Female Ambassadors

Rapid Ascent will be appointing a number of female mountain bike riders as our Odyssey Angel event ambassadors!

2019 will be appointed soon. For now, read about our 2018 ambassadors:

  • The Rookie - female rider who has never raced in an event before
  • The Mum
  • The Seasoned Rider


The Rookie - 2018

Candice Presilski

Candice Alexander Rookie Ambassador

Q) How did you get into riding?
I was first introduced to riding by my husband who had not long taken up the sport (soon to be obsession) he thought it would be fun to get out together, get fit together and have some "us" time from the kids. Now I'm wondering why it took us so long to even discover MTB.

Q) Did you sense any barriers to riding and racing, and what have you done to overcome them?
At first when I started riding no, I didn't feel there was anything stopping me. I went on my usual Sunday spin for a few hours then came home to resume my day to day but as I enjoyed it more, and wanted to ride more I started to struggle with the work, kids, life, bike balance. I have come to really appreciate the amazing support network I have in my husband, our parents and the kids who are all happy to see me go riding. Racing has been different though as I've "thought" about entering a few before but the logistics of time off work, babysitter for the kids, travel and my own fear of stepping out of my comfort zone has stopped me in my tracks. Until Now!

Q) What are you most looking forward to about stepping up to your first race?
Challenging myself. Channelling my nervous energy (which I'm sure will rise as race day gets closer), pushing myself and just giving it a go. I'm going to be bringing my "can do" attitude to show other women wondering or even doubting if they could do it that, yes they can. I'm also really excited to meet new people, a few local girls who are my "can do" inspirations and just be around like minded people sharing a passion and having some fun.

Q) What would you say to women and girls thinking about getting into MTB, but are either scared or just don't seem to get around to it? Would you recommend giving it a go?
ABSOLUTELY!!! It may sound cliché but you've just got to "go for it", it may seem daunting at first and you don't quite know where to start in it all but I would suggest searching out local riding groups, there are a lot of fantastic women MTB group rides around and I have met some amazing people through my local "Dirt Girls" rides, take a guided tour on a hire bike and use a local’s knowledge and experience to your advantage. I also love my local bike shop, they have been a wealth of information, guiding me into the world of MTB - suggesting pages on social media and local female riders to follow.

Buy a bike, hire a bike, borrow a friend's bike and go give it a try, it was the best thing I ever did.

Follow Candice on Instagram 


The Mum

Kim Willocks

Q) How many times have you raced the Otway Odyssey, what did you love about the event overall, and the course?

This will be my fourth time racing the Odyssey. I raced the 100km in the first two editions when I had plenty of time to stay fit. These first two editions began from Apollo Bay and with many metres of climbing before hitting the fun and flowing trails of Forrest. My comeback event after having 3 kids was the 50km Shorty last year (2017) when my youngest was 3.5 months old. It was very satisfying to get out of the house and enjoy these fabulous never-ending trails with hundreds of other mountain bikers. It takes an incredibly supportive husband to be able to do this however, but they were all happy and cheering as I crossed the finish line in Forrest.                          

Q) What is making you step up to race the 100km in 2018 and what are you looking forward to about it?

I'm hoping to be much fitter come February 24th next year than I was at the same time this year! I'm in a great routine at home where I'm able to ride most mornings of the week before the kids wake up. This is my daily 'me time' and it's done before the real day begins. With regular training I should be able to survive and hopefully race 100km, to finish in Forrest with all the other riders and to the cheers of my 3 kids. 

Q) What would you say to women and girls thinking about getting into mtb racing, but who are either too scared, or don’t think they’re good enough – would you recommend giving it a go? And would you love to see more women out there reaping all the benefits of riding and racing?

I'd love to see more women riding and participating in mountain bike events, and getting as much out of it as I do. Peddling through the bush on a mountain bike during a race, a social ride or even solo is so fulfilling. It's like time stands still and you forget all your other responsibilities and are just focussing on the fun trails ahead like a teenage BMX Bandit! My advice to any females considering entering an event, but 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!!! You never regret the things you do, you only regret the things you don't do! 

