One of the best parts of marathon distance mountain bike racing is going somewhere. Anyone who wants to ride for a long time may get frustrated by going in loops, and maybe that’s why 24 Hour solo racers are a breed of their own! Some of the best mountain bike races are single loops, or even point to point. And the Otway Odyssey will be point to point again in 2021. Albeit with a loop as well.
The Otway Odyssey will be held on February 20 and the Great Otway Gravel Grind falls on February 21 in 2021.
Last used in 2011, this ‘original’ 100km course from Apollo Bay to Forrest is the stuff of legends due to the size of the hills and the rugged terrain it crossed which helped establish the event as one of Australia’s toughest and most respected mountain bike races.
With an increased prize pool of $9,600 for the 100km race, organisers are calling mountain bikers to tackle the original course again to show the world what they’re made of!
“Are you as hard as concrete? Or as soft as fairy floss?” challenges John Jacoby, Event Director. “The 100km course is a tough day on the bike and we challenge riders to toughen up to see if they can conquer the course of old.”
Whilst being a challenging ride, the course also leads riders on a spectacular journey through magnificent wilderness, tall timber forests and flowing single track before arriving at the finish line in Forrest with its electrifying race atmosphere that welcomes all types of riders.
“It’s still my favourite course, in my favourite setting, at the best time of year and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventure and awesome trails; and the shorter varieties to anybody staring out,” says Peta Mullens, 6-time Otway Odyssey female Champion and former Australian Road Cycling Champion.
Accompanying the 100km race are the 50km, 30km, 10km races that just about any rider can tackle, right through to kids who can participate in the fun ‘Grommets ride’ conducted on the Forrest Footy Ground. Each event promises to deliver an incredible mountain bike experience for riders of all levels and abilities.
The Great Otway Gravel Grind—known as “the GOGG”— returns for its fifth year and is conducted on Sunday, complementing the mountain bike events.
The GOGG races are conducted along the smooth rolling dirt roads that permeate the Otway Ranges surrounding Forrest, allowing riders to ‘follow a magical line through the beautiful Great Otway National Park’ that includes sweeping views over the Great Ocean Road region.
GOGG race options include a 97km or 49km course, each providing the unique and popular ‘time-out zones’ where riders can stop for a coffee and wait for friends without impacting their ‘race’ time.
“I loved the time-out zones! Meant I could catch up with mates and also appreciate what a special part of the world I was riding in!” said Mark, a 2020 97km Gravel Grind competitor.
2021 will also see the continuation of the Odyssey Angel’s program which began in 2017 and offers an exciting range of initiatives to support and encourage female riders to participate in events like these.
All races will finish amidst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground.
“The Otway Odyssey is such a special weekend, it’s where riders congregate to experience the thrill of racing as well as the satisfaction of conquering a personal challenge,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent.
“It’s hard to not get excited about the Otway Odyssey when the trails of the Otways come alive with over 1,500 riders, and the electric atmosphere at the Football Ground where spectators encourage riders as they race through the checkpoints and across the finish line.”
“It is one of the best weekends you can have on two wheels and we can’t wait to welcome riders to celebrate 15 years and experience first hand the history of such a reputable mountain bike event.” added Maffett.