Buckwild. It’s the only way to describe the first full day of action at Crankworx Rotorua.
With practice for the stages 1 and 7 of the Enduro World Series, downhill practice, and the Oceania Whip Off Championship, it was a real mixed bag of riding, with a common thread of ‘holy shit’ running through it. Let’s take a look at some of the day’s highlights.
Enduro World Series Practice, stages 1 and 7
“They told me we didn’t need a f#cking full face,” said old mate in the Emergency room of the Rotorua Hospital, “I needed a full face.” He certainly wasn’t the only mountain biker admitted to the Rotorua ER today, as countless riders learned just how tough racing at the top of EWS competition can be. Stages 1 and 7 took a lot of riders by surprise; rooty, slippery, steep and challenging.
Enduro legend Mark Weir rides the slide of Stage 1.
You’re going to need that, buddy.
Dan Atherton gingerly looks for a line. Somewhere, anywhere.
Affy again. Well that one didn’t work.
Michael Ronning has acquired a fair bit of EWS experience over the past 12 months, and he looked pretty comfy with the extremely tough conditions.
Holy rut, Crashman!
Jamie Nicoll. He’s a Kiwi, so he’s nuts. He also won the NZ Enduro.
So Barel. So France. So Speed.
A little ray of sunshine.
Cedric Gracia. So many absolute legends of mountain biking were on course today.
Plenty of this going on today. #ballride
Yesterday had already seen the first session of downhill practice, but with riders getting up to speed a little more today, and line starting to bed in, we got a good idea of who’s looking threatening for Friday’s racing.
The downhill track follows essentially the same alignment as the 2006 Worlds Course. The elevation isn’t huge, but the terrain is super varied. Local Louis Hamilton on the open, upper grassy section.
Fresh team-mates, Mick Hannah and Andrew Neethling rode together a lot today. We’re hoping for a big year for Mick, and a new team could be just the ticket for Needles too. Keeping it tidy over the big final step-up jump.
Fairclough is the perennial crowd favourite, never failing to leave it sufficiently sideways.
Remy Morton appears a lot in our photos today. Easy enough to see why.
The downhill track has three main areas; open grasslands up top, manmade features and jumps down the bottom, and steep, multi-lined woods in the middle (like these).
Oceania Whip Off Championships
The first major event of Crankworx Rotorua was the Whip Off, held on the whopping final tabletop of the downhill course. The hour-long throw down saw Ryan Howard fling himself so sideways it seemed impossible that he could bring things back to the straight and narrow before touching down. Plenty of people didn’t, and there were some monster crashes. An awesome crowd turned up to check it all out, which bodes well for the rest of the week too.
Bernard Kerr can goof around on bike like nobody else, and that includes some burly whips.
Did he ride it out? You bet. Dave McMillan should rightfully have grabbed second place today (in our opinion anyhow!) but had to settle for fourth. The stylish Canberran can throw the most amazing, lazy, nosed in whips .
Another angle of McMillan’s super whip. Touching down.
The crowd was great this arvo, and cracking weather helped too.
Brook MacDonald hucks into view. While other riders rolled into the lip, the burly Kiwi launched in. These kids were so stoked when Brook’s wheel clipped their sign.
Sam Blenkinsop was the most active rider of the day; EWS, downhill and Whip Off for Blenki.