TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY 26-27 NOVEMBER
It rained on and off overnight and we got a good dumping just as I was heading off to get brekkie. Yes, that’s right, Nancy almost got brekkie in bed today as I bought her a egg and bacon roll from the Salvos (Salvation Army). On GVBR, all of the local service clubs in towns we stay in put on stands to raise money. This morning we got egg and bacon rolls from the Salvos and flat whites from the Lions. Both were nice treats from the normal camp oatmeal. Best of all for Nancy, she got to stay in the tent while I went out in the rain and got both coffee and food (Senior editor’s note- he was already wet from his trip to get the egg and bacon rolls and logically it made no sense for me to go out and get wet as well to get the coffee. Sometimes Dave doesn’t see the logic in things but really, nothing else made sense here and I was just trying to keep the tent dry…).
Showers cleared about 6:15 and we rolled through the start line at 6:30. Normally there are a good number of regular riders waiting at 6:30 and we thought we’d be a little late. We needn’t have worried. Couple the overnight rains with yesterday’s big ride and everyone was moving slowly this morning.
We had the most amazing tailwind for the first 25k. We were barely pushing the pedals and still cruising at 40 kph. We blew through the morning rest stop, heading out to our respective corners. All was well until we reached a part of the route where we had to ride on the busy highway. The wind stopped pushing as much and the rains came down. Add to this a very bumpy, wet shoulder and some truck traffic. At least for that section, the fun factor dropped a bit.
Nancy was first to stop. She shared an easy corner with Bobby. I was 6k down the road and had a really tough lunch stop. The site was too narrow and it started to rain. At one point it was hailing, the marshals were facing into it and riders were coming rushing into lunch. We kept most folks going the right way and couldn’t really blame the handful of school kids who ignored our instructions. How anyone heard us over the storm is beyond me. Somehow we managed to get through the busy hour, didn’t have anyone crash and managed to keep traffic flowing. It was hard work and we earned our keep today.
Nancy joined me at lunch then we continued into Port Fairy at the end of the pack. I could never quite figure out which direction we were travelling as somehow we had ripper tailwinds and smashing headwinds riding into town. Nancy did the lion’s share of the work as we passed lots of tired riders. For sure the rolling pack of GVBR riders are collectively ready for a break from the ride.
As noted yesterday, we are not staying at the camp the next two days. We don’t mind the tent but having a real bed, real shower, fridge, kitchen and chairs with backs- well, I didn’t need to ask Nancy twice. We’ve settled into a very nice AirB&B with 4 other Sydney marshals, Roman, Leanne, Richard and Jerome.
After dinner at a nice restaurant in town, most of us headed over the local bowls club for the Bicycle Victoria volley party. Every year the volley party is put on for all of the ride volunteers (not just marshals) and usually hosted by the local bowling club. If you are keen – after your two free drinks – to have a bowl a few of the old-timer members always hang out and give free lessons. And just in case you were wondering, “bowls” here is lawn bowling, not the other bowling (ten pin bowling). We got a kick out of watching the mostly young kids from Asia getting very excited with some great “first time” shots. I think bowls is a Commonwealth thing but somehow unlike cricket and field hockey, it didn’t take hold in many former Asian Commonwealth nations.
That was yesterday – today was a whole lot more nothing, a lot less rushing around and/or riding our bikes. We slept in and had a café lunch. Port Fairy is a sleepy little town which just about had its main street taken over by cyclists today. I’m sure that we’ve made a sizeable contribution to many local businesses. Though, to be honest, some of the wait staff looked like they’d been through the ringer by the time we had our late second coffee. To be fair, there are only 3,500 residents in Port Fairy – GVBR may have doubled the size of town just coming here.
Port Fairy is famous for its bluestone buildings. There weren’t many local trees available when the town was settled back in the early 1800s, so the resourceful folks used what they had, local bluestone. Bluestone is basically softish granite and makes a great building material once you’ve carved it into the right shape. Even 150 years later, most of the old buildings have dead straight lines. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Tomorrow we are back on our bikes and heading towards the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop is at Peterborough, which is apparently a small town with little open area for camping. So, where do you get some open space in areas like this? Well, at the airport, of course. We are camping on the runway. I’m pretty sure that it is a disused runway, we’ll see.