After a stellar Otway Odyssey XCM race on the Saturday promoters Rapid Ascent have made the classic XCM race part of a weekend of solid racing or riding in the beautiful Surf Coast region aside the Great Ocean Road in Australia.
Defending champion Peta Mullens (Bendigo) and Jay Vine (Canberra) have taken top honours to make history as the 2018 winners of the Great Otway Gravel Grind presented by Focus as part of the 12th annual Otway Odyssey in Forrest today.
Their victories are made even more impressive by the fact that they were first and second respectively in the 100km Otway Odyssey mountain bike marathon the day before.
Over 250 riders participated in the Great Otway Gravel Grind (The GOGG) today which led cyclists along a scenic and at times challenging ride on the dirt roads that wind through the Otway Ranges, over 97km and 49km courses.
Light showers in the days leading up settled the dust and made the conditions on course superb.
It was tight racing in the men’s field throughout the race with the lead pack of seven riders entering and exiting each time-out zone together and crossing the finish line in quick succession.
Chris Jongewaard of Adelaide managed to hold onto a puncture for the last four kilometres, ultimately finding himself as runner-up to Vine (3:09:30) just 21 seconds behind (3:09:51), after time in the transitions were tabulated. In third place overall was Ryan Standish one minute later (3:10:52).
“I was struggling for about five or 10 minutes there early on, the bunch punching me all the way to the first time-out, so I was actually looking forward to that first transition,” Vine said from the podium.
“I was thinking something was going to come up this weekend. Yesterday was probably for the glory, and today was just a glorious ride, you’ve dropped onto to the beach, and 90kms of this with mates; it was just amazing. Thanks for putting on a great event and I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Vine’s lowest cumulative times over the two days of racing meant he clinched the King of the Otways crown.
Standish who came away with the glory on the Saturday was complimentary of the form of Vine “Jay is ripping at the moment, such a hard day on the bike though, the climbs just keep coming and gotta be on it for the descents as well especially towards the end of the race!”.
Mullens, a former Australian Road Cyclist Champion and current professional rider, claimed her second GOGG victory in a time of three hours, 42 minutes, and three seconds. By winning both the 100km mountain bike marathon on Saturday (her fifth title at the event) and the gravel grind today, Mullens remains the official Queen of the Otways.
It was a very close race between friend and rival Renata Bucher, complete with punctures five kilometres before the first time-out zone.
The Swiss-Australian rider of Jan Juc, Victoria clocked a time of 3:45:36 to take the runner-up position, with Helen Shelley in third (3:55:21)
“This is very much a surprise,” Mullens said. “Renata got a bit of a gap on me early, I got a puncture, then she got a puncture, then we didn’t see each other for the last few kilometres.
“She put a good ride together, but when I got to the last time-out, Renata was there, and I thought I’d lost overall so I wanted to redeem myself by winning the descent.
“When I caught her, I was like let’s just pin it around a couple of corners and I turned around and she wasn’t there anymore. It was super exciting racing, and good camaraderie by everybody out on the track; the support the whole weekend as a competitor was really great, I’m surprised and very happy.”
The 97km course took riders from Forrest over the Otway Ranges, down to Kennett River and then along the Great Ocean Road to Wye River, before riding back over the Range and into Forrest for a flying finish. A unique feature of the GOGG were the ‘time-out’ sections on course allowing riders to stop for a coffee or wait for their friends without impacting their race time, in the style of gravel grinding.
The time out was a strategically important factor in the race if you were racing to win as it may have meant that the rider beside you was not necessarily on the same time as you if you stopped at the different time out zones for different time.
In the shorter 49km GOGG race it was Michael Howson of Adelaide who took the outright male victory in a time of one hour, 45 minutes, 13 seconds and Sarah Bath (Melbourne) who was the fastest female around the shorter course in a time of 2:24:35.
Full results for both individual race days and cumulative times available here.
Event Manager Sam Maffett from Rapid Ascent who organised the weekend’s events said the standard of riding was impressive and the racing exciting.
“Many riders lined up again today after racing yesterday, and everyone had a grin from ear-to-ear when they crossed the finish line,” Maffett said.
“The terrain around Forrest and the Otway Ranges is perfect for riding dirt, with an extensive network of 2WD and 4WD roads, and beautiful wilderness and scenery.
“The Otway Odyssey is in its 12th year and its popularity continues to grow, now with the GOGG rounding out the schedule of riding. We are stoked to be able to put on these races for cyclists of all styles to get away from the busy bitumen and enjoy the amazing riding on offer here in the Otway Ranges.”
Over the past two years the Great Otway Gravel Grind has further expanded the Otway Odyssey’s reputation as one of Australia’s most popular off-road bike races with over 1,400 riders from across Australia and overseas travelling to Forrest to compete across the weekend, as well as thousands of spectators.
For more info head to www.OtwayOdyssey.com.au