Holly and Michael - Port to Port's Mixed Up Pair

28 April 2019

Riding solo at Port to Port last year, Holly Harris was untouchable with the smiling assassin dominating every stage of the prestigious four day Epic Series Oceania event in NSW’s Newcastle and Hunter Region.

With its link to the iconic Absa Cape Epic in South Africa, for many riders the focus of the Epic Series Oceania has shifted to pairs racing, so the defending women’s champion has enlisted the help of her secret weapon to help get things done in 2019.

“Yes I have found someone to ride with at Port to Port and I think I have found a very good partner,” Holly declared. ”I am going to be racing mixed pairs with my younger brother Michael and I am really excited. This is the first time we have raced as a pair, so it will be interesting. My brother is really strong and definitely has the athletic genes out of the both of us. I feel lucky to be racing with him but we will see how it goes. Hopefully we will both keep calm and don’t strangle each other.”

“The key to pairs racing is that you have to be in tune with the other rider who might be struggling. The male rider has to be really understanding and the female rider has to really turn themselves inside out and back to front. As fast as the guys can make us go, is as fast as the team can go. I think Michael and I will have a big advantage because we ride together all the time and we are really familiar with how we are when we are tired and fatigued. We know the warning signs and will be able to keep an eye on each other. It will be interesting but even if Michael is having a bad day, I think he will be okay. I am not entirely sure who is racing with who. It will be interesting to see who turns up and in what combinations.”

“The plan for this year is to do the four races in the Epic Series Oceania. Michael and I want to have a dig at some of the pairs racing this year so we will see how we go at Port to Port. The plan at this stage is to do The Pioneer. It will be a big one but we would really love to do it. Dad just came back from Cape Epic and he has definitely inspired us to aim for that one in the future,” Holly said.

With wins at both Port to Port and Cape to Cape in 2018, Holly was able to book end an amazing season and she is determined to keep the momentum up this year, exploring the world of road racing before finally hitting the trails.

“I was absolutely stoked, last year was a good one for me. I have always wanted to tick off Cape to Cape with a win. It was massive for me because Cape to Cape was one of my first big stage races so to win it was just unreal. It was a hard race and the end of my season, so I was absolutely flogged but it was awesome.”

“I got back into training over Christmas putting in a big endurance block. I was lucky enough to sign with Specialised Women’s Racing for the Summer of Cycling. They are one of the best road teams in Australia and being able to sign with them meant I got to race the World Tour girls which was pretty cool. So, in January I raced in Ballarat at the Road Nationals and then I was lucky enough to get a start for the Herald Sun Tour and Cadel’s Road Race. It was a lot of hard work and I definitely have a lot to learn.”

“Straight after the road racing finished I jumped straight back on my MTB because the Oceania Champs was coming up. That was a big and important race for me and I trained hard for that and I came second to Rebecca Henderson (McConnell). I put a lot of pressure on myself and made a few mistakes in the lead up, but I worked really hard and was really happy with the training I put in.”

“Sometimes it doesn’t all come together and you learn from it and I definitely learned from it. You’ve got to be happy with that. If you won all the time you probably wouldn’t learn much. You just have to take it in your stride. I came second but we wouldn’t be the athletes we are without wanting more,” she laughed.

Holly said she loves both the intense competition and the relaxed feel of the Epic Series Oceania that has quickly established a niche for itself in the world of Australian MTB.

“The Epic Series is a real bonus. I think we are really lucky to have this series because the National Series has been stopped and they aren’t pushing that anymore. This series has given us some racing where the country’s top mountain bikers can go and compete with each other. It gives us the opportunity to test ourselves but in a more relaxed environment, so it is the best of both worlds.”

“The Epic Series is also the perfect gateway to Cape Epic and you need the experience of these races to get to get to Cape Epic. You wouldn’t want to go into it blind that is for sure One hundred percent Cape Epic is the Tour De France of MTB. You get the best riders in the world racing it and it is definitely a bucket list thing for me and a lot of other riders.”

While Holly’s race schedule is chocka block she is hoping to be selected for the Australian team going to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canada in late August.

“I am going to do a lot of racing in Australia but I am still planning on heading over to the World Championships. Fingers crossed I make the team and all that, so that is the plan. It is one race at a time but it will be a very exciting 2019. We are being kept busy with a lot of good racing that is for sure,” Holly declared.

Find out why Port to Port MTB should be your next MTB experience visit https://porttoportmtb.com/

Port to Port MTB is proudly supported by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Further information contact: Noel McMahon, IRONMAN Media Manager (Oceania) +61 455 091 476, noel.mcmahon@ironman.com