Toa Enduro Photo Epic - Crankworx Rotorua 2018

Mar 17, 2018
by Cameron Mackenzie  

It seems like it was just last week we were here in Rotorua, New Zealand, for Crankworx Rotorua #3. And yesterday was just Christmas... But no sooner than any of us expected, we are back and hitting repeat once more.

Now on the fourth instalment of Crankworx Rotorua, event organizers have stuck to the trend of running a more low key enduro event to mark the first day of action, replacing what would be an EWS event on the in-between years. Third time lucky is a term we have all heard before, but not once has that luck factor attributed to anything relating to a Giant Toa Enduro. A mix of bad weather, apocalyptic mud, injuries and poor trail/course choice have plagued the last three years, but not this time. Lucky number four.

With a small but heavy-hitting field rolling up to today's start line, the atmosphere was very relaxed. Ahead of them lay six of Rotorua's finest trails including a few old favourites. Mother Nature was on everyone's side, and the course was set so that excess pedalling was avoided, much to everyone's relief.

Would it really be an Enduro if you didn't tape half the contents of your house to your bike?

Although this year wasn't an EWS, the organizers kept up with the standards set last year handing out set time sheets.

Time to gear up.
Micayla had mixed feelings coming into today's race.

Craig Oliver wasn't going to go hungry.

With no live timing today, Blenki had no idea he and Keegan had the exact same time after stage 1.

Less than two days away from departing for Chile, Sam Shaw didn't want to miss a hometown race.

The infamous pull-up on K2 was a much tamer beast today in the dry.

Nathan Tucker - What a fitting surname!

It was hard to gauge how much local advantage helped Keegan today considering he is still racing injured.

Will Keay on the hunt.

Lester Perry had plenty of potential to achieve a great result today but wasn't able to put things together.

Glen Riley knew today's trails well and took all the high lines he could.

Blenki's got to save those seconds. Scrubbing anywhere he can.

James Rennie. Low key pinned and 9th overall.

Craig Oliver's hucking paid off today as he sent it to 12th.

The liaison times were more than generous today, so atop the start of each stage riders had a chance to tell tales of the last stage's wild moments.

The infamous tight turns of Stage 6 - Riff Raff / Rocky Horror, proved to be a lot easier without any unwanted moisture.

Connor McCormic killed it today. 8th.

Carl Jones was back racing on home soil, but his time away sending jumps in Queenstown had cost him a few places. 7th today, but I know he would have been looking for a top 5.

Kyle Lockwood looked to be having a much more successful race than last weekends mare at the NZ Enduro.

Ronja Hill-Wright capitalized on her hometown advantage today and stomped her way into second place behind Casey Brown.

bigquotesThe tracks were running mint! I just had an awesome day riding with friends and it honestly didn’t even feel like a race!Ronja Hill-Wright

Micayla started the day positively but finished up pretty defeated.

Casey Brown did nothing sort of dominate today. 2 minutes up on Ronja!

Vaea ain't afraid of sending it. Let's see what she can do tomorrow during the Downhill.

bigquotesI was beyond stoked on the perfect weather and how the trails were running! I felt like I was racing blind (which I was in some stages) so it’s too bad I couldn’t push and ride the way I love to usually but that’s enduro I guess? I was completely drained of energy by stage 5 & 6 and slowed right down but I’m honestly so proud to have completed it and done decent overall. What a crazy day!Vaea Verbeeck

Matt Walker was pushing hard all day but lost 40 seconds to Keegan and Blenki.

bigquotesEpic event as usual here in Rotorua. Definitely a little rusty today and a few too many mistakes meant I was off the pace but stoked to be back here for Crankworx and ready for a big week of racing push bikes!Matt Walker

Sam Shaw, what a guy! He was riding reserved but still managed to ride into 4th, only 4 seconds back on Matt Walker.

bigquotesPretty happy to have some good weather for a Crankworx Enduro in Rotorua, The curse is broken! I started stage one with a wee lie in the dirt and then straightened my act up from there, riding the rest of the stages with a lot more control and consistency. That was until stage 6 where I had a mare, having two lie downs on reasonably easy sections of the trail, losing focus towards the end of the day. Good times out with a good crew shredding the trails of Rotorua!Sam Shaw

What injured shoulder, Keegan?

bigquotesStoked with the day! I didn’t know how the shoulder was going to react to going race pace so just went out and cruised into the day and it worked out for the best. All around, a fun day riding with a sweet crew! Onwards and upwards to the Enduro World Series in Chile next weekend.Keegan Wright

A podium stacked with heavy hitting pros and an underdog local.

