Last day! Last day! Last day! Oh what a feeling. Another 63.5 kilometers and we’d be finished. We’d be able to go home, crawl into our own bed, and never have to get on a bike again.
Today’s first 16.8 kilometers were much like yesterday’s last 27.9 kilometers, between Apollo Bay and Wye River, had been. I was so happy to be nearing the end that the undulations in the road felt like a treat, rather than a burden as we glided up and down the hills, and past the ocean, awaiting the finish.
Sadly, the feeling of freedom was replaced by fear once we arrived in the town of Lorne. Here, the Great Ocean Road starts turning slightly inland, and the beautiful windy ocean-side road becomes straight and narrow. Heading out of town and in larger numbers, with fewer worries of falling over a cliff, drivers began to throw caution to the wind here, coming closer to the side of the road, and moving much faster.
For the thirty kilometers between Lorne and Angelsea I grew increasingly anxious. If we were to get struck by a car at any point during the trip, this would have been the time. All it would have taken was one idiot to just go a little over that white line, at exactly the wrong moment, to knock us out. There was next to no leeway on the tiny little shoulder for mistakes. With both of us feeling very exposed it was an absolute killer when twenty kilometers out from our destination, Rich suffered a puncture in his rear tire. We hadn’t had a single puncture this entire trip, and now twenty kilometers from the end, and trapped with only about a foot of room between ditch and car lane, Rich’s rear tire gives out. Damn…
With the limited shoulder space, stopping to change a tire where we were was practically suicide. However, as Rich and I seem to be more often than not, we were quite lucky because just across the road there was a small parking lot with beach access. The only catch was that the spot where we had been stopped was at the top of a hill and surrounded by bush. From here we were blind to all traffic. We couldn’t see more than fifty meters to our left or right. If we crossed the street at the wrong moment, there could be a car waiting to smack into us within seconds. All we could do was press our ears against the ground, listen for traffic, and once it seemed truly quiet make a mad dash for it.
We made it safely across the road and into the car park only to look behind us and notice a cross, marking the death of a motorcyclist, just five meters in front of where Rich’s tire popped…
Successfully changing Rich’s tire (we had brought four spare tubes with us), we entered the road again with extreme caution, turning out and gaining speed just before a car entered our line of vision. We were off once more, and so grateful when Angelsea and its narrow roads were behind us. Eighteen more kilometers and we would be finished.
Compared to what we had just come from, the shoulder along the road between Angelsea and Torquay was massive. It was nearly the size of a car lane. As we road along here we frequently saw signs warning motorists to be aware of cyclists on the side of the road, urging them to pass carefully. Here it seemed like we were safe.
When we arrived at the Torquay Surf Beach, our agreed upon destination, I was so relieved that I could have kissed the ground. We were done! We had travelled a massive 938 kilometers over the course of two weeks, and now the journey was finally over. We could go home.