I had the great pleasure on Saturday of competing in the GORC (Great Ocean Road Classic), an unsanctioned team handicap race over some of the best scenery I’ve ever ridden – we went anit-clockwise from Lorne, up to Dean’s Marsh, through Forrest, down to Skenes Creek (10k of screaming descent) and then 40K of rolling hills along the Great Ocean Rd.
The adventure started on Friday night and a bit of battle with the peak hour traffic, until we cleared the ‘burbs, then on to Lorne. Bikes & gear safely in the hotel room, we headed to the pub for dinner with the three teams that Maccabi Cycling Club had entered.
I ordered my meal – carbo loading, it was going to be either spag bol or risotto, so I picked the risotto – grabbed a schooner at the bar and wandered over to the team table, only to be met with funny looks …. it took me a second or two, but I twigged everyone else was on the water. “Boys, this ain’t SaxoBank” was all I said as I took the first sip.
Saturday morning, up and ready for action. A couple of slices of toast & a coffee at the hotel, then off to the start line.
I’m used to tarmac rallying events where you’re penalised if you start after your allotted time – so my stress levels were a little high when two of the team appeared at 7:29:40 – we were due out at 7:30:00
We’d been given anti-clockwise, which meant we hit the 10k climb from Lorne to Dean’s Marsh about 1.5k into the ride. Maybe not the best thing for cold legs, but we did it. A quick regroup at the top, one of the boys was starting to mutter about pain, and we’re off again.
Next issue was the Mocka. I don’t know what mocka stands for, or the origin of the word, but it’s the road book, the instructions for the day, it clearly notes all the turns eg: 13.25k left into something st. The issue? There wasn’t a mocka, just sort of instructions, which our team captain & navigator had managed to get a little confused.
Didn’t matter, it only added about 16 or so kilometres to a 120k ride.
Back on track, and we tried to get the pace back up, but one of the boys was suffering, so no choice but to slow down and look after him. This is a team event, and our time would be taken on the last of our 6 to cross the line, so there was no benefit in 4 or 5 of us charging to the line and leaving one behind – he’d only take longer on his own.
So we behaved as a team, looked after our weakest link, and rode the rest of the course. Put him in the middle of the paceline, and made sure he didn’t fall off the back (too often).
We came in 28th out of 32 teams – we’d fully expected to be stone motherless last – so I guess the end result wasn’t all that bad.
But let’s put the negatives, like getting lost, to one side.
- Amazing scenery – I’d happily go back there next weekend and do it again.
- A very different feeling of competition than a ‘normal’ race – it was very fraternal & inclusive. Yes, we were racing, but somehow while that mattered, it didn’t matter.
- Loads of trash talk, and a great shared adventure to be relived for a long time to come.