Special Guest Star
In winter I figure that any day where the sky is clear and blue is an opportunity not to me missed lightly. With this in mind I set off rather earlier than usual, left my car at COGS and then headed off back towards Lilydale. It has been quite some time since I had ridden this section of the trail and I was looking forward to having a quiet chance to warm up the legs before joining my mates at 1 pm.
After my enjoyable warm up ride I arrived bat at COGS to see a group of familar yellow jerseyed riders waiting to start. There was also the rather disturbing sight of an unfamilar rider gathered with them. Of course we are always looking forward to welcoming other middle aged weckeational wobblers into our midst, but this guy looked far too serious. Decked out in the latest (expensive) lycra, leggings and foot warmers and weighing in at something less than 50 kg, he looked like another incarnation of David Cook. The new rider introduced himself as “Bruno” (but I could not catch the surname). I started to rack my brains to see if I could remember any famous riders called Bruno but could not come up with any.
When he went to get his bike he reappeared with some exotic high tech, lightweight race bike with an Alchemy frame. I suspected that he had paid more than the $120 I had paid for my new HASA.
After we set off we were met by Gary Hall at Wandin. It was obvious that Gary had met Bruno before. He took one look at him and said “I’m not riding with that maniac. The last time we rode together he burned up the track at over 40 kph (and that was the uphill section)” We somehow managed to box Bruno in behind some of the slower riders and thus keep him under control, but I suspected that he was ready to bolt at any time. It was a pity that Crasher Lewis was not in the peloton, or else we might have had some chance of giving Bruno some serious competition. Alas, poor old Crasher was still at home nursing his bruised ego after Black Thursday.
Fortunately the weather remained fine for the entire afternoon and it was indeed a great feeling to be able to ride up the trail with bursts of luke warm winter sunshine on our faces. There were no riders waiting at Woori Yallock so we could only assume that the B peloton had left without us. This resulted in an increase in the pace as some riders set off in an attempt to catch the group ahead. This was obviously the excuse that Bruno was looking for. He stood on the pedals and his lightweight 10kg frame (his body not the bike) surged ahead with a quantum jump in speed. If Captain Kirk had been with us he probably would have made some comment about “warp factor 10” or similar. Soon he was out of sight, with Lothar caught in his rear slipstream. I was not sure if Lothar had meant to be following, or whether he had just been dragged along by the suction.
About 20 minutes later the rest of us arrived at the traffic lights and were pleased to see that the bolters had waited for us. The pace did settle down a little until we reached Milgrove, where the climb up to Warburton was again tackled with much gusto and fast beating hearts. Of course Bruno reached the top first and was already half way back to Milgrove when he was met by those still on their way up. At least there were no crashes and all of us eventually made it to TrailBlazers for lunch.
As usual, with our tummies full of creamcakes and coffee, we were content to ride at a much more sedate speed on the return ride and actually managed to retain some semblance of order. When we all form into a tight peloton it certainly makes for an impressive spectacle for those we pass by. At one stage a group of school children on bikes all gave us a friendly wave and shout as we passed by. I guessed they had been hoping to see us and now they could go back to school and tell their friends what a thrill they had experienced.
As we pulled into the car park at COGS a glance at my watch indicated that it was only 4.35 pm. Our normal target time for arrival is 5.00 pm, so somehow we seem to be getting faster every week. Does this mean that we are getting fitter or that the trail is getting shorter? Whatever the explanation, it is always a huge amount of fun.