Start stretching your hamstrings and chugging your isotonic sports drink of choice for the Great Southern Randonnee. The Oct. 29th bike ride, now in its fifth year, takes riders through the most gorgeous scenery offered by the Australian state of Victoria’s west coast. Think the heritage-listed Great Ocean Road, Surf Coast, Otway Ranges National Park, the Twelve Apostles (a gaggle of giant off-shore limestone stacks), Shipwreck Coast and Grampians National Park.
Take your pick between ride distances of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, 600 km, 1000 km and 1200 km. The main, 1200-km event kicks off at 6 pm on the evening of Monday, Oct. 29. First, you navigate a 200-km loop that winds around the Bellarine Peninsula southwest of Melbourne. Haring down the Great Ocean Road, you go through the Otway National Park along the Shipwreck Coast and inland to Grampians National Park. There, you turn and whiz back to the start. Your time limit: 90 hours.
The name of the epic, spectacular ride simply comes from “randonneuring,” also known as “audax” in Australia, the UK, and Brazil. The term means long-distance cycling within a set time span. Randonneuring arose in France in 1891 just before the Tour de France. Randonneuring, however, is a ride, not a race. You just have to ensure you stay within the time limit, only competing with yourself.