This weekend the 25th and 26th of February, the beautiful Otway National Park will be hosting the Otway Odyssey.
The Otway Odyssey is one of Australia’s most respected off-road cycling events thanks to the quality of the courses with the varied landscape the Otway National Park has to offer, with rolling hills, fast descents and a thrilling race atmosphere that will challenge and welcome any rider, from mountain bikers, to roadies and gravel grinders.
There are two events going on over the weekend on the Saturday and the Sunday based out of the sleepy old town of Forrest.
On the Saturday we have the Otway Odyssey MTB Marathon and on the Sunday is the Great Otway Gravel Grind. Staff old and new have been great fans of gravel grinds for years, so a few of us on Sunday.
Of course, most people would be able to work out what a MTB (Mountain Bike) Marathon event would be- a long Mountain bike ride. So… what is a Gravel Grind then?
Over the past five or so years Gravel Grinding has become a growth sector of cycling and is continuing to see more and more options available, becoming ever more popular. As the name sounds. Gravel Grinding, is riding a bike on gravel, loose stones or really any unpaved surface.
The flood of bikes in this sector of cycling is likely due to their capability on a variety of surfaces, while still maintaining speed. They’re also generally built stronger, with a wide array of tyre and gearing options. Therefore these bikes are a very popular choice for commuters, people traveling by bike (either cycle touring or bike packing), or people who just want one bike that they can do a lot with and explore more with.
There are so many genres now in this style of riding drop bar bikes off road. It can be a bit confusing. You will hear genre names floating around such as adventures bikes, gravel bikes, bike packing bikes, touring, cycle-cross the list goes on and on. While all of these genres of cycling do have their slight differences, they also have their similarities. The easiest way to define this sector of cycling “Gravel Grinding” is pretty much any off road capable drop bar bike. Which can be anything from a cycle cross to a endurance road bike, to an old modified mountain bike. The only deciding factor really is as long as there is tyre clearance on the frame to run larger tyres so you can safely ride it off road and on the loose stuff.
Typical road bike wheel clearance – typical max is 28mm
Gravel bike wheel clearance – max can be 40mm+ allowing for plus ride and plenty of tread options
The improvement of frame design, disc brakes, tyres and increased tyre clearance in bikes has really allowed this style of riding to take off. We now have tyres that are bigger and yet not really any slower on paved roads compared to their thinner, slicker counterparts. This has had to do with wind tunnel, wheel and bike design that has improved this efficiency all the while having grip in the loose stuff. Sounds good doesn’t it? You can still do a long, fast ride as you would on a roadie, and yet feel more stable and comfortable with a wider tyre beneath you. You also have the versatility of using it to commute to work, keeping your options open for road or dirt routes, and the ability to fit guards and racks. Melbourne’s formidable badly-maintained roads/paths, tram tracks, and cobblestoned alleyways don’t seem quite as difficult. And as a plus, when you get to the end of the pavement, you have the ability to adventure off the road and ride those single trail cross country style tracks you previously did on a mountain bike.
We have a huge variety of these styles of bikes at Velo and presently every drop bar bike we sell would be capable of taking on this event, either straight off the floor or with just a slight tyre change, opting for a wider tyre with more capability for off road.
The bikes that would specifically work great for this event would be any of the follow found here.
You may remember Kendall’s quick tour of Tasmania on a Jamis Renegade Expat (seen here). This has been one of our top sellers in this category, which was at $1799 but we now have at $1549. We also have many others available on the floor now, including :
As well as other frames and options we can build up specific to your needs, such as the Soma Wolverine.
NEW Great Otway Gravel Grind (THE G.O.G.G.)
A-grade riding on A-grade dirt made accessible to all riders. The Otway Ranges are criss-crossed with superb dirt roads that wind their way through tall-timber rainforest to the Great Ocean Road and back, and these new races allow any rider to enjoy the journey.
• 97km GOGG big ring
• 49km GOGG little ring
• All on beautiful dirt roads with nearly zero traffic
• Open to gravel grinders, mountain bikers, cyclo-cross and road riders
• Includes a time-out-zone for coffee and café’s catch ups