Cycle Oz day 28 – The Great Ocean Road?

  • Start: Apollo Bay
  • End: Princetown
  • Day distance: 79.2km
  • Total distance: 1481.01km
  • Average speed: 13.6km/hr 
  • Pedalling time: 05:41
  • Total time: 06:40

I slept well, after falling asleep around 11pm I woke at 4am and I hadn’t moved a muscle. Despite having a good 9 hours sleep I was still tired and it was an effort to get going. I thought today was going to be ok, not so far and Google said only 5 hours. I stuffed down a couple of cereal bars and got going at 9:20am.

It was a beautiful day and I even started without my jacket, it was warm and clear and wonderful. Perfect biking weather. I followed the coast for about 1km and that’s when everything changed. The road leaves the ocean and for the rest of the day there was very little ocean on the Great Ocean Road. I started climbing and continued to climb for about 14k. It was really slow going. The hills weren’t too bad but the ups were definitely longer than any of the downs so the respite was all too brief. I managed without putting any more layers on for a while but it was getting really cold in the forest as the trees blocked out all the lovely sun.  

I’ve heard there is a good chance of seeing Koalas in the trees if you head down to Cape Otway, but I didn’t think I had the time for a detour today given my very unimpressive pace. 

After the continuous climbing I got a bit of a break with a nice downhill and it was absolutely freezing. I put my wind shirt on which helped a bit and eventually the road flattened out and went through the Aire River Wildlife Reserve. There seemed to be a lot of cows in the wildlife reserve but I got a bit of a break from the trees and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Unfortunately I could see what was up ahead, a huge hill. I was aiming for a place called Lavers Hill so I wasn’t expecting it to be flat, but I hadn’t expected so many extra hills on the way! In contrast to yesterday I saw no cyclists, not a single one, and the roads were a lot busier with cars. 90% of them were nice and slowed down and moved over but there are alway a few who really don’t give a shit. There were so many coaches that passed me today and every single one of them passed too close. Coach drivers are now my least favourite of all the drivers. 

I also saw a high proportion of sports type cars today. At one point there were 6 of them all in convoy. Loud, low, ugly sports cars. They were driving like the road was a race track and I imagine there is very little in way of enforcement of the rules out here so they can get away with it. Thankfully for me they were on the other side of the road. 

I started going up the long hill and in the middle there was a pull out and a bunch of cars so I figured there must be something to see. This is where I had my first disaster. I pulled in and I came to a stop a little sooner than I had anticipated, I didn’t have enough time to come forward off the saddle to put me feet down, so one moment I was upright and the next moment I was flat on ground having just fallen off my bike. It was so embarrassing. There were loads of people around and 3 Indian people rushed over and scooped Priscilla and I up and made sure I was ok. I was fine, my elbow was a bit sore where I had landed on it but other than that it was just my pride that was damaged. After they left a let out a couple of tears which I couldn’t hold back which I think were just because of the shock. 

After that I couldn’t go over to the lookout where all the tourists were – too embarrassed – so I just got back on the bike and continued pedalling up the hill. And the hills went on and on and on. I stopped a few times to give my legs a rest and as I got higher the colder it got. I could see my breath in the air and I was actually grateful to be going uphill because that was the only thing keeping me warm!

Finally, after about 4 hours, 46km and an average speed of 11.8km/hr I reached Lavers Hill and stopped at a cafe to treat myself to a hot chocolate. It was way past lunch time and I had planned to stop and eat my pasta when I got to Lavers hill, but it was too cold to sit outside and I wasn’t that hungry. The lady in the cafe said it would only take about 45 minutes to get to Princetown but I had 30km left and I knew that I was going to take me longer than that. Maybe she thought I was driving, but the cycle helmet was a bit of a giveaway. 

I had to layer up when I left the cafe and it was partly because it was chilly but partly because I was hopeful that the other side would be all downhill! It wasn’t. It was gently rolling for a while until I did get my big downhill I had been expecting, but the road was seriously windy and there were speed limits of 30km on most of the bends. I had to ride with my breaks on for most of the way otherwise I would have come a cropper, and I can say that I have actually broken the speed limit now! I was a long downhill and I was thankful that I didn’t have to come up that way. The road then returned to gently rolling until I reached Princetown, which is not a town, there is nothing there, no supermarket or anything. But there is a hostel so I went straight there to get a bed. I didn’t book anything, it’s off season and everywhere has had plenty of room. This time I was lucky, there were only 2 beds left. 

So I have a room in a 14 bed dorm which I am hoping isn’t going to be too noisy, but I think I am tired enough to sleep through anything. Today was really tough. There are a whole range of people here, people from Germany, Estonia and the Netherlands, and a whole coach load of people have just arrived. 

It’s not the greatest hostel I have stayed in. The kitchen facilities are crap and the beds are old and squeaky, no wifi (everyone here is so unhappy about this!) but I am inside in the warm and dry and that’s what matters. I took a shower straight away to get rid of all the white salty tide marks all over my face, then I ate the pasta I would have eaten for lunch, which worked out for the best because I could just heat it up in the microwave. By this time I was so hungry that I did the same as I did last night and stuffed it down so quickly I felt sick afterwards. 

I really hope tomorrow is going to be a bit flatter. 

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

I continue to raise money for Just A Drop – they bring sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects to communities around the world.

663 million people across the globe are living without access to clean, safe water. That’s 1 in 10 people. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water related disease. One third of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider donating a few…pounds / dollars / euros / yen… and together we can change lives.

 

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3 thoughts on “Cycle Oz day 28 – The Great Ocean Road?

  1. Hi Alex,

    Just wanted to drop you a line and say I’m really enjoying your blog. Australia is quite close to my heart as I spent a few years out there. I think what you’re doing is fantastic! Take care of yourself, I’m looking forward to reading about the rest of your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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