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Trailblazer . . . Central Otago teen Bradley Harris tunes up for a busy mountain biking season. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

Central Otago mountain biker Bradley Harris has been taking further leaps as an enduro star in the making. Adam Burns spoke to the 18-year-old about his steady rise on the bike and his hopes for 2020.

Bradley Harris’ climb to the top has gathered steam in a short amount of time and has not been without its trials.

The Alexandra enduro mountain biking ace has been competing for nearly five years.

Harris (18) comes from a BMX racing background and began competing at age 6.

The former Dunstan High School pupil achieved success early in his mountain biking pursuits as his BMX skills may have carried over.

“I did pretty well [in BMX competition].

“My best result was second in the South Island champs, behind the world champion for my age.”

He then joined an after-school mountain biking group at Dunstan.

In recent years he has made an impression in enduro mountain bike racing.

He has had to step up to the plate among the mountain biking elite.

“In these high performance events, there’s no time to mess around.

“High school races aren’t as intense.”

A serious injury in 2016 threatened to derail his progress when he crashed during a training ride and cracked a vertebra.

“It still scares me going down that same track, I’m a bit cautious,” he said.

However he has bounced back from this setback with a series of significant results.

“The past year I felt my confidence was back – just feeling faster and smoother and I’m able to push harder.”

In 2017 he took the top spot on the fourth day of the Trans NZ Enduro race in Alexandra, which he described as a “definite highlight”.

Harris finished 11sec clear of the second place-getter and overall competition runner-up Mike Cowlin.

Central Otago’s unique mountain biking terrain had allowed him to hone his skills, he said.

The mountain biking season is starting to heat up and Harris anticipates a busy season ahead.

He is dividing his time in between events with training rides, gym sessions and his carpentry apprenticeship with Dave Cockburn Construction.

A fortnight ago, Harris finished a respectable third in the men’s under-21 category of the EWS Asia Pacific Continental’s Aorere Enduro event, in Nelson, in a time of 36min 6sec.

“It was one of my best and most honest results.

“You can go smash a local race – but up there it was my first time.

“I was real happy.”

On November 30, Harris will compete at Dunedin’s 3 Peaks Enduro, which serves as a World Series qualifying event.

“If I qualify for that, I’d hope to do a couple of rounds of World Series Enduro next year.

“It’s definitely one of my goals at the moment.”

Testing himself against the world’s best remained an aspiration for the young rider as he makes headway through New Zealand’s mountain biking talent.

“It’d be good to be on top of the New Zealand fellas, but definitely want to go overseas and try show them what I’m made of.”