Date Posted:23 January 2017
I put in a leave form request months ago to have a cycling holiday, attending the Tour Down Under in Adelaide 2017. The Cycology team thought it would be a great idea and give me LOTS of inspiration. So, I pushed the envelope asking if I could ride from Melbourne -along the Great Ocean Road & coast to Adelaide. 'Yeah!" they said.
My two intrepid cycling buddies & I flew to Avalon airport, where we assembled our bikes and pedalled off with our first stop being Bunnings to get a new bolt for a stripped seatpost clamp. We were riding our beautiful racing bikes each with a different luggage solution. We had 130kms of headwind and heat and our first night's lodging was at Apollo Bay. The Great Ocean Road was as beautiful as expected, the little townships and beaches stunning. we also were given sample kits (jerseys, bibs, shorts, gloves) to wear en route and in Adlelaide for the TDU. Happy to report it was all outstanding and comfy -even on the 47 degree days.
We reached Apollo Bay Eco lodge at 6pm and were told we couldn't bring our bikes into our rooms -despite telling all our accomodation bookings beforehand we would like to keep our bikes inside, most nights turned into a covert operation where I distracted managers while the boys snuck bikes into our rooms. It was always very funny in hindsight and we had to sneak out again, early in the mornings.
The next day was 100kms, a beautiful hot & sunny day, lots of hills and beautiful views, flocks of birds, forrests then beaches. We pedalled into Port Campbell staying at a really cool Hostel (Port Campbell Hostel), one of the best I have ever seen - again, the manager here was adament about no bikes being kept in rooms and the boys snuck the bikes up a fire escape while I aasked the manager questions - and we snuck out early again the next morning.
Port Campbell to Port Fairy was a short day 85kms -luckily -as it was pouring rain with horrible headwinds which got worse as the day progressed and we got tireder. By the time we reached Warnambool where Tommy had his first of 3 punctures (he had Conti 4000s race series tyres -Stu and I had Conti gator skins and NO punctures) we were cold, tired and hungry. It took 3 of us to change the tube with numb hands and Tommy's fraying temper. Back on the road a double semi trailer truck passed us so close all of us were run off the road -I was leading and looked back when I rode off the narrow shoulder in terror to see the other 2 in a ditch and Stu in the bushes.
Port Fairy to Mount Gambier: we woke to pouring rain & gusting 50km winds. Team consensus after the pervious day's wet ride was to catch a bus. We spent the day cleaning our bikes and laundering our kit before loading the bikes into a bus. In Mount Gambier we cycled around the Blue Lake and checked out some sink holes. Rest Day in the Central Hotel -sneaking the bikes into the room again. :)
Mount Gambier to Kingston: 170kms -long straight roads through pine forrests before hitting Robe, one of our favourite discoveries. A beautiful beach with a long main road with great cafes and shops. We had a big lunch here, chatting to some cyclists before heading off to Kingston. Very hot and again, headwinds. Only 1 pub to pick from for dinner.
Kingston to Meningie: 150kms -long straight roads along the Coorong with well over 45 degree heat and a good headwind again. We stopped @ 1/2 way at Salt Creek -where there is a petrol station/cafe and had a coffee and ate a lot of our fruit and nut supply.The last few hours were very hard, hot and painful, we all took turns at the front which were getting shorter and shorter......hot, hot air. We washed our kit at the caravan park we stayed at -it was air dried and felt as though it had come out of a hot tumble dryer within 15 mins.
Meningie to Adelaide: we'd been warned the next day would be hotter and traffic heavy so we got up at 3am and were on the road by just after 4am. Took the ferry over the Murray and headed across the hot dry plains of Langhorne creek, up into the hills behind Adelaide. 47 degrees. We stopped at a cafe for food and coffee -which I brought up the first hill back on the bike -it was just so hot.
Adelaide: we stayed at an incredible church, St Marks Church www.churchapartment.com.au for the rest of the week. the owners, Karin and Wilson let us keep our bikes inside and were amazing hosts. From here the shops, cafes, restaurants, hills, Bupa ride, city are all in easy reach. we had 2 easy days of peddaling @100kms each day, watching the race and doing a few famous climbs. Then a 170km day with the Bupa ride followed by riding home. Then another 100km+ day out to McLaren vale and Willunga Hill to watch the Tour Down Under again.
Each day we shopped after our ride and bought a pack of muesli, yoghurt, fruit, milk, instant coffee mix sachets and a packet of mixed nuts for our ride snack. We ate almost all of it each morning for breakfast and ate the nuts en route with a coffee/lunch stop. Dinner we ate out. We washed our kit each day in the laundry at our accomodation and hung it out where -ever we could and because of the heat it dried super fast. I took a travel elastic washing line with hooks each end which we used quite often. We took our bikes in cardboard boxes to Avalon and picked up boxes in Adelaide at a bike shop (Stuart shown cycling back to the church with his) and we repacked our bikes the night before we left. All bikes survived intact.
Overall, a brilliant adventure, we rode @ 1,122kms in 11 days (including one rest day) carrying luggage. My Garmin actually backed up and didn't record quite a few segments (overloaded with data I was told by the Gramin Techies).Our bodies coped pretty well with the distance, heat and headwinds. We were all a bit knackered by the last day though..... and looking forward to packing up bikes an another rest day or two. :)
Our bags had 2 cycling kits each, 2 set of clothes for casual wear/sleeping in, lots of electrical gear for charging phones, lights etc. Toiletries, raincoat (we all had thought we wouldn't need this but used it quite a lot) a quick dry towel, swimmers, 1 wool LS top. We all carried tools, 3 spare tubes, lube, sunscreen, 1 good pump with a pressure guage. We sent by courier another bag of clothes etc to our Adelaide accommodation for when we arrived so we had some fresh gear. This all worked perfectly.