Amy Gillet’s Gran Fondo

The attraction? Riding 110kms of beautiful rolling hills on fully closed roads along one of Australia most iconic ocean highways featuring stunning scenery… along with 5000 other cyclists!
Admittedly our first day in Lorne didn’t start well with Graham snapping off the bolt clamping Anke’s seat post onto her bike. Oops. Calm was restored when one of the bike mechanics employed by Amy’s Gran Fondo to look after the registered riders quickly replaced the bolt obviating the need for Anke to attempt completing the entire race standing up… which I’m sure she would have done if necessary! That remained the only hiccup in what was otherwise fantastic weekend.
Crisp, clear, sunny skies greeted us on Sunday morning which added to the already elated atmosphere as thousands & thousands of riders could be seen lined up for what seemed like several kilometres along the main street in Lorne… all in their respective age & speed categories & all eager to get started. We were let go in waves of around 250 people per age group and if you have ever thought our SPR bunches of 20 to 30 riders were intimidating, being in the middle of 200 plus riders, all hell bent on getting the front first, was something else… I think it took a good 10 or 15 kilometres for me to stop hyperventilating & relax & start enjoying it. Once we settled in it was exhilarating. There was long sweeping bends in abundance with no oncoming traffic and with that many riders, there always a wheel to grab or a wheel to chase.
There was also plenty of comradery & excited chatter in the groups as riders swapped stories & at the start at least, expressed their fear at the impending doom that awaited at the first climb which was some 40 kilometres into the race… 10 kilometres up into the Otway Ranges at an average of 6% though it felt much steeper in parts. Having driven down it the day before, I was more in dread than excitement though was consoled somewhat by a local rider in my age group who was back for his 4th Amy’s Gran Fonda. He obviously sense the trepidation (read: fear?!) on my face as he looked at me & pronounced sympathetically… “don’t worry, it’s really not that bad”. Hmm… “Maybe I CAN do this without getting off my bike?” I thought.
There was a good sprinkling of SPR jerseys to be spotted amongst the groups & we felt buoyed by the knowledge we had travelled further than just about anyone else to be there, which in my book made us all “badasses”! The seriousness of the commitment required just to get there from WA was evidenced in the end by at least 5 SPR riders who finished in the critical top 25% of their age group & thereby qualified for the UCI World Championships in Denmark next year. An incredible result for single club from WA! So many of our guys smashed it & Anke finished an amazing 22nd out of 515 female racers (7th in her age group) & I was wrapped to finish only 20 minutes behind her & was 94th out of 197 in my age group.
Yes, it’s a long way to go for a “hills ride”! Was it worth it? For us, yes. Would we do it again? Yes. Was it hard? Yes again… but if you do the hills regularly or if you’ve done the 3 or 5 Dams it’s definitely do-able. Will you get the same gorgeous weather? Who knows! But you’ll never know if you don’t give it a crack.

2 thoughts on “Amy Gillet’s Gran Fondo”

  1. Well done Graham and Anke! i would love to do this ride, but it falls on the weekend of my son’s birthday, well i just have to take the whole family to Melbourne then!

  2. Thanks for the write up, Graham, and great riding by both yourself & Anke. I agree, it is one of the most spectacular routes in the world and is the only opportunity to ride the Great Ocean Road under closed conditions. I have done it 3 times now and will be back again next year. Highly recommended.

Comments are closed.