Giant Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon

Last weekend was my big adventure event for the year – the 100km Giant Odyssey mountain bike marathon. It used to be called the Otway Odyssey, given it’s in Victoria’s Otway ranges. No idea why they dropped Otway from the name. Anyway … whatever.

It was my third year doing the race and at about the 70km-80km mark I thought it would be my last. But a week on and I’ve almost forgotten what I was complaining about while grinding up those last few long hills. I may just have a few more Odysseys left in me.

It was a great day for the race. The morning was pretty crisp and the temperature stayed cool for the rest of the day. But the sun was out and over seven hours of pedalling kept me pretty warm.

Coming into the transition area after the first loop

Coming into the transition area after the first loop

Rain in the region a couple of days before the race meant sections of the route were pretty muddy and sloppy. I’m a cautious rider and so I was pretty heavy on the brakes on some downhill sections that were slippery. I’d loved to have gone faster but I don’t like the idea of coming off the bike and crashing and hurting myself. I’ve done enough of that in the past and I don’t think my 40-plus year old bones would appreciate it. So I played it safe.

The race is centred at the football ground at Forrest, a small town in the Otway ranges. Forrest is surrounded by, well, forest, and has become a centre for mountain biking with trails twisting and winding through the trees for many kilometres.

The race is made up of three loops and riders go through a transition area twice before finishing.

I was feeling good after the first loop and didn’t stop for a break the first time I went through the transition. The second time was around lunch time and I stopped for about five minutes to rest and eat half a smoked salmon roll I had in my bag. I’d been eating gels and energy bars throughout the race but they didn’t prepare me for the last long hill climb to start the third and final loop. Almost at the top I had to stop and give myself a five minute break. It was about here that I was wondering whether I could do this again next year. I never thought I wouldn’t finish the race, but knew I wasn’t going to beat last year’s time.

About to cross the finish line

About to cross the finish line

This year was the first time my wife came along to be my support crew. It was great to have her there and someone to share the end-of-race high with. And she looked after me (Coke and ice-cream – bliss) at the end of the race as I sat on the ground resting after finally getting out of the saddle.

My time was seven hours, 16 minutes, 11 minutes more than last year. Ah well. Maybe next year. I came 295th, out of 403 finishers, and 110th in my category out of 154 finishers. Chris Jongewaard, an Australian champion rider, was the overall winner, finishing in four hours, 27 minutes. Hmm, something to aspire to!

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