The 10th Giant Odyssey - 2016 Forrest, The Otways, Victoria, Australia.

12768398 10153330278871003 7414994354214738930 oThere was a big race I turned down to attend my 10th Odyssey, it was the World Solo 24hr champs in Rotorua and apparently it was a course the would have suited me..blah blah…

Well back in 2007 I promised myself after hurting a lot on the inaugural Otway Odyssey that I would do every single 100km Odyssey until the event ceased or I did.

So when the dates clashed, it was an easy decision to make.

I love to ride and am better suited to a longer course, like a 100 miler or longer still is even better. This time in 2016, at age 43 I was pretty keen to focus on just one thing.  Do my BEST ever 100km race - Ever. It was also easy to use the splits I had from previous races and also to look at girls from last year and replicate a time that I thought might be realistic for me.  

No dream of a podium just to do my best and knock time off.

I really enjoy intrinsic motivation and this is where I do my best and so I set out riding harder and with purpose for the next 8 months or so.

We had moved back to Geelong in March 2015 after living in Forrest for 8 years and started to enjoy road racing, local mtb races, linking back in with Donna Rae-Szalinki’s ergo sessions twice a week & signing myself up for our own product, MTBSkills bootcamp every Wednesday night.

Then daylight savings came and we had joined the Geelong Vets cycling club and started to smash out the crits every Thursday, road racing every Sunday and a few races with Geelong CC.  This lead to bunch rides with stronger guys, and certain hill sessions that became standard.  There was nothing in particular that I focussed on except for my recovery.  Visiting my long time massuer Bengt Carlson and purchasing my leg compression inflatable thingies that have been a nightly couch time Godsend.


I knew I would beat my best time, it just was now about connecting the dots to create an accountable plan for myself.  So Karen Hill you will be pleased to know I used your 2015 splits to go by.  You came 5th so thought ok, you are certainly a fitter faster Karen in 2016, but for me this looks the goods.  It was as technical and thought out as that! 

In the week leading up Giant sent my new Liv Obsess 27.5 hardtail - fast and fancy white with purple and green graphics, I was sold on riding this instead of the Lust.
But also in the lead up to the event, I did my longest and hardest week for about 10 months on the bike and ended up waking up with a mega saddle sore deep in my glutes right on my sit bone area.  It was hot, red and swollen, and I could not sit on my saddle.  10 days to go before Odyssey, was this a forced taper? Would it need lancing? Would it go down? The one thing was for sure I could not ride my bike and I made an appointment with the doctor at 8am that morning.  She put me onto a course of antibiotics - 5 days, 4 a day.  Within 24hrs it was half the size and I was as queasy as a pregnant woman in her first trimester.  My guts were crap.  

Blessings came at me though.

I ate really well so I could get better and combat sick guts. I had time off the bike so I was amazingly fresh.  And I got to use my new Liv Contact slr ‘forward’ saddle after the sore went down and found it to be my comfiest saddle yet.As bothered and mildly stressed as I was, I knew I could use this time to prepare for the race.

Finally the big day came around, up at 4am, breakfast and leaving in the car at 5am, a short one hour drive to Forrest, arriving at 6am.  Norm was MC’ing with Jason Rentjes for the day, so I just went about getting ready for a 7am start.

Elite women start at 7am before the men and the rest of the field at 7:30am.  The pace is always social for us ‘ladies’ and I found myself up the front, no bother, I was not going to go hard, so just let the rest of the bunch sit on and used it as a warm up.
10 km in we were turning right up Delaney’s road and the pace picked up a touch.  I made sure I was hanging around 3rd wheel and ready for any elastic band stretching of the bunch.

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Before we knew it we were on Goat Tk, even with 6 of us, it was dusty and hard to see if the ruts were ok or not. We all survived and as we entered Haydens Tk, Peta and Renata were off with Jenni King & Bec Locke in tow.  So now it was just Ren, Jodie and myself and the climbing was actually ok.  I did hold back some, not wanting to test my fitness yet, these hills can smash you to pieces early.  Happy to have made it to time check 1 only a minute or so behind my goal and by the time the moto tk came up, it was Ren and I all the way back to the footy oval.  It was here she decided to pull out and saying she should have signed up for the 50 km.  Renski is a prime athlete, been cycling and racing all her life so it is always sad to see someone like her pull out early.  

Dad and Norm were there to do the feeds for me, in and out and back out to the Yaugher superloop section which I knew even as fun as it was, would be taxing on mind and body.

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I had 1hr : 42 mins as my goal for this, but did it in 1:39. Some splits were under some over, but I was on track. I don’t even really remember riding much of the trails, just kept drinking, kept pedaling and kept honest, it was a game of focus focus focus some more.

Back to the oval, dad and Norm were there to feed me again.  The next time I would see them it would be the finish line.  This next section would be the curse, my nemesis, the long long gravel Kaanglang Rd climb with the Lake Elizabeth pinch to add in for good measure.  I channelled my inner roadie, felt some adductor cramping come on, had a gel, more to drink and got on with not too much grinding, but as much power as I could handle without inviting cramp.  I went over time here, goal of 46 mins but hit 50 mins instead.  Still 3.5 minutes quicker than last years effort.  

Hitting Red Carpet was not easy either, that middle climb section sapped any zest in my legs and I did have to chill out a bit here and then hoon it to the bottom.  I love this trail, not so much in the race.  From here on I gave myself tick boxes.  How many more significant climbs to go.  One up to the Dam wall which is always nasty, then the road, then 3 noteworthy climbs in Follow the Dog, 1 in Third Time Lucky, 1 out of Roller coaster, 1 up the path and then 2 to make it home on the road.  That is 10 climbs to go, time to tick them off and ignore any pain or cramping or desire to ‘take it easy’.  

The fact that when you are in 4, 5 & 6 you can see everyone riding on the trail because it is like an intestinal tract, makes you go harder and I always find I do some of my best splits in this section.  Smashing it down the final straight and fast descent of the fenceline back to the creek, always feels like life and death, but its speed for free so barely a brake is touched.  From here I always love to just big ring it locking out front suspension and doing whatever it takes to get back to the oval as quick as possible. Every second counts.

I finished elated, and no idea what that really meant expect that I had come very close to my goal time, about 5 minutes over but 25 minutes quicker than 2015 and 13 minutes quicker than my fastest ever time on this course route.

10683630 10153323203611003 1419325740660024656 oNorm was MC’ing as I mentioned and he was there at the finish and told me that Jenni King had pulled out due to an injury and that I had rode into 5th.  You never can tell what will happen until you ride over the finish line.

Well there you go, internally focused on my goals and I made the podium.

It was a winner day for me all round.  

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Next year?  I would love to get under 5:25 which would mean a 10 min improvement.  My big untapped resource is 5kg of extra weight that I am racing with.  It is no mean feat, I love my food, I work from home and so can be lazy with planning but that’s my aim.  
Find some extra time in my fitness and getting closer to a safe and functional race weight.

Thanks Rapid Ascent for a fantastic 10th Odyssey.
Its an honour to be one of the few that has done each one.

Again, my support comes rain hail or shine, podium or dead last from Giant Bicycles Australia, Shimano Cycling Australia, Bike Box for my Schwalbe tyres, Jet Black Products for accessories, champion Systems for great kit and Adidas Sport Eyewear for looking after my eyes.  Oh and my biggest sponsor Norm Douglas! Together we dream of fun stuff to do.