1st - Keegan Wright
2nd - Sam Blenkinsop
3rd - Matt Walker

1st - Casey Brown
2nd - Ronja Hill-Wright
3rd - Vaea Verbeeck

Full Results

Mentions: @cameronmackenzie @officialcrankworx @giantbicycles @CamelBak


  • + 50
 I’ve never seen so many pansies. These comments are hilarious! No knee pads, no full/face helmets, no mommy and daddy. If you want them, use them but don’t impose your ideals on everyone else. Oh yeah, that’s the popular trend at the moment.
  • + 5
 Totally agree, not to mention I’m sure the organizers discussed this. Knee pads don’t save lives and neither do full face helmets, they can protect you from getting messed up, but a good half shell will protect your brain.
  • + 4
 @thejake: Organised racing (motor or otherwise) has had mandatory safety equipment standards for 80+ years.
  • + 2
 @tyrebyter: yes but with mountain biking every track is different. I’m sure if the majority of riders felt that knee pads and a full face were ideal the pictures would reflect that.
  • + 0
 Yeah don't impose your ideals on everyone else, because internet comments after the fact mean their ideals are imposed on all these poor riders. Oh but you can of course 'impose your ideals' if your ideals involve a fierce sense of individual freedom and you can't tell me what to do dad i'm 16 now.
  • + 27
 Strange, not many knee pads..
  • + 7
 Loan in Rotorua is like landing on pillows, barely a rock in sight, Cept for Rocky horror
  • + 0
  • - 12
flag RedBurn (Mar 17, 2018 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 not many fullface helmets either .. Frown it exists for a reason, it can save your live.
  • + 5
 I'd say it's stranger that not many are wearing eye protection. I've seen it numerous times in races where someone gets a chunk of dirt or a bug in their eye and crash because of it. Is it really that bad to wear a clear lens pair of glasses? They're not going to fog when you're hauling ass haha
  • - 6
flag chyu (Mar 17, 2018 at 9:23) (Below Threshold)
 not many neckbraces too.
  • + 5
 @chyu: I can't even see one leather suit, or even a fireproof suit! There is even one person riding naked! WTF!?
  • + 1
 @aushred: but a bike frame is solid and i hate hit it, it's painful...and it happens without crashing too.
  • + 1
 This is something which puzzles me too. I ride in Rotorua a lot and race here too. Most riders do wear knee pads, but not many eye protection and very few full face helmets.

I don't understand why the organisers don't make kneepads mandatory TBH. A broken patella is a pretty nasty thing to have to come back from. Yes, the loam is soft but trees, roots and logs most certainly are not. I've sustained broken ribs and some decent puncture wounds as testament to this.

I've started wearing a crossover full face and googles (when its not raining), not so much for the forest but out in the felled areas where there are all manner of sharp sticks and stumps protruding from the areas surrounding the tracks. You come off at high speed and you could be a mess. This is my choice but I wouldn't mind if stricter regs came through for organised events here. Esp, ones which take riders down DH tracks.

FYI there are heaps of injuries in Whakarewarewa (look at ACC stats) and some are quite serious. I do think we could do with some better local leadership regarding personal protective equipment. 2W and TOA organisers please take note.

A lot of good riders would prefer tougher tracks to race and if that means more stringent safety requirements then so be it.
  • + 24
 Oh the horror! Pros without kneepads! Chaos and calamity! Whatever shall we tell the children?!
  • + 13
 Those trails look banging! Great report and photos.
  • + 2
 Ya awesome photos Cam. Making the most of that jungle light!
  • + 7
 Two Canadian woman on the podium. Canada girls kick ass!
  • + 1
 Yep! I married one!
  • + 7
 Nice to see mountain bikers not looking Moto for a change.
  • + 6
 Evidently only Casey was going fast enough to require a full face.
  • + 3
 I love that Sam Shaw is wearing no pads, no gloves, no goggles and is slaying it. Does riding a Zerode give you magic powers?
  • + 4
 Good to see they're letting riders wear what they are comfy with.... Thumbs up for that. Smile
  • + 3
 is this the next big thing? riding without knee pads? fully enduro?
  • + 1
 -No kneepads -Half face with goggles in the dry, fullface without goggles in the wet -Hip pack -Brake levers pointing towards the moon
  • + 3
 was an awesome race. had a blast.
  • + 1
 You would think the giant toa enduro was sponsored by giant but no... Awesome photos too cam!
  • + 3
 It actually was sponsored by Giant.
  • + 3
 Podium girls eh....
  • + 3
 Enduro is the new DH!
  • + 1
 At least I could say I ripped down K2 two weeks before the pros did— just not as fast... haha!
  • + 1
 Not a lot of kneepads or fullface helmets....thought this was enduro?
  • - 2
 Unless you have the reaction time of a drunken Sasquatch, in the event of a crash you will most likely react to NOT smash your mouth into the dirt....half shells are ok boys and girls..omg
  • + 5
 You must be reaaallyy slow
  • + 0
 Very cool
  • - 1
 Did most of the riders not wear full face helmets?
  • - 3
 looks to me...sad fact
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