Holly and Tristan 1

Tristan on racing with Holly

Hellfire Cup, Racing with Holly Harris

It was very exciting racing the hell fire cup for the second time, I raced the first one with Em Parkes and it was very muddy but so much fun. This time was a little different, new partner and a lot more pressure as both myself and my new team mate Holly both had great form leading up to the race.

I was going to do this race report day by day, stage by stage but that would have being really boring and long and shitty, so, this will be a wrap up of the Hellfire cup and what its like to race with Holly Harris – this quiet country girl from Armidale in western NSW is one tuff cookie, she can be a bit of a space cadet but is a massive driver and never gives up!

So the Hellfire cup and racing with Holly - the mixed category was very competitive this year with Peta (Mullens) and Jarrod (Moroni - defending champs and race favorites), the crazy good climber euro chick (Renata Bucher) (who holly was certain she was sponsored by a cheese company because of her helmet ) with her Kiwi partner and the cute kiwi chick with Ben Bradley.

Holly was very keen to race and had done the training and was very strong but a little nervous, we attacked hard on the first climb of the day with only the swiss and kiwi sticking with us. A few times they really had us on the ropes on the longer climbs but Holly's single track skills and cool head, just being able to manage a gap, ride at her threshold, even when under pressure then bring back the gap when she could.

In the last couple of K on the first stage the girls crashed into each other and Swiss hit the deck, typical holly wanted to stop and help ahah. this gave us a bit of time but then we went the wrong way...this made me scared as I was in front and it was my fault.. lucky Holly is forgiving and didn’t kill me.

We nailed the lap race round the village and got a five min lead. Holly had the fastest by 2min!! she was amazing...like proper fast.  With both Torq teams winning this stage it was happy times in the Van limo on the way home.

In the 50km stage Holly went to some pretty dark places. It was one of the bravest rides i've seen, she really hurt her self and we minimalised our losses and we didn’t end up loosing to much time. This was also the first time we started to see some cracks appearing in our partnership… it was never anyone’s fault but almost always mine. That night I may have told her I hated her and the next morning at the TT things were a little stressed, I said she should tap into threshold in the warm up and she promptly told me she could do her own warm up. So I mumbled something and rode off. We did our separate warm ups but within 5 min before the start, Holly came and found me we sorted our shit and raced. We raced as hard we could and lost more time but not the lead!

In the seconds of the short lap races Holly saved our race 100%, I had a nasty off loosing time to Ben and coming in with the Kiwi but getting a 20sec penalty. Holly went out hard and just kept it up putting 2min into the Swiss. After having some amazing broetos (does anyone know what a broetos is? -ed) Holly and I drove home leaving the boys to clean up the field and $1000 night race, congrats Taz and Peta! Anyways Holly drove, now some men jus don’t like to be driven, but some just don’t want to be taken for a ride. Ahah so we forgot the cabin keys and took the Limo van key. So at about 9:40 I get a call from Dean very nicely telling me I have the key and to get back to them quick smart.. so I took Holly for a ride.

The following day we raced finishing 1st and 2nd and winning the 2015 Hellfire cup elite mix! The feeling after crossing the line, racing hard to the end and actually winning was awesome.

Happiness and relief and I could see it that Holly was going through these emotions too. We had a big hug and then that was that, we washed our bikes ahah, I wet Holly with the hose and she got cranky. 

All in all, as Peta Mullens told me, in pairs racing, your girl is your diamond! and how lucky was I to have Holly! Like yes she can be a bitch sometimes but she put up with me for a week as her racing partner. Like fuck what a girl!

Thank you to Dean and Gen, ACJ , Merida , Torq, Motion, SRAM, Schwalbe with out you help we couldn’t race.

Duncan and the Hellfire crew for your hard work and great event.

Congrats and thanks to Taz and Hamo

Biggest thank you of all to Holly ahah we did it girl! 

Holly and Tristan 2

Holly on racing with Tristan

This was my first year racing the Helfire Cup, so I wasn't sure what to expect, especially because I was racing it with the Cowboy (Tristan Ward) as a mixed pair......what had I gotten myself into?

Knowing Tristan quite well I had prepared for a few of his awesome quirks such as:

1- Lack of personal hygiene

2- Constant dropping of sexist comments

3- Thinking mullets are sexy...

