The scenery is amazing…
Entering the Cadel Evans Swiss Peoples Ride was a great way to see the iconic Great Ocean Road and ride alongside some ex-pro cyclists who keep the pace nice and steady to ensure you get a decent workout without having to ride at ‘race pace’ and miss all the fantastic scenery along the way…
The picturesque city of Geelong transforms into a cycling mecca on the last week of January each year with former Australia Pro Rider Cadel Evans and the city of Geelong hosting a series of events which include Elite Men Road Race, Elite Women Road Race, the People’s Ride and a Family Ride. Given Geelong is a short drive (roughly an hour) from Melbourne a large majority of riders will drive up for the day or just the morning if they need to get back to the family or have other commitments.
If you’re a serious rider then the Elite Road Races are for you, but for us, being new to Melbourne we thought riding Great Ocean Road on a bike with closed roads was the perfect way to see this part of the Victoria state so we entered the People’s Ride which was 115km across rolling terrain with a total elevation of 928m. It was a bonus to ride alongside Cadel Evans and Juan Antonio Flecha who were very approachable and friendly.
After a few media proceedings, the ride itself starts from the Geelong waterfront and makes its way up some short climbs and out onto Great Ocean Road. We’d recommend getting to the start line early as riders are let go in waves and it can be quite a wait if you are well down the starting grid (plus Cadel and Juan are in the first wave).
The short sharp climb out of the city usually sorts out your bunch or peloton for day with the ‘less fit’ riders being dropped off the back before heading out to the beautiful Barwon Heads then across to the Great Ocean Road. Once you’re on Great Ocean Road it’s time to take in some scenery, the peloton is large enough to shelter from the wind and the riders are experienced enough to relax and take in the surroundings as you head towards Torquay, Moriac, Barrabool Hills and the historic village of Ceres.
Being a coastal ride the temperature is very changeable so we went from sun to showers, to cold wind all within an hour. It pays to have a Gilet on or tucked into your pocket for the duration of the ride as it can get very cold at times. The ride makes it’s way in-land from Bells Beach, a world renowned surf beach.
As with any bike ride, casual or serious, there is always someone wanting to push the pace and this ride is no exception. As the ride headed in-land and the road became ‘lumpy’ the pace lifted as riders attempted to get rid of any extra ‘luggage’ which they managed with success. Thankfully we weren’t one of the riders who got spat out the back and we settled into a good pace with some strong riders for the next approx. 60km.
From 60km to 100km the ride is largely uneventful as the roads make their way through farmland on country roads and highways. This is a good time to conserve your energy in preparation for the Challambra Climb which is used for the Elite Races the following day.
Elite Men on Challambra Climb
The climb itself is short at .81km but steep with an average gradient of 10%. It’s not uncommon to reach the climb and have Elite Cyclists riding up it in preparation for the following days race. When we rode up Team BMC were on the hill at the same time. While I was grinding 34 – 28 they just drifted past like the road was flat…
When you reach the top of the climb there are a few more short bumps to contend with but nothing of note. From here on in it’s a short ride through the city back to the waterfront and the start – finish line where the festivities are well underway with food stalls, cycling products, and café’s humming with activity. It’s definitely a carnival atmosphere at the finish line. After partaking in the activities it’s surprising how easy it is to ride back to the car, pack up and head back to Melbourne. There are some closed roads but this doesn’t seem to affect the flow of traffic into and out of the city.
All-in-all it’s a great event and we recommend it for a nice morning out and a safe way to ride the Great Ocean Road. If you want a race, the people’s ride isn’t for you, you’ll definitely get a solid ride in but it’s definitely not a ‘race’...
The 2019 event is not far away and you can register here
Be sure to check out Race and Event calendar for more great riding and racing throughout the region.
If you would more information about this event contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember, 'keep it rubber side down'