Limits were tested and champions made as BMX riders from throughout the country converged on Cromwell at the weekend.
The BMX New Zealand 2022 South Island Championships were held over two days, attracting more than 290 riders.
The course was fast and smooth and the first day of racing relatively accident-free.
However, that changed for the finals on Sunday. Several crashes occurred as pressure mounted and titles hung in the balance.
Racers aged 4 to 70 took to the track, some riders more competitive than others.
At 70, Christchurch rider Roy Leaning was the oldest rider for the weekend, riding in the 50+ males class.
“It’s going good – I’m staying on my bike,” he said.
“I’m competitive for the first straight – and then they leave me behind.”
Among those vying for first were elite national riders Leila Walker and Rico Bearman.
Cambridge rider Walker is no stranger to pushing the limits on the track.
A six-time age-group world champion up to 2018, the 16-year-old won the elite women’s final ahead of Alexandra rider Holly Oldham in a combined junior and under-23 women’s field.
“It’s good to be mixing it with some different riders than I’m used to be racing against,” Walker said.
“In a male-dominant sport, it’s really cool to see young girls coming up, and as an older rider, I would just encourage you to get out there .. just get on a bike and push the limits, have some fun.”
Those in the know say Walker is one to watch on the national and international stage.
“She’s an up and comer – but she’s coming up through those ranks fast,” BMX NZ national commissaire and national officiating panel member Mike Butler said.
Bearman (18), representing North Harbour, held off a fast group of riders to win the men’s elite class on Sunday afternoon.
While the track was smaller than what he was used to racing on overseas, he found the event a great chance to meet younger riders and encourage them in the sport, he said.
“I just love riding my bike and the adrenaline of racing around the track, doing jumps,” he said.
“I guess winning is the main thing – everyone loves winning.”
Cromwell BMX Club president Mouse James said hosting the event was a pipe dream 10 years ago and to see it come to fruition was “phenomenal”.
“It’s amazing what a small group, and a good group, of close-knit club members can achieve in such a short time.”