Difficult conditions did little to dampen the enthusiasm of competitors, as hundreds turned out to celebrate the final round of the 2017 Cyclezone Winter Series.
After what has perhaps been the wettest Winter Series on record, it was fitting that the finale in Rotorua yesterday saw the clouds roll in and temperatures plummet, adding an extra element of difficulty to the already challenging courses. But, once again the performances from the athletes on show brightened the day.
Palmerston North's Josie Wilcox, the standout rider of the series, was in imperious form as she took her third straight win in the women's long course.
While the hilly course suited her obvious climbing strength, the wet conditions and technical descents provided a demanding test for the former runner, who is still learning the mountain bike craft.
"That was the toughest race so far," Wilcox said.
"A nasty crash early on saw me flip my bike and break my helmet but crashes are all part of this sport. Really happy with another win today and pleased to take out the series."
Fellow Palmerston North rider Fiona MacDermid overcame an inadvertent early detour, to come back through the field and claim a strong second place - the third straight podium for the former national series champion. Series stalwart Amy Haddon rounded out the podium in third.
For the men, any hope Cosmo Bloor had of matching the Wilcox series clean sweep was soon dashed as the race was dominated by 2016 series champion Edwin Crossling.
Having missed the earlier rounds, the Wellington rider returned to fire a clear warning shot to his rivals ahead of October's Whaka 100, showing all his strength and experience as he played his cards perfectly to cross the line almost 30 seconds clear of Brad Jones. Bloor rounded out the podium a further two minutes back.
"That wasn't easy that's for sure," Crossling said.
"It was tough today, those boys were riding strong and definitely made me earn it out there. I wasn't too sure what to expect from these other boys, so I pushed the pace fairly early and the three of us managed to get away.
"Brad especially was really tough. I attacked a few times and couldn't shake them. But I knew the descent of Hot-X Buns would be decisive today, so I pushed pretty hard through there and got a gap. Really stoked to hold that to the finish."
The Mid-Course events also produced excitement, as the winning streaks of Alex Coventry and Sammie Maxwell were broken, with under-17 riders Matthew Wilson and Rotorua's Ruby Ryan earning their maiden Winter Series victories.
For Wilson, the win maybe shouldn't have come as a surprise. The Auckland rider had secured third placings in each of the first two Winter Series races and had been right in the mix.
On Sunday he found the conditions and the tough climbing to his liking as he was finally able to take the honours after a race-long battle with fellow under-17 athlete Adam Francis.
Masters rider Elson Halligan saved his strