Solo Bike Ride Adelaide to Geelong - Nov 2013

Beachport%20-%20SA.jpgOn 12 November I set out on a solo ride from North Adelaide to Geelong (my home city). My previous touring was limited to two rides about 3 years ago – one down the east coast of Tassie from Devonport to Hobart and the other from Warrnambool to Geelong via the Great Ocean Road.  I was much fitter and lighter in those days, and now nudging 63, had serious reservations about my ability to make the distance. However, as a fall back, decided that if I could at least make it to Warrnambool I could catch the train home from there.

Firstly I’d like to thank Clive Palfrey and Durian Rider from Adelaide Cyclists for the information they provided in respect to the best way out of Adelaide. I opted to take the route suggested by Clive – up along Gorge Road through Cudlee Creek, Gumeracha and Birdwood then down to Palmer and on to Murray Bridge.

My bike was a Trek Hybrid, with rear rack and panniers. I carried a sleeping bag, mat and tent on top of the rack.  Weight on rear wheel was 27kg – which I have thought since may not have been the most sensible way to go. Perhaps it may have been better to spread the load by adding front panniers.

Fortunately, I had no punctures or mechanical issues during the trip, although I did pop one front spoke early on which didn’t cause any problems.

Day one saw me head off from North Adelaide at around 7.45a and after a leisurely ride up to the foot hills continued to steadily climb to Birdwood, with encouragement from some other cyclists who passed me on road bikes. I found this part of the ride to be quite scenic and also quite comfortable out of the wind. Alas as I left Birdwood after a short stop for a snack, and headed into more open roads to Palmer, the wind began to gradually increase and I had to contend with a strong south/south easterly all the way to Murray Bridge and Wellington. This was a sign of things to come – 5 more days of unrelenting south easterlies.

I stayed the night at the Wellington Caravan Park which was quite nice and cost only $13 for an unpowered site.

 Km’s Day 1 = 144 @ Ave of 13.7km hr

Next morning I caught the ferry (free of charge) across the Murray and set course for 42 Mile crossing just past Salt Creek.  Conditions were calm for the first hour or so then up came the wind which was sapping to say the least. Thank goodness the terrain was flat, but the lack of protection and the long straight stretches was a killer. Had morning tea (dimmies, yoghurt and chicken mayo roll) at Meningie and by the time I reached Policemans Point was really struggling but hanging out for some take away there.  How deflated was I when it turned out there was only a hotel and all the publican could offer to eat was a toasted sandwich.

After downing a coke I continued on to Salt Creek Roadhouse which had a good assortment of eats and drinks. I left there at 4.50p and rode to just past 42 Mile Crossing where I wild camped out of sight a short distance off the road. It was about 6p when I arrived so I still had a couple of hours daylight left and was looking forward to sitting back and relaxing. Not to be though, I was covered in mozzies the moment I got off my bike and could do no more than spray myself all over with rid, put up the tent, jump in and zip it up and kill any intruders already in there. I thought I heard some light rain on the tent during the night, but it may have been the mozzies trying to get in.

Total Km’s Day 2 = 125 @ 13.8 km hr average

Got away early at 6.30a next morning and reached Kingston at 11.30a. Had lunch at one of the roadhouses entering town and after taking a photo of the big lobster and quick ride into the main township continued on to Robe, arriving there at 5p.

It was on this day that my bum began to feel the pain and despite whacking on heaps of chamois cream (Am-o-Lin later on ride)  it was hard to sit down for long periods without having to stop and put on some more. It was all I could do to gently ease myself down onto the saddle and do my best to keep going. To add to the pain my neck was also beginning to ache and back and neck pain tablets seemed to be having little effect.

Despite the suffering and winds, I got to Robe at 5p and checked into the Sea Vu caravan park, in a nice location on a cliff top overlooking the sea.  Unpowered site $25pn. After a welcome hot shower took a walk down town and had a feed of fish and chips on the waterfront in cold blustery conditions. I was wishing I’d donned my thermals.

Total Km’s Day 3 -  110 @ hr     

After a good nights sleep was packed and ready to go at 8a next morning. Had a egg and bacon sandwich and cappuccino at the local bakery and noticing main street was closed off ask a few of the locals what was happening. It turned out that Channel 9 were filming a new dating show called ‘Love Comes to Town”.  So I hung around a while and checked out some of the preparations and female contestants travelling with the show around Aust.

More wind, sore bum and neck all the way to Beachport ( nice little town about 3km in from main highway), Millicent and to approx 15km short of Mount Gambier where I wild camped on the edge of one of the pine plantations.

