RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride day two – Nelson to Portland
After a restful night in Nelson, the participants of the RACV Great Vic woke to a mercifully drizzle-free morning. Although still overcast, news quickly spread that the worst of the weather looked to be over and we’d have sun and blue skies for the start of the Great Ocean Road proper in a couple of days.
Of course, the Great Vic is a challenge and it would have been too straightforward for the sun to be out from the get-go. But an hour or two after the riders pedalled away from Nelson, the first patch of elusive blue sky revealed itself just as we passed a lookout with a distant glimpse of the sea, foaming behind kilometres of sand dunes and scrub. Our travellers took heart at what will hopefully be a good omen for the days to come.
The 74km route from Nelson to the coastal town of Portland undulated through pine forests of an almost Scandinavian intensity. As far as the eye could see, there was a steady stream of riders stretching down the road – some toughing out on their own, others working together in the beautiful choreography of pelotons. As with yesterday, the most regular feature along the route was the wide smiles, enthusiastic waves and thumbs up, and overall air of enthusiasm among the riders. If there’s any pessimism, we’re yet to see it.
The first rest-stop offered the opportunity for riders to stretch their legs, do some stretches (there are some people with really flexible hammies out there!) and perhaps grab a coffee or bike tune-up from event vendors. The road then turned towards the coast, along a series of lovely curving roads with riders pedalling on to the lunch spot at Portland airfield.
Those who’d made an early start were fed and on their way again before 11, speeding on towards the wide bay of Portland. Portland is a busy harbour, which mixes industry with a long heritage – it was the first Victorian town settled by European colonists, is the only deep-sea port between Adelaide and Melbourne and today is home to a major aluminium smelter.
After settling up camp, in addition to the Portland shops and pubs, riders will have the opportunity to test their mettle in the fiercely contested RACV Great Vic quiz-night, watch Up and The Bourne Legacy or kick back with friends new and old at the moving village that is the campsite.
Tomorrow’s route takes us from Portland to Port Fairy, with the longest day of the ride so far – 95km. There’s bound to be heaps of great stories from the route, and we’ll keep you posted on all the happenings from the ride right here.
For photos of the day, visit Bicycle Network’s Flickr.
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