Great Ocean Road loop

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After losing three and a half months of riding, I’ve treated every ride I’ve done since as epic.  Riding is special and I have endeavored to find rides which I haven’t done before.  One’s which test me that little harder each time.

There was a climb that I found in Geelong which I’ve wanted to climb for years.  Challambra Crescent was made famous when it was used in the UCI World championships in 2010.  Local boy Cadel Evans has taken a liking to the climb and included it in his annual Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.  With an average gradient of 10% over1 km, I had to try.

Great Ocean Road loop
Gary & Philip

It wasn’t hard to work out a course around this climb, heading down to the Great Ocean Road.  I mentioned this to my mate Gary Beazley who then invited Philip Natividad.

We parked at Eastern Beach, and being the organizer of the ride it was a little embarrassing how lost I got us.  Every 5 minutes I was pulling out Google Maps, trying to work out which way to go.  Eventually I was able to find Challambra, which follows the Barwon River.  I was optimistic of getting up in one piece and went well for a whole 100 meters before going into the red.  The gradient was on the wrong side of 8%, and continually changed through out the climb.  Peaking at close to 20%.  A climb like this is my bread and butter, and even though it wasn’t that warm it was like a Sauna and I was dripping with sweat.  Gary and Philip were just cruising up ahead, casually chatting as they enjoyed the climb.

I fought tooth and nail to get to the top.

This sucka hurt me, and my pain continued from there.  The climb out of Geelong was almost 2 km in length, averaging over 5%.  That hurt, and I was looking forward to some flat country side on the other side.

I wasn’t expecting a roller coaster of really steep medium range 1 – 2 km climbs, which were quite steep.  After not doing any proper climbing over the past five months I was not prepared to do so much climbing.  I was hurting and desperately trying to hang on for dear life.  It wasn’t until 35 km into the ride that the road flattened out and I was doing everything I could to try calm my beating heart that was racing at a million miles an hour.

You can see in the photo bellow.  Gary to the left cruising having a Sunday stroll.  I’m hunched over and fighting the bike.  The story of my ride.

Great Ocean Road loop
Image by Philip Natividad

When we hit Forest Road the skies opened up on us.  Strangely enough, this is when my fortunes turned.  I’m one of those freaks who enjoys riding in the rain.  I went into the zone, and my legs came back, and finally recovered somewhat.

The skies opened up on us for over 30 minutes on us all the way into Anglesea, where we enjoyed brunch.

The break wasn’t good for me though.  Afterwards I could feel a massive build-up of lactic acid & my legs felt like lead.  My injured shoulder flared up, and with 40 km to return to Geelong I was questioning how I could pull this off.

A miracle happened.

We didn’t realise on the way down we were riding into a head wind.  There didn’t seem much of it, but as soon as we headed east there was this wonderful invisible hand pushing us along.

The pace jumped up and we were flying.  I was riding on my limit, but the k’s were flying and I knew from experience that it was better to suck it up and keep the pace high, otherwise the legs would go on me.

Gary and Philip were riding brilliantly and I was pushing to keep their wheels.

Before we knew it we were in Torquay and heading north to Geelong with only 22 km to go.  The tailwind here was extra nice and the pace lifted even more.  At times we were sitting on 45 km/h on the straights and I was in the red.  On the limit, but I kept going.  “I can rest once we get back”, I kept telling myself.

After crossing the Barwon River there was a long pinch ahead of us.  I dry heaved and my body told me to get f#*d, and I dropped well off the pace.  Guess I was glad to make it this far I suppose.  The ride back to the car was a complete blur.

Great Ocean Road loop
Eastern Park

Since returning from injury I have averaged over 80 km per ride.  I have explored areas of the state that I’ve never ridden before, and caught up with some great mates.  Whilst each ride has had its own challenges.  I’ve been having the time of my life.  I’ve still got a long way to go until I’m healthy, but at least I’m starting to get on track.

A big thank you to Gary and Philip who carried me through this ride.

To be continued.

Here is the link to my Strava Activity.

Ride stats:

Distance:                             100 km
Elevation gained:             1,200 vetical
Moving time:                     3:50

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