To say Scott Nicholas knows the trails of the Otways is an understatement. It’s his training ground.
Scott made the move over to the dark side of mountain biking from running, and he hasn’t looked back. He’s jammed a lot of riding highlights in over the last few years including locking in a 24 hour solo SS World Title in 2015. Scott lives and breathes bikes.
If you were looking for someone to twist your arm to get out on your bike and gear up for the Otway Odyssey presented by Focus, Scott would be your man.
We stole a few minutes with Scott in the lead up to the Otway Odyssey 2017.
Years on bikes: 3 & 1/2 years of consistent riding with a few other periodic smatterings of bicycle practice over the years.
How you first got into riding: As a kid, it was my only means of transit beyond my legs. I have fond memories of building sick wood jumps as a kid. As an adult, my body simply gave up on being a runner so I bought a bike.
Preferred style of riding and has this evolved over time: My riding has done the opposite of evolve as I started with gears but now I prefer SS’ing. Smart to dumb basically.
Favourite bike: I’m pretty partial to my lavender Baum SS.
Favourite place to ride: Anglesea for sure but I rode Atherton back in June and that was pretty special.
Best moment on a bike: Winning the 24 hour solo SS World Title in 2015.
Worst moment: 7-9pm on the first day of the 24 hour solo World Champs - not wanting to be there but still having 17 hours to go.
First competition: You Yangs Yowie 99km in 2013.
Most recent competition: 24 hour solo Australian Champs last month at Stromlo.
Result highlights: Winning the World and Australian SS titles over the past two years.
Upcoming events: My next race will probably be the Odyssey.
Motto: Anger, fear, aggression? The dark side of the force are they.
What first drew you to the Otways and what did you think when you first rode there?
I first rode in Forrest in the summer of 2014 on a friend’s SS and I remember thinking this place is hot and hard!
Which area/tracks did you ride and what bike did you take?
I rode an alloy Niner through the Yaugher single track.
What’s the riding like at the moment as things warm up, and have you had some nice rides lately?
I’ve been mainly focused on opening my new bike shop in Torquay so my riding has really taken a back seat since doing the Australian 24 hour Champs last month. I think my longest ride has been around 50kms over the past two months. I’ll try and crank things up a bit sometime next month.
What do you expect the tracks for the Odyssey and the unsealed 2wd/4wd roads for the GOGG to be like come late February?
They should be perfect - at least I’m hoping they will be! I love everything about Forrest in the summer and the conditions are usually ideal.
You had a good result at the Odyssey in 2015, but got stuck with a mechanical this year, are you planning on giving it a good crack again this time around?
I rode gears at the last Odyssey with the hope of finishing top 10 outright but a stick through my wheel changed that plan! I’m leaning towards returning to the SS category for 2017 but I still have this crazy idea that I could perhaps sneak into the top 10 overall riding my SS. I would likely take a sub 4:40 effort to do that, which would be tough, but I’d love to give that a shot. The real challenge with that goal is getting the gearing right - big enough to keep up on the flat and downhill sections but not too big to suffer like a dog on 4/5/6, out of Lake Elizabeth and up Kangalang - all critical late sections.
Which of the 6 race formats will you pick and why?
I’ll do the 100km Odyssey (likely SS) and then do the longest GOGG distance on my CX bike the second day. It is two days, right?
What did you think when you heard about the all new Great Otway Gravel Grind (GOGG)?
I thought it was an amazing idea. I ride my CX bike between Torquay and Apollo Bay all the time and it’s some of the best terrain I’ve ever seen, period. It really is perfect gravel grinding with long fun climbs, epic views and ripping descents.
Do you gravel grind regularly and what’s the allure for you for this style of riding?
Yep, I’ve been riding my CX bike more over the past six months than any of my other bikes. No traffic and ideal terrain that seems endless between Torquay and as far as your imagination cake take you.
What sort of preparation will you be doing now in order to give it your best shot and enjoy the moment come race day?
Doing as many 20-30 minute climbs as I can find and fit in and ideally a bunch of 400kms weeks!
Would you recommend an event like the Otway Odyssey and GOGG to other riders out there and why?
Yeah, absolutely. First, any event based out of Forrest always have an amazing atmosphere. Second, the Odyssey has always been the ultimate test in Victorian mountain biking. It’s always a deep field and the course will test you.
If you make the journey down the Great Ocean Road for some riding of your own in the lead up to the Otway Odyssey there’s a pretty good chance you’ll spot Scott clocking up some k’s. If you’ve got some questions about the trails, group rides, or anything bike related – you can also find him at Bike Matters, Torquay’s newest bike hub.