The Great Ocean Road Classic

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On Saturday I had the pleasure of taking part in the third annual GORC – the Great Ocean Road Classic. The first rule of the GORC is DON’T TALK ABOUT THE GORC. The second rule of the GORC is…well, you know the rest.

That GORC is an unsanctioned, fun, social, competitive, and challenging event organised by the guys from Great Ocean Road Cycling.  It’s a handicap and team pursuit all wrapped into one around some of the most beautiful terrain Australia has to offer. A total of 32 teams with 6 riders per team set off at various intervals in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise directions. First team around the 120km loop and back to the Lorne Life Saving Club wins. All team members need to complete the circuit and teams cannot ride together once caught.


See ride data on Strava here.

There are a few things that make the GORC quite special. The fact that it’s a team time trial where every member has to finish makes the dynamics of the event quite unique. There’s always going to be someone on every team who is having a bad day and it’s up to the rest to make sure he or she makes it through. I also get a kick out of these handicapped events. There’s a certain thrill about knowing you’re being chased from behind by a stronger group while chasing a weaker group ahead. You can come up with all the tactics you like, but in the end those tactics are always thrown out the window.

The morning started at the Lorne Life Saving Club carpark. I recognised a few faces but it was a very different crowd and vibe than will be lining up for the Melbourne to Warrnambool this weekend. This still didn’t stop the pre-ride trashtalk and everyone looking each other up and down to work out who the competition was going to be. The first team started out at 7:15am and the last team set off at 8:30am. No matter how fast you are, an hour and a quarter is a lof of time to make up in 120km.

My team (the Cappa Spearchuckers) left at 8:15am. All of us are great mates from waaaay back in the good ol’ days  ;-) One of our ringers named “Ironman Butch” set a nice steady tempo of 55 45km/hr for the first 15mins while the rest of us hung on for dear life. I hated to disappoint the team, but the pace dropped 15km/hr when Butch decided he’d had enough and I found myself at the front.

At the 35km mark we started catching teams ahead. I wasn’t worried in the slightest about teams from behind catching us with the awesome power of Butch. When we made it to the first big climb up Skenes Creek we started to see chinks in our armour. One of the keys to a good time trial is not going out too hard and our chickens were coming home to roost.

What goes up must come down and fortunately the descent down the other side of the climb provided ample rest for us to regroup and regain our composure. Up until this point we opted to form Paceline Turns because of the varying nature of the course.  When the roads became straighter with fewer undulations we began to roll turns as this was much more efficient and quicker in the long run.

Once we made it to the second climb we started picking off the bunches more quickly. The teams were much closer together by this point and the event was very tight. It was great to see the teams working together helping each other get up and over the final climb by any means necessary.

On the descent with about 5km back into Lorne we overtook the second last team we had to pass. We didn’t know where the Limit bunch was, but they couldn’t have been too far ahead. We screamed down the road to Lorne with no one else in sight.  Surely we must be close?!

Once we popped out of the forest and saw the ocean we knew we were only a couple km’s to the finish. A sudden rush of energy overcame my team members and I could hardly hold onto their pace! The Life Saving Club carpark looked absent of other teams and I was certain we must be the first bunch home. To our amazement The Paul-OTon who started at 7:22am had been sitting there for 10mins and had already finished their celebrations with beers in hand. Congrats guys!

Thanks to Great Ocean Road Cycling for organising this sensational event and well done to the 192 riders that took part. I had never ridden around this area before and it was great to finally have a reason to bring my bike out this way. If you’re ever looking for an excellent riding weekend away with some great climbing and unbelievable views, don’t pass up this area around Lorne and Apollo Bay.

Also, a special thanks to Veeral Patel for coming out and taking these spectacular shots.

A Few Other Notes:

  • The CyclingTips service course is moving house this week so I may not be doing many posts over the next few days. Thankfully I have a few guest posts in my back pocket that I’ll be putting up, but I may falter tomorrow and Wed.
  • Congratulations to my friend Brad who finished 5th in the 24hrs World Championships this weekend in Canberra with a distance of 415kms, 11,000m of climbing, 30 bottles and 20 sandwiches consumed. Well done buddy!
  • What a great performance by Allen Davis and Rochelle Gilmore for picking up gold at the Commonwealth Games Road Race yesterday. Australia has won 14 out of 16 medals in cycling so far. Unbelievable! Isn’t it a treat having such a great timezone for watching cycling here for once?

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