Kona Odyssey 2013 – 2 Shorty’s and Pioneer

Kona Odyssey 2013 - no it doesn't say 2015 - it is a trick of the light... and the angle...

Kona Odyssey 2013 – no it doesn’t say 2015 – it is a trick of the light… and the angle…

Last weekend, my mate Scott, my Nephew Josh and I all took part in one of the most iconic mountain bike weekends in the calendar.

We headed down to Forrest, in the Victorian Otway Ranges and competed in the Rapid Ascent Kona Odyssey. Having done the 100 last year, I was a little more conservative this year and only entered the 50. My good mate Scott backed up again this year and to add to the mix, my nephew Josh had a crack at his first mountain bike race – the Kona Pioneer 15 km event. To top our party off, my good friend Erica also came down to lend a supporting hand. She’s getting quite used to being support crew, having also helped out at the  Anaconda Lorne race last year.

This was the latest in my year of awesomeness as the Banzai Adventurer. I won a Rapid Ascent Golden Ticket last year that gave me and a mate free entry to a year of adventure events around Australia.

Forrest is just inland from some of the most spectacular beaches in Australia along the Great Ocean Road. We took a drive down to Bells and to where last years course began, Apollo Bay. Then up over the Otways to race HQ Forrest Football Ground.  A long drive but well worth the effort to see the hill top rain forests. (In fact, if you are free next weekend, there is a great road ride event called the Ford Rainforest Ride down there you should check out).

My last post was a Q and A with Josh ahead of the race. Last weekend, before the race, I asked Josh how he was feeling ahead of competing in his first MTB race.

Kona Shorty –

The morning of the race Scott and I headed out for the 50. Mind you, we very nearly didn’t head out together. A long line up of cars at parking meant that he very nearly missed the race. Not the only one a little disorganised, I left my brand new camera in the car so missed out on some great footage of the 50 km trails. For a taste of the action check out the official highlights reel below.

It was awesome and very different from the 100 of last year. Our ride was hot and dusty, after the first climb (Around 10 km worth), we were treated to some of the best rolling single track in the country.

While it was certainly easier than the 100 km epic, the weather and our enthusiasm took it’s toll and we were more than a little shagged by the time we rolled through the finish.

Anyway, after we recovered in whatever shade we could find, it was Josh’s turn.

The victors got the spoils... all we got was dusty and a coke

The victors got the spoils… all we got was dusty and a coke

Taking whatever shade we could find

Taking whatever shade we could find

Kona Pioneer –

The start was about a km up the hill from the footy ground. By the time we started we were both pretty excited.

The Kona Pioneer follows some of the same route to the other distances, including some really sweet single track. It is a real format for newcomers to the sport, it allows an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to have a go at the race in a supportive and friendly environment. It also allows new riders to test their limits – as Josh did, watch for a pretty sweet stack in the clip below.

Before we knew it, the Kona Pioneer race was over and we had finished.

After the race, once we were showered and Josh’s leg was patched up, I asked him again about the race.

It’s a bit of a glowing recommendation for this format, late in the interview where Josh describes the support of fellow riders. After doing so many of their events, I too reckon that the Rapid Ascent team make a point of making their events tough, but offer enough variety and support that it allows participation for everyone.

I reckon it’s pretty clear that the Mountain Bike Community of Victoria has just recruited another to their number. In fact, I happen to know that he has already entered next weekend’s Foster 3 hour Enduro.

For me, my goal is still to complete the Ultimate Multisport Challenge – the Marysville2Melbourne in late April. This year I will take it on solo (For a very good cause too I might add).

I am still struggling to balance work and life but have a plan to fix that soon. In the meantime, I’m off to Mt Buller soon to work on my mountain bike skills, then to Dunsborough, W.A. to get in some great cross training at a new event the X-Adventure. If you see me out on the track, please say G’Day.

