In 2007 Forrest in Victoria was put on the map by the Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon, and more recently the Great Otway Gravel Grind. The Odyssey’s original route from Apollo Bay through to Forrest quickly earned a reputation is a beautifully brutal mountain bike race that only ever crowned the absolute best riders.
With the Odyssey and Great Otway Gravel Grind taking place on February 25 and 26, the 2000 or so riders heading to Forrest are in for a treat
New singletrack will feature on parts of the 2023 courses, and plenty of past riders are coming back to tackle the updated route.
Paul Tippett will be racing in his 10th Otway Odyssey, despite pushing his limits every year on the ride he keeps coming back for the love of the challenge.
‘My first Odyssey was in 2008 which was very wet and slaughtered me.” said Tippett. “I vowed never again after that, but I am a glutton for punishment and here I am about to do my 10th! I remember sitting around the table after my first Odyssey with mates emptying a Heineken 5lt keg (that was the first thing we packed); the satisfaction I get from this course is unlike any other ride!” added Tippett.
2021 and 2022 female Odyssey winner Bec McConnell returns for a third year in a row and is ready to tackle the 100km course and all the suffering it throws her way.
“It really is the most prestigious marathon in the country and I’m very excited and happy to be back as it was a highlight of my summer last year.” said McConnell.
McConnell is currently the World Number 2 MTB rider; a multiple National Champion, and 3-time Olympic representative.
“The atmosphere is amazing and it’s a race where I have felt really engaged with other riders and everyone is just so happy to be there! Finishing is a big accomplishment!” said McConnell.
Aiming for her 7th Otway Odyssey title is the well decorated Peta Mullens of Roxsolt Liv Sram team who’ll be up against McConnell in the elite female division.
Mullens says, “I really need to step up this year and finally take that 7th title to run away from my equal place with Chris Jongewaard!”
Giant Factory off-road team rider Josh Carlson is returning to the course after nearly 10 years(!), this time racing an E-bike which will no doubt be an interesting test of bike and riding skills. Carlson will attempt the 100km without a battery change.
“I’m super keen to come back down to Forrest and take on the Otways with one battery setup on my E-bike,” said Carlson. “It will make for a tough day and stretching this setup out to 100km is mega hard! Which is why it sounds like a great challenge to race the marathon on an E-bike and also manage the battery and motor usage throughout the day to ensure I actually finish!” said Carlson.
Margaret Beardslee (64yo from NSW) holds a World Duathlon Championship title which she earnt at 46 years of age back in 2004. For her 50th birthday Margaret won the Oceania 50+ 24hr MTB race at Mt Stromlo! We can’t wait to welcome Margaret to the Forrest trails.
“The Otway Odyssey has been on my radar for many years and I have been keen to head south and give it a go!” said Beardslee. “I’m also inspired by good friend Rebecca Locke who has performed well at the race too.”
Rapid Ascent co-owners John Jacoby and San Maffett have designed each course for the 2023 edition to take in the best of the best trails that are synonymous with the Forrest MTB network and look forward to incorporating the exciting new trails as part of the Odyssey MTB events.
“We’ve purposely made the Odyssey courses tough, especially the 100km!” said Jacoby. “It is a true test of skill and endurance where riders will experience plenty of flowing single track, including all the new bits not yet ridden; along with the usual blitzing descents and the challenge of our renowned lung-busting climbs!”
The gravel grind races are conducted along the smooth rolling dirt roads that permeate the Otway Ranges surrounding Forrest and offers sweeping views over the Great Ocean Road region. The popular ‘time-out zones’ are also included where riders can stop for a coffee and wait for friends without impacting their ‘race’ time.
Entries are open online with all races starting and finishing amidst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground.