Well, without a doubt, this is my favorite ride, not only in my general vicinity, but of anywhere I have ever ridden.
This loop, from my house, is around 140 km in length (81 km to Lorne via Deans Marsh, and 67 km back home), so is not short, and requires a good morning to complete, but if you have the time, energy and ability, this is definitely a must do ride.
Although not always, but most times, I follow a counter clockwise direction for this ride, mainly because the decent into Lorne is just great fun, but also because the leg out to Deans Marsh is a bit of a grind compared to the road back along the coast to Geelong.
Once you hit the Cape Otway road, the gradient is mostly up, but not particularly hard. The road surface is coarse, without much shoulder, but as it is through farmland with some rolling hills, is very pleasant. It is against the prevailing wind (another reason to go counter clockwise), but is along a quiet set of roads, with most heavy traffic going to Lorne via the coast, and heavy trucks going west, following the highway to the north.
After going through Moriac, the road starts to undulate a bit more, but is still reasonably flat until you go through Bambra, and hit Deans Marsh.
At Deans Marsh, behind the local coffee shop, its possible to fill your water bottles, and get ready for the climb to the top of Benwerrin. Its here that the ride really starts, and the beauty begins
The climb itself is nothing difficult, its probably 400 m or so in height, over approx 15 km of road. You will find stunning views however over the Otway ranges to the left, and the rain forest itself starts to close in with the gum trees and ferns coming right to the road. I’ve been up this road many times, and have fond memories of foggy mornings, with the sun peeking through the tree line. The smells and freshness of this part of the world is just fantastic.
The road is smooth, again however without much shoulder, so care should be taken, as although there are not many cars, there are a number of blind corners.
Once you hit the top of Mt Benwerrin, you will start the descent into Lorne with a reverse gradient of around 4% for 10 or so Kilometers. Its safe to have some fun and build up some speed, as the corners are not particularly sharp, and the road surface is pretty good. After around 5 km or so, you will get your first views of the stunning coast line, and on a sunny day, you will not be disappointed with a fantastic view.
Once in Lorne, there are many opportunities to stop for a coffee or bite to eat if so inclined, or to carry on, as there are other chances to get anything you want later on.
To head into Lorne itself, you need to head right at the roundabout, and going left will take you onto the Great Ocean Road back towards Anglesea. I generally keep going as I can’t wait for the twists and turns of the road so famously built by returned soldiers after the war.
The road back to Anglesea is deceptive. It is very undulating, and you will accumulate over a 1000 m in climbs, if not more. This is a busy road, with many tourists and buses, so care needs to be taken. I have ridden here many times without incident, but it must always be treated with respect.
Once you head off, and start to ride you will be greeted with the many twists, turns, undulation, and looking right the most fantastic beaches you will ever see. Urquart Bluff, Fairhaven, Moggs Creek to name just a few. There, again, is not much shoulder to the road, but the surface is quite good.
Once you get to Anglesea, you will hit a short sharp climb past Eumeralla, which is the last climb really of the day. Its only a km or two, so nothing major. After Anglesea, you head back inland, and back into farming land, through Freshwater Creek and back to Geelong.
It is possible to go to Torquay, and head back to Geelong either by the surf coast highway, or Horseshoe Bend road. For me though, 140 km is enough, and I head back along the Anglesea road, straight to Geelong.
In all, for me, this is a long ride of 5+ hours, but is well worth it. If you have a favorable wind, and fresh legs, I heartily recommend it.