Words by Flow | Images by Flowtographer

No one remembers the easy days. The days when your legs feel fresh, the weather is beautiful and nothing hurts – those days are soon forgotten, merged into the blur of day-to-day rides.

But for the 200 or so riders who tackled stage two of Port to Port MTB, this was a day that will never, ever be forgotten.

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Chris Hamilton and Andy Blair. From an Elite standpoint, today was all about these two.

 

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The start of the 14km climb.

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The Torq team launch attack number one.

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Into the singletrack. It’s a pity the rain made the incredible singletrack across the escarpment such a mess, as it would’ve been the pay off that many riders craved after the climb.

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This rut got a lot deeper. A lot, lot deeper.

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Dylan Cooper keeps it on the straight and narrow.

This was the kind of day that hurt you, that clogged your eyes and nose with mud, that stopped your wheels from spinning through the frame, where you couldn’t clip in, or clip out, and your water bottle tasted like dirt.

You wanted more gears, you carried your bike, you tried to work out how to stretch without cramping and you swore. A lot.

Not one, but two, sapping, endless climbs, interspersed with singletrack so slick it was like a luge course. Two of the most amazing, high-speed fireroad descents, so long and teeth-rattlingly fast that you didn’t know whether to scream in joy or fear.

This was a day that you wanted to end, but when it did and you rolled underneath that finish arch at Lindemans winery, you felt like you’d conquered something.

Sure, for some riders today was a very big ask, but no matter if they finished the stage in three hours or six, today’s racing was the kind of affair that will leave them with a lot memories (and maybe a bill for a new set of brake pads). It was a day that may hurt right now, but that will be laughed about over a beer in a week or two, and definitely, definitely be remembered in years to come when all the dry, easy rides have been forgotten.

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Jenny Fay. Laughing? Or grimacing?

As predicted, the elite end of the field didn’t see any real shuffles. Torq’s Chris Hamilton outsprinted Andy Blair for the stage win, but with such a big lead from stage one, Blairy’s overall wasn’t in danger. And Jenny Fay, despite the mud wreaking havoc with her drivetrain, stayed away for another win (surely even she’s losing count by now).

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Jackie Schapel, always smiling. She must get very dirty teeth. An amazing descender and a real champ.

Tomorrow, the racing stays in the Hunter, departing Briar Ridge winery before finishing just east of Cessnock. With more rain on the horizon, the stage will be shortened by a few kays, avoiding the worst of the mud, which will make most riders smile. There’s only so many ‘memorable’ stages your bike and body can take in one week!

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