RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride day four – Port Fairy to Port Campbell
Under azure skies and fairy-floss clouds, our intrepid RACV Great Vic riders tackled the VicRoads Challenge Day – a 107 kilometre journey from Port Fairy to Port Campbell. As the longest day of this year’s Great Vic, it was going to be a tough day in the saddle for even the most seasoned riders, and for many would be the furthest they’d ridden in a day.
The route today rolled out of sleepy Port Fairy, before heading north through lush farmland. Although mostly flat, there were a couple of brief but steep rises to get the heart pounding, including one nasty little pinch rearing up out of the pastures to the first rest stop at Tower Hill. Situated on the edge of a steep volcanic crater, it was the perfect spot for a breather and a happy snap.
The route then took us back towards the coast, with a second rest stop in Warrnambool. A steady stream of riders processed down an avenue of Norfolk Island Pines, enjoying gentle breezes and the excited waves of local kids on their way to school, back in the real world.
Although the winds presented less of a challenge than yesterday, it was warm enough to mean that hydration was a priority. With the temperature heating up to the mid-20s, the straight farming roads shimmered into the horizon. The riders mixed their lactic acid with lactose of another kind, travelling in bunches past the enticingly named Cheese World and into fertile dairy country. Gentle-eyed Jersey cows grazed peacefully alongside the road, raising their heads to see the strange, wheeled hordes rolling by.
The Nirranda rest stop was a perfect demonstration of the way small communities get behind the Great Vic. From 10km out, signs beckoned the riders forward with the promise of Devonshire tea, cold drinks and other snacks. The reality of the rest stop was even better than the riders may have let themselves imagine – tables with flowers on them and ample seating, by the side of a well-tended footy oval in the middle of nowhere. Everyone’s tired, but it was impossible not to feel joy bubbling up as the scones slid down.
Rejuvenated by this lovely surprise, we headed coastward again, reeled in by salty sea breezes and our first encounter with the Great Ocean Road. It comes on you suddenly – one minute it’s all pastoral, and the next it’s scrub, limestone, and churning waves. It seems like there’s a new lookout point and stunning view every kilometre, as we slowly tick off a greatest hits of Victorian coastal scenery. Riders peel off the road for a sweaty selfie in front of gobsmacking vistas, smiling proudly about the distance covered, the perfect riding weather and the fact that the days efforts are almost complete.
It’s a winding last few kilometres along the coast, before dropping into the tiny town of Port Campbell. With a normal population of around 500, the arrival of the Great Vic multiplies its population ten-fold. It’s a beautiful spot to end the day, and with a rest day tomorrow it’s a well-earned chance to take a dip in the sea, visit the 12 Apostles, have a sleep-in and explore this spectacular part of the world.
For photos of the day, visit Bicycle Network’s Flickr.
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