One of the most respected and historic mountain bike marathons on the Australian calendar returns in 2018 in a partnership with it’s sister event the ‘Great Otway Gravel Grind’ (G.O.G.G). The Otway Odyssey was one of the first mountain bike events in the country to embrace the marathon format in 2007.
In it’s formative years the Odyssey began in the seaside town of Apollo Bay early in the morning before the spectacular climb up the Otway ranges with the finish line at the mountain top town of Forrest. The race now makes logistics a little easier for competitors with start/finish located at the Forrest football ground, the brutal climb up the Otway ranges is no longer a factor in the race but rest assured there is still plenty of climbing to sort the strong from the not so strong.
With an extended network of singletrack now available in Forrest, the race utilises much of this meaning a technically adept rider will have the opportunity to gap their rivals in the long sections of twisty singletrack. Saying that the record holders for number of wins: Peta Mullens from Bendigo and Chris Jongewaard from Adelaide have won on both editions of the Otway course. The race has always attracted a high calibre of participants due in part to the large prize pool on offer. Previous winners include current World Tour road professional Chris Hamilton and Olympic bronze medallist on the track Judith Arndt.
Heading back to the Otway Odyssey
2018 continues the twist to the always fun weekend of racing with the Great Otway Gravel Grind (G.O.G.G) on the day following the odyssey meaning there is opportunity to gain a solid 2 days of racing back to back. This was highly popular in 2017 and looks like it will be again in 2018.
The G.O.G.G is a 97km ride through some of the most scenic dirt roads in the country. With a shorter 49km option for those not game for the full length. A perfect opportunity for those not to keen on singletrack mountain biking to utilise their mountain, CX or even road bikes for a more scenic journey through the area whilst still under a coordinated race environment. Racers can race whilst those less time focussed can ride with their friends and enjoy the journey. You do not need any specific mountain biking skills to complete the course as the entire thing is on easily ridden dirt roads but you will need to pack your thunder thighs because there are a few climbs that will keep you honest along the way.
Having competed at the ‘Odyssey’ 3 times personally, hearing about the G.O.G.G was exciting news, as each time I have been to the area I have explored the surrounding dirt roads thinking how awesome it would be to make a race utilising these roads.
Those whom are from the Melbourne/Geelong area will likely know this event and the surrounding trails well. Having always travelled interstate for this race, it has always been something I have thoroughly enjoyed. One of the best run and respected MTB events in the country. It is definitely worth the trip wherever you may be coming from. Now having 2 days of racing that can be as fun or as competitive as you wish, it can appeal to any level of rider. Get your mountain bikes and/or gravel grinders to the Otways for the weekend of 25-26 February. For entry details, course maps, training tips etc. visit Rapid Ascent’s site here.