If getting up at four in the morning for a bike race is your idea of fun way to spend a Saturday, then you probably would have been at Forrest in the Otway Ranges with me on the 16th of February. With all the training miles I had in my legs I was looking forward to race and bound out of bed at the sound of the alarm. The day began ominously when the coffee I bought from the food van was burnt and the milk may have been several weeks old. So onto the race, I had never seen so many riders at once, some looked like they were there for the win, others I think the bike race got in the way of a good drinking weekend (there is a brewery in Forrest).

The race started at cracking pace, perhaps too fast given there was 100km to go. I stayed in the lead pack with about 150 other riders for the first 20km which was mostly on sealed roads, with so many riders in close proximity crashes where inevitable. The poor guy next to me didn’t see a tree which had fallen across the road and crashed into it at 45km/h, I heard later that he was fine and might try to look a bit further ahead next time. The race continued up and down the hills, after 40km we got to the real mountain bike trails, I was feeling quite good at this point and started to pass lots of people around me. The single tracks were lots of fun and I was pushing hard, which would later come back to bite me. At the 70km mark the climb from hell began, it seemed to just keep going up and up, around every corner the road appeared to be steeper. All of the people I had merrily ridden past where now flowing past me like I was stopped, I had officially hit the wall! One of the riders who past me pulled a can of coke out of his pocket, I think I could have given him my left leg for it, I just couldn’t catch him to negotiate for it.

The race went on around me, the last 30km was very much a struggle, that fast start was coming back to haunt me, I recall there being some nice single tracks in the last 15km although I think my brain has tried to wipe that part of the race from my memory. So I finished the race in 5 hours 43 minutes, placing me 94th in open male. I will be back next year and hopefully I can get the better of the race. The big lesson learnt is how to pace myself, as I found out, 100km is a long way to ride a bike.

With the Otway Odyssey done and dusted the racing season has only just began. I am now turning my attention to the Victorian Enduro Series which is a series of seven six hour races around the countryside and late in the year I will be heading to the nation’s capital to race in the solo 24 hour world championships, where I will challenge myself against the best endurance riders the world has to offer.