The Giant Odyssey is one of the best mountain bike marathons in Australia. Disregard whether you are targeting one series or another, it’s a classic event. Sure, it’s changed with the times and become focused around the trails of Forrest, no longer destroying souls with the climb from Apollo Bay. But that has made it more attractive. It’s a unique mountain bike event that it continues to attract the full gamut of riders, from the novice to the elite, even going into the ninth year of the event.
The Giant Odyssey has always draw a high quality women’s field at the elite level. It brings together female riders from a range of disciplines and showcases their depth of talent. Whether it’s the high prize money, the depth of competition, or the fact that they have had their own start time for many years – it’s hard to say.
This year, the Giant Odyssey women’s field includes the likes of Peta Mullens – 2015 Australian Road Race Champion, 2012 XCM Champion and 2014 Australian XCE MTB Champion, Jessica Douglas – 3 x World 24-hr Solo Champion, Jenny Fay – current Irish National XCM Champion, Jacqui Slack – professional Xterra athlete from the UK, last year’s winner and 2014 Maverick Series winner Rebecca Locke, plus Naomi Williams, Jodie Willett, Jenni King (2011 and 2013 XCM Champion) and the list goes on.
These highly accomplished women are great role models to all female riders and are leading the way in developing women’s cycling, both on the road and the trails. Event ambassadors Peta Mullens and Jessica Douglas are keen to see more women take up mountain biking and have a go at racing.
“The Giant Odyssey always succeeds in producing possibly the hottest line-up of women of any mountain bike race in Australia. It gets me excited about the growth of the sport at an elite level and the bravery of women to cross from other sports, where they already have demanding schedules. But I’m still a bit greedy and I can’t help but want to see more women taking on this race as a ‘challenge’.
“The Odyssey was one of my first marathon races when I started out in the sport and I know it’s not only a great pathway for future stars, but a leeway to conquering something that’s demanding, rewarding and fun!
“The beauty of mountain biking is that the mum with three kids and a full-time job who lives next door to me can get the same satisfaction as I do out of finishing such a race, even if it might take them a little bit longer. My number one piece of advice is to take the leap and you’ll most likely surprise yourself.
“At the end of the day we all do it for the same reason, we just love riding our bikes. I’m just lucky I have the time to ride lots of bikes!”
Jessica Douglas is a three-time MTB 24-hr Solo World Champion. Along with her partner Norm she owns MTBSkills, a mountain bike skills school based from Forrest, the home of the Giant Odyssey.
Jessica is a huge advocate for women on mountain bikes and offers designated women’s skills courses in an effort increase their confidence and ability on the bike and get more women involved in the sport.
“What I have learnt now after many years of supporting and putting my 2 cents of effort into growing women’s cycling is that you can’t force it, however you can get the WHOLE family involved. This is the real winner for cycling and for family harmony. Also, the more social a ride is, the more women that will turn up.”
Perhaps that’s what makes the Giant Odyssey so appealing to female riders. As well as the 100km premier event, it also has 50km and 15km options for less-experienced riders. This enables the whole family to get involved and compete at their own skill level. There’s a challenge to suit everyone.
Sitting alongside the actual riding at Giant Odyssey is the Event Festival at the start and finish line. This features pit lane, a bike industry expo, food and drinks, kids’ entertainment, race commentary, live music and more. Early-finishers, riders’ families and the general public can hang out at the Festival and watch the action, which creates a great social atmosphere for the event.
More details about the Giant Odyssey are online now.