RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride day three – Portland to Port Fairy
Around 5.30am, the sky starts lightening, passing from black to purple to grey. The fabric of your tent takes on a luminescence as the day begins, and the first tenuous sound of zippers gradually swells to a chorus. Yawns and sleepy stretches – arms up and back, mouth wide, eyes squeezed shut – spread around the camp like a semaphore flash-mob, and then it’s off to the Café de Canvas for a feed.
Today, that breakfast porridge was crucial. With a distance of 95km to cover, it paid dividends to fuel up and ride a steady tempo. The route took riders through the town of Portland and around its harbour for 11 kilometres, with views back to the lumberyards, storeys-tall mounds of sawdust and ships loading their cargo. With the sea to the right, it was fairly easy going to begin with, before turning inland through pastures of grazing sheep and cows to the first rest stop of the day in Tyrendarra.
Although fairly flat, it was the distance covered and the constant winds that would pose the biggest challenge for riders today. One of the nicest things about the RACV Great Vic is the way that riders work together against adversity. As sappy as it sounds, despite the fact that people may be spending the day alongside strangers, they’re sharing the road with thousands of potential new friends. People from all walks of life – school groups, families, executives, tradies – find a common bond on the road, working together to shelter one another from the winds and keep morale up. For most of today, our riders were battling into a headwind, but at the rest-stops it wasn’t grumbling at the conditions that we heard, but tales of teamwork and turning around to find oneself part of a group happy to share in the pace-setting.
As the kilometres ticked by, we passed along beautiful isolated roads through blue gum forests, before finally turning out of the headwind after the lunch spot. From there, it was gently downhill to the seaside town of Port Fairy. Set astride the Moyne River, and surrounded by beaches, this pretty little town was voted the world’s most liveable in 2012. With a number of pubs near the spacious campsite, and steady sunshine finally making an appearance this afternoon, it’s pretty liveable for the RACV Great Vic riders as well, even if only for one night. There’s a triumphant atmosphere spreading around the campsite after conquering the biggest challenge of the ride so far, and an afternoon and evening ahead with more great memories to be made.
Tomorrow is a 107km trek down to Port Campbell, with stops in Warrnambool, Allansford, Nirranda and Peterborough, but for now the riders’ minds will turn to more immediate concerns – the ever-popular pasta and meatballs on tonight’s menu, stories to be told and a night of restful slumber with the ocean breeze playing its gentle symphony on guy-ropes and canvas.
For photos of the day, visit Bicycle Network’s Flickr.
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