Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Otway Odyssey 100km: Mission Accomplished

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The Otway Odyssey is one of the toughest marathon races on the calendar: steep climbs, lots of vertical and some treacherous descents make this one of those races you can’t help but be anxious about. Throw in a few pre-race torrential downpours and the descents I speak of become terrifying, and the uphills barely rideable.

This year’s preparation had been ordinary. I only got off antibiotics three weeks before the race and I knew I hadn’t done the work. My goal was to ride a solid race til the end and the best case scenario was a top 40. The fact that this race attracts the best field for the year means there are a dozen guys who are virtually untouchable and some quality guys right back to 60th place.

The race starts with a long climb on bitumen then gravel, and it’s always a form finder. You generally know how your day is going to pan out about 2kms into the climb. This year was the best I’d felt and managed to hold on to the lead group until three kms in, then kept them in sight for a while after that. I crested the climb inside the top 30 and comfortably held a heart rate above 170 – always a good sign for me. About 5 kms from the top of the climb I was disappointed to see fell Giant rider Lachie Norris on the side of the road fixing a broken chain. I was even more disappointed to see him pull 10 guys back up to my group a few kms down the road (not his fault) – and couldn’t believe that not one of them would do a turn. I wanted to help him out as he was one of the top contenders and the only guy that Chris Jongewaard (the eventual winner) was genuinely worried about. I went deep into the red zone on the slightly uphill stretch and swapped off with Lachie for four kms or so before he took off up a steep track. I backed off him so that the train was decoupled from its carriages and hoped he’d get back towards the pointy end.

Not long after this my race got interesting. I crashed badly coming down a clay descent with zero traction. At the bottom of the climb I was pulling myself together and trying to get mud out so that I could turn the wheels. It must have cost me three or four minutes and I was frustrated as a flood of guys were passing me. I remounted and within 500 metres I hit a big puddle and the bike stopped dead, throwing me over the hangers. Within a second there was a huge bang and I looked up as Reece Stephens flew over the top of me – he’d hit me at 30kph and our bikes were tangled together. We got ourselves moving again and as we crossed a creek Reece’s chain snapped. He didn’t have a spare link so I threw him my spares and hoped I wouldn’t need them. I figured if I needed a tube I could wait for Reece to come past again…

I had a bit of a low point not long after that and given my wheels would barely turn I was contemplating pulling the pin to save equipment and body. At that point Tour de France legend Phil Anderson pulled up beside me and I asked him how he was going. “It’s a day for hard men out here Brad”. I thought`shit, I can’t very well pull out how after Phil Anderson has told me it’s a day for hard men’. So on I went…

At about halfway I was feeling OK but not great. Jesse Carlsson came past and we rode together for 10 or 15kms in the singletrack around Forrest before he left me nearing the first feed station. I rejoined him at the feed and then left him as I climbed up a steep climb. I also passed one of the contenders for the veterans category (Brian John) and so applied a little pressure to open up a gap. The next 20kms were the best of my race and I managed to survive the last leg to close out the race in 35th position overall, and third in veterans. This was my best result at the Odyssey and I was really happy with a 5:25 – my PB – given my precarious build-up. Amazingly Lachie Norris managed to ride his way back into fourth place, and I was rapt to get a message from him after the race thanking me for the tow at what was a low point in the race for him. There won’t be many opportunities to help him in the future as he’s usually half an hour or more up the road! My good mate Mick Walsh put in a great ride to finish inside 6 hours, as did Wade Wallace who was riding the event for the first time. Anyone who finishes a race in those conditions deserves kudos.

The focus now turns to Terra Australis which effectively means riding half a dozen of these races back to back over the course of a week…..

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4 Responses to “Otway Odyssey 100km: Mission Accomplished”

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  1. Chad says:

    phrasemaking@resists.holstered” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx!!…

  2. lance says:

    necromantic@valerie.photographers” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    сэнкс за инфу!!…

  3. alfred says:

    dexters@codfish.creedal” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    спс!!…

  4. Earl says:

    pityingly@ologies.cagayan” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    good info!!…