Inspired by Pete’s journey to the Kona Odyssey, his first epic marathon, I felt it fitting to compare experiences leading up to arguably Australia’s hardest marathon. Two regular guys taking on the Otway trails in hope of glory. Ok, maybe not the glory associated with winning, but glory of having a great day out on the bike pushing yourself to the limits.
Our stories are similar in that it is also my first Odyssey, but different in the challenges we face in the lead up. It is also my first interstate race for the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team. My biggest challenge will be to ride on the rivet for 5+ hours, all whilst riding a hardtail. That’s right, a hardtail. Call me soft, but I have never raced and I have barely ridden one. I find them slightly intimidating. I’ve taken a few entry level versions for a wrap around a few of the local Sydney tracks and after doing so, couldn’t possibly imagine putting myself through five hours of lactic torture compounded by constant battering. I’ve always settled on the comfort of 4in of squish front and rear.
In comes the test ride. I thought it would be a good idea before committing to the 2012 season on one to see if they are as unforgiving as I’ve always thought. I’m not sure if it was the extra 3 inches in the wheels, or the Shock Damping System, but Scott’s Scale Premium HMX 29er soaked up the rocks of the Great North Road near Wisemans Ferry better than expected. Technical descents felt very similar to the Spark as the knees do most of the work anyway, and the 29er wheels rolled exceptionally well on the flats. The most noticeable area of difference was seated climbing up rough terrain. Normally I would rely on the rear suspension to take the edge off rocks allowing me to sit and spin. I haven’t yet figured out how to do this effectively on the hardtail yet.
Perhaps the 50km ride wasn’t long enough to make a fully informed assessment, but signs are looking good. Best I knock up a century on one just to be sure. Heading into Otway on an unfamiliar bike may not be the smartest move.