The Otway Odyssey is one of a handful of classic mountain bike marathon races left on the calendar. These events are challenging, use a course that isn’t based on repeated laps, and they create deserving winners year on year. Do well at one of these events and people take notice. The Otway Odyssey in Forrest, Victoria shares that status with some other iconic events like the Convict 100, Dwellingup 100, Flight Centre Epic and even races like the RRR in Tropical North Queensland.
All of these events are unique, and the Otway Odyssey has its own requirements for success and enjoyment. Here are our tips on what you need to equip yourself with for success at the Otway Odyssey, or a just good weekend away in Forrest – be it on the bike or otherwise. Thanks to the Great Otway Gravel Grind (aka GOGG) on the Sunday, this is a ready-made off-road weekend across 22-23 February.
Your Otway Odyssey guide
It seems simple, but book now if you haven’t. Book an AirBNB, or a camp site. Or phone a friend to see if they have room! The race starts early on Saturday morning, right at dawn for the elite women’s race start, so driving there from Melbourne isn’t really possible. There are lots of different locations you could stay, just not huge availability. So lock something in! Book Friday and Saturday night so you can make a weekend of it in the Otways.
Sure, you can head to the Otway Odyssey and GOGG on your own, but it is better with friends. With a bunch of friends around you can share the costs of accommodation, share the drive out to Forrest, and regale each other with your tales of bravado after the race is done. You might even recount how well you battled the stages of a marathon race.
Skills for raw trail
Much of the singletrack around Forrest was purpose built for mountain biking. But that was a while ago and as we all know, trails change with use. Unless you’re local and know the trails like the back of your hand, you need to be ready to ride much of it blind. And some sections are pretty loose, while other sections are buff. Being able to ride trails blind, and fast, is a very important skill for marathon racing, and that is no different at the Otway Odyssey.
Your Otway Odyssey entry
In all the excitement of planning a weekend away, don’t forget one of the essentials – actually entering the event. If the 100km event is a little daunting, you could enter the very popular 50km option or the 30km variant. There’s even a women’s specific 30km event, plus a 10km option on the Sunday. Don’t miss out on the weekend of fun, you should enter the GOGG as well! You can ride it on a mountain bike, or take your gravel bike if you’d prefer.
Take your mandatory gear
There are a few races out there with mandatory gear, and the Otway Odyssey is one of them. Don’t be one of those people who thinks they can do without, then get a time penalty. Or worse, injure yourself or your bike and be unable to do anything about it.
One of the big things is a first aid kit, something with a triangular bandage, crepe bandages, non-adhesive bandages, steri-strips and surgical gloves.
You should also carry a tube, pump, multitool and chain link – and know how to use them all. Depending on the weather you may need to pack a light rain jacket, or even an emergency blanket.
Make a hydration plan
February in Victoria is usually dry and hot. And a successful marathon race has a lot to do with proper hydration. Even just finishing a marathon needs proper hydration! As the Otway Odyssey uses a clover leaf format, you do pass through the start/finish area twice during the race. This is a perfect time to top up (more on that later) but you need to have a think about how much fluid you need in the first place. Check out our guide on hydration to get started.
Pack your bag for Forrest
So while the 100km Otway Odyssey doesn’t repeat any trails, it does past through Forrest twice before finishing there. This is a huge bonus for family who might be supporting you, but it also means there is a transition of sorts. On the oval, you pass through a marked section where you can leave a bag with items you might or will need. Doing this well will make your day a lot more enjoyable.
This is where you can put your fresh bottles, extra food, a fresh Camelbak, more spares – just about anything that will help you finish the race. Look at the race route and utilise this spot within your hydration and nutrition plan. And most importantly – make sure you remember where you put your bag, as there will be hundreds more like it.
Your beach towel
While the Otway Odyssey no longer starts at Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road, that doesn’t mean you can’t drive down for a post-ride swim! It’s a great place to go for an early dinner after a swim, and you might even choose to take one of the back roads down to truly appreciate the beauty of the Otway ranges.
Entries are still open for the Otway Odyssey and Great Otway Gravel Grind. Use this list to make sure you have all the right bits in your race toolkit – and go enjoy one of the best mountain bike weekends in the country!