She had a lot to grin about but Lisa Horlor also reckons undiluted joy is the secret to her intriguing mountain biking comeback.
The former downhill and BMX star collected the latest round of the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro series in Rotorua today, capping a meteoric re-entry into competitive cycling after eight years away.
Horlor edged Nelson’s Raewyn Morrison, winner of the October round of the series, by 28secs over the six-stage event, held in stunning conditions in the Whakarewarewa Forest, with Auckland’s Janine Kavanagh third in 33.26, 58secs behind the Rotorua rider.
With an eye on March’s Crankworx festival in Rotorua, Horlor is stoked that being stoked is helping her succeed.
“I never got right to the pinnacle where I wanted to go and I was probably mentally held back,” 36-year-old Horlor said. “I just feel mentally stronger coming back because I’ve lived a lot more life and learned about failures and mindset. I know now the mindset you need is just to love it – just to have the most fun day and naturally you’ll start flowing. When it starts to get painful on the pedals, if you’ve got a smile on your face, it doesn’t feel as hard. That’s been my big thing and that’s why I wanted to come back to racing – to see how I’ve learned from those years.”
Today’s racing was a step up from October’s round, which was run amid freezing conditions and the occasional snow flurry. The stages took riders all over the forest, from the fast, flowing Corridor-Boulder Dash stage to the technically demanding Te Tihi o Tawa and Kung Fu Walrus trails.
Horlor, who has been coaching both BMX and mountain biking for the last three years, was fourth at the October round but has worked hard over the last month to regain some fitness.
“I’m definitely still way off the mark technically and I’m still a bit wary of getting back to more technical riding because it’s been so long. BMX helps with jumping but it doesn’t help with the technical stuff so I’ll be doing a lot more of that in the next few months, because I want to be racing on the world stage again. In the old days, I’d hit a section and know my skills would cope if it went a bit ugly and I could pull it back. Now I don’t have that confidence so I’ve got to build that back up so I’m not so much on the brakes. Over a day, that is a massive difference in endure.”
Despite spending a whole lot of time off his bike lately, meanwhile, Rotorua’s Sam Shaw took out his third 2W men’s title with a narrow win over Kawerau’s Matt Walker.
After winning October’s round in the snow, Shaw – currently studying ecology at Massey University in Palmerston North – has spent a lot of time working between Napier and Gisborne and hasn’t ridden much at all.
He still had enough nous, as well as the fastest times on two of the six stages, to finish with a combined time of 28mins 01secs, just 4secs in front of Walker, with Rotorua’s Carl Jones third in 28.28.
The next round of the series is in February, with organisers promising the perfect warm-up for Crankworx and the New Zealand round of the Enduro world series.
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Sam Shaw (Rotorua) 28mins 01sec 1, Matt Walker (Kawerau) 28.05 2, Carl Jones (Rotorua) 28.28 3, Byron Scott (Auckland) 28.39 4, Keegan Wright (Auckland) 28.45 5, Jimmy Pollard (Queenstown) 28.48 6, Hayden Lee (Auckland) 28.58 7, Mike Metz (Rotorua) 29.01 8, Dirk Peters (Rotorua) 29.15 9, Lester Perry (Te Awamutu) 29.37 10.
Lisa Horlor (Rotorua) 32.28 1, Raewyn Morrison (Nelson) 32.56 2, Janine Kavanagh (Auckland) 33.26 3, Annika Smail (Rotorua) 33.29 4, Sasha Smith (Wellington) 34.24 5, Ruby Morrissey (Rotorua) 35.09 6, Katie O’Neill (Auckland) 38.05 7, Heather Logie (Australia) 38.16 8, Ronja Hill-Wright (Weston) 38.34 9, Adrienne Hooper (Titirangi) 38.48 10.