Q&A with past winners
Tasman Nankervis - 2017 Otway Odyssey 100km race winner
Tasman has the 2nd fastest time over the 100km MTB course when he placed 2nd in 4:18.32 behind Chris Hamilton in 4:18.20 back in 2016. He came back and won the race the following year and is returning for another attempt in 2019. We caught up for a quick Q&A to hear what he's been up to. CLICK HERE for article.
We're very excited to have mountain bike superstars Jessica Douglas and James Downing competing at the Otway Odyssey presented by Focus.
Check out what they have to say about the Otway Odyssey:
How many times have you done the Odyssey?
The Odyssey started back in 2007, it was my 2nd 100km race and it hurt. I have returned every year since. In 2018, it will be my 12th Odyssey.
Most memorable Odysssey moment:
I could tell you about the grown men crying on Haydens Tk back in 2007, or the mud hike a bike in 2008 through the private property section off Biddles Lane in the first 20km, or even in 2014 when I was part of an all Liv Giant podium which was really special.
But my most memorable moment was coming 2nd in 2011 to Peta Mullens. I gave it everything and more that year, I was stoked to be so fit and able.
What is it that you love so much about the Odyssey?
The Odyssey is a journey race, you ride through so much different terrain and it's all magic with some pretty sensational single track to numb the pain!
Top training tips for novice / intermediate riders:
- Skill up!
Seriously, if you are new to MTB'ing or maybe even a strong roadie, the single track will nip at you and you will be longing for a fire road section.
The more comfy you can get with negotiating logs, corners, jumps, steep descents and learning to stay off the brakes more and feel the flow the less energy you will use in these sections leaving you with more to burn on the tough climbs and the final 10km of the race (you will need it then as the single track section is mega fun but a tonne of climbing!).
- Hills are your friend! For every up, there must come a down.
There are a lot of nasty climbs early on in the race, and they don't stop for the entire 100km. Even the timed descent has a climb in it.
Develop a loving relationship with every single style of climb. Short sharp nasty, long steady grinds, hurty granny climbs and loads of uneven rooty bumpy single track climbs. If you do nothing else but climb more hills the Odyssey will be far more fun!
- Practice nutrition
It can be hot, it can be cold, so be comfy in both situations with your hydration and food.
If it's hotter, you obviously drink more but in the morning when its cold, you MUST drink here, even if you make your concentration of your electrolytes a tad stronger, you will need this later in the day.
Get used to eating gels and high energy concentrate bars. Why? They weigh less and take up less room and are very quick to consume. Who cares what they taste like or if you get the gag reflex from them, follow up with a swig of drink and keep riding. When you are racing, it's not about gourmet, it's about fueling your body to get to the end as painlessly as possible in the least amount of time. Hurt more for less time.
Favourite places to ride:
- Mt Buller
- The Great Ocean Road on my road bike.
Check out our latest interview with Jess Douglas - Why Take on the Otway Odyssey? 11 and counting - With Jess Douglas
If you're looking for a refresher before you front up to the Odyssey, or you ride mainly on road and want to spend more time on the trails - check out "Roadie to Mountain Biker - Your Skills and Technique Foundation" thanks to Bike Exchange's Adam Kavanagh and Jess Douglas.
I have raced the Odyssey three times, and before my first hit out, it had been on my race list since 2007. Finally in 2014 the stars and the moons aligned and I was able to get down to Forrest to check out what the go was. I cannot believe I waited so long!
Best moment from the Odyssey so far:
100km races are pretty much about setting off on an amazing adventure aboard the bike. For me, the first time I had ever ridden the course, I was treated to a route that is something that I could ride every weekend and never, ever get bored. When you link up some of the country's best singletrack in one event, you are really going to make a lot of people quite happy. As a racer, often you turn up in order to battle the course and the competition. It is a rare race where you enjoy the actual course: The Otway Odyssey ticks the box on that account. When you can remember how much enjoyment you had at the 70km mark riding a trail aptly called the Magic Carpet Ride, then you know you are in a good place!
Why should people do the Otway Odyssey?
The singletrack is absolutely sublime - I can still vividly remember the incredible flow through the natural forests.
Training advice for novice / intermediate riders:
Do as much research as you can on the event. Read blogs, race reports, and even read the event program sent out by the organisers!! Also, check out the results from last year and see how long the event takes for everyone. If you are fast, then you might get close to 5 hours. If you want to take your time out there, then it might be up to 8 hours or even more. Have you ever ridden 100km on the road, let alone the mountain bike? Hint: it is actually a fair bit! That would be a good start just to see what it actually feels like to be on the bike for this epic distance!
Due to the nature of the course with the sinuous singletrack, it would be a good idea to also have a good feel for riding on the dirt. You can save so much energy by increasing your efficiency in the singletrack. ProTip: Try to get used to riding with your chin sitting up 1 centimetre higher than normal. This gets your eyes up, and allows you to be seeing a lot further ahead up and around the trail.
