Amy’s Gran Fondo is located in the tranquil town of Lorne situated along the Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria. Getting to Lorne is a 2hr drive from the city of Melbourne with many riders making drive up the morning of the race. For those who want to a weekend away there’s accommodation within Lorne itself with one of the main Hotels being the Mantra Lorne which is also situated right by the start line. Many riders will also stay in various other towns on the Great Ocean Road just outside of Lorne to cut down the drive time or to get some rest and relaxation.
We chose to drive up to Amy’s on the Sunday morning which meant leaving home at 3:30am as we’re located South East of Melbourne which adds another hour to the journey. Arriving at Lorne around 6:30am the town was reasonably quiet, there were the typical road closures taking place so traffic management staff were out and about, and the normal event staff were going about their business getting ready for the thousands of riders who were about to descend on the small town.
We’d completed an online race briefing session the week before and re-confirmed details which produced an electronic version of a race ticket making registration super easy. The morning was wet and cold and we spent about an hour trying to figure what to wear
The first 10km of the race is a climb It doesn't take long for the heart rate to rise and it's then just a matter of riding as hard as possible to get over the climb without blowing up.
We came over the top of the climb with a scattering of riders who’d been dropped and we could see the main peloton about 500m up the road so decided to try and bridge across. After chasing for what seemed like hours we got to 100m off the back then then we hit another climb and the chasing ended.
After 30km of riding a large group came past made up largely of the next age group who’d departed 2 mins after our wave and so we tucked in the middle and settled into a rhythm. What we didn’t realise is that there’s almost no flat sections in the course so it was a repeat of; climb – recover, climb – recover. The groups inevitably split during the long steep hills and we became a group of 5 riders who stayed together for the next 50km, not necessarily helping each other, we just happened to be climbing and riding at the same pace (or were just as tired as each other). The first 80km of the race is in-land from the cost and very lumpy but once you’ve got through this the course hits the Great Ocean Road so it’s time to pick up the pace and get through 40km of rollers to the finish.
Thankfully a group of 50 riders came past which served to be the perfect train to carry us to the finish line. It never ceases to amaze why riders start jostling for position and start taking risks 1km out from the finish of a race when there are no podium spots left and they are racing for 50th position… This race was no exception, we drifted back into a safe spot and watched the chaos ensue. There were a few near misses as riders were chopping and touching wheels but thankfully no one went down.
Crossing the finish line was a relief, we reflected on how stupid it was not to have checked the course profile early on and done some specific hill training which would have produced a much better result. In spite of that it is a great ride and definitely one for the bucket list.
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