After the previous Twilight Ride a few weeks ago I was a little apprehensive to see how many of our ageing peloton would be able to cope with the change of start time without throwing their ancient neurons into a state of confusion. The last time we organised a Twilight ride about 6 of our riders forgot to reset their circadian rhythms and ended up starting the ride at the normal time. The result was that we had riders heading back and forth along the trail, travelling in opposite directions at the same time. You could have been excused for thinking that someone was filming a remake of the old “Dad’s Army” show.
It was a significant relief when I arrived at COGS to find a very sizeable group of riders waiting to begin. Maybe some of my pedantic ramblings were finally starting to pay off. It was also encouraging to see several visiting riders joining us for the first time. After greeting everyone I appointed Chook Vandendool as the designated speed governor at the head of the peloton and gave instructions that no one was to bolt off the front. (Actually I give these same instructions every week but they are almost immediately ignored once we start moving and the testosterone starts flowing. )
In spite of my misgivings I was ecstatic to find that the peloton was able to hold together, not only all the way to Woori Yallock, but all the way to Milgrove. This must have been the best pelotonic discipline we have ever exhibited. When you combine this amazing display of self control with a final group size of almost 30 riders, you have the ingredients of a most impressive spectacle on the trail. Little wonder therefore that we received so many cheers from bystanders and toots from passing cars as we made our way towards Warburton.
As the “Ghost Train” made its way between Woori Yallock and Launching we had our first reptilian encounter of the summer season. A black snake was boldly making its way across the trail just a couple of metres ahead of the front riders. As soon as this sinister menace was spotted, shouts of “Snake, snake” echoed throughout the Yarra Valley. Fortunately everyone managed to avoid the marauding reptile and to also avoid the potential series of nose to tail crashes that could have been precipitated by such unexpected braking maneuvers.
At the Launching Place Pub we stopped for a quick head count to see how many of our riders would be stopping for dinner. Since the time was already after 4.15 pm and since I had not had any lunch, my only thoughts were for an immediate input of caffeine and cake and hence I gave instructions that we move without delay to the Milgrove Coffee shop for some much needed refreshments. This plan came unstuck when we discovered that our favourite watering hole was still closed for the holidays, leaving us no alternative other than to continue on to Warburton.
Fortunately our entire peloton succeeded in making the climb and soon we were all settled down for a lengthy coffee break. As to whether this was a late lunch, afternoon tea or entree, I guess the adjuticators would have to make an official ruling. Whatever the official status, it was certainly a very pleasant opportunity to relax and get tomeet some of the visiting riders. Among these visitors were Bob Paterson’s daughter and son-in-law who had come all the way from Darwin to ride with the famous Ghostriders. I concluded that our web site must be extremely well known in that part of the world for them to make such an effort to join us for just one ride.
After about 45 minutes of relaxed chatting I had to remind the group that we had the main course awaiting us at the Launching Place Pub and that it was time to get moving. It felt like some sort of two wheeled progressive supper as we remounted our bikes for the relatively short and easy ride back to Launching Place. Approximately 17 riders entered the Pub while the rest continued on their way back along the trail. The next 75 minutes were spent eating, drinking, chatting and soaking in the eclectic ambiance of this amazing building.
When we could eat no more it was finally time to climb back into the saddles for the final leg of the journey. How magical it was to be able to ride back along the trail in the deepening twilight with deer, emu and cows keeping pace with us in the adjoining paddocks. It was the perfect ending to what surely must be one of the best riding experiences you could imagine.