Why take on the Otway Odyssey? 11 and counting – with Jess Douglas

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jessica Douglas is a 3 x World 24 Hour Solo MTB champion, hailing from the home of the Otway Odyssey; Forrest in Victoria. She lives to ride.

Douglas is one of a select group of riders that can say they have ridden every single Otway Odyssey. And in 2017 she will be rolling up to the start line for an awe-inspiring 11th time.
Jess is one hell of a rider – so who better to ask advice for racing the Odyssey?

Jess Douglas Otway Odyssey ambassador

Why take on the Otway Odyssey?

The OO is iconic, if you have a wish list of events to tick off, you must just do it once, to say you have! I personally love the various elements of tough 4wd tracks, moto tracks, single track, climbs, descents, it’s got it all and you are never bored.

What can I expect on race day?

It can be hot, it can be cold, it can be wet or really dry. I always work on managing my mental state, staying focused on eating drinking time splits and managing my thoughts including,"how lucky am I to be racing here!"

10, 30, 50 or 100km…Which distance should I take on?

Don't ask me that question, I rocked up to the first OO and did the 100km and it hurt but I was back and have never looked back. I guess you have to ask yourself why you are doing it? For me it’s a challenge and if I am going to make the effort I want to get every last bit of value for my time by doing the 100.

Jess Douglas Otway Odyssey ambassador

What’s so good about the new Great Otway Gravel Grind (GOGG)? I ride MTB – would gravel grinding come close to what I love about MTB? I ride road….why should I gravel grind?

Gravel riding is what I like to all JOURNEY based. It’s about the pedalling and the exertion mixed with more time to enjoy the environment you are in, you feel the gravel through the bike and have to manage this more so than a mountain bike, and if you are a roadie it gives you a buzz that cannot be gained on even the most thrilling bitumen descents. Views, chats, good people and a journey to remember.

Tapering and pacing…. I am new to racing, how do I pace myself on race day? And how do I focus?

Dial it back 10% off your flat out pace, hold that, tolerate the desire the go easy, hold back on going out too hard. Allow yourself to have the ability to eat and drink and think. Without this you will slowly run out of steam and risk all sorts of pain and suffering. If you are riding too hard to hydrate and eating makes you ill, you are going too hard.

What sort of set-up is ideal for the Otway Odyssey? Do I need to tweak my set-up to better suit the Otway Odyssey? How to best tune my steed the night before?

This all depends on your goals. I can only speak of myself. I like to have an aggressive set up for climbing and as light as I can get the bike without compromising reliability.

Some things I always change or make sure are 100% are my tyres, chain and brakes.

I race for the pure fun of it, and a good time is just a bonus, what can I do to get the most of my race? How do I avoid an injury? How do I/and should I avoid the elites and serious racers?

To have a good time socially on the ride, invite a friend to sign up with you. Agree on your goals and plan B if one of you has to pull out due to injury or bike failure. Pack some yummy food to snack on at opportune moments throughout the race. Promise to smile and laugh and hoot when you are having fun and when it’s tough, keep giving each other kudos. Sing songs, play games, talk about how EPIC this will be when you are older and the stories you will have to tell.

Jess Douglas Otway Odyssey ambassador

Etiquette – how do I self-seed for the start? I want a good time, but I don’t want a bad start.

Know your limits. Can you hold a wheel like a road race? Do you have a good threshold fitness to smash out the first 10km at pace? There is no single track to start but its open and the field will spread thick across the road. Only you know where you should be placed in the self-seeding, now be honest and remember you are not the only one here for a good time.

Backing it up – I want to go for the King/Queen of the Otways – how hard will it be to back up the Odyssey with the GOGG the next day? How can I prepare for the challenge in the lead up?

Your legs will always be sore backing up, here’s my take on it. If you want to back up day 2, get to bed early, stretch, have a dip in the ocean or the local swim hole in Forrest and lay off the beer and wine or any alcohol on Saturday night. It will just dehydrate you. Drink water, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables for recovery. A good carbohydrate meal will replenish your glycogen stores in your liver and muscles.

And mentally - just turn up on day 2, pedal, smile and before you know it you are doing it, it might hurt but hopefully you are having fun!

Why I just can’t miss Otway Odyssey 2017? The 5 all-time reasons to race this February in the Otways.
- it’s my 11th OO event. I have not missed one yet.
- It’s always good to see if I can do a Personal Best each year regardless of podium or not.
- I love to catch up with other riders, say hi, find out how they went and what they loved about the race.
- the course is a challenge, it hurts and sometimes it’s not fun but each year I get mentally stronger, this game is fun!
- my 5th reason is all about riding my bike, I have promised to ride and race my bike to have fun and the Otway Odyssey despite its tough reputation is FUN, I promise!

Jess Douglas and lead womens pack Otway Odyssey

We're very excited to have mountain bike superstar Jessica Douglas competing at the Otway Odyssey in 2017.

Jess is not only a champion rider, but a skilled cycling coach – you can ask Jess a question and find out more about her here.


All courses of the Otway Odyssey take advantage of the extensive network of single track 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 2017 Otway Odyssey are now open online at


Date: Saturday 25th February and Sunday 26th February, 2017
Location: Forrest, Otway National Park, Victoria
• NEW: GOGG Big Ring 97km
• NEW: GOGG Little Ring 49km
• Odyssey 100km
• Shorty 50km
• Rookie 30km
• Pioneer 10km
• Grommets Ride

Event Expo: A massive bike, food and entertainment expo at Forrest Football Ground

Entries: Now open at

Media Information

Media passes are available to accredited journalists and photographers and entitle you to be positioned in a cordoned-off area immediately behind the finish line.

To apply for a media pass on race weekend or to simply enquire about access to editorial and photos, please contact Rapid Ascent on 03 5261 5511.

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