GOR – Day 8: The REAL GREAT OCEAN ROAD (Port Fairy to Port Campbell, VIC) 18 March 2007

Up til today, we haven’t really been on the “Great Ocean Road” proper, which actually starts/ends in Warrnambool, though we have been following the coast. We have been traveling southeast, and as Murphy would have it, the wind, which is ‘typically’ westerly or non-existent this time of year, has been easterly, so we have been consistently riding into the wind. We are also now below the 38th parallel, and if we kept going in our same direction southeast out into the ocean, we would reach Tasmania, though of course it is too far away to see. After tomorrow, we will turn north toward Melbourne, and then only 4 more days of riding… hard to believe. Bay of Islands

This was the most beautiful segment of our ride so far, riding high above the ocean along the edge of tall cliffs, the sun glinting off the sea, and glimpsing impossibly turquoise water and surf and caramel colored sandy beaches splattered with volcanic rocks. And this was the first day we would begin to make many scenic stops (you look them up: Bay of Islands, London Bridge, The Grotto). Wide pathways lead from each stop’s parking lot to the best views about 1/4 to 1/2 mile or more from the road. They were frequently, though not always, paved or well-surfaced, so we would just ride our bikes down/along past the other tourists.

But back to the beginning of the day… Patricia was up early, as usual – “Keen as mustardâ€?, Jim said (Australia sells Keen Mustard). For some reason I can no longer remember, we decided to drive the section from Port Fairy to Warrnambool (last of the logging route, I think). After wrestling with getting all four of the bikes onto the rack, we made it there in short order, and stopped at the Visitor’s Center for the GOR. Then while Jim and Irena drove 1/2 way ahead, Patricia and I took off on a lovely paved beach path that wound through dunes and then up over a hill looking down onto a river inlet. Practice HillAnd then we had the priviledge of this lovely ‘practice hill’ heading out of town! ———>>>>

But while beautiful, this day was also the HARDEST SLOG – our average speed was the slowest yet, at 10mph, and ALWAYS into an even stiffer wind than we had on Day 2 and 3. Patricia and I did have one very short run with the wind (going uphill at 25mph!) between Warrnambool and cheese factory near Allensford. In all it took us 4.5 hours to go 96k.

The quote of the day was from a Scandanavian couple we saw on the hills at the Bay of Islands, loaded down with panniers on their bikes, going the other way. We were moaning about the wind, and they said “Oh well, if the wind changes (and they get the headwind), we’ll just eat more!� What a *great* philosophy!

I haven’t mentioned yet that all along the roads we see signs that say “Droopy eyelids? Powernap now�, or “Drowsy Drivers Die – pull over here�, or “One second of sleep kills – take a rest�. We should have those in the U.S.

I have noticed at least 3 themes on our ride, so far: 1) cursing the bike rack (it takes about 30 minutes EVERY time to get all four bikes on it), 2) cursing our sore bums, and 3) cursing the headwinds!

A bit of trivia: Jim thinks we exchanged greetings with Phil Anderson on the road today going the other direction – he was the first Australian cyclist to make it into the top 10 in the Tour de France, with Miguel Indurain (the Big Mig) back in the 1980s, and he lives and still rides in this area.

Our stopping place for the night, Port Campbell, is a lovely, very small, coastal tourist town tucked around a large deep cove (cut about 1 mile into the coastline, and at the bottom of about 400-foot cliffs). The turquiose waves surge in and out of the long cove and around the rocks on the corners. Our lodging is a tiny national park cabin with one bedroom and 2 built-in bunk beds with a curtain that can be drawn for privacy – similar to the one we stayed in in Beachport.