Tim McGrath looks like he has hardly raised a sweat as he crosses the finish line for victory in the 50+ age category. (photo – Adrian Vlok)

Last Saturday saw the running of one of Australia’s best regarded mountain bike marathon events, the 2012 Kona Otway Odyssey from Apollo Bay to the small township of Forrest. Approximately 900 riders tackled the full 100km course whilst a further 800 opted for the shorter yet challenging 50km race option. This year saw an impressive number of our club MTB members take to the starting line for a crack at this epic event.

After the horror stories from last year when a very wet summer and heavy rain before the race turned the course into a muddy bog, all were relieved that a relatively dry summer delivered perfect racing conditions on the day. The 100km course begins with a mass start on the Great Ocean Road before turning off for a steep 8km climb on the bitumen to string out the field and the attacks start almost immediately. Needless to say it pays to start near the front and have a good warm up.
Once reaching the top, the bitumen ends and the dirt roads and tracks of the Otway Forrest begin. It might have been a dry year but this is rainforest and it never really dries out. A series of mud filled creek crossings and climbs too steep to ride ensure that it will be a very “long” 100km.
At approximately half race distance the race reaches the sublime singletrack of the Forrest MTB park. With fresh legs it would be a joy but with 50km in the legs already, much of it on foot, it becomes a survival mission for many. With no peloton to hide in and nearly every metre a struggle against the terrain, even small differences in abilities between riders become huge time gaps over the course. At the end of the day, over 5 hours separated first and last place!

Becoz rider Matt Pieterse at the 87km feedzone. The last 13km including the legendary “sledgehammer” climb would take him the best part of an hour and it wasn’t even all uphill! (photo – Adrian Vlok)
Congratulations to club member Tim McGrath who crossed the finish line in well under 6 hours to take the win in the 50+ age group in a very impressive time. Special thanks must go to club committee members Yvonne Dolphin and Adrain Vlok who spent the day acting as club “neutral service” in the feed zones. The organisation of this event is top class, the scenery spectacular and the course legendary, so if you are looking for a different cycling challenge to put on your list for next year it comes highly recommended.