“I’ve got a brand new pair of cycling shoes”, Steve boldly announced as he got out of the car, “and I’ve got some tight new cleats”, he added . Although he certainly seemed excited about his brand new acquisition, our experience has shown that every rider who dons cleats for the first time always comes unstuck. I tried to explain this to our newly cleated rider but he was confident that he already knew everything there was to be known about wearing tight cleats. We headed off up the trail but I could not help feeling a little like the captain of the Titanic as it set of on its illfated maiden voyage.
Since this was our second designated “Twilight Ride” I had decided that I would begin the ride at Woori Yallock at 3.00 pm and ride back to join the peloton at COGS at the official 4.00 pm start time. It was indeed a superb afternoon with the cool and still Yarra Valley air making for perfect riding conditions. A small group of other riders had also decided to start at Woori Yallock and our peloton made good time as it sped towards COGS. Steve, in particular, seemed energized by his brand new shoes and soon put his foot to the metal on the final climb and left the rest of us languishing in his wake.
At about 3.45 pm we were gathered at COGS with a few other riders and discussing the ride ahead. Over the next few minutes the peloton grew to about 8 or so riders who were keen to get going. When it appeared that no other riders would arrive we set off, thoroughly enjoying the freedom that only cycling can provide.
With conditions like this, a twilight ride is a superb experience. The valley takes on a peaceful aura as the animals stand still in their paddocks, quietly watching us pass by. With the sun low in the sky the trees cast long shadows across the trail so that you pass through a stroboscopic effect of alternating light and dark. It reminds us afresh of what a marvelous trail we have at our disposal.
By the time we were back at Woori Yallock we had been joined by several other riders, including Marg Jones and Crasher Lewis. We did our best to maintain a semblence of pelotonic discipline as we rode up to Warburton and for some of the way we managed to achieve it.
As we turned right to ride up the main street of Warburton the group spread out into single file. I was close behind Steve and noticed that he was getting ready to stop. A pity that he had apparently forgotten all about his brand new cleats. He was perilously close to a large 4 wheel drive (probably owned by a local red neck) and started to topple sideways towards the car and the gutter. Fortunately for Steve the gutter came first. After he had finally disengaged his feet from the cleats he sat on the bitumen examining the skin that had been ripped from his kneecaps. I guess you could argue that this was an important learning exercise and we coul;d be grateful that no more serious damage had been done (to him or the 4 wheel drive).
Once Steve had settled down, we went in search of a place to eat. Since Poppies is now closed and with bad memories of the other main street eatery still in our minds, we finally found our way at the rear balcony of the Riverview restaurant. It certainly was a unique place with plenty of wild grape vines entwined around the verandah posts. It seemed like an ideal place to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Once we explained to the owner that we were in a hurry they also managed to serve up the food quickly and efficiently. We were able to enjoy 40 mins of pleasant conversation with delightful views down to the Yarra River. I was reminded again what pleasure can be gained from such simple times together. Surely long term friendships are built on shared experiences like this.
All too soon it was time to head for home. We climbed back on our bikes with full tummies and a sleepy satisfaction in our hearts. The return ride was undertaken at a slower pace and with the group staying together for almost all of the way back to Woori Yallock. I discovered that most riders had decided to leave their cars at Woori and hence there was only Bill and Crasher left to slug it out on the final leg back to COGS.
All in all it had been another tremendous ride.