SATURDAY 30 NOVEMBER
Today was all about riding in the Otway Ranges and what a treat is was. We started high up in the hills and boy was it cold overnight. I heard that we hit 5 degrees C but I’m not sure. All I know is that it was really cold first thing.
Our corner today was the start line – wow aren’t we lucky! We were out greeting riders at 6:15 and about 6:45 the sun came over the eastern treetops near camp. It is so much easy being cheery and giving the riders a stir up when it’s sunny. I told everyone that the entire ride was downhill, we’d only have sunshine and of course, the winds would be tailwinds. Nancy told the riders to stay left and be safe – haha. If anyone questioned me, I told them to complain about the guy in the orange vest (we all wear orange vests).
We got off duty at 9AM and were done for the day. The first 10k were out along a ridgeline with views off both sides of the Otways. It was magical. And then it got better. We had about 12k on a road called Turton’s Track. The road twisted and turned through a mix of beech and gum trees, with the odd fern tree mixed in. I was supposed to be following Jerome and Nancy but I’ll admit that I was sort of on photo overload mode. Below is just a sample, I could have stayed in there all day. Turton’s Track was a truly magical ride, a hidden gem that nearly no one that we spoke to on the ride had heard of. Well done GVBR, thanks for showing us this magical road. Photo overload follows:
At the end of Turton’s Track there was a very crowded rest site. It was clearly a very hard point to have been a marshal at today. We decided to roll through, not needing food or water and not wanting to add any more people to our teammates workload. The next 25k were on a lovely more down than up highway – super easy cruising through more forest and mixed range land.
We pulled into the lunch stop at the town of Forrest at about 10:30. We still had food, and no need of any of the stop’s services. It was another tight site testing out teammates once again. So what to do but keep rolling. We’ve had some sort of wrap/sandwich every day of the ride and while they are “ok” they are not something to necessarily look forward to eating every day.
By skipping the lunch stop we were able to leap-frog a stack of riders and arrive in Dean’s Marsh – the finish – at only 11:30. Of course camp wasn’t open but the Dean’s Marsh café was. Best of all, while the queues in the café for cold drinks was long, not many people wanted cooked food – heck, they had just eaten lunch. We snagged a table, had a wonderful second brekkie and relaxed while the riders queued up at the front gate. By the time we finished eating camp was open – perfect timing really. We were in the first wave of riders let into camp, had wonderful warm showers without queuing and generally enjoyed a nice afternoon. As I said at the beginning of this post, getting the first corner was a real treat for us.
This afternoon the Bicycle Network bar was offering free beers from 3 to 5PM. This is the second one of these offers but the first time that we got to take advantage of it. The first day came on our long day into Portland where we got off duty after the free drinks had passed. Today it was supposed to rain but it didn’t, making it quite enjoyable for Nancy, Roman and I to finally get a chance to raise a frosty glass of Beechworth IPA. Not bad, day 9 and we’re getting our first drink. It’s funny how hard work volunteering on these rides is. We’re normally too tired to drink, we’re in bed early and when possible, we’re taking afternoon naps. Today we got a nap, had a beer and yes, we’ll probably be lights out at 8:30 again.
So the last day is tomorrow. We ride from here to Torquay. The last 3/4s of the ride is back along the Great Ocean Road. The GVBR folks have managed to close the road for cars going our way, not a full closure but pretty great all the same. It may mean extra work for us but we don’t know yet. We missed our normal 6PM marshal debrief today and are awaiting instruction on what’s on for us tomorrow. Not to worry, with 4,000 people and 350 volunteers (total, not just marshals), you have to learn to roll with the punches. One more day and the punching will end – haha.