With the sun shining from a pure blue sky and the temperature actually hitting 20C it was hard to believe that we were only two weeks from the shortest day of the year. Although the trail was still in a rather corrugated state from the recent “improvements” it would have been impossible not to be in good spirits.
As we bounced along it was also great to see another two members with their brand new Ghost Riders jerseys. I would have to say that John certainly looked a more serious rider now that he has returned his previous vest to the Cardina Shire Council. Anyone could almost be excused for believing that we were on our way to becoming some sort of a real cycling club.
Cheryl had the added distinction of becoming our first fully jerseyed female Ghost Rider. It was a pity that Legs Warren was away somewhere in Queensland swanning himself about with the bikini girls on some tropical beach. (And he tries to tell us that there’s not much profit in selling bikes !)
John had also left his mountain bike at home and come equipped with his real road bike – obviously planning to put in a competitive effort on the Settlement Rd sprint. As I watched him gripping the shaking handlebars as he fought for control on the rough surface I suspected that he was already having second thoughts about his sanity.
It was also a somewhat special day for Lex Luther – not only had he decided to start from Mt Evelyn and thus complete his longest ride on the trail, but he was also completing his probationary period and would thus qualify to become our 14th member. When we finally manage to get all of our members in the same place at the same time (and in uniform) it certainly will make an impressive sight.
We were making good time until I heard the ominous sound of air escaping from my rear end – well not exactly my rear end, but the rear end of my bike. Not another blasted puncture I thought. A few moments later we had the bike in pieces alongside the trail with John and Lex offering assistance. I could not help but lament Peter’s absence. Normally at times like this I can just rest while he does the repairs. Today I would have to do most of the work myself.
It was doubly disappointing that somehow I managed to incorrectly mount the tyre and thus succeeded in puncturing the replacement tube also. Two flats in the space of 5 minutes! About 10 minutes later, with a somewhat dented ego (and significantly grubbied hands) I was back on my way again.
When we pulled into Woori Yallock we noticed John (Hooters) pushing his bike through the long grass, carrying what looked like a laptop computer. When we drew closer we found that it was, in fact, a book of photographs of the Warburton Trail. It was fascinating to see images of the trail from the days when it was still a busy railway.
Bob had still not yet appeared, due to the deteriorating state of his (mental) health, but we had been assured that he would appear when we least expected him. In fact, he finally overtook the peloton as we pulled up at the Launching Place traffic lights. Warren had already started from here and had a head start in the ride to Warburton.
Much to John R’s chagrin, Hooter’s insisted that we ride through Yarra Junction (and thus miss out on the traditional sprint). Since John had bounced his road bike all this way in an attempt to be competitive, he was not amused at the lost opportunity to show his true ability. It was interesting to see to giant new concrete skate bowl that has now been built at Yarra Junction and to demonstrate some of our skill to the local layabouts who were gathered there.
Finally arriving at Warburton at about 2.50 pm we found Warren already enjoying his coffee and cream cakes in the warm Winter sunshine. Within a few minutes the resting peloton was complete. Seven riders is a pretty good attendance, considering one of our stalwarts was away. (Peter did ring in during the ride to let me know that he had already ridden 120km in the morning, just to keep his legs inflated).
The return ride saw a strong challenge by John (NOT Hooters) on the sprint. Unfortunately his premature burst of speed caught him undone about 100m from the finish, allowing Bob and me time to overtake him. As always, it was great fun.
By the time we got back to Woori Yallock, there was no sign of Hooters or Cheryl. Apparently John had suggested to Cheryl that it is much easier to ride in his limousine than on a bike, and (surprisingly) she agreed with him. This left just the three of us to complete the long bumpy ride back to Mt Evelyn.
At 4.30 pm the sun was kissing the horizon, although we could not see any evidence of the Transit of Venus that all the media was so excited about. We were more excited that the afternoon had been so perfect for riding. It was a real blessing to be able to be out in weather like this with good mates.
Soon after 5 pm we were safely back at the carpark and Lex could feel satisfied that he had conquered the famous Warby Trail. Now all we need is a much bigger challenge – only four months to the Round the Bay in a Day!