Halfback changes track - rugby player Loui Harvey turns attention to mountainbiking

Nelson halfback Loui Harvey is wrapped up in a tackle by his opposite, Marist's Shawn Begg.
VIRGINIA WOOLF/FAIRFAX NZ

Nelson halfback Loui Harvey is wrapped up in a tackle by his opposite, Marist's Shawn Begg.

Loui Harvey has taken plenty of hits on the rugby field but he says they don't compare to the hits he's taken on his mountainbike.

"If you have a big one at high speed she's pretty much the same as playing a full game of rugby," Harvey said. 

The feisty halfback has been chasing a dream of playing for the Tasman Makos ever since he left Nelson College.

Loui Harvey in action during race two of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club's downhill winter series at Maitai Face.
PHILLIP ROLLO/FAIRFAX NZ

Loui Harvey in action during race two of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club's downhill winter series at Maitai Face.

"That was really all I was thinking about - rugby. I was pretty set on making the Makos, it was something I was pretty keen on."

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He's come close, featuring for Nelson Bays, Tasman under-20 and Tasman Makos B and having a long involvement in Tasman's high performance academy. But he's content with the fact he never quite made that final step and cracked the NPC.

"I've been chipping away at the Makos for awhile and started to think maybe it's not something for me."

Perhaps that's why he's changing track and turning his attention mountainbiking, where his new dream is to qualify for the Enduro World Series.

"Hopefully I'm going to qualify for the EWS, and next year, hopefully, I'll head overseas about March and leave rugby for a year and see what happens."

The 25-year-old Nelson Intermediate School teacher bought a decent bike about five years ago and hasn't looked back, juggling his passion for rugby with his new passion of mountainbiking. 

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Harvey was a second half substitute in Nelson's semifinal loss to Marist on Saturday but took his disappointment out on the Maitai Face trail 24 hours later, finishing second place in race two of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club's winter downhill series behind winner Amani MacIntyre.

"I was pretty gutted to be honest after Saturday's game. It did take me awhile to come around but after I got out there on Sunday and helped people set up I started to get over the loss and obviously as the day went on I was enjoying myself on the bike, so it definitely helps."

Harvey beat Marlborough-based pro Justin Leov, an established EWS rider, on Sunday and earlier in the year he beat Sam Blenkinsop, another leading Kiwi, in the enduro section of Top Gun - those two results serving as enough motivation to "throw everything" at the sport.

"I've beaten a few guys who are up there so it makes you think maybe you could do the same.

"B-Rad Cycle Service along with Hyperformance Hardware came on board and sponsored me, they gave me a bike this year and are supporting me with things I need and that's definitely a stepping stone and I just want to give it a crack."

For many Nelson residents it's a natural transition to get into mountainbiking, particularly as the sport is steadily growing in participation and new trails are being built every year.

"There's more and more trail development happening and more and more people getting into it, which is great."

Harvey has a hands on role with the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, he's an active trail builder and helps organise races too.

"I really enjoy that part of it as well. You get a real good feeling when you've finished a track and you see people going down and they're really excited about riding it.

"But there's a group of people that want to make Nelson a better place to ride and get more trails, and it's cool to be involved in that."

 

 - Stuff

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