This year has been a crazy ride… it makes me wonder what will be next. Once the events are done and I’ve packed up and cleaned my gear, what then? I have been thoroughly enjoying heading into work on a Monday, too shagged to care, suit and tie covering the bruises and scrapes of the weekend.

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Very Slick Shwa, Very Slick

What makes a smart young man decide to line up at the start line with hundreds of other crazies and step out into the unknown of his first Mountain Bike Race? How does it feel? Well, I thought I’d ask my Nephew Josh Vitols that very question (among others)..
Here is the result…
Josh is lining up next weekend to tackle his first Mountain Bike Race – the 15 km pioneer race. Part of the Rapid Ascent Kona Odyssey festival of fun. Down at Forrest in Victoria, set among some of Australia’s best mountain bike trails, the Odyssey has grown to epic status and is on the bucket list for many Australian and International riders alike.
So Josh… with a week to go, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.

1.Have you ever done a mountain bike race before?


2. How much mountain biking have you done before?

I’ve done a bit here and there, with my Uncle Adam, and for a school class.

3. Are you doing the 100, 50 or 15?

I am doing the Pioneer, a 15km race.

4. What made you want to do this one?

Probably the fact that I haven’t done one before and that this would be a really good opportunity.

5. You know people refer to the Odyssey as an epic and one of the toughest MTB marathons in Australia don’t you?

I see the Odyssey as being quite a widely known event and from what I’ve heard it is… tough.

6. Are you nervous? If so what about?

I’m not really nervous, just more exited… I think they call that anxious?

7. What kind of bike do you ride?

I am proud to ride a Merida bike. I have a got a Big NineTFS 300 (29er) hardtail.

8. Do you ride a lot normally?

I do ride often, to school and back, to work and back and also to the sweet trails around Gippsland.

9. Is the Banzai Adventurer your favourite all time athlete, ever?

Yes, I think that anyone that does the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge is crazy and has guts.

10. Do you have any sweet skills on the bike you’d like to tell us about? Like popping mono’s?Jumps ?

Not really, I’ve never been able to do anything like that..

11. What’s the most badass stack you had riding?

The most ‘badass stack’ I’ve ever had riding would be about 2 months ago I came flying down a track and leading into a trail my pedal hit a tree stump, and the rest is history.

I ended up having deep bruising and ligament damage…

oh and a bone fracture.

12. You broke your leg?

Yeah, I guess.

13. What did you do?

Well I rode home and told mum… she freaked out a bit and took me to the doctor, when they did an x-ray they said I had a fracture.

14. One day, when and if you ever grow up as strong and as tall as the Banzai Adventurer, do you want to be just like him when you’re 40 years old?

Haha. I think that would be great. I think that I would love to do adventure races whenever I could.

15. What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I am most looking forward to the proud moment of finishing.

16. Got a girlfriend who is likely to read / see this interview?

Well, as much as I am the ladies man… probably no.

17. Have you done any training specially for this event?

Yes, I have been riding into work/school everyday, and that is about 10kms and then on a Sunday I go for about a 20km ride on road and in the trails.

18. Do you know many other people doing it?

No, in fact the only other person I know doing it (that I know of…) is the infamous Banzai Adventurer ahaha ha ha.

19. Are you going to shave your legs like a roadie cyclist or go hairy like your cool uncle?

Haha. No I will go hairy, it’s the way to go.

Thanks Josh… Get excited! The race is on in a little over a week. I’m looking forward to see how we both go and maybe doing a follow up interview down at Forrest.
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An adventure without a cause is like a ship without a rudder

So what good is an adventure without a good cause?

I reckon there are plenty of great causes out there but for Marysville 2 Melbourne, I’ve decided to throw my support behind Soldier On. A charity close to home for many of my friends and family. Every year I make a bit of a push for some charity or other and this year is no different. I won’t cajole, ambush or email you all pushing you to support my fundraising. Instead, I’ll post this link to this page and ask you to simply pause for a moment and consider those who decide to wear the uniform and serve in the ADF.

