By Tasman Nankervis
My preparation for this year’s Otway Odyssey was unusual, and rather hectic. The day after Road Nationals I was in class and commencing my Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology.
I’ve completed 7 weeks of full-time study leading up to the Otway and this was quite a shock to the system. Besides the added workload, the hardest adjustment was physically sitting in a chair for most of the day and spending any spare time cramming in training. During this time my strategy was to maintain Road Nationals form though shorter harder rides during the week and sending it big for long weekend endurance rides.
I seemed to be getting away with this picking up wins at the Red Hill State XCO rounds, whilst also competing in the 270km Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic with the GPM Road Team, our team mate finishing 2nd.
The week of the Otway I completed 3 exams and honestly come into the race feeling pretty relaxed. Not really thinking about it probably helped and with the quality of competition on the start line, I’d be happy enough to just get on the podium.
I’ve raced the Otway Marathon 3 times now finishing 3rd, 2nd and 1st, so I knew what to expect. The course is hard but fair with 2200m of climbing and just enough wicked single track that you can actually enjoy it and give the body a rest on the fire roads.
Within the first 30km there is 1000m of climbing, which is usually my bread and butter and boy we went out hard! In fact, I went over the first KOM in 6th place and a good 30 seconds down, I didn’t stress and soon after we were all back together with a bunch of 7 (Trekky, Reece, Cam, Mick, Russell, Adrian Jackson and myself). It stayed like this until the 65km mark where the ‘party’ really started as we hit the big hills with accumulating fatigue in the legs.
With attacks going down between the group the bunch got shelled down to 4 riders and I was secretly excited as bro Russell was with us and looking good. I knew where I wanted to jam it and with 15km to go I launched it and for a moment it was just Trekky and myself. Trekky doesn’t weaken in marathons and sure enough with myself on the limit he found a little extra, dropping myself towards the crest of the climb.
From then on it was a drag race to the finish with the top four all marginally separated. I crossed the line in 2nd and couldn’t have asked for much more, until I saw Russell coming in for 3rd, to have both of us on the podium was something special. There are a lot of families within mountain biking, but to have two of us on the podium was unheard of and I was proud to see Russ kicking goals.
The following day there is the GOGG (Great Otway Gravel Grind) 97km of gravel fire road which takes you to the beach and back from Forrest. It was an effort to back up but racing this event previously and with the King of the Otway on the line, it’s totally worth it. This event has unique features where there are three timed out sections, encouraging riders to stop and soak it all in with snacks and coffee. Unfortunately, up the front our breaks were a little short for coffee and cake, with quite the battle going on. I managed to salvage enough energy to take the win with Mick Harris 2nd and Paul Redenbach 3rd. With the combination of the two events I also took home the King of the Otway Crown.
Thanks to Rapid Ascent crew for putting on another awesome weekend and Ogaram Imagery for the photos. Time for a few easy days now, before gearing up for MTB Nations at the beginning of April.