“In Which The HWG’s (Head Wind Gods) Get Us Again!”

By special guest Rider Constable Paul “Tubby” Clarke

Ever since joining the Warby Ghost Riders, it has been my ambition to ride the Warby Trail on a single speed bike. Today was my third attempt. The first time I tried, the chain kept coming off and the second time the chain broke in the car park at the start of the ride. Today with a chain tensioner and a new chain, I figured it would be third time lucky.
I got to COGS Cafe early to enjoy a pre ride coffee and was met by Andrew who had ridden from Pete’s bike shop in Monbulk and had the same idea as me. Also inside COGS was Warby Phill and Big Al. We were joined by Bill who had ridden a few times with us before, the other Paul and Jon who after a quick pre ride check, realised he had left his keys in his car. As we were enjoing our coffee’s at COG’S Dennis drove into the carpark, looked at us, waved and did a “Hooters” by driving off and saying he would meet us further on down the trail. (It wasn’t even raining at this stage, or did it even look like raining). Big Al and Andrew had shorts on and I had a bit of a chuckle to myself as to how cold they would be on the ride.

About 1.00pm we set off after Jon found his car keys. We arrived at Wandin a short time later and I noticed an unshaven , disheveled rider on a cheap Chinese brand bike, clearly not up to the standard of the the highly professional Warby Ghost Riders. Upon closer inspection I realised it wasn’t “GRIZZLY ADAMS”, but it was indeed our illustrious leader Dennis on his much loved “HASA”.

By this time other riders had joined the group including Garry who told me about his three day bout of gastro as a result of the contaminated water from the recent rain, which had affected the local water supply. Geoff and Russel joined us at the water trough at Silvan, and Geoff told us about the head wind he had ridden through on the way up. Now we have seen many things on the trail including dogs, cats, horses, kids, goanna’s, snakes wombats, echidna’s, but today we encounted a huge goat who had escaped from its paddock. At first we saw it in the distance and thought would catch up to it soon but it became apparent to be a descendant of Steve Moneghetti, and was running like a man (Goat) possessed . As we gained on Steve it was obvious he/she was running like the clappers and we would never catch him/her until suddenly it turned off the trail to I think was it’s home. We never found out, as Steve had big horns and no-one was keen to have a personal talk to him/her.

Things went pretty smoothly until we stopped at Launching place to re-group. As we were waiting at the traffic lights, word came through from other riders that a crash of “Tour De France Proportions” had happened involving three riders. Apparently Warby Phil had slowed on a climb, Little John braked as a result and got tangled up with Gary. Word coming through from race officials, (sorry, I have been watching the TDF the past few weeks) was total carnage on the trail, similar to what happened to Stuart O’Grady. I had visions of an ambulance being called with neck braces, stretchers and the Police Air Wing! As we waited for other riders to meet us at Launching Place, Bob Lewis enlightened us in an animated fashion about the drug taking allegations which had come to light in the TDF. With much hand waving and a raised voice, Bob informed us all that “Anyone who is a successful competitive cyclist for more that five years would have to have taken performance enhancing drugs”. When asked how long Bob had been racing he replied “42 years” and became very quiet. Bob then refused to answer any more questions on the grounds that he may incriminate himself. Gary and Little John limped up to Launching Place with obvious injuries including torn clothing, scrapes, cuts, abrasions, bruising and torn pride.

We continued on to to Millgrove (in a constant head wind.) Some riders stopped for refreshments, and the rest continued up to Warburton. At Trailblazer’s Cafe we normally get our water bottles filled up, but the girl re-iterated Gary’s story about contaminated water, so we decided to buy bottled water for the return ride. As we had our afternoon tea, Warby Phil pointed out the snow on the nearby hills, which was very unusual for how low the mountain were, considering the mild weather. It just goes to show how cold it has been in the past few weeks but ironically I could see why Andrew and Al had worn shorts, because most riders were sweating like the proverbial with all their winter clothing on. I counted about fifteen riders in all, which is not a bad turnout for a mid-winter’s ride.

With the sun now out it had turned out to be a beautiful day and an enjoyable ride back to Mt Evelyn, albeit into a head wind. (There must be a Russian cosmonaut in space who tracks Dennis’ GPS and directs the wind into our face every Thursday afternoon.) At Wandin we said goodbye to Little John who was obviously in a lot of pain. As per Peter’s request, John peeled back his leggings to show the horrific injuries from his crash. His left knee was covered in blood with lots of stones and gravel embedded in it. Andrew suggested scrubbing the gravel out with a scrubbing brush and putting three quarts of whisky in the wound to kill the infection. John told Andrew what to do with the scrubbing brush in no uncertain terms and said he would drink the whisky instead.

P.S. I managed to ride all the way to Warburton and back on one gear, the chain only came off once!