy army rider) was waiting to join us. I think he is quickly becoming as competitive as Bob and Mal and took off in a shower of flying stones and horse manure, leaving the John and I to catch up. I did have to admit that the weather was perfect for a ride with blue skies, warm air and NO WIND. It was easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment, so we just put our heads down and pedaled like crazy – and it felt SO GOOD.

The rest of the ride to Warburton went by too quickly, especially the final km to Milgrove, where Rob and I engaged in a friendly sprint to the highway. Since I am older, wiser and much more gracious I let him reach the road first, just so he would feel encouraged at his progress.

Milgrove Timber Mill

We were soon gathered at the familiar coffee shop where we enjoyed the customary coffee and snacks. An unexpected bonus occurred when the proprietor appeared with an extra cappuccino saying that she had accidentally made one cup too many, and asking us if we would like it. Within a millisecond John announced that he would have it “just for Bob”.

Sitting there in the sunshine it was difficult not to feel sad that Bob was missing. We really felt that our little peloton is just not the same without him, but it will really be all the more special when he is able to resume his familiar place at the head of the pack.

All too soon the sun started slipping lower in the sky and the passing of daylight saving time reminded us that the cooler days of winter are not that far away. Mounting our bikes we took a detour up the far side of the river and then headed for home. Amazingly John was still sporting his hideous flag, although the pole did seem to have developed a significant degree of list during the course of the ride. Rob and I could only hope that plastic fatigue would soon snap the grotesque protrusion off at the base sooner rather than later.

On the way back we discovered yet another new way to act stupid. Each time we crossed a rough wooden bridge we each emitted a steady tone which was turned into a tremolo by the induced vibrations. It sounded a little like a barbershop trio with the vibrato turned up to the max.

Rob decided to stay with us all the way back to Killara station so that he would know where an alternative starting spot would be for future ride. John and I rode together back to the water hole where we had a final drink before separating. About 45 mins later we met again at Bob’s house where he was able to show off his new car. Apparently Bob had spent the entire day sitting on his front porch looking up at the distant mountains and wishing he was back with the elite sportsmen of the Warby Riders. It was only when he saw the remains of John’s April Fool’s Day flag that he had to admit to himself that having a broken hip maybe not so bad after all. At least he was spared the humiliation of John’s company.

I was left to drive home contemplating why a guy who somehow thinks that wearing lycra looks funny, thinks nothing of riding a bike adorned with spoke flappers, hooters, tooters, inflatable dolls, flags, buzzers, flashing lights and handlebar streamers. Makes you wonder doesn’t it ?