Victoria Bike Adventure – March 2019

My latest cycling touring trip was to Victoria from 1 to 14 March, to finish off the last three of the Seven Peaks. But the first cycling adventure of the trip was in a different direction, a long weekend down to Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Rd. After that we had three days working in Melbourne before heading up to Falls Creek for some alpine fun.Here are the stats of the trip and summary of each day.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Waurn Ponds to Apollo Bay
9:50am train from Southern Cross Station to Geelong / Waurn Ponds.

Ride start: 11:10am.
Ride finish: 6:30pm
Distance: 117km
Elevation gain: 1350m
Riding time: 6 hrs
Average speed: 18.8kph (including most stops except lunch)
Total time: 7:20. 45 min stop for lunch at Dean’s Marsh, numerous stops for coping with the heat including Forrest pub for water and coke.
Weather: very hot. Max 42 degrees. Strong northerly wind.
Terrain: mostly flat then undulating up a 20km climb then very fun 10km descent down Skenes Creek Rd.
Consumed: coffee and small muesli for breakfast then protein ball before ride start. On the ride: SIS electrolyte tabs in 2 x 750mL, 600mL Gatorade, 3-4L of water, 600mL choc milk, the most delicious beef pie with relish at Dean’s Marsh Store, 1/2 snickers bar.

Post ride: salty nuts, glass of milk, 500mL apple juice, miso soup, rehydrated rice and Bolognese sauce.
Total liquid: 7.5-8L
Highlight: the climb from Forrest, which was shady and not too steep and the temp cooled down below 35 degrees so I felt amazing because I wasn’t on the verge of getting heat stroke. Then the spectacular fun descent down to Skenes Creek.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Apollo Bay gravel fondo (the same course as Amy’s Gravel Fondo original route)
Ride start: 8:45am
Ride finish: 2:45pm
Distance: 79km
Elevation gain: 1230m
Riding time: 5:30
Average speed: 14.4kph including stops (brief rests and muesli bar stops)
Total time: 6 hrs
Weather: much cooler than yesterday, only 26 degrees max but with 85% humidity the real feel was more like 32 degrees.
Terrain: asphalt, hard packed gravel, rocky gravel, overgrown double track, corrugations. We had everything. Steady climbs and long hard climbs and extremely fun winding descents.
Consumed: Pre ride porridge with mango and coffee with milk. During ride: 750mL electrolyte, 750mL water, 3 x muesli bars. Plus a few foraged blackberries! We rode past many laden apple trees too. Post ride: bbq pork Singapore noodles and coconut milk banana smoothie. Dinner: steak and veg with beer.
Highlight: the California redwood forest that we almost rode straight past, those trees were amazingly tall and straight and the huge grove of them was splendid.

Monday 4 March 2019

Apollo Bay to Geelong on the Great Ocean Road
Ride start: 9:20am (after watching the sunrise over the ocean at 7:12am then packing bags and breakfast at Hello Coffee roasters)
Ride finish: 4:10pm
Distance: 117km
Elevation gain: 1300m
Riding time: 5:30
Average speed: 20.8kph including stops for photos at Cape Patton and a muesli bar stop and quite a few long roadworks stops
Total time: 7 hours
Weather: Idyllic! Finally! Calm, zero wind, and mild temperature, 21-26 degrees.
Terrain: Delightful. Undulating but mostly flattish along the Great Ocean Rd. Three large climbs on a deviation off the highway to get to Torquay then a cycling shoulder highway along the main road to Geelong.
Consumed: Pre ride: 1 plum, 1 glass of milk, omelette with bacon and cheese and relish and a large coffee. During ride: double scoop gelato, 2 bites of a muesli bar, sour dough with smashed avocado and feta, decaf iced coffee with cream and sugar syrup. Post ride: Vietnamese dinner with iced tea.
Highlight: the Great Ocean Road scenery, courteous traffic and idyllic weather conditions.

Friday 8 March 2019
Train to Wangaratta, coach to Bright, cycle Bright to Falls Creek

Ride start: 1pm
Ride finish: 6pm
Distance: 60km
Elevation gain: 1900m
Riding time: 5 hrs
Average speed: 12.2kph
Total time: 5 hrs
Weather: sunny, 25 degrees in the valley at the start and quite warm, mild breeze. Cooled down as we gained altitude and the day ended, 13 degrees when we finished at 1500m in Falls Creek.
Terrain: Mountainous. Tawonga gap climb then descent then front of Falls Creek climb, which was a relatively mild steady gradient, around 6%.
Consumed: Pre ride: Enormous bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, cheese and aioli on sourdough sandwich with chips and sparkling water. During ride: 1.5L water, 1 Blue Dinosaur paleo bar, 1 Bounce protein ball. Post ride: salted nuts, glass of milk. Dinner: chicken, sweet potato, beans, prosciutto, small glass of red wine.

Highlight: the front of Falls Creek climb – lovely gradient, weather conditions, good pacing and good company. My favourite so far of the 7 Peaks climbs. Completed with full flashpacking luggage.

