In which an Invisible Man Appears

Long, long ago, way back in the bicycle dreamtime, long before the time that any men our age have a right or reason to recall, there was a rider of no little reputation who sometimes chose to ride with the greats of the Warby Riders. Although this rider had impressive shaved calves, nice lycras and could sometimes sprint at high speeds for short distances he did, nevertheless, have one serious deficiency. For as long as any of us could recall he had never managed to complete even a single ride.

In more recent times his deficiency had progressed from an inability to finish a ride to the much more serious problem of not even being able to start a ride. Although he often promised to turn up at planned ride, when the rubber actually hit the trail he was nowhere to be found. It was not surprising therefore that Mal was known throughout the riding world as the “Invisible Man”.

When we were planning our last ride ride for the season I obviously did not hold out much hope that the invisible man would attend, but then again, when you are invisible how can anyone really know if you are there or not? Bob and I met at Mt Evelyn and rode off down the hill to meet up with John at Wandin.

The three of us rode on in high spirits, having heard the rumour that Warren would be making another guest appearance later in the afternoon. I suspect that we have discovered another keen rider in Warren. At his current rate of progress he will be challenging Bob for supremacy of the peloton (sometime in 2035).

We had almost reached Worri Yallock when a surprise call from Invisible Mal informed us that he was in pursuit of the pack and that he would catch us somewhere before Launching Place. That gave us just enough incentive to raise the pace enough to have John gasping for mercy with loud cries of “Why do we do this?”

Bob pretended he was deaf (didn’t take much pretending actually) and ignored John’s pleas and disappeared into the distance with me trying to keep up. Although he insisted that he is only riding with with leg, I suspect that this might not be entirely true.

By the time we reached Launching Place there was no sign of either John or Mal. Perhaps we now had two invisible men? Knowing that we were riding to a tight schedule if we were to get back to the cars before nightfall we pushed on, knowing that if Mal was truely on the trail he would catch us soon. As far as John was concerned, well we were still trying to figure out why he does this anyway.

Fortunately we did all manage to meet up and by the time we rolled into Warburton the peloton had reached four riders. It was good to see Mal again after all this time, but it is amazing to see how a few passing aeons does age a guy. It was also at this stage that I made another disturbing discovery – my back tyre was rapidly deflating. It was my first puncture in several months, but even the sight of a flacid rear tyre could not take away my enjoyment of our late lunch in the sunshine.

With the short days we know that it is essential to leave Warburton soon after 3 pm or else we would have to spend the evening in the forest somewhere near Killara station. We headed back along the trail, keeping a lookout for Warren who was apparently already heading towards us from Woori Yallock.

By the time we neared Launching Place a distinct rumbling sound coming from just over the horizon gave a distinct clue to the fact that Warren was not far away. We were soon riding in a peloton of 5 riders and Warren’s improving form was clearly evident as we barrelled along the straights at about 27 kph. Riding in a group of friends surely beats a long solitary ride, and the kilometres quickly melted away, along with the 3000 calories from my lunch.

The riders gradually dropped out at various places and by the time we passed Wandin there was only Bob and I left to complete the long hill back the Mt Evelyn. Arriving back at just before 5 pm we could tick off another 64 km or so in our training record and start looking forward to next week.