After an unexpected crash on a training ride in 2017, former pro cyclist Phil Anderson OAM is back on the bike and gearing up for The Otway Odyssey and Great Otway Gravel Grind presented by Focus.
Anderson says he is looking forward to what will be his 7th Odyssey, especially getting to share his home turf with other riders and the atmosphere of race weekend.
If you’re racing The Otway Odyssey 100km this February 24 you’ll be sharing a start line with the former world number one, two-time Commonwealth gold medal winner, and 11-time Tour de France yellow jersey wearer.
Q) We’re stoked to have you return to race the Odyssey again, after placing 4th in your category last year, and 5th in the GOGG, how are you feeling about returning to race across your home turf again?
I don’t get to ride a MTB as much as I’d like in fact other than riding the Gold Field track just prior to Christmas, I haven’t been on the MTB since last year’s Odyssey. You think living in the Otways I would be out every chance I have but on the coastal side of the range it’s a bit too hilly.
Q) You had a very serious crash last year on a training ride, how has your recovery been, and how does it feel to be back on the bike and gearing up for a major event?
Towards the end of July I was riding on a lonely stretch of road near Cape Otway and uncertain how or why I came off, found myself scratched up, staggering around trying to get phone signal to get assistance. Fortunately a passer-by stopped to run me into Apollo Bay to be attended too. A broken collar-bone and a few ribs slowed me up for a few weeks and then had some travel so I missed a couple of months off the bike. Late spring and summer saw me get back on the bike so the form is slowly returning.
Q) What sort of riding have you mostly been enjoying lately?
I have been doing a mixture of gravel and road and get a blast from both. I try and get a more solid ride in mid-week, maybe 100-120km and go out for a social ride on the weekend. A long road ride may take me around the Gran Fondo loop or the Beech Forest/Lavers Hill loop. Other days I trail run behind my place in the Otways.
Q) You’ve raced the Odyssey six or seven times now, what are the highlights of racing here for you?
For me I just enjoy riding the local trails in the Odyssey. I’m proud of where we live and love to see others enjoying what we have. It’s nice to ride in a controlled environment which the Odyssey offers too. It’s reassuring to know that support is available in some remote areas of the Otways. It’s nice to place well in my age group but without regular training and competition I can’t expect too much.
Q) Last year was the inaugural Great Otway Gravel Grind – road’s your specialty – so how do you like gravel grinding, and what did you think of the GOGG last year?
With the pressure on cyclists by other road users, riding the gravel offers such relief. Just like the Odyssey, I ride conservatively and just have a buzz riding of local roads & tracks. I’m pretty familiar with the route and love to see others enjoying roads on my usual patch. Like in the Odyssey there are those at the point end making a race of it, but there are those out there for other reasons. The adventure, health and fitness goals, or just enduring the physical challenge. For me I guess it’s all of the above.
Q) If someone was sitting on the fence, why would you recommend they get involved and give one of the races at the Odyssey a crack?
From the outside the prospect of doing anything new can be a little daunting. Set realistic goals & figure out how to tick them off. Personally I know that for me to ride for 6 hrs with little preparation I need to start out slow and let the racers go & take one section at a time. I’m not going for a time, just to finish. That is my goal to finish safely and have fun. The atmosphere in the transition area is fantastic, even for non-participants. The stories you here standing around enjoying a cold beer are priceless.
Q) Will you be heading into the Otway Odyssey competitively this time around, and planning on doing the double (Otway Odyssey and GOGG) again?
If I get through the Odyssey relatively intact I’ll be at Sunday’s start line. It’s easier doing the GOGG with a few mates as you’re on roads adding to the event’s appeal. Make sure you say ‘Hi’ when you come past.
The Otway Odyssey MTB Marathon and Great Otway Gravel Grind (GOGG) presented by Focus returns for a special 12th edition this February and will see hundreds of riders race through the spectacular Otway Ranges.
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.
Entries to the 2018 Otway Odyssey are still available online at www.OtwayOdyssey.com.au
Follow all the action of the Otway Odyssey race weekend on Twitter, Facebook and stay tuned for updates via the website.