It was with a degree of concern that I stood and looked at the sight before me. I always considered that I had a reasonable degree of bravery, but this was going to demand far more than any challenge I had previously been faced with. It certainly would have been easy to take the coward’s way out, after all this had been the approach that John had chosen to take week after week, however this would have brought the Warbies into disrepute.
I finally decided to take a deep breath and boldly load the rattler onto the car and hope that I was not the only dork that had gone ahead and decorated their bike for our Christmas ride. With streamers and tinsel attached, it was obvious that no-one could possibly not notice me on the ride – I even had a singing Santa Claus attached to my handle bars!
You can only imagine my relief when I pulled into Mt Evelyn and discovered that all the others had also decided to enter into the Christmas spirit. JCL was proudly wearing his santa helmet and Lex had even decked himself in a flowing white beard. Little John looked resplendent with his tinsel, although I was hoping he might have whitened his beard for the occasion.
As we headed off down the trail it was not long before we elicited huge smiles and waves from passing cyclists. With growing confidence we began yelling “Ho Ho Ho” and “Merry Christmas” to fellow riders. This was fun. By the time we reached Woori Yallock we had been joined by Crasher Lewis and Legs Warren. Hooters had also lived up to his nick name by re-attaching his Klaxon horn on his bike. When Cheryl arrived, she was resplendent in bright red with her helmet liberally adorned with bells, baubles and tinsel. I could not help thinking she looked like a cross between Santa and Carmen Miranda.
With Cheryl in her bright red shirt and 7 male riders in our Ghost Riders jerseys we looked a little like some strange mutant version of Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs. We had a brief discussion over which of the male riders could play Dopey, before continuing on our way.
We decided to forsake our normal route and ride the full trail through Yarra Junction in order to pass more people. All were in high spirits as we hooted and ho ho’d our way along the trail. At least all the responses were positive, especially when we met a large number of young school kids riding towards us on their bikes. It was so much fun to be able to laugh and wish them all a Merry Christmas. I suspect that many of them had never seen Santa wearing lycra before, but I guess it will give them something to talk about at the end of their ride.
When we arrived at Warburton we decided to do a lap of honour up and down the Main St. John’s klaxon horn sure made our presence heard as we rode in formation. Many onlookers waved and wished us a Happy Christmas. I never heard anyone swear at us (which is probably a first for Warburton).
At the coffee shop, word had obviously gotten around that we were in town and we were met by a reporter from the local newspaper. “I know all about the Warby Riders”, she stated. “You guys are legends in this area”. She insisted on taking our picture and asking for all our names. We replied that we were all called “John Seamons”.
After lunch we made another couple of triumphant passes up and down the Main St, before heading back on the return ride. Since this was to be our last weekday ride of 2004 I could not help but reminisce on the events of the past 12 months. It had undoubtedly been a great year with spectacular successes over Donna Buang, the menacing Walhalla Trail, Toolangi, Poowong, The Bump and so many others. And who could ever forget our performance in the Round the Bay Ride? Apart from the unfortunate exception of Hooters, all the rest of our members had obviously made great progress over the past 12 months.
The final sprint for 2004 was hotly contested with Crasher again gaining first place and Lex staging a spectacular last ditch burst to pass me right on the finish line. I guess I need to learn that the race is NOT over until the line is actually crossed.
As we shook hands and wished each other the compliments of the season, I could only feel proud that we have established something worth appreciating. Although we have only been operating for two and a half years I am sure that we have all gained a treasure trove of fond memories of our rides together. Although we are all so different, when we on our two wheels we share that elusive bond between us- the Brotherhood of the Bicycle.
Merry Christmas to everyone reading this story. I hope that our rides have also brought a few smiles to your face as well as ours.