Words by Rapid Ascent | Images by Rapid Ascent

Peta Mullens and Tasman Nankervis have taken top honours to make history as the inaugural champions of the Great Otway Gravel Grind held as part of the Otway Odyssey in Forrest. Their victories are made more impressive by the fact they won the 100km Otway Odyssey mountain bike marathon also held at Forrest the day before.

Over 300 riders participated in the Great Otway Gravel Grind (The GOGG) which led cyclists along a scenic and at times challenging ride on the dirt roads that wind through the Otway Ranges, with 97km and 49km courses available.

Tasman Nankervis from Bendigo won the 97km GOGG Big Ring in a time of 3hr2min54sec beating Ryan Standish into 2nd in a time of 3hr3min24sec and his older brother Russel Nankervis who placed 3rd in a time of 3hr3min24sec. GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-2 GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-3 GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-4

“Today was a completely different race to yesterday. I’ve never done a race with time-out sections like that so it took a bit of tactical work to figure out what I was going to do to win, but I got to ride with Russel and Ryan for most of the day, we got to see the beach… it has been a great weekend” summarised Nankervis after his victory. 

Peta Mullens also rode a very strong race to win in a time of 3hr22min47sec ahead of Helen Shelley in 3hr53min43sec with Harriet Smith finishing 3rd in a time of 3hr56min48sec.  

“Legs felt surprisingly good today, I worked hard from the start to the first water station and then I settled in with a good group and could enjoy the rest of it,” commented Mullens. “It was a really good course that gave us a real journey through the forest. The first 30km was really tough. It’s been a nice double-header weekend. I’ll be back.” 

The response from all riders in the inaugural GOGG has been very positive with everyone commenting on how nice it was to ride on smooth dirt roads through the magnificent Otway forests.

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. As an interesting twist, riders enjoyed a ‘time-out’ between Kennett River and Wye River that allowed them to stop for a coffee or to wait for their friends without impacting their race time. 

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. Nankervis took this into account with his race and went hard to the first time-out so he had a time gap over his rivals and then rode with them rest of the way knowing he was already ahead. 

By winning both the 100km mountain bike marathon on Saturday and the gravel grind on Sunday Nankervis and Mullens have been crowned the King and Queen of the Otways as they had the lowest cumulative time across both events, which is a remarkable achievement.

In the shorter 49km GOGG race it was Jody Zerbst who took the outright male victory in a time of 1hr51min and Caitlin Wade who was the fastest female around the shorter event in a time of 2hr5min23sec. 

“We are very pleased with how the GOGG has gone today. All the riders have really been amazed by the scenery and the quality of the riding on these magnificent dirt roads,” commented Event Manager Sam Maffett from Rapid Ascent who organised the weekend’s events. 

“The terrain around Forrest is perfect for riding dirt, and we wanted to offer a race for riders to get away from the busy bitumen onto the extensive network of 2WD and 4WD roads in the Otway Ranges.” GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-37 GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-25 GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-24 GravelGrind2017- By Matt Hull-41

The Great Otway Gravel Grind will further expand the Otway Odyssey’s reputation as one of the Australia’s greatest off-road races with over 1,250 riders participating across the whole weekend with events that have included 100k, 50k, 30k and 10k mountain bike races, the two gravel grind events and a fun event for little kids on bikes. 

“The GOGG has made this iconic weekend even more inclusive by welcoming road and gravel riders to this formerly mountain bike only event. And now we can official say Forrest is home to a world-class gravel grind race as well.” 

For more information head to www.OtwayOdyssey.com.au

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