I am pretty sure that most Australians are only one or two steps away from someone who has served, or their family. This charity is about supporting those men and women who have been injured serving Australia.

If you’d like to donate then please follow the link to my fundraising page.

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TNP are famous

Well sometimes… occasionally… we get approached by race organisers to do interviews and provide an insight into what makes the TNP tick.

Just the other day, Meaghan was asked by Rapid Ascent to do a quick Q and A for the Marysville 2 Melbourne. If you had any doubts about your abililty to enter and complete that event in a team, read this and feel reassured:

This is a copy of the Rapid Ascent interview –

” Team profile: The Tuesday Night Parmas (is there a better team name out there?)

A smile leapt onto my face the other day when I was looking down the M2M entry list and saw that the Tuesday Night Parmas had entered M2M for a third year in a row. With this much racecred, and a team name like that, I just had to get in touch and ask them a few questions for the benefit of all of us. Here is their (funny) story…

Who are you and what do you do?
We are normally a team of 3 or 4 happy go lucky friends but this year one of our kind is entering it solo so the rest of us are stepping up to do 3 legs each, so we may need to train this year (gulp!)

Meaghan (team captain): @ Work – Logistics / Humanitarian Response with Oxfam Australia.
@ M2M – In the past two events I have done the 19km trail run and 41km ride but this year we are switching it up. . . .I will be doing the 50km ride, 14km run and the last 15km paddle. It’s going to hurt.

Ryan: @ Work – Project Manager. @M2M – He sticks to running and paddling, usually doing the 14km run and a paddle. HOWEVER IN BREAKING NEWS, Ryan will be bike riding as well this year. It’s a big deal in our world and neither of us is too flash on the old bike so watch out for us careering out of control around the roads. Ryan also got a skateboard for Christmas which he might strap on the back if it gets too hard.

Adam: well he is jumping ship to tackle M2M solo as part of his Banzai Adventurer gig. He’s tackled every other Rapid Ascent event last year and is on a roll.

Kate: our faithfull support crew.

…I think it’s weird that we aren’t more famous.

Where does the team name ‘Tuesday Night Parmas’ come from? How do you know each other?
We decided to enter M2M three years ago over a few pints and massive Parmas down at Ocean Grove. It also happened to be a Tuesday – not sure how many beers in when the name was formalised.  We felt that this restaurant reflected our love of carb loading and tapering.  That’s how the Tuesday Night Parmas were born.

Kate, Ryan and I have known each other since we were 17 years old.  We met Adam three years later.  We all went to uni together.

Does having a weekly Parma count as a training session for the team?
A weekly Parma definitely counts. Tuesday Night Parmas understand the importance of tapering and carb loading – these are the key elements of all of our training. Actually – these are the only elements of our training.

Who takes the race most seriously and who is the most relaxed?
He says: Meaghan is definitely the most serious, hence she is our motivator and team Captain. Meaghan even tries to get us to train – with mixed results.  I think Ryan is the most relaxed – he holds that x-factor which cannot be obtained through training.
She says: I think we all take our individual legs seriously but not the overall race.  It’s all about having a good time, trash talking and snacking.  And trying to work out the best way to get to the finish without getting caught in traffic.

Who is the team captain and are they bossy? Who calls the shots?
She says:  I am and no I’m not bossy.  Right?
He says:  Meaghan is the team Captain and out of fear, I can’t answer the remainder of this question.

Can you tell us any funny stories about training / racing that any of you have had? Accidents or injuries or just plain epics?
We would have funny training stories if we did more training.  We talk about it a lot though. . . .

Ryan has an issue with the ‘snug’ fit of the M2M bibs. That always provides us with some amusement.

Getting to each of the transitions feels like a bit of a car rally, which is thoroughly entertaining.  Kate is an exceptional driver with the ability to jag excellent parking spaces which maximises rest / coffee time (tip for young players!!). In our first hit out, Kate (support crew / competitor) made sandwiches with mouldy ham but luckily we were onto it early or she could have wiped out the whole team in one go!!