Q) Did you sense barriers to riding and racing when you were an up-and-comer, and what did you do or try – to overcome them?

I was certainly intimidated by the thought of racing my mountain bike with an event full of what I thought would be highly experienced and skilled riders. After entering and completing my first few races I realised that there were plenty of riders much better than me, but there were also plenty who were of similar ability, and some that I was faster than.  I found myself surrounded by those of similar speed and we encouraged each other around the course and were crossing the finish line before we knew it! 

Q) What do you love most about MTB racing?

Apparently I'm a competitive person although I don't believe it... I love testing myself by racing my bike, especially through the bush alongside equally competitive riders!

Follow Kim on Instagram

The Seasoned Rider

Jess Douglas

Jess Douglas Otway Odyssey ambassador

Q) What do you love about the event overall, and the course?
The Otway Odyssey grabbed my attention way back in 2007. It looked Mega and Epic and one of those events you could tick off and say, "I have done the Odyssey". So I ticked it off and somehow keep coming back.
But why? It is mega and epic and for me each year it’s a personal improvement journey. The weather changes, the course conditions always change but the 100km always feels HUGE. The course is a bit of everything, 4wd track, dirt roads, moto track, single track...everything, and that’s what I love about it..I am never bored!

Q) What are you looking forward to about the 2018 race – the event’s 12th edition and your 12th Odyssey?
On a personal level, I just want to do a PB again. As I get older and the race gets another year older, I enjoy the challenge of being my best. Sometimes a PB means a podium, but that’s never my goal until the final 20km when it’s time to dig deep and secure a position. In the 12th Edition I will be 45. I hope to inspire other women who have found mtb'ing later on in life or after kids...you can keep on smashing out your best!

Q) What would you say to women and girls thinking about getting into MTB racing, but who are either too scared, or don’t think they’re good enough – would you recommend giving it a go? Did you sense barriers to riding and racing when you were an up-and-comer, and what did you do or try – to overcome them? And would you love to see more women out there reaping all the benefits of riding and racing?
Where do I start? Back when I started really having a crack at the MTB scene, with racing etc...in January 2006, I realised there was much to learn and it was going to be huge, and possibly scary. So I decided to allow myself a very slow progression so that I could not fail. It was called my 1% rule. Ride at least 1 time a week, for 1hr and improve 1 element of your mtb'ing by 1% each and every week for a year, and by the end of the year I would have to better. It was fail proof.
I raced, I did what I said I would do, and I got excited by small successes and enjoyed the process so much my 1%'ers become 5%'ers and even more...and by the end of the year I had raced 26 events, and learnt so much. And I am still learning today.
You have every right to be fearful, you have every right to feel you don't belong. It is a lot to take in, being a technical sport with consequences such as crashing.

The strategies to success and enjoyment are simple.
- Ride within your limits.
- Ride with other people who support (without too much pressure) your mission
- Race for fun (because it is fun!)
- Learn and gain knowledge as there is much to learn
- Take the pressure off yourself...no one is judging but everyone is stoked to see you having a go
- Buy the best bike you can with good gears brakes and fit, it WILL allow you to love your riding soooo much more.
- Oh and enter the Odyssey Angels event so you are riding with like-minded women who support you!

Q) What do you love most about MTB racing?
The simplicity of nature and finding flow on the trail.
I don't ride with music in my ear, just listen the sounds of dirt under my tyres, the breathing as a result of exertion.
The sounds of birds, the smell of spring wild flowers or wet gum leaves.
As I ride, and solve the puzzle of single track in front of me, all my worries or day to day grind leaves my mind as I focus on the job at hand. It is a meditation and soul reviving. Even whilst racing, I finish on such a high due to the mind body connection with nature.

 Follow Jess on Instagram

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