Le Tour d’Otway

March 30, 2009 suesbent
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Yesterday I took part in my own mini Tour de France in the SuperSprint Great Ocean & Otway Ride with about 3000 other cyclists. It is a 145 km circuit beginning and ending in Torquay and it loops through the Otway Ranges and then along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia.

It was first light when we arrived at the start line on a brisk Autumn morning with our pockets full of energy bars, water bottles full, and our bike gear and bike lights on.

The cyclists started in groups and we were soon weaving our way out of Torquay over undulating hills. The first 30 km was a cold warm-up through the mist. The cyclists took up one side of the road forcing motorists across the double lines to get by. Police in cars and on motorbikes monitored the chaos. Intersections were well controlled by the event organisers.

I cycled through the first refreshment stop at the 30 km mark while many chose to stop here. I was soon in a peloton of about 40 cyclists all travelling well together. Two columns of cyclists moved at about 32 km/hr into a slight head wind, past cow paddocks, in perfect unison. The cyclist by my side told me about his upcoming trip to France to follow the Tour de France on his bicycle. He was excited about this 50th birthday present to himself. It was great to be a part of such a random and dynamic formation. We held this together for some time until eventually a bottle neck occurred caused by some slower cyclists and this broke the group and I found myself cycling alone for awhile.

At the 70 km point I stopped at Deans Marsh where my husband was waiting for me. He managed to stay with the peloton and said they picked up speed after the group split and were then cycling at about 36 km/hr. I ate a banana and a rich chocolate flavoured power gel, and drank some water. I still felt good and knew the next section was a long, steep climb.

I took my time here trying to conserve my energy. Cyclists crashed in front of me during this section in two separate incidents. One guy had his chain come off and the person behind him came down too. They were OK. I don’t know what caused the other crash. In these situations with lots of cyclists bearing down you shout out “Cycles down!” and indicate with a hand up to let everyone behind you know to slow down and be aware.

At about 78 km I felt euphoric. I told myself to really enjoy the moment: cycling along through the treed forest on a beautiful sunny morning – although still uphill at this point.

I was surprised to reach the top then quickly powered down the 10 km descent into Lorne. This is one of the best things adults can do for fun, in my opinion. The road was clear, traffic was minimal, the cyclists had spread out, and I was free-wheeling like a dare devil. I did brake into some of the tighter corners.

I didn’t stop at the refreshment point at Lorne. I had cycled 100 km and had a hard 45 km left to go following the Great Ocean Road. My leg muscles were fatigued and my arse aching from the bike seat. This section of the road was busy with vehicle traffic, tourists, surfers and day-trippers. The sea was aqua and the waves were setting up perfectly for a Saturday surf or swim.

I stopped at Aireys Inlet for a muesli bar, water and jelly beans. I had to walk across the road to go to the public toilets but was held up as I waited for about 100 or more black leather clad bikies to roar past. The blokes all relieve themselves Tour de France style propping anywhere along the road side, but since I am a lady…

Huge smoke clouds rose into the sky ahead of us as another bushfire raged out of control and appeared to be moving towards our finish line in Torquay.

I cycled on feeling very fatigued and ready to finish, but happy with my progress. Long steady climbs into and out of Angelsea were made more difficult as we were shrouded in the thick smoke and ash from the bushfire. Other cyclists encouraged me on with motivational words.

With 15 km to go my husband and I joined a peloton of about 12 cyclists and we powered to the finish line at about 35 km/hr under clear blue skies. My cycle time was about 5 hours 50 minutes with an average speed of about 25.6 km/hr.

Later, meeting up with friends, we discover that one man had his whole lower leg bandaged as he had come down early in the cycle and had gravel rash. He managed to cycle on and completed the ride though, before receiving treatment at the finish line. Another friend became light-headed during the long descent into Lorne, stopped, but her breathing became irregular and she turned white and was cold. She was taken by ambulance to the local hospital for observation but was later released. She didn’t look great when we saw her at dinner but she was cheerful enough.

On the whole the event was extremely well organised and the road support was fantastic. The cyclists were well behaved, considerate, friendly, and usually aware of other cyclists and vehicles and pedestrians. The most dangerous behaviour I witnessed was by an impatient local bus driver who passed a line of other motorists and cycles over double lines in the windy blind corners of the uphill ascent after Deans Marsh.

I now wonder if I should go back to my once a week social cycle, or should I start training for next year.


Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. My Tour de France «&hellip  |  March 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    […] March 30, 2009 in Uncategorized | Tags: cycling, SuperSprint Great Otway and Ocean Road Ride To read about my experience cycling in the SuperSprint Great Otway and Ocean Road Ride click here. […]

  • 2. Le Tour d’Otway « Fren&hellip  |  March 31, 2009 at 5:46 am

    […] Re­a­d mo­­re­ he­re­: Le­ Tour d’Otwa­y « Fre­n­­ch A­cce­n­­t […]

  • 3. Alana  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    All I can say is you are amazing! A great achievement.

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