Why do you do the M2M each year – what is it that you enjoy? What is your motivation?
We love M2M.  It is an adventurous, beautiful event that involves an epic journey.  For us, it’s as much about the logistics and support crew as the competitors.  For example, working out where we can drink coffee and eat bacon and egg sandwiches and still make it to the transitions in time.  Total juggling act.

It’s a great day – very social and a fantastic opportunity to get out and be active whilst feeling a sense of achievement at the end of it.

Another large part of the motivation for us is the very much over priced sausage sizzle and beers at one of the cafes at the finish.  Our aim is to cross the finish line before the cafe closes.  Any chance Rotary could do a sausage sizzle this year?  They would make an absolute fortune off us. . .

If you could give 3 tips to other teams thinking of entering the race what would they be?
1.  Do it! Have a think about where you are at physically and mentally and tailor the amount of legs for the race accordingly. Even if you are doing one leg it is still a great day.
2.  FYI, the second bike ride is not all downhill contrary to the profile map provided!!  Do not be misled. . . . .
3.  The race will sort itself out. . . .focus on the journey (and the sandwiches / BBQ shapes which incidentally are relatively high in carbohydrates) Make sure to carb-load – essential for team training events! ”

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What lays ahead – 2013 – Chapter 2 of the Year of Adventure as The Banzai Adventurer

So begins another year of adventure. I just spent the past half an hour looking through the Rapid Ascent Event Calendar and trying to work out how I am going to fit them all in.

It goes something like like:

Kona Odyssey 16 Feb 

Looks like I’ll be doing that with my mate Scott again. He dragged me through last year, hopefully he can do the same this time round. As an added bonus, my nephew Josh will be coming along for a hit out on the shorter course. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve been riding with Josh down in Gippsland and I’m keen to see how he goes in a race. He’s got the moves and seems to lack the sense of self preservation. It’s going to be rad.

Rainforest Ride 24 Feb 

A great ride and a good way to get the legs rolling again on the roadie. I’ll try convince Megs or Os from Tuesday Night Parmas to come along for that.

Bike Buller March Long Weekend

I’ll put a bit more of a crew together for that and make a whole weekend of it. I was spewing I missed it last year.

X – Adventure Dunsborough 16 March

An off road triathlon to get the heart pumping – hopefully see Phil and Ben over there for that. And I’d better get some leave approved from work…

Then the epic for the year. My goal from the beginning – the iconic – and slightly nerve wracking –

Marysville 2 Melbourne 28 Apr 

And in big news – Tuesday Night Parmas will be back for more this year. I will be going solo, going solo and Phil from W.A. is coming across to mix it with the Eastern States locals – also solo…. And where do you ask is Ben… well it seems he has been doing some secret training and scheming so he too may make the pilgrimage across……

And finally the ICME – a week of mountain bike heaven in Alice Springs in mid May.

I’m looking for a buddy to take along to that in case Meaghan can’t get time off work. So let me know if you are keen..

What have you got planned this year?

First things first though… To training and getting a little bit better in some rather essential skills… Like not falling out of the kayak..

Liam and Rachel from Vigor Fitness have their work cut out for him in that department. So much so that I have chosen a rather low key, out of the way, quietly growing event down in Gippsland for my return to training this year. If you are around on the 09 Feb and are keen on a great event with a group of like minded folk (from front end, through mid pack hacks – like me, and beginners) come along. Check the event site for the details.

Posted in Bike Buller, Events, ICME, Kona Odyssey, Marysville to Melbourne, X Adventure | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

TNP are back for M2M 2013

This in from Meaghan:


NEWS FLASH. . . .THIS JUST IN. . . . . .

 Tuesday Night Parmas have officially entered their third Marysville to Melbourne event.  This year sees a split in the team with Adam tackling the monster race all on his own.  Meaghan and Os have also stepped up to complete three legs each.  This race separates the men from the boys. . . . .

