What a day!
Got off to a promising start when the local school was doing pancakes for breakfast. The overcast quickly turned to black skies as we finished packing and rain and lightning soon kicked in. Trevor headed off to enjoy the conditions while Melissa and I did what we do best – procrastinate. Convinced ourselves the sky was lightening and headed off with just light rain falling. Feeling pretty ordinary until half way up the first climb then the muscle memory kicked back in and all was good. Fantastic climb up Willung Sth Rd- would have been one of the best without the rain, though I’d still rather this than the heat. Mainly long steady climbs with just a couple of steeper pitches, but generally most enjoyable.
We had a novelty for a great Vic today – 10 km of gravel. They had an offer to sag people over that stretch but of course being on mountain bikes we rode it. Now it was probably a pretty good surface, but after steady rain and a few thousand cyclists there were stretches that resembled quicksand. The further along you got the worse the bike sounded as sand and grit got into everything.
Such a relief to be back on bitumen and after one last climb through Tarra Bulga national park dropped down to the lunch spot. I started the day with 2 layers on, added a 3rd half way up and added 2 more at lunch and I was still cold. Seeing skinny young school kids standing around shivering brought back memories of the young Nichols in the grampians. Wolfed down a donut and cheese & buddies then packed the rest of lunch and back on the bike before I froze to the spot.
Even the climb back out of the lunch spot didn’t warm me up. A few more little climbs – now in fog and cloud before we started to get the payback for the long climb of the morning. Warned that it was wet and slippery, but a little way into the descent it dried up and started to clear, and turned into one of the best descents ever. Having a good set of working disc brakes meant I count take it at moderate speeds and be able to control it on the bends, and for once I was actually doing more passing than being passed. Actually started to warm up and dry out, and by the bottom of the hill was pretty much dry except for hands and feet. Most enjoyable but glad to be finished.
Well the big announcement was made at dinner and we’re heading back to the great ocean road but with some differences – starting in mt gambier and no rest day in Apollo bay. Took a walk up into town after dinner for a coffee and by the time I got back to camp even cafe was closed