Saturday, 19 February 2011


Otway Odyssey:
I feel like John Claxton during his 24hr phase, I cant seem to put together a great day for races I care about.

Now to say I cared about this race is a little rich, I pulled out at 3am when I woke to the sound of hard rain. That's not the actions of a motivated man. Despite deciding not to race I woke up and went step by step through the process of getting ready. By 6:50 I was rolling around the streets of Apollo Bay waiting for the start. Turns out I was racing after all.


My plan was fairly simple, start more moderately than last year and come home strong. I was going to race like Pepe Le Pew.


The rain changed course suited me better, at least one killer climb was out and a heap of road was in. I kept myself tucked away, and pulled no turns. After last year's implosion I was doing my best to save as much energy as I could, to survive through until that last 12km loop where everything could be left behind. A glorious half hour effort to purge all fear and doubt in the fire of effort. Well, that's what I hoped for.


When the course went to clay I rode it like a roadie. I wasn't committed enough to go fast down the descents, and the build up of clay in the tyres and the drivetrain made going up more of an issue. Loss of traction, chainsuck, hiking. Still, I wasn't alone in my plight, I was still moving forward.

When I got past the dam wall without hadn't even having smelt a cramp, I was happy. Bloody happy. I wasn't as far up the race as I had been in previous years, but no cramps meant that the two loops of single track and the final loop of fireroad could be pushed through. The change to regular loamy mud was another huge mental boost, finally something my tyres could bite into and I could push for speed on. I plugged away taking back a few places I'd let go, a cramp at 80km was ridden through. It was earlier in the race than I'd hoped, but far later than I'd feared. I still believed I'd be able to push through the last loop.


The last loop wasn't perfect, while I was able to stand and pedal early, my legs soon warned me they weren't going to stand for too much abuse. I coaxed them with sugar and caffeine, but they held firm to their stance that I could go jump in a lake.

After one slightly ambitious and thoroughly unco overtaking move over a log, I lay on the ground with both calves locked in contraction. I laughed with the other rider, then sat there considering calling it a day. Not because I couldn't ride any more, but because it was the best I've ever seen my calves look. If there was a bit more veinage I would never have stretched the cramps out and got back on my bike.



Anyway, I rolled over the line at 6:23ish a result I should be content with given I had no concrete aim for the race other than to finish. The next goal of keeping my body in order was an almost pass. I cramped later than in any previous year.

Still the result is aside it's not sitting terribly well with me. My time though better than last year is poor given that the course was faster this year. 136th is way off the mark I'd hoped for. I was behind everyone I talked about. I rode below my threshold all day and still cramped.

It's that last bit about thresholds that I continue to mull over. I never felt like I was pushing my limits, despite quite obviously reaching and overstepping them. I feel that pushing your limits is what racing is about. If there's no fire to test yourself in, to come out harder and stronger, what's the point? It's like being attacked by a soggy noodle, and still ending up battered and bruised.

D: 95.2km
A: 2,475m


Brad Davies said...

Good stuff mate. Would love to see the number of DNS - would have to be a few. The beauty of mountain biking is there is always another race in a week or two...

neil said...

thanks dude, though I dont feel I deserve it. I'm somewhat deflated about it.

Time for some team racing a la the Flat Hill Duael.

Diesel said...

Hey mate. You started. You finished. One step ahead of me.

Nice work.