2013 Great Vic Bike Ride

Day 0 - Friday - Travel Day - Melbourne to Mt Gambier

On Friday, we all rocked up at the required time of 9:00a.m. We had to box up our bikes so they would fit better on the bus and at first I thought it would mean that we just had to take our wheels off but I was wrong. We had to take off our wheels, seats, pedals and handlebars before we could even think of putting our bikes in a box. Once we had though, we really got our gears moving (Ha Ha Ha). We packed everything away, put the bikes under the truck and off we went. We picked up Northcote and we got on the road. The truck ride there was average - especially when we saw the rain come which meant only bad things. Once we got there, the assembly of the bikes started and in the cold and wet, it was not fun.

Day 1 - Saturday - Mt Gambier to Nelson - 42 km

Today was the first official day of the ride. Unfortunately as the night before was very wet, a couple of tents had puddles in them and we had to pack up a lot of drenched equipment. The first riders of the day left around seven o’clock and the last around eight. The ride today was a mellow 40K so it was a good introduction to the Great Vic. Not far into the ride we witness the iconic Blue Lake from above, the view was good although it was a little rainy. We then rode to the lunch spot and ate sandwiches. 9 kilometers to go and we were all racing to the finish. When we got to the campsite we set up our tents and got into that old great vic bike ride routine. A lot of us got to bed early in preparation for the next day.

Day 2 - Sunday - Nelson to Portland - 74 km

Being Day 2 we started to become a team showing teamwork when needed such as packing up and getting everyone geared up for the ride Fitzroy High gunning it as always. We arrived at the camp site early. Throughout the ride we passed many farms, triangle tree forests and at one point we had a great view of the bay. Our day was pretty flat and mostly downhill but there were a few little hills that warmed you up. We arrived in Portland pretty early and spent the day walking through town and checking it out. We had some tasty butter chicken for dinner and a little custard and berry tart for dessert. Delish.

Day 3 - Monday - Portland to Port Fairy - 95 km

It was the 95 km stage with a nice view of the ocean, complimented with some nice green countryside. Everybody left fairly early and got to the campsite by around 3. The weather was a bit unpleasant, it was sunny and hot while riding, but at the rest stops everybody froze. There were plenty of packs forming because of a painful headwind, which made the ride a bit faster and a lot more entertaining. Towards the end of the stage everybody was tired and pretty wiped out, but thanks to the team efforts, both within our group and with other schools and strangers, we all got to camp safely and with enough energy to go to the beach and play frisbee.

Day 4 - Tuesday - Port Fairy to Port Campbell - 107 km

Today was the distance challenge day where we had to do 107km. Really good ride with lots of packs forming and breaking apart. We had a mild headwind the way; it got stronger as time went on. It was really hot 23 degrees isn’t but cool when you got going. We all rode really well and paced ourselves and almost all others made it all the way to the end.

Day 5 - Wednesday - Port Campbell - Rest Day - 0 km

This morning we got to sleep in which was bloody amazing but unfortunately fun times fly fast. In the morning we cleaned our amazing bikes which was a bit of a drag because we wanted to play and have fun at the beach. This was probably the most exciting part of the day. Throughout the day we walked back and forth between town and camp meeting a of people two of which were top blokes. We also lined up for about 20 minutes to get some chips. The two top blokes we met showed us some photos of them riding motor bikes. Gr8 day all around….and yeah, we all call our teachers, Neil and Miranda, mum and dad!

Day 6 - Thursday - Port Campbell to Gellibrand - 80 km

Today was a tough day. The wind was blowing and the hills were high. This wasn’t as hard as everyone thought but it was still a hill worth doubting. The tail wind was nice for a change at the start. With the help from the wind climbing the hill it was much easier and quicker to get our reward with a great downhill for 10km in the forest. Us three lads Joe, Joel and I (Jamil) were speeding down the hill at around 60km/hr which felt pretty good. As we rolled into camp the luggage trucks weren’t unpacked so we had to help which was pretty hard. All in all the ride was pretty good.

Day 7 - Friday - Gellibrand to Birregurra - 81km

The day started with a long up hill ride. When I got to the top I was very tired. I know it was all down hill from there but there were some up hills going down. I turned off into Beech Forest which is a national park. I was speeding down the hill in a rain forest. The rain brought the rain forest to life. The rain had also created really nice smells. The rain forest went for at least 12km. After the rain forest it was only rolling hills which were nice. I think this has been the best ride so far.

Day 8 - Saturday - Birregurra to Torquay - 82km

The ride today started with a 10km ride up the third and final big hill. After going past the top we were heading straight down a very steep incline down to Lorne. In Lorne, we had a long lunch break down by the beach. We weren’t allowed to leave until 11:30 since the facilities needed to move to the campsite.

After leaving Lorne we rode down the Great Ocean Road right by the beautiful sea apart from the flies. The way to Torquay was majestic. I caught up with Joel and Donald but couldn’t keep up with them. After arriving at Torquay we settled down and had a family dinner with the whole crew. Tomorrow we are waking up at 6:00 and leaving at 7:30 as a group.

Day 9 - Sunday - Torquay to Geelong - 49 km

The final day of the Great Vic started like any other: a 6am wake up for breakfast. Everyone's spirits were high; they were excited to return home but at the same time not wanting to leave behind what they've grown accustom to. The trek for breakfast was longer than other days, mainly because everyone had to cross the entrance of the Great Ocean Road. After packing up camp and getting everyone ready, myself and a few other boys went to say goodbye to the other schools we met along the way, and after some trouble with a tyre, Fitzroy finally left Torquay a 8:15.

Our group made its way through the busy roads of Torquay, but eventually found our way onto more quiet ones but still bustling with cyclists. We started a formation with a few boys at the front leading some of the group in a sing-along which lasted until the first rest stop. As a group we took a photo with everyone in their jerseys, nearing the end. We left the stop and crossed the bridge for the second part of our journey, making our way to the traffic ridden roads of outer Geelong, the place we'd all been riding to. Our group, battered after 9 days of rain, sun and hills at last cruised past the final gantry, with John and I at the lead, signifying the end of Fitzroy High's second Great Victorian Bike Ride.

We collected our bags and set up our bikes in a nice row, while Neil almost doubled over from the gastro going around the group, but Miranda (aka, Mum) set up a tent for him. Most of us found out about the free drinks and sausages at the RACV tent and raced over to avoid waiting in the hot sun. I, along with others, grabbed two of each to keep us going until lunch. By the time our bus arrived, most of our crew had left with family, leaving only 15 or so including a few Northcote stragglers. Our bus met us in the now deserted showground's, and shortly after crushing bike boxes, we left. Just before exiting Geelong our group stopped for McDonalds, a lousy substitute for lunch, but it kept us going on the hot, quiet ride home. We arrived back at school around 3:30, unloading everything with effort.

And at last Fitzroy had returned, 600km and many tubes of sunscreen later, everyone had made it home with a huge sense of achievement and camaraderie. Despite our sore muscles various illnesses, we had triumphantly made it back from our second Great Vic. Each day was written by a different student on the ride after each day’s effort.

From my perspective, the 10 day excursion was second to none. The students represented FHS so well. Every day, the camp was set up as a team with leaders leading and everyone doing their best. For some, that was pushing themselves to finish the ride. For others, that was pushing themselves to finish the ride quickly in order to help others. I am so proud to be associated with this group. Well done to all.

Neil McLean