Race News

Holly Harris - wins the 2018 Port to Port

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Holly Harris - wins the 2018 Port to Port

A huge congratulations to MERIDA rider, Holly Harris, who has raced in her first Port to Port, won every stage and took the win for the event!

Read on to find out what Holly's ride was like....

After some high pressure races and a last minute trip to China racing my roadie in a 5 day UCI Women's tour, it was safe to say I needed a little chill time. If you know me you would know
relaxing isn't really my style so instead I opted for Port to Port instead. I had never ridden this race before but only heard good things! Thankfully P2P isn't a massive trip from the Dale so I  convoyed with the crew (Patty, Carlos and Dave) ready for a bike holiday, but like all holidays that I seem to be involved with Murphy's law likes to come into play.. just so there are a few stories to tell afterwards. Patty and I were following Carl in the convoy, we saw a bright Orange Optic drop from the rear rack, only being held on by a strap on the rear wheel.... it took us almost 1km to get the big fella to stop!

We ran out to suss the damage, I was expecting one completely totalled rig. To Carls relief the Optic was only in need of a new set of Handle Bars and a brake lever, which my old friends  at Drift Bikes in Newy were able to help us out with. Super Manager Chris Feltham was able to provide some fresh ESI Grips and Carl had the old gurl back in action! Nothing gets you  going like some pre race stress, hey Carl ? ;)

Stage 1 - What a way to start Port to Port... Hot air balloons floating out of the fog at the beautiful Audrey Wilkinson winery, the kind of stuff dreams are made of. I was pretty nervous  before beginning this stage as I wasn't really sure where my body was at after returning from China, as I have been fighting with fatigue a lot this year. My nerves soon settled when I caught a glimpse of the famous K Mac smile! It is always awesome to catch up with everyone at these races.

After a wild roll out, I found myself on something I was comfortable on - a road climb. The ol' legs soon got the message, it was time to wind it up. I was able to put myself in a good  position up the climb, cruising past Davo much to his disgust. After a brutal climb we reached some awesome trails... fresh and raw, just like the stuff I grew up riding! I couldn't wipe the  smile off my face...I almost forgot I was racing! To finish off the stage we had a few massive fire road descents. Mid way down the main descent a rock flicked up and hit my rear wheel  with one of those cracking sounds that would make any mountain biker feel a little nauseous! Flash backs of marathon champs came back.. I couldn't look down so I kept riding just waiting for something to go wrong. Thankfully luck was on my side and I nursed the wheel with unknown damage all the way to the finish line! To make things better I was first female to cross the line anddd even better .. I held off the Dad! What a day!!

Before I could finish all of Carl's hot chips Super manager Chris Feltham from MTbike Tech (find him on Facebook <3 ) had my not so serious broken spoke fixed and ready to race another day! Stage 2 - Another big climb to begin the stage, absolutely perfect for my newly found roadie legs. Following the climb were some more gnarly fire road descents. Some elegant dismounts from my old Torq Teamie Liam kept me on my toes. Some sweet single trail that could be described with one word... corners, lots of corners! Luckily a group of guys and I formed a nice conga line which helped keep my brain from getting too dizzy! The stage finished off with a nice lil drag race across the golf course, where I held on for dear life yoyoing off my bunch but managing to hold onto my Pink jersey and putting some extra time into my GC lead! I was gutted to hear that Kath Mac suffered a super gnarly crash costing her huge  amounts of time in GC .. but so impressed she rode her munted bike all the way to the finish... toughest chick out!

Photo: Briony Mattocks
Dirt Crit - If I am to be completely honest, my stoke levels were not peaking for this race, it was a 10min flat out urban crit on MTB's. It sounds like fun I will admit but unfortunately  printing is definitely not one of my strengths. I sprint sort of like a wet noodle, not that i've witnessed a wet noodle sprint, but I imagine it would be slow and awkward.. After half a can of red bull to get me going I was on the start line.. hoping for a leisurely start. The gun went and the ladies were off! So much for my leisurely start :'). Quickly I thought through some tactics.. all I could come up with is ride as fast as I can so hopefully we are all too tired to sprint... genius, I know ;) Somehow this worked for the first lot of sprint points, although a strong Sarah Tucknott dropped some massive ponies and nailed me for the second sprint points. By the last lap it was only Sarah and myself left and I was very concerned she would out sprint me again. Luckily I was able to make up a few meters in the final corners which gave me enough room to avoid the sprint and take the win, made even better with celebratory burgers.
Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith | TBS Photography

Stage 3 - The Queen Stage... This one was by far my favourite stage, starting through the sweet Awaba trails - groomed to perfection before hitting the fire road hills. Through Awaba I was  lucky enough to get in a good bunch. We stuck together for most of the race because after the trails there was majority fire road which rewarded riders who were in a good bunch. I dug deep for this one as I found myself with a bunch of guys who were a fair bit faster then me. Thanks tour of Panorama Guizhou for teaching me how to sit in even when you think your legs could potentially fall off at any point. :)

Towards the end of the stage we hit some loose trails.. holy! I don't know what it is about loose single trail, but it just gets me going. Even better when you have Bevan and Mike frothing  just as hard .. we then dropped down onto some tar for a nice lil chop off to the finish line.. just to make sure you had the nice metallic taste in your mouth to finish off with.
Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith | TBS Photography

As athletes we like to fuel our bodies with quality ingredients, everyone is different though and pre race dinners vary for everyone. I was very intrigued by Carl, Patty and Dave's pre race  dinner .. Henny Pennies fried chicken and some special friend rice. I was almost embarrassed to eat my simple dinner around these health guru's. #bodyisatemple

Stage 4 - Tired mind, tired body... the 5am wake up calls where starting to take it's toll on me! Also some strange sickness .. possibly dehydration ? had me up most the night leaving me  with a solid two hours sleep, and I am a 9hrs sleep minimum kinda gal.. After a rough wake up and commute to the start.. I finally started to cheer up when the sun was rising up over the beach. All I could think of were the wise words of Scotty Fitler "this is livin guys and gals". For me the roll out was crazy.. I couldn't get in a group where the pace seemed right.. I was getting rag dolled around.. but finally found my groove after I nice lil lay down at the start of single trail. My aim of Stage 4 soon became survival. After much suffering my whinging was drowned out with some pretty amazing views and trail appreciation. Soon enough I was rolling down to the finish line, I had finished with the stage win and maintained the overall GC.  Holy shiza! What an awesome feeling. To make things better some Old Mate, Tasman also took the stage win and second overall.
Photo: Zoe Binder | AMB Magazine

All I can think now is what an awesome week of shredding bikes with my mates! Will definitely be
lining up for it again next !

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Port to Port Wirte up__Page_4_Image_0001Tim Bardsley-Smith  TBS Photography.jpg