For full event details, head to porttoportmtb.com
It all gets underway a couple of hours north of Sydney in beautiful Port Stephens, where riders take on the shortest stage of the event. It’s a 35km loop out of Nelson Bay, through the loose sandy trails of the National Park, with plenty of coastal views along the way. It’s not a long stage, but the sand and some tough, short climbs make it a real heart starter for the event, especially at the front end with riders looking to open up an early lead. For the full course map, head here.
With the race not starting until midday, you’d be wise to come up the day before and make the most of your time in Port Stephens as it’s one of the prettiest places you’ll find on the NSW coast with dozens of idyllic beaches and plenty to do off the bike for the whole crew, like dolphin watching, camel rides, tobogganing and eating a mountain of fish and chips before lying in the sun.
For the second stage of Port to Port MTB, you now head inland to the heart of the famed wine-growing Hunter Valley region. It’s a real contrast to the previous day, swapping sand dunes and beaches for vineyards and huge escarpments. As is fitting for the region, the race starts and finishes at wineries – Lindemans for the start, Briar Ridge for tired legs at the end. And the legs will be tired, as it’s a long stage with a hefty climb, rewarded by a pretty wild descent and, of course, a vino at the finish. You can view the whole course map here.
Day three of Port to Port MTB is a favourite; heavy on the singletrack, with plenty of new trails for this year too. Leaving the Hunter, the third stage heads south-east towards Lake Macquarie and the Awaba Mountain Bike Park. Awaba is known for having some of the best flowing trails in NSW, and stage 3 takes in just about all of them. There’s another solid climb to contend with, up high in the Watagan Ranges, but a whole swathe of new descending singletrack has been included in the course for the first time for 2016, and the locals tell us it’s awesome, so the pay-off is there for your climbing efforts. Being so close to Lake Macquarie, it only makes sense to cool of with some time on the water, a bit of R&R ahead of the final blast into Newcastle the next day. For the full course map of stage 3, head here.
The fourth and final leg of Port to Port 2016 runs back up the coastline, from the shores of Lake Macquarie, to the superb singletrack of Glenrock, before finishing right by the beach in Newcastle. This is another very popular stage, with a mix of fast bunch-riding and incredible singletrack, it’s an awesome way to cap off the event. There’s not a lot of climbing to worry about, so leave nothing in the tank and enjoy that beer by the ocean in Newy on the finish line! Take a look at the full stage 4 course here.