I arrived at our accommodation to be welcomed by Tristan's open air walk in wardrobe. Tristan had forgotten that he would need a bag to put his clothes in for the week, he had used them as padding for his bike on the flight over. Due to Tristan's bag situation he decided to leave his clothes for the week on the balcony of our cabin in pyramid of crumpled mess.

After some bike building and cross threading of stem bolts ... (Tristan), the Torq team opened our legs on some of Tassie's impressive single trail where I gave Tristan a few pointers on riding through tight switchbacks without falling off to make sure he was fully prepared for the day of racing to come!

 The first stage was 25km loop, with a nice mix of fire road and sweet single track. Somehow we secured a good start sitting with the lead bunch of riders in our category which consisted of: Renata Bucher and Olly Shaw(Swiss Kiwi), Peta Mullens and Jarrod Moroni and Bed Bradley with Samara Sheppard.. So I guess you could say that the it was pretty stiff competition.

As we hit the first climb I started to red line, so Tristan thought this would be a good time to give my "fat ass" a good push and stage an attack..  By some miracle we formed a small gap from most of the teams apart from Swiss Kiwi. I struggled on the the fire roads to keep up with the solid pace of the Swiss Kiwi, luckily Tristan had some good form and was able to get me through this without losing too much time. As soon as we hit the single track it was on, this was our strength and towards the end we managed to form a small gap. Unfortunately about 400m from the finish we had a few navigational issues and received an equal time with Swiss Kiwi.

The next race was 2 flat out XC loops each, which had Tristan frothing! Tristan did the first lap and managed to get us a good lead in front of all the teams. He then completed the fastest male lap and we started to lead the mixed GC by around 3mins!

The next stage was more challenging, as it was 50km with a lot of fire road climbs. This stage really pushed Tristan, I was hurting so he had to do everything in his power to keep the gap small, even if it meant putting his body on the line and wallowing on the ground (in front of Dean and ACJ.. Bad move) numerous times during the race. Not only did Tristan risk his body, but also his precious Italian leather lace up boots, which got scuffed on one of his encounters with the earth. Thanks to Tristan's sacrifice we where able to minimise our losses and only loose around a minute in the GC, which meant we still had a 2min lead.

Day 3 consisted of a TT and another short course race. Fatigue had set in and Tristan was getting emotional, even admiring his mullet in the mirror couldn't cheer him up.

 As soon as the TT stared the Cowboy was back! We started working well again. We lost a little bit of time on this stage but we still had some fast and furious racing to come which suited our ride style.

The old Tristan was finally back in full swing as he had finally solved the issue that had been getting him down. He had no chamois cream for the first two days. Being a fast thinker, he decided that a fist full of Coles petroleum jelly could provide more comfort then any expensive chamois cream on the market ( I think he needs to google petroleum jelly uses).

Finally what we had been waiting for... The short course. Again Tristan went off first and got a good lead, unfortunately he hit the ground like a sack of potatoes, losing his glasses, saddle bag and hitting his head with large amount of force (don't worry this was the best place for Tristan to hit). Luckily he was still able to do a smoking lap and we gained some more time in the mixed GC.

The final day of racing was here, and nervous energy was bouncing everywhere as the first stage was a 3km loop with a massive hill climb.. One of our weaknesses. Somehow Tristan I nailed this stage, the climb was loose which made it more technical and played to our advantage.

The final stage for this years Helfire cup was a short 4km loop! Tristan was excited, he had his eyes on the prize! The race started and he was off. I pulled Tristan back, as we did not need to win this stage, we just needed to keep the rubber side down. We crossed the line right behind Swiss Kiwi and took the Mixed GC win!!

What an experience. Even though Tristan has his quirks, he was an awesome partner and encouraged me the whole way! He pushed himself hard for the entire 4 days of racing and only spat his dummy twice! Which is a pretty big effort when you cop as much shit as Tristan! Even though a lot of crap comes out of his mouth, he is a genuine guy and always has a funny comment to say.

Well done to the Helfire crew, what and awesome racing atmosphere. If you haven't done Helfire it is definitely one to put on the To Do list!

Massive thanks to all of our sponsors, especially Dean from Torq Australia for coming away and baby sitting the Torq team all week. Big congratulations to Tas and Hammo for their win in the male pairs!!

.. And no Tristan, I am not your wifey.

Holly n Tristan 31


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