In 2018 Port to Port turns 5, marking another year where the four-day event based between the Hunter Valley and Newcastle treats avid mountain bikers to a combination of trails socialising before winter hits.

As part of the celebrations for the fifth year the course team has made a number of changes to the route, in an effort to mix up the experience for repeat visitors, and improve on the strengths of previous courses. The big news is a move away from Stage 1 at Port Stephens with a new start location in the Hunter Valley, plus a whole new stage set to feature the singletrack of Killingsworth. We'll miss the fast, elbow to elbow racing of Stage 1 but welcome the easier event logistics!

Stage 1 will see a mass start and seeding policy put in place, but your position on that stage will place you in a wave start for stages 2-4. The idea here is there will be less course congestion on the days with more trails, meaning a better experience for all.

Stage 1 – Hunter Valley / Pokolbin

Picture Stage 2 from previous years with plenty of other bits of trail thrown in

Just like 2017 the start location will be at the Audrey Wilkinson Winery overlooking the whole Hunter Valley.

From a controlled rollout off the property the lead out vehicle will release riders to hit the first climb of Port to Port, a challenging hit out up Pokolbin Mountains Road. Sure there are plenty of great views but you might be seeing them via photos from the day, as you're about to go into 10km of climbing.

Up top, a labyrinth of singletrack awaits, which will form a new loop for approximately 15km as you wind across the crest above both Deep Creek and Baldy Creek. The course will then swing back on itself around the 30km mark bringing you to a sweet descent down Broken Back Trail toward Foxy Gully and the Watagans Track.

The course detour off Pokolbin Mountains Road onto the Watagans Track takes you to a very technical, fast and rocky descent toward the finish line, where only a short section of back tracks through Fleming Gully are between you and the finish at Audrey Wilkinson Winery

With about 45km and 1034m of climbing, the first stage is highlighted by the opening climb which is rated Cat 2 – 11km in overall length and an average grade of 3.5%. Bring your climbing game!