We all know that Os would like to do his cycle leg on his brand new skateboard however, I have been in contact with event management and they said no.  The reason for their decision was that it would give Tuesday Night Parmas an unfair advantage over the other competitors.  Fair play.

Kate will also be stepping up in support crew duties, HOWEVER, we may need to do some recruiting on this front.  Two teams is a bit too much to handle, she can only make so many sandwiches!!

I am going to try and book accommodation today for the night before.  Watch this space. . . ..

Let the training begin.

TNP Team Captain

Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ from our first effort

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Back to where it all began, what have I learned in the last 12 months

In 2011, I completed my first Anaconda Adventure race. I remember the awesome feeling of hobbling over the line with Os and Meaghan (You might recognise them as founding members of Australias Least Known Adventure Racing Team – Tuesday Night Parmas. Then again… you may not).  Sore as hell but totally chuffed to have completed an epic race. I had no idea at that time what the year ahead had in store for me…

In Feb I won a competition that gave me free entry to some of the best events around Australia. Since then I have completed a trail running series, a 100km Ultra Marathon, a Multisport race in WA and all three of the Anaconda Adventure Race Series Events – Noosa, Augusta and most recently Lorne.

I have met some incredible people along the way. Folk who have provided me real inspiration. The kind of hair standing on end, goosebumps, bubble in the throat and tears in the eye inspiration that comes from surrounding myself with people who believe in themselves and believe in me. World champions, National champions, the toughest of the tough mudders, hippies, doctors, salesmen, IT nerds, mechanics and dockside workers. All prone to suffer the need to occasionally get out “there”, beyond the hygienic transition areas of the local triathlon series and dare I say it.. beyond even the cafe racers on Beach Road on Saturday morning.

The race at Lorne this month was no different. I found myself again toeing the line with people from all walks of life. Stepping rather nervously into the channel beyond the pier at Lorne on Victoria’s spectacular Surf Coast. This time round though, I was pretty sure I was going to finish. I was not that confident this time last year. In fact, truth be known I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This year, I knew what to look forward to – I even had a support crew. My dear friend Erica came down to lend a hand.


For support crew duties at Anaconda Lorne 2013, I award Erica a gold star.

The race starts with a 1.9km open water swim. This year (thankfully) the conditions were not quite as challenging as last year.

StartErica snapped this at the start. You’ve gotta feel for the dude in the bottom right of the picture who has just missed the start…

Here’s a quick video of last year – anyone that was there will happily tell you that the video does not do it justice. The sea was angry that day my friend.

I spoke briefly to a guy at the start who had also won a Rapid Ascent Golden Ticket. He told me that this year he too had run his first 100km and this was his first Adventure Race. We both agreed that Rapid Ascent probably had no idea how powerful a gift a golden ticket really is.  I also ran into Chris Walker. This was the last event before he and Tracy take off to ride from Cairo to Capetown (That’s right folks – they are crazy).

Well the swim took it out of me. I have been doing a lot of travel lately and have not really put much effort into my preparation. So my form was a little worse than normal – so I was a little surprised not to be offered a rescue to be honest.

What a great day for a race

A great shot of the kayak line. (Thanks Tracy for this photo).

After the swim, the paddle. Again, due to rising swell and winds, the course had been changed to make sure no one came too far unstuck. On the paddle I caught up with Chris and we paddled together for about half a lap until I lost sight of him. Judging by the massive grin on his face, he was having a ball.


Another great shot from Tracy. That wave did seem bigger on the day..

Running in from the kayak I was starting to feel pretty good. I was really looking forward to the trail run. A quick hi five from Erica on the way out and I was away. The run is a real hoot. I was having so much fun in the first beach section that I lost concentration and went down pretty hard. It must have looked pretty bad though because a couple of competitors coming the other way (14km ahead of me after 2 legs) grunted and “ouched”. As soon as they saw that I was ok though they laughed their arses off. That’s ok though, I was giggling too. Then Tracy appeared with a camera, so quick as a flash I straightened up and tried to look the part. Thankfully, she missed the stack completely. She told me that Chris was about 10 minutes behind me. I know he is pretty quick on the bike so I thought, if I could get away a little on the run, this could get pretty interesting..


