Originally by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
There was movement in the peleton, for the word had passed around
That the steed of Eddy Merckx had got away,
And had joined the wild Mountain Bikes – it was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the Pelotons near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For cyclists love hard riding where the wild Mountain Bikes are,
And the stockbike snuffs the climb with delight.
There was Finchi, who made his pile when Cadel won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever bike and man could go.
And Clutters of Canoon came down to lend a hand,
No better rider ever cleated in;
For never a bike could throw him while the skewers threads would stand,
He learnt to ride over Stromlo way.
There was SatNav on his single speed, calm and collected,
with wit as dry as dry.
There was Flash, all sort of hairy,
and Norman, no rider had quite the staying power over the long and windy.
Young Drastic came along, to keep the group in check,
lest any should make some smart remark.
And one was there, a stripling on a small and scratched frame,
It was something like a roadbike undersized,
With a touch of Raleigh – three parts SWorks at least –
And such as are by mountain bikers prized.
It was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in its quick and lively sprocket;
And it bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery gleam,
And the proud and lofty carriage of its rider.
But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt its power to stay,
And the old man said, “That bike will never do
For a long a tiring sprint – girl, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So she waited sad and wistful – only PD stood her friend –
“I think we ought to let her come,” he said;
“I warrant she’ll be with us when she’s wanted at the end,
For both her steed and she are Collaroy bred.
“She hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a bikes wheels strike firelight from the flint stones every peddle stroke,
The woman that holds her own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many mountain biker since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such rider have I seen.”
So she went – they found the steeds by the big mimosa clump, (just South of the Bridge) –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Drastic, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, boy, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the steeds in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of the autobus.”
So Drastic rode to wheel them – he was racing off the front
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his steed past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the sound of his whoop, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded chain whip,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the whip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Then fast the riders followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tyres,
And the chainwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild steeds held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the steeds good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”
When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Drastic took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of pot holes, and any slip was death.
But the woman from Snowy River let her little steed have his head,
And she swung her multi-coloured socks around and gave a cheer,
And she raced it down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
She sent the flint stones flying, but her steed kept its traction,
She cleared the fallen timber and tree roots in her stride,
And the woman from Snowy River never shifted in her saddle –
It was grand to see that mountain cyclist ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace she went;
And she never drew the brakes till she landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
She was right among the wild steeds as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw her ply the chain whip fiercely, she was right among them still,
As she raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost her for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild steeds racing yet,
With the woman from Snowy River at their heels.
And she ran them single-handed till their frames were white with lactic acid.
She followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then she turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But her hardy mountain bike could scarcely rotate the crank,
It was blood from headset to bottom bracket from the cleat;
But its pluck was still undaunted, and its courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain bike a cur.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The woman from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the Easy RIders tell the story of her ride.
“The Man from Snowy River” originally published in –
The Bulletin, 26 April 1890.