Near Miss Odyssey

Distance  99.3km     Elevation Gain  2,436m     Energy  5,007kcal

Ahhh….the 100km Giant Odyssey….impressively celebrating its 10th anniversary, is widely acknowledged as “Australia’s most respected mountain bike marathon with an endless supply of epic single track, lung busting hills and blitzing descents”.  OK – those may be the somewhat bias words of the organisers but it is a cracker event – as evidenced by the mass of riders that morphs the sleepy town of Forrest into a manic metropolis.  Lycra as far as the eye can see.

This was my third consecutive run and my goals were ambitious, especially given previous times and a fairly vanilla degree of preparation.

  1. Try to stay alongside or ahead of my riding buddy, despite knowing he was a tad faster; and
  2. Finish in a sub-6hr time.

Results:  Fail ….but the margins were small enough to walk away feeling pretty happy.

1)  Grant and I clock up plenty of rides together, but we’re different beasts.  While I might gain a whiff of ground on the climbs, he’s never far off my wheel before ploughing the downhills.  Put these together over a 100km distance and it is a tough equation – on this occasion, calculating a 2-minute gap between us at the finish line.

I went out of the gate with the intention of trying to dip further into the tank as I felt I may have been a bit casual on the previous year’s effort.   This wasn’tOdyssey 2016 a bad tactic as I felt pretty good by the time I topped out the first major ascent….however – predictably – once we had a few rewarding descents under our belt the small gap that once was, had now closed.

My usual Dexter-esk ‘dark passenger’ was riding with me – a persistent, butt-munching back-ache that just could not be dropped…forcing me to stop pedalling to stretch out of the saddle with monotonous regularity…even with some heavy meds on board.  This continued on for most of the race until I just couldn’t hold his wheel any more.

On the plus side, pit stop transitions were much better this time around and the bike performed beautifully – massive ups and credits to Bikes Direct Carnegie for their usual pre/post race tune ups and support.

Time Gaps

Magic little time-gap map. Courtesy of Strava.

I was stoked to see Grant gunning it so well, absolutely destroying his previous time by over an hour.  Driven by conditioned pins and a lovely new steed in the form of a swanky Trek Fuel EX9 running with swish carbon wheels and angry Maxxis rubber.  In contrast I remained a shmidge annoyed at my own lack of foresight as I had inexplicably forgotten how badly this back pain had tormented me in previous races.  No taping.  No mobility work. No anti-inflammatories on board.  What a twat.

2)  A sub-6hr time was ambitious, but do-able.  Allowing my OCD to play a role, I even set a finish time predictor on my ever-epic Suunto Ambit3 Peak so I could monitor how close to the wire I was travelling through the race.  While trying to counter the back pain with “stop being such a soft little bitch” self-talk sessions, it just wasn’t meant to be this year.  So my official, and tantalisingly close finish time clocked in at 6:04.09 …still a 33-minute improvement on 2014 and a 78-minute gap on 2013, so I can’t grizzle too much.  

I also crossed the line without donating skin to the trail gods, which was an achievement in itself. Hopefully more from skill development than a lack of trying. Grant?….not so lucky, but only a minor scrape 😉

Strava was a little kinder giving me a “moving time” of 5:59.21.  Behold the price of transitions, folks 🙂

No matter these petty numbers!  High fives and grins were a-plenty at the finish line as we exchanged mutual admiration and tales of pain while washing down residual dust with our traditional post-race frothy. Already looking forward to next year’s race….a chance to hack off more minutes !

Next stop:  Buller MTB Festival   Yeah, boi !

NOTE:  While this race may sound like a grind, spare a thought for this lunatic….hobbling away from the World 24-Hour Solo MTB Championships in Rotorua, NZ with a god-damn category world title under his arm.  Epic shit.

→ → Click.  Read.  Nod in admiration. ← ←

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