Like many of my fellow baby boomers, as a child I was traumatised by the Alfred Hitchcock classic “The Birds”. Little did I know that, so many years later, those horrific images would come back to haunt me on the Warby Trail. I should have realised that all was not well when I saw Cheryl riding frantically towards us with a look of stark terror on her face.
“I was attacked at Woori Yallock station”, she eventually managed to get out in between her laboured breaths. “It was awful, all covered in black and white feathers and it came out of nowhere” she added. For those of us who had ridden the Warby Trail last year there could be no doubting what this meant. Eddy the demented magpie was back again! Perhaps even more alarming was the fact that springtime was still several weeks away.
Last year his first attacks did not occur until the beginning of October. Since this was still early August it appeared that his misguided hormone levels were already dangerously out of balance. We were therefore faced with the prospect of dodging his homicidal attacks for the next FOUR MONTHS.
My mind raced ahead to see if any good could possibly come out of this situation. Since we had begun with only a miniature peloton of Lex and myself the other riders still did not know about Eddy’s return. This immediately gave rise to the prospect of surreptitiously leading these unsuspecting latecomers into a Woori Yallock ambush while the rest of us watched on from a safe distance.
As Lex, Cheryl and I road on towards Woori Yallock I though of ways we could lead Hooters into Eddy’s domain. Unfortunately as we approached the station John came pedaling towards us with that familiar look of fear on his face. This time the fear was not induced by the prospect of climbing a 1% gradient, riding into a head wind or riding on a real road – it was a magpie induced hysteria.
“It….It…was….. terrible…….It…..scratched…..my…..helmet”, he stammered. All I could think of was how disappointed I was that we had not been in time to witness such an entertaining spectacle. Fortunately by now Peter had joined caught up with and the five of us hatched a good plan to trap Bob (who was still catching up from behind).
After we had ridden through Woori Yallock with much yelling and waving of hands we all hid in the bushes on the far side to await Bob’s arrival. It was not long before we spied his yellow jersey in the distance. This looked like it would be tremendous fun. Within a couple of minutes he was at the station. We watched Eddy approach and rise up to an attacking height, high above Bob’s head. Just as we tensed for the expected dive, Eddy peeled off and flew away. A tremendous let down for all of us.
When Bob joined us we soon saw the reason for his deliverance. Bob had come prepared with his magpie deterrent – two large eyes mounted on the back of his helmet. Apparently he had been attacked earlier in the week and came prepared. (If any of our riding readers would like to buy this surefire cure for demented magpie attacks, just contact me to place your order!)
The outward sprint saw Bob caught too far behind to make a late charge, allowing me to just take the points from Lex. By the time we reached Warburton the afternoon was fine and sunny with a temperature that could almost be called warm. It was a tantalizing promise of those balmy spring and summer days that are not so far away now.
Warren joined us for our treasured coffee and cakes, although he apparently took umbrage at the fact that he had been supplied a three week old lamington and asked for a replacement cake. The obliging shop assistant replaced it with a fresher one (but I would hate to think what might have happened to the replacement cake while it was being “prepared” for him in the shop).
It was also pleasing to see that we have finally converted Cheryl away from Lentil Burgers to something much sweeter and full of sugar. We will train her how to become a real rider yet.
Although it was quite difficult to drag ourselves away from the relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop we all knew that the day’s work was only half done. We reluctantly mounted up and began the long ride back.
Modesty prevents me from naming the winner of the return sprint, and, thanks to the old proverb that states “forewarned is forearmed”, we all managed to avoid more Eddy induced personal injury at Woori Yallock.
The peloton was reduced to four riders for the last leg back to Mt Evelyn. Possibly because of my Herculean efforts in the sprints, the howling head wind and the extra 10 cm of soft toppings that had been dumped on the trail, I found it hard to really get going. On the final section up to Mt Evelyn the surface was so soft that I found it impossible to make safe headway and actually got off to walk until I reached some slightly firmer surface. I feel sorry for all those mothers who used to be able to walk their prams along this section.
In spite of all the hardships we were all safely back at our cars by 5 pm. With the gradual increase in the hours of daylight we even had 30 minutes or so of time to spare. Now – roll on those lazy crazy hazy days of summer, those days of lycra and coffee and cake.