Mountain biking: Thrill seeking for big drops

By Cameron Leslie

Dropping 55ft off, what is essentially, a cliff may not be everyone's cup of tea but for Northland's Kennett brothers it's a buzz.

"When you hit the ground you're like 'wow, I just did that'," said Alex. A sentiment which is mirrored by his younger brother Jonothan: "You don't sit up there and think 'do I do this or not?' You've just got to do it. It's not like 'oh na, not today'. You've got to be prepared to do it."

The gutsy Waiotira brothers today head to Mount Hutt in Christchurch, trading the 55ft drop in Hunua for a 16.5ft one, for round two of the New Zealand Downhill Series this weekend - with Jonothan hoping to replicate his late-season form from last year.

"I'm hoping for a win," Jonothan confidently states. "I looked at my competition on the results from last weekend and the guy I usually beat came second, and there's a new face who came first.

"It depends who comes down from the North Island because there's a lot of random people I didn't know who were on the results."

The 15-year-old managed three podium finishes last year in his first season to finish second overall in the under-17 age group.

Alex, 18, said this weekend for him was a chance to test the water and see where he sits amongst the open grade in his first outing with the division, after last year sitting third in the under-17 grade before breaking his arm.

"[We'll] see how I fare with these older guys," said Alex, who is in his third season. "I've looked at my times and from my previous ones [run times] and they're not that far apart. We'll see if I can keep up with ... I'll definitely give it a go."

Thankfully for mum, Sarah, this weekend's jumps and drops aren't quite as scary.

At least that's what Jonothan thinks.

"The race we're going to this weekend you drop off like a 5m cliff right at the end," Jonothan said. "You just roll off the cliff. When you commit to it you've got to commit.

"You don't want to get to the edge and be like 'oh na, I don't want to do that', because some guys did that last year and injured themselves. There is a commitment point."

Despite Jonothan downplaying the drop, the brothers will no doubt be using all of their eight inches of suspension on their $6500 to $7000 downhill machines - and if anything goes wrong they will return their bikes to myBike Whangarei to piece them back together before the next round.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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