If you are looking at building up your fitness for this event, then try to make your rides consistent and sustainable. This just means not biting off too much, and being able to back up day to day...it will serve you a lot better in the long run....so for example, if you have 7 hours in the week to ride, then you would be better off doing 5 x 1 hour and 1 x 2 hour rides rather than doing a single 7 hour ride. ProTip: Optimise your time during the week by getting all your stuff ready the night before and have it all laid out ready to go first thing in the morning.
There are 2000 metres of climbing out there on race day. That is pretty solid. Of course, it is just constant up and down that accumulates all of this ascent and descent, but doing some solid 10 minute hills around your area might just get you acclimatised to these! ProTip: There is a longish climb at the 67km mark.....You might want to pop a 10-20 minute climb in at the 2/3 mark of one of your training rides!
Nutrition is also extremely vital for these races. Your pasta meal the night before will only really get you 2 hours down the road before you are empty. Therefore, for me it is simply a mathematics equation. 5 hour race. I will burn around 1000 calories per hour. The body can pretty much process 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour. So, I will have 2 gels per hour and also some electrolyte drink with another carbohydrate source. Based on that then, I will pop 10 Pro4mance energy gels in my pockets (including a couple of Lemon Lime caffeine ones for the final hour) and have at least 5 bottles of Skratch. Of course the number of drinks will all depend on how hot it is. (cooler = less, warmer = more). ProTip: If it is muddy, then take some more gels. You will be out there for longer, therefore will need to eat a bit more!
Where are your favourite three places in the world to ride?
- Mount Stromlo, Australian Capital Territory
- Alice Springs, Northern Territory
- Forrest, Victoria
In order to give back to the sport that has provided me with so much enjoyment over the years I genuinely enjoy helping out other riders with any aspect of the sport.
Be it bike advice, skills work, line choices, training, nutrition or just about anything, I simply like helping anyone get just that little bit extra out of the sport to boost their satisfaction levels.
Got a question about The Otway Odyssey, MTB races or just MTBing in general? James is happy to help out.
Email [email protected]
These riders have finished EVERY 100km Odyssey for the last 12 years (since the event started in 2007)!
- Neville Bird
- Jessica Douglas
- Lee Floyd
- Adrian Jackson
- Brian John
- Bevan Kerr
- Liam McCrory
- Julian Morton
- David Rusden
- Dave Scarlett
- Craig Sullivan
Are they coming back again in 2019? You bet! This is why.
What do you love about the Otway Odyssey that keeps you coming back?
"The Odyssey is my Le Tour. It started as the standard 'can I do it', evolving into a 'could I do it better', to a 'can I category-win' - especially now that I'm old and most of my competition have either gone to pot, gone to seed or gone insane. Beyond that, it's a brutally honest and killer fun bike race, with all aspects of MTB racing over-saturated. Sort of like a 7 sugar quadruple espresso - with bunting. Or it could be I've got an addictive personality," Jason Archer
"Each of my Odyssey's have been a completely different experience. The weather, my fitness (lack of!) and the trails all provide a challenge that keeps me coming back. None of my Odyssey's have been easy but that's why I love it!!" Neville Bird
"I have a love hate relationship with the pain of it all, though honestly every time I finish I forget the pain instantly," Jessica Douglas
"The excitement, the challenge, the vibe on event day, the people out on the trails on race day and the weekend away with some great mountain biking buddies," Bevan Kerr
"The Odyssey is such an epic race. The climbing and the distance make it difficult but there is almost a brutality about some of the sections like the sledgehammer. Yet the reward of the single track is so good that you still end up with a grin on your face," Julian Morton
Most memorable moment from the event
"In 2011 I did every long distance multi day event I could get my hands on instead of 24hr racing and turned up to the 2012 Odyssey in my best form ever. Coming 2nd to Peta Mullens by just over a minute was gold and all that I could have wished for." Jessica Douglas
"Year 1 was a stand out, such a baking hot, dry, dusty day and the trails seemed just relentless, because they were! If you ever bumped into someone wearing the year 1 t-shirt, no words were spoken... just a look of 'I know your pain brother/sister, much respect!' just lots of pain and suffering on that day...but that finish line...sweetest thing ever!" Bevan Kerr
"Actually getting to the finish on the first one. The insane wet weather on the second Odyssey. Completing 5 in a row. Getting to that last kilometre," Liam McCrory
"The very first Odyssey had an altered course that went to Skenes Creek and then up Tiger Lane in the first 10km. It was full on steep and only 5-10 riders managed to get up without dismounting. It suddenly hit home just how tough an event this was going to be," Julian Morton
"As I got faster I found myself passing people I should not have been. Great feeling. First year 8.5 hours, fastest year 5.5 hours," David Rusden
"Some of the great memories include jumping a tiger snake on Biddles Rd, and the impossible spirit breaking trudge (I call the Kokoda Year) pushing the bike up the deep muddy hills," Dave Scarlett
Will we see you in 2019?
"Hellz yeah. I'll return until one of us - either me or the race - expire," Jason Archer
"I will race this every single year until for whatever reason I can't. Hoping to rack up a 20 year badge of honour some day," Jessica Douglas
"Yep! Every year until they nail the lid on I reckon," Bevan Kerr