What has happened in five days? I don't know about you, but here in the land of a 7:1 sheep ratio the sun has been shining, egos have been mended, and riders bikes have been put back together after taking a beating at Round 1. Ok, the latter is not actually that likely, us kiwi's love rocking a she'll-be-right attitude.
Which, as it turns out, is the theme for how riders approached the second round of the National Downhill Series this weekend up in Dome Valley, North Auckland. The track up here in the Dome has been a staple venue for the last few seasons now. Notoriously fast, steep and rough. Everything a DH track should be. Over the holiday period, Jamie Robert and his crew of trail builders have been busy scratching in new lines and rebuilding some dormant classics, creating one of the most testing track riders have had to deal with for some time. A steep and loose chute straight after a big old pull up made for multitude of dirt naps, and a high-speed berm more hol(e)y than a Sunday congregation claimed more shoulders than I wanted to count.
But as the saying goes, "Just gonna send it", and that they did.
Conditions up the hill? Well, some may say perfect.
Tiring work for some, even first thing in the morning.
Stoke levels were at an all-time high for a dusty race
Connor Hamilton rolled into round two aboard a fresh Trek Session 29. The first production 29" DH rig on the domestic circuit.
With minimal delay, the uplifts started right on cue.
Into the freshness they sent.
You can always trust Finn Parsons to be the first to send something new.
As you would expect, not much good can from this bull ride.
Put a wheel in the wrong place and the track gods would grab it.
Another one bites the dust
Blake Ross, however, made short work of the loose exit.
Josh Oxenham was picking up off everything he could, but that may have been his undoing today.
Seth Styliano showed his competitors how his BMX background is of big benefit today. Pumping and jumping everything he could, and cruising his way into 3rd in U15's.
Sam Robbie only knows two things about bikes; how to ride insanely fast and how to pull up.
29" vs 27" send off.
Matt Berry isn't a usual face at the downhill races. The enduro specialist looked to be having a hard time aboard is Remedy, but I'm sure he was really only interested in getting pace training in as opposed to vying for the win.
Daniel Gannaway wasted no time in getting airborne in the old-boys category
Dane should really be racing back in the elite field. With a seeding time of 2:02.295, he would have seeded 8th.
Steep? No worries for Kyle Lockwood.
More Sam, more send
Callum Sprosen wasn't riding today but was more than willing to cook a few snags
Off the back of last weekend's win, Dane Nimmo came in composed and knew exactly what he had to do take out Masters 1 again.
Bruce Davey knows he has what it take to get on the top step, but Dane isn't making things easy for him.
Kate Weatherly was in a league of her own today. Literally. She was the only Elite Women to take the course, so like round 1, only had the clock to beat.
Auckland youngster Flynn Dixon hasn't been riding for all that long, but looked composed and rode to a solid mid-pack finish in U17.
With several of his fellow competitors in top form this weekend, James Macdermid had his work cut out and fell once place off the podium steps.
Finn Hawkesby-Brown, the Christchurch Bike Park specialist, made short work of the comparatively tame Dome Valley Course and sent it to 4th in the incredibly competitive U17 field.
Louis Vuleta seemed to be finding the balance of risk vs reward toward, managing to 4th in U19's, but didn't improve his time for his race run and slipped back to 9th.
Isaac Ewen needed redemption after his course deviations last weekend. Redemption was just what he found. 5th place, and plenty of room to improve.
16 seconds back on Charlie Makea wasn't going to be a pleasant pill to swallow, but given this was the first DH race for Matt Berry in some time, he can roll away proud of what he achieved on course today.
Charlie Makea must have had something go wrong in his seeding run. He seeded in last place in U19s, but turned that all around and pipped Sam Robbie for the win by a minute 0.070 seconds
A crash in Josh's practise run saw him sitting the finals out. Hopefully, he will be all healed ready for next weekend in Rotorua.
Sam Robbie seeded first and had very few worries going into his race run. Sadly though it just slipped through his fingers.
Logan Herbert pulled out a surprise 5th up here during a locals race just over a month ago and expected to do the same again today. Sadly though, he looked to be off the pace and missed a repeat but 0.600
Tom Sinclaire seeded first, but had to settle for 2nd in Open Men.
It wasn't to be Lockie Short's day. He crashed out hard on the exit of everyone's favourite berm and ended up leaving the venue in the back of an ambulance.
Unfortunate really because he would have placed well. One of the few riders to make out of control look controlled.
That moment when you run out of berm, and almost killed a photographer...
Carson Rayner was once again dominant start to finish and became the only racer to make it two for two this season.
Always the showman. Carson Rayner couldn't resist throwing one out for the crowd.
Shaun Barclay didn't look to be lacking speed on course. But when facing a strong field of current or ex-world cup pro's, it's always going to be hard to place well.
What could have been. Louis Hamilton seeded 2nd but crashed and threw away his chances of a podium finish in the process.
Kyle Lockwood has slowly but surely working his way back up to pace after many years of injury. Today he looked to be back to his old self and rode to a solid 6th.
Connor had no trouble making those wagon wheel sing, and piloted them to 5th in Elite Men.
For many, it came as little surprise that Liam Bethell did so well today. Back to full health, and racing his home track, he stomped and scrubbed his way to 4th place.
Feeding off his younger brothers success, Peter showed Liam how its really down and scored second place 1.621 back on Cole Lucas, but most importantly 1.932 up on his younger brother.
2nd last weekend, 1st this weekend. Cole Lucas is looking to be in top form, and only time will tell how he goes on his home track in Rotorua next weekend.
The first half of this series hasn't quite gone Sam's way, but you wait till things head south. That's when he will come into his own.
How does the first piece of Elite Gold taste Colin?
That is that. Until next weekend when we head to Rotorua.
Results: Elite Men
1st - Cole Lucas ( 1:53.57 )
2nd - Peter Bethell ( 1:55.18 )
3rd - Guy Gibbs ( 1:56.29 )
4th - Liam Bethell ( 1:57.12 )
5th - Connor Hamilton ( 1:58.21 )
Full Results here.