Saturday 9 March 2019
Drive to Omeo then ride Omeo – Dinner Plain – Omeo

Ride start: 10:15am
Ride finish: 3:45pm
Distance: 88km
Elevation gain: 1925m
Riding time: 4:45
Average speed: 18.4kph including stops / 20.5kph moving time
Total time: 5:30 – including the 45 min stop for lunch at the top of Dinner Plain
Weather: terrific. Sunny, not much wind although there was a slight headwind towards the top of Dinner Plain. 15-25 degrees – cooler towards the top at 1500m altitude.
Terrain: mountain! Technically the whole ride was up the Dinner Plain 7 Peaks climb, then back down. It isn’t really a steady climb though, more like a bunch of undulations strung together that finish 900m higher altitude than they start.
Consumed: Pre ride: small bowl of muesli, yoghurt and fruit, small strong latte, small plate of egg, bacon, sausage and hash brown. Followed by a two hour drive. During ride: one Bear Naked muesli bar, one Bounce protein ball, 750mL SIS electrolyte, 1L water, 1 pint iced coffee, 1/2 ham and cheese panini, 1/2 delicious chunky beef pie with sauce. Post ride: not enough and not soon enough!
Highlight: Helping a lady (with her partner) who was in tears and struggling about 5km from the top of the climb, then seeing them finish the climb and seeing them again riding back to Omeo (then thanks to Strava seeing that she subsequently finished her 7Peaks Challenge). Lunch at Dinner Plain 😍 And the rolling descent ride from Dinner Plain back to Omeo with mostly a tailwind.

Sunday 10 March 2019
Falls Creek – Harrietville – Mt Hotham – Bright
Ride start: 7:35am
Ride finish: 5:30pm
Distance: 162km
Elevation gain: 2570m (elevation loss 3600m)
Riding time: 9 hours (7:45 moving time)
Average speed: 17.8kph (21kph moving speed)
Total time: 10 hours (stop at Harrietville for morning tea, and stops for toilets and food along the way)
Weather: cool on the descent from Falls, warm in Mount Beauty, mild then cool then cold as we ascended up to the top of Mt Hotham at 1895m and the wind picked up. Then torrential rain for the last 20km into Bright. True mountains weather!
Terrain: lovely descent down the front of Falls, flowing curves, lovely 7.2km switchback climb up Tawonga Gap, lovely flowing descent down Tawonga Gap, awful false flat up to Harrietville, then 30km mountain climb up Mt Hotham (10km moderate 5% gradient and The Meg (steep! But short), 10km easy, 10km hard 10%-ish), followed by the 30km descent which was lovely and flowing until it started to rain, then flattish the rest of the way back to Bright.
Consumed: Pre ride: muesli, fruit, yoghurt, juice, coffee. During ride: 2 packets of 3 x cheese and crackers (best bike snacks ever), 1 protein ball, 1 chicken and salad wrap, 3 muesli bars, 1 ham and cheese toasted sandwich, 1 iced coffee, 750mL electrolyte, 2L water. Post ride: 300mL lemon squash, hot chicken and chips.
Highlight: Mt Hotham climb and descent. All the Seven Peaks are done!

Monday 11 March 2019
Falls Creek to Bright
Ride start: 10:30am
Ride finish: 3:15pm
Distance: 81km
Elevation gain: 890m
Riding time: 4 hrs
Average speed: 19.8kph (21.9kph moving time)
Total time: 4:45 (with stop at Mount Beauty bakery for lunch)
Weather: fine, sunny, mild to cold above Falls Creek at 1700m altitude, extra warm in Mount Beauty and heading up Tawonga Gap.
Terrain: gentle undulations for 10km heading up the mountain behind Falls Creek, 30km descent down Falls to Mount Beauty, 7km climb up Tawonga Gap, descent down the other side, then 5km or so bike path to Bright.
Consumed: Pre ride: 2 x mini muesli and yoghurt cups, 2 x glasses OJ, bacon, 1 egg, 1 hash brown, potatoes, hollandaise sauce. During ride: 400mL water, lunch – coffee, 1/2 chicken wrap, 1/2 custard tart, 1/2 apple slice. In Bright: ice cream, massive share plate at Bright Brewery for dinner… with a couple of beers.
Highlight: Riding amongst the beautiful alpine scenery above Falls Creek to say goodbye to the mountains… for now.

Tuesday 12 March 2019
Bright to Wangaratta on Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, then train back to Melbourne.
Ride start: 8:15am
Ride finish: 12:30pm
Distance: 85km
Elevation gain: 290m
Riding time: 4 hours
Average speed: 22kph
Total time: 4:15 with a midway picnic stop for a bacon and egg wrap
Weather: cool start, mild day but annoying crosswind
Terrain: pretty much flat with a gentle downhill gradient
Consumed: Pre ride: muesli with strawberries, banana and yoghurt plus coffee. During ride: bacon and egg wrap and 1 Turkish delight, not enough water (maybe 500mL). Post ride: 1L of water in 30 min at the cafe, peanut butter banana mocha smoothie, smashed avo and goat’s cheese on toast.

Highlight:Lowlight: losing my spares bottle on one of the very rough plank bridges and not noticing until we finished the ride.

Hightlight: the opportunity to refine my bike tools when I replace them all.

Tuesday 13 March 2019
Short dirty Kinglake – train to Hurstbridge then gravel circuit in Kinglake region.
Ride start: 11:15am
Ride finish: 3:45pm
Distance: 55km
Elevation gain: 1300m
Riding time: 4:15
Average speed: 12.9kph (moving speed 14.8kph)
Total time: 4.5 hrs
Weather: cold morning, mild and cloudy, negligible wind
Terrain: undulating, long climbs, steep short climbs, crazy long hairpin descent, mostly gravel
Consumed: Pre ride: smoothie bowl and coffee. During ride: 2 x balls, 1 protein bar, 500mL water. Post ride: milk, juice and pie with sauce. Thank goodness for the bakery still being open at 4pm!
Highlight: Getting up some seriously steep and rocky climbs, maybe the steepest ones I’ve managed to ride up offroad, ever! Plus seeing a flock of wild lyrebirds!


9 days cycling
54 hours total riding time
850 km total distance
13,400 m elevation gain
9 significant / mountain climbs
I can’t wait to get back there and do it all again! A really well planned trip and not much I’d change.

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