A couple of times each summer season it has become our tradition to conduct a “twilight ride” in whitch the start time is delayed by two hours. This sometimes allows riders who cannot make regular weekday rides to share some of the fun that the Warby Trail gives us each week. The late start also means that, rather than sharing a late lunch together, we can join our friends around the dinner table instead.
I had been eagerly looking forward to the ride but was a little concerned about the masses of dark clouds that had been building steadily overhead. It was obvious that we would need an element of luck if we were to escape being deluged at some time during the afternoon.
When I arrived at Woori Yallock the only rider in sight was Warby Phil. As we started on our way towards Mt Evelyn he told me that he had already passed a group of Ghostriders who had obviously been victims of habit and had set off at the normal time rather than the special time. Trying not to be disappointed at this unexpected turn of events we cycled on together at a respectable pace and arrived at COGS a full 30 minutes early.
Tom, who had been cycling back and forth along the trail since sunrise, was already there waiting for us. Over the next 30 minutes the group steadily grew in size until we had about a dozen riders ready for the twilight express to Warburton. The rain had held off but the wind was blowing strongly and the air was laden with humidity.
We had not ridden far before we came across Crasher Lewis, riding rapidly in the opposite direction with a concerned look on his face. Apparently his ancient neurons had become confused and he was having trouble, not only in trying to tell the correct time, but even remembering which direction to ride. He abruptly U turned and joined the rest of us heading to Warburton.
At Woori Yallock we met up with the group who had left early and I was pleased to see Jon Bate back in the saddle again after his long absence following his hand operation. The other members of the premature peloton tried to explain the various reasons why they had ridden at the wrong time, but none of them made any sense at all. Karen Croucher also joined us for her 4th ride, thus qualifying to become Ghostrider Number 80. We decided to postpone her official induction until a time when more members would be present to welcome her in style.
With the wind howling and the dark black clouds rolling about in a most menacing fashion we all made it to Milgrove without so much as a drop of water on our heads. “So far so good”, I pondered. Since I had not ridden the extra section up to Warburton for several weeks I decided to continue on, but soon discovered that most of the others had decided to stop for a break instead.
After a short break at Milgrove we remounted and headed for the Launching Place Pub, expecting at any moment to be overtaken by the rapidly brewing cloudburst that now appeared to be all around us. To our relief the rain did not start until we were safely settled in the hotel. I had never been in the building before and was fascinated by the amazing art deco interior. Somehow the place also seems bigger on the inside that on the outside (a bit like Dr Who’s famous phone box).
Although the meals were not inexpensive they were certainly well prepared and everyone seemed very happy with their diverse selections. As we ate we could hear the rain falling heavily on the roof overhead and I am sure that we were all hoping that it would pass over by the time we were ready to leave. I had to admit that it was a fantastic way to spend an hour – surrounded by great friends and soaking up the ambience of the surroundings.
After the plates were empty a glance at the watches indicated that it was time we should get underway. I was pleased that I only had to return to Woori Yallock whereas some of the others had to make the longer trip back to COGS. Just as we were about to leave the skies finally opened up with a dramatic downpour, but fortunately it was over in a few minutes. When the rain stopped I took the opportunity to jump on the bike and complete the ride. The rains had made the surface of the trail somewhat wet by this stage and my bike and I were soon both covered by an impressive layer of fresh mud. This was a small price to pay for the fun we had enjoyed together.
I would encourage all of our riders to keep an eye out for our next Twilight Ride and make a big effort to do it with us.