Cycling in Victoria's Otway Ranges and along the Great Ocean Road - Part 2

The circuit ride from Apollo Bay, via Lorne, Deans Marsh and Forrest, was more of a challenge than the ride I did out and back from Aireys Inlet just a few days earlier. Twenty kilometres further and involving steeper undulations, it reminded me of some of the terrain along the roads between Canberra and Tharwa, in Australia’s Capital Territory. 

The first part of the ride, along the Great Ocean Road, was by far the easiest, an unbroken descent towards Skenes Creek late in the day. Carrying much less traffic than I imagined, the 47 kilometres along the B100 from Apollo Bay to Lorne, was as scenic as a rugged ocean with the occasional town and succession of wide beaches can get. The road itself was a blend of short ups and downs, around a seemingly endless number of bends and points. It felt like an enjoyable short ride where time travelled quickly. 

Cumberland River Beach-Great Ocean Road 
Perhaps buoyed by the journey so far, the near-9 kilometres to the highest point, Benwerren, on the Lorne to Deans Marsh Road, wasn’t much harder. Unlike the road up to France’s Mont Ventoux or the Spanish Asturia’s Alto del Angliru, it was much shorter and with only a 4% average gradient; one of those climbs where the gradient becomes easier the closer you get towards the top. 

The downhill road towards Deans Marsh marked the halfway point of the ride, but as I soon learned, the hardest part of my 130 kilometre journey was still away in the distance. Whether it was mounting fatigue or the higher afternoon temperature, or a combination of both, the persistent 3.4% gradient along the Birregurra-Forrest tarmac was the toughest part of the ride so far. Despite the numerous downhill sections of road, it was only seconds before the climbing began again.
Typical views near Deans Marsh   
Having ridden 90 kilometres without a break, I was keen to have a short rest in the small rural township of Forrest. Known as the gateway to the Otway Ranges and with a growing population of more than 300, it was the biggest town between Deans Marsh and Apollo Bay.  After replenishing my water supply and enjoying a cold dark beer from the local microbrewery, I began the remaining 6 kilometres of slow climbing that would take me to the final rise of the day. Somewhat bemused by the thought of being worn down by a 3.4% average gradient, I struggled on. It felt tough! 

Needless to say, once reached, the long descent towards Skenes Creek was as good as it gets. A wider and more sweeping road than the one that descends into Lorne from Benwerrin, there was less reason to brake and far more opportunity to take in the hilltop views once out of the forest. 

The descent towards Skenes Creek
The one and only switchback-near the bottom of the descent.
Left with only 5 kilometres to travel, from Skenes Creek to Apollo Bay, along the Great Ocean Road, the tiredness I felt not an hour earlier had disappeared. My 130k/6 hour journey was hardly the most difficult ride I’d done, not by a long shot, but it was difficult enough; and especially a ride worth doing. Again!

Near Apollo Bay
Books by Mark Krieger:

‘High Spain Drifter’ is available on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Booktopia  and other online bookstores. 

‘Lycra, Lattes and the Long Way Round’ is available on Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books

Both books are also available at local bookshops on the Mornington Peninsula: @ Rosebud Bookbarn and @ La Brocante

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”                        H. G. Wells

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