Total Km’s Day 4 -  122 @ hr

Was on the road at 6.45 in the morning, arriving in Mt Gambier a short while later where I had breakfast at Macca’s, and met a fellow cyclist who was filling in time with daily rides out of Mt Gambier pending participating in the great Victorian Bike Ride from Mt Gambier to Geelong the following weekend.

After another exhausting and somewhat painful day (my legs were still feeling fine though) I rolled into Portland at 7p and set up at the Portland Bay Caravan Park, a neat park a short walk from the city centre. Only drawback was that there was no camp kitchen. From memory the site was $26.

A take away pizza from down town was eagerly consumed overlooking the harbor, with a few pieces left over for breakfast next day.

Total Km’s Day 5 -  121 @ 14.4 km hr

Day 6 was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. My bottom at this stage was agonizing and despite gulping down 8 or so Panadol my neck pain just wouldn’t go away, forcing me to stop and rest all too frequently.  As I struggled into Warrnambool, I decided the ride and windy conditions had beaten me and phoned my wife to say I was going to catch the train home to Geelong from Warrnambool the next day. After setting up my tent at the Fig Tree Caravan Park ($31 pn)and pigging out on “all you can eat” Chinese up town, I began to have second thoughts about pulling the plug; how disappointing would it be to be so close to home (180km away) after already riding 730km, and not complete the ride?  I then phoned my wife and said I’d had a change of heart and would persevere even if I had to cut back to 60km or so for the remaining days.

Total Km’s Day 6 -  101 @ 13.4 km hr

One of the best night’s sleep on the trip and awoke late, casually packing up knowing I need be in no hurry given the low km target for the day.  An egg McMuffin and cappuccino at Hungry Jacks on the way out of town and I was soon cruising along the highway in familiar territory. The road is relatively flat and HOORAY for the first time the wind had abated. I was coasting along quite easily (despite my bum and neck still hurting ) with the speedo nudging 23km on the flat on occasions. The kilometers were ticking away and before long I was in Terang and then Camperdown. I could smell home and began to think that maybe, if I pressed on, I could actually make it to Geelong. I got to Colac at 5p and had a Macka’s and knowing I had about 3 hours of daylight left decided to aim for Winchelsea, getting there at 8p, only to find take away shops had closed.

Bugger – I might as well just keep going even though I didn’t really want to ride on the highway in the dark. Luckily I had a highly visible Tioga Dual eye tail light which gave me some sense of security and so I pressed on. Surprisingly I forgot all about my aches and pains at this stage and with legs pumping finally rocked into Geelong and my front door at 11.30p

Total Km’s Day 7 -  184 @ 13.8 km hr

Summary of Ride

Total distance – 910km

Ave Speed  - 14.1km hr

No of days - 7

Nicest Part of Ride

Up through Adelaide Hills


Worst Memories

Constant head winds

Long boring stretches of road, especially through Coorong

Sore behind and neck (If I ever do another long ride I will definitely take the time to visit my local bike store to make sure my seat position etc is correct. I’m not sure but this may have contributed to my discomfort)

Would I do the same ride again

Definitely notCoorong%202.jpgCounting%20Down%20the%20km%27s.jpgOpen%20Road%20Wellington%20to%20Salt%20Creek.jpgSpot%20the%20Wombat%21.jpgWild%20camp%20Day%202%20Near%2028%20Mile%20Crossing.jpg

Views: 582

Comment by BJ on December 31, 2013 at 10:53

Bit late now, but I've found walking along for 5-10 minutes when discomfort first persists for a while very useful.  Better than resting if you're not tired, and loosens things up.

Well done on doing it all.

Comment by Jules Begg on December 31, 2013 at 11:11

Thanks for the blog, you did some big distances.  Was wondering how it all went when I saw your initial post

Comment by Simon Lownsborough on December 31, 2013 at 18:45
Epic ride, well done. Definitely mind over matter!
Comment by Michael Murray on January 1, 2014 at 18:40

I thought I heard some light rain on the tent during the night, but it may have been the mozzies trying to get in.

Back in the late 80s my wife and I cycled around the south island of NZ. Totally spectacular but I do recall waking up one morning on the top of the Haast Pass with a noise like rain but it was small black midges in between the tent and the tent inner.  The little buggers bit as well. 

Great story -- thanks for posting it. I'm glad to see you did it properly with the tent and all the gear!  I'm 57 now but you're making me think I've got a tour left in me :-)


Comment by Clive Palfrey on January 4, 2014 at 16:22
Hio Andrew, glad all went well, I rode Murray Bridge to Adelaide via Old Princes Highway, a much harder ride, I'll do a blog about it later

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