Tracy just missed my stack. I was probably still grinning when she took this though.

I met a girl on the run who told me she couldn’t swim 50 m in January when she had decided to do this race. What a star. This is the thing about these races, real inspiration is often just ahead, or just behind you, no matter where you are in the pack.

Then the run was over. Another quick hi five with Erica and I was off on the bike. Having done the race last year, I knew what was coming. Quite a lot of time pushing my bike up a really big hill. This time round I rode a lot more sensibly. Conserving as much in the legs as I could for when I needed them. I’m not sure it made any difference, that hill is just really really tough. What goes around definitely comes around in off road events. I had an opportunity to pay back a debt of mechanical aid (From Wombat a couple of years ago). This time, I had the chain breaker and spare links AND the know how of how to use them. It was a really nice feeling. Inevitably, Chris passed me on a steep uphill section of the bike leg and he was gone. I thought I might catch site along the final run leg but I’m pretty sure by then he was already downing a cold beer.

The final run section came and went and before I knew it I was finished. Almost an hour quicker than last year. in 2011, I was struggling to get both legs off the ground at once, this year I was able to jog a comfortable pace the whole way up the beach.

IS that a flare in your pocket

While I did actually have a flare in my pocket, I was also just glad to see the support crew.

Then, just like that… my participation in the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series was complete. Lorne was also the very last of the Anaconda Adventure Races. Since it’s inception, this race has been known as “The Anaconda”. Now that there is a sponsor change, I wonder what will be there in its place. Having now done a lot of Rapid Ascent Events I am sure about one thing – it’s likely to be pretty rad.

So what have I learned in the 12 months between my first and last Anaconda Adventure Race?

Support crews still have no idea how important they are to competitors

There is room in a busy corporate lifestyle for Adventure Racing – you just need to be really disciplined with the work life balance. If there isn’t room, or you lack the discipline, one of the two is going to fail.

If your preparation matches your expectations you will do really well.

So here I am at the end of 2012. A year that I have used to reset the work life balance in my favour. Mostly I think I’ve done that pretty well. Looking into 2013 I am excited by what lays ahead. I am sure that I will be poorly balancing work and life soon enough, but for now, I’m really looking forward to a break. Thank for reading my blog and commenting along the way. Stay safe and have a great holiday break.

See you bigger and badder in 2013.

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The biggest One Day Adventure Race on the planet

You need to picture the start. Stepping off the bus, walking towards the South Western most point of Australia, it hailed. A thousand competitors cowering for cover and sharing the little body heat that comes from near naked tanned bodies covered in lycra. Surrounded by rocky coastline and on a big granite outcrop that divides the meeting place of two wild oceans, we had a long day ahead of us and it seemed that we were a very very long way away from any kind of real civilization.  Now this is adventure racing!


Continue reading

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Banzai Adventurer: Surfcoast Century 100km

Here’s a guest blog I did for the “Racing Tales” site. Pretty bloody chuffed to be contributing to such a well known site. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend perusing the stories. I am convinced there is something in the soil or water down there on the Surf Coast.

Racing Tales John Jacoby Style

Put the Surfcoast Century 100km on your bucket list. It was amazingly successful for an inugural event. The trail running craze is quickly positioning itself as the next endurance heavy weight so Adam Kelsall thought he better do some research and find an athlete that could help us understand this madness a little better. Who better than the Banzai Adventurer madman who just keeps stepping up to the start line week after week.

Story By: Banzai Adventurer

What do I know about ultra marathons?  This is what I thought when Adam asked me to “do a piece for his blog”. I mean, I had been training for 4 months to get me to the start line, but the night before the race, I was asking the question – do I have  the mettle to push myself to finish or not.  Surely there is someone more qualified than me to write the commentary on Australia’s…

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