Entries have opened for one of Australia’s most renowned mountain bike marathons, the Otway Odyssey presented by Focus that will see hundreds of riders race through the spectacular Otway Ranges near Forrest in south-western Victoria from 24th-25th February 2018.
The 12th edition of the event features the popular 100km Odyssey, 50km Shorty and 30km Rookie mountain bike races, as well as the kids’ 10km Pioneer event, all starting and finishing amongst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground.
“it really is a mountain biker’s marathon with all the sick single track! I love the Odyssey” – Peta Mullens
After its hugely successful inception in 2017, The Great Otway Gravel Grind (The GOGG) will also return so road riders, gravel enthusiasts and recreational riders of all styles can enjoy a scenic but challenging 49km or 97km ride on the Range’s smooth rolling dirt roads as part of this popular new riding format. The GOGG was an instant hit last year as it requires no specific skills, bikes or knowledge to enjoy a traffic ride through the areas magnificent tall timber forests.
A particular focus of this year’s Otway Odyssey is to increase female participation in the events with a broad range of initiatives, support and information for female riders under the banner of Otway Angels. Rapid Ascent is tackling the barriers for women wanting to take the first step into racing via a range of new skills programs, partnerships, networking opportunities, course recces and special events to help improve accessibility of the sport to female riders.
Defending Otway Shorty 50km champion and event ambassador Kim Willocks said she would love to see more women riding and participating in mountain bike events, and getting as much out of it as she does. “Pedalling through the bush on a mountain bike during a race, a social ride or even solo is so fulfilling,” Willocks said. “My advice to any females considering entering an event like the Otway Odyssey, who are a little apprehensive about taking the leap, is to choose an event like the 30km Pioneer designed for beginner riders, train as much as you have time for, and just have fun and enjoy the moment. This will be my fourth time racing the Odyssey. I love testing myself by racing my bike, especially through the bush alongside equally competitive riders!”
Along with increasing numbers of female riders, the Otway Odyssey always attracts many of the best riders from across Australia who not only chase the titles but also attempt win the $10,700 in cash prizes split between the MTB and The GOGG races.
“We want to extend a very big welcome to all female riders who may have been a bit nervous about racing in the past. We hope things like the women’s only 30km race start and other ideas make women feel welcome.”
Four-time 100km Odyssey champion and reigning Queen of the Otways, Peta Mullens, said the Otway Odyssey was her first ‘challenge’ marathon and is one that keeps her coming back year after year. “Over the years the course has changed and it’s gone from my most feared XCM to my most loved. I remember the walking and the mud in the early days! Instead of beastly climbs the track is made up of flowy single track for days; it really is a mountain biker’s marathon with all the sick single track! I love the Odyssey,” Mullens said.
The Otway Odyssey MTB Marathons have become the most well regarded races in Australia, providing an incredible MTB experience for any rider – from Australia’s elite to young juniors just starting out.
Race organisers at Rapid Ascent are gearing up for huge another weekend in 2018 with over 1,500 competitors and several thousand spectators expected to descend on the Forrest region for the event. “The Otway Odyssey is such a special weekend, it’s where riders from all over Australia and with all backgrounds congregate to experience both the thrill of racing on some of Australia’s best trails, as well as the satisfaction and reward of conquering a personal challenge,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent. “We are particularly excited about the Otway Angels initiatives and we want to extend a very big welcome to all female riders who may have been a bit nervous about racing in the past. We hope things like the women’s only 30km race start and other ideas make women feel welcome.”
The action gets underway on Saturday 24th February with the mountain bike races; the 100km Odyssey, the 50km Shorty and the 30km Rookie, all starting and finishing amidst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground. The GOGG races and the kids 10km Pioneer MTB will be held on Sunday 25th February.
All courses of the Otway Odyssey take advantage of the extensive network of singletrack and 2WD roads of Forrest and the Otways. Combined with the beauty on offer in the Great Otway National Park, the electrifying race atmosphere and sense of satisfaction you get when you finish in the middle of the massive event festival, it’s an event not to be missed.
Entries to the 2018 Otway Odyssey are now open online at www.OtwayOdyssey.com.au