Sunday, March 11, 2012

DBMA - Part 1 - Great Ocean Road

Melbourne - Anglesea

The morning started early - 8am departure out of Eltham to meet Ali in the city at 9. We topped off the fuel tanks in Southbank, and then took the Montague on ramp onto the freeway and out of the city we went. The freeway down towards Geelong and the Bellarine isn't exactly riveting, but it's reasonable quality road with a good surface and enough lanes that on a Saturday morning you can keep at the speed limit with little trouble.

Turning off towards Anglesea and the Great Ocean Road, however, things started to slow down. First day of a long weekend traffic was about what I expected, but what I didn't expect was that people would slow to 70 in a 100 zone when passing the speed camera. At least they sped up to 80 again afterwards.

Coffee in Anglesea was delicious and helped thaw my fingers, which were suffering from my decision to wear summer gloves and jacket. Note to self: unless it is indeed the middle of summer, wearing all-season gear is probably a smarter move than your light-weight ventilated gear.

After re-caffeination, we jumped back on the bikes to commence the Great Ocean Road proper. Overcast with a little drizzle is not ideal twisty-road weather but I was determined to make the best of it. Weather is, after all, one of those things you just can't control.

It turned out that spitting rain and ocean spray was the least of our issues on this leg of the ride. The single biggest impediment to our unbridled riding pleasure were drivers who failed either to look in their mirrors, or to realise that they were in fact the "slow vehicles" who were urged by signs every kilometre or so to use the turn-outs on the side of the road, and to think of vehicles behind them.

It's a gorgeous stretch of road from Anglesea to Apollo Bay but stretches suitable for overtaking are exceedingly rare. We managed to get past the last slow moving car at Petticoat Creek, which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful sweeping bends and twisty corners for all of a scant 7 kilometres before we hit the outskirts of Apollo Bay. 7 kilometres out of a 74 kilometre stretch of road that we weren't held up by drivers with a seemingly pathological fear of turning corners.

One of the interesting observations of this leg was the nature of the vehicles that needed to slow to 15km/h for corners signposted 25. It wasn't just the old clangers and caravans - in fact, there was one caravan being towed by something like a Ford F150 that was not only very courteous with respect to pulling over when s/he could but also was quite capable of travelling at 80 along the stretches of road where that was appropriate, so big kudos to that driver! - but in fact was frequently higher power vehicles like a Falcon XR6 that were unable to consider taking corners even at the posted speeds. Needless to say, none of those vehicles earned the title of a motorcyclist's best friend.

Thankfully, the further we went, the more vehicles pulled off the road to the various camping spots or holiday towns along the way, so we were able to have a nice run in to Apollo Bay before stopping for lunch.

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