Hi all, Mr Lucas Lifestyle here! A few years ago I would have scoffed at people riding down the highway as we whizzed past in air conditioned comfort. The idea of riding long distance was absolutely ridiculous in my opinion. All that changed after riding in my first Gibb River mountain bike challenge. I started to wonder if it was possible for me to complete an epic journey that I could bore my grandkids with one day! I still have the dream of riding from Darwin to Adelaide sometime in the future but I thought I’d better test my abilities with something a bit smaller. A nice three day journey along the iconic Great Ocean Road seemed perfect! After a bit of planning and booking of caravan parks we lobbed into Warrnambool. I had fit my Giant Anthem 29’er with slick tyres and a mirror for this ride so all I had to do was give it a quick service and I was all set.
DAY 1 – WARRNAMBOOL TO PORT CAMPBELL – 67KM
With Lyrics Born singing “I changed my mind” (prophetic maybe?) in my single earpiece I set out from Surfside Caravan Park. It was a steep climb up to the main road but my fresh legs were up to the task. The first fifty kilometres of the journey winds through farmland, mainly Dairy farms with a few sheep here and there. A few blogs I’ve read about this ride call it boring but the country boy in me quite enjoyed it! The only thing bothering me was a vicious headwind that I figured I’d have as a constant companion over the next few days. This was more or less correct; sometimes it switched to a vicious side wind that would blow me further out into the traffic! I caught up with my pit crew about 5km from the coast, topped up my camelback and had a bite to eat. Once I hit the coast things were a bit more interesting, it’s hard to keep attention on the road when the sea and the cliffs are so spectacular. I felt like a bit of a tool riding past all the attractions but I figured once I got off my bike we could drive back and have a proper look which is exactly what we did. The descent into Pt Campbell was great! Big sweeping downhill runs nearly all the way. I tried to catch a couple in their giant fifth wheeler but just as I was about to sneak past we reached the flats and they pulled away, bummer! Once I had a shower and some lunch we drove back and had a look at the Grotto, London Bridge and then drove further on and visited the Twelve Apostles. Very inspiring coastline and i got a sneak peek at the first twelve kilometres of tomorrows ride.
DAY 2 – PORT CAMPBELL TO APOLLO BAY – 97KM
I woke up early this morning expecting a bit of soreness in the legs but nothing!! I was stoked, must have been all of the walking we did in the afternoon and the stretching I did when I got in. I was starving so I had a huge omelette washed down with a black coffee and a heap of water. The blogs I’ve read say this is the hardest day by far so I was a bit nervous to say the least. The climb out of town is very steep but that is just a warning of things to come. For the first eighteen kilometres the ride is very pleasant, I got some good footage from my Contour HD camera as I breezed along the coast thinking “this isn’t so bad, the other guys must be weak”. I was soon bought back to earth with a shattering thud when all of a sudden the road left the coast and started heading into the hills. For the next few hours I just climbed and climbed. I thought about writing to the Victorian tourist bureau and suggesting the change the roads name to “The great stinking pile of crap, where’s the friggin ocean road” Many a time I had to unclip and get my breath back and have a break from the constant grind uphill. By the time I reached Lavers Hill for lunch I was a shattered man. My pit crew met me there for lunch with the exciting news that it was only forty five kilometres to Apollo Bay! They might as well have said four hundred, my legs were jelly and I was seriously questioning my sanity.
After a good feed and half a bottle of Coke I was feeling halfway human again so before I chickened out I hopped back on the bike and pushed on. As I left Lavers Hill the road shot down the other side so I was soon rocketing along, pushing a top speed of 59.1 kph. Was I happy? NO!! Why? All I could think while descending was “please stop going downhill because I knew that at some stage I am going to have to climb out of here”. Once I reached the bottom the scenery was beautiful, not that it hadn’t been all day but I got a chance to take it all in. I rolled through the countryside thoroughly enjoying myself but before long I was ascending again. It wasn’t as bad this time for some reason. I was really getting into it, just pacing myself and getting into a good rhythm with a low gear.
The last five kilometres into Apollo Bay was a steep one, I could smell the cold beer in my Engel and nothing was going to stop me, well except for the crazy woman in the 4WD that nearly wiped me out in the main street! Another day down, the hardest riding I have ever done. I’ve ridden the 147km Bay in a Day ride from Darwin to Mandorah twice before but this was far harder for me. I’m too heavy for hill climbs like that. Good incentive to strip another 10kg from my frame.
DAY 3 – APOLLO BAY TO TORQUAY – 92KM
Woke up early again feeling pretty good! Amazed at my recovering ability, I rolled out my aching muscles yesterday arvo and spent a good amount of time in the pool walking up and down and stretching.
Today was exactly how I imagined the Great Ocean Road to be, winding roads along the great coastline. Watching waves rolling in and crashing onto the rocks, flying downhill into small townships, climbing up to the next headland then doing it all again into the next township. I met the pit crew in Lorne and decided I deserved a pie! We were meeting up at Anglesea for lunch so I didn’t stay long. I don’t know if it was the pie or what but by the time I pulled into the park by the water in Anglesea I was feeling very ordinary. I had a bit of a mix up with my crew so they weren’t there so I had a small camp on a park bench and finished off all of my water. I had read in various blogs that there is one last big climb before descending into Torquay and for some reason it was freaking me out! Kylie and the kids had already dropped the caravan off and they told me it wasn’t too bad but I had convinced myself they were sparing me the gory details.
When I finally could put it off no longer I remounted and got on with it. I was surprised that in no time I was at the top of the range and soon my GPS told me I was only ten kilometres from my destination. All of a sudden I had a huge burst of energy. I was ploughing down the descents then absolutely smashing the hills. I felt great! As I hit the outskirts of Torquay I came upon a roadworks area with a 40km speed limit. I couldn’t help myself and clocked 47kph through there, what a rebel! I was going so fast I beat my pit crew to the Caravan park and had to ride around in circles trying to find our caravan before they rocked up and saved me. FINISHED!!!!!
Well that was it, two hundred and fifty odd kilometres with no real damage done. A bit of a sore butt and shoulders but what an experience! Very proud of myself and keen for the next big adventure.