I have heard a lot of good things about the trails in otway and I now understand why.
For this adventure I went down solo, leaving the wife and kids at home. Hitting up the airlines with the bike bag, rental car big enough to fit the bike bag, and digs at the local caravan park in a safari style tent accommodation with a great outlook claiming to have "everything you will need". Except electricity, lights, cooking or eating utensils etc etc... Probably should have checked the fine print. Although after working my charm with a neighboring camper I managed to get a pot and knife to boil some veges and cook up a steak on the BBQ, eating it off the hot plate.
Dinner accomplished, I went about setting up the bike. I Was feeling pretty good about the ride and Despite not having done much in the couple of weeks since cap p I still felt strong and was looking forward to checking out the trails. But my bike had other ideas.... When I had finished setting it up and test rode it around the caravan park i was met with awful clunking sounds from the rear shock and far from ideal handling. Oh crap I think the shock is stuffed (and yes I may have used slightly different words than that).
I managed to borrow a shock pump to check pressure and recharge the shock but it was clearly not in a happy place and nothing to do with pressure. So after much deliberation and swearing I just put heaps of pressure in it to keep it firm and try my luck as a hardtail.
Next morning we set off. The race starts with a fairly substantial 10km climb up a dirt road. I started very strong and stayed with the lead 5 or so riders all the way up the climb with the shock not holding me back on the smooth gravel road. But then we hit the single track and the shock showed its true colours. Obviously stuffed, the shock made the bike handle like a dog and was a real battle in the corners.
I had to hold right back on areas that I would usually rip into and so quickly lost sight of the lead group. Realizing it was not going to go as planned I decided to instead focus on how awesome the trails were and at least managed to thoroughly enjoy the ride, pushing the bike as hard as it would let me.
Unfortunately at the 30km mark a gravel corner got the better of me and I lost the back, using my left knee as a brake in the thick gravel and feeling a not so nice twinge in my right leg. I picked myself up, re straitened the handle bars and headed off with a steady stream of claret from my left knee. I push on for the last 20kms a little underpowered due to the fall and finished in 2 hours 31 minutes, 15 minutes behind the leaders and sitting in 23rd place overall and 12th in age category.
Not the ending I was hoping for but considering the lack of a rear shock and the fall I was actually very happy with that result. I also really enjoyed the track with a great mix of everything and lots of technical single track. I can certainly tick otway off my bucket list and have a nice photo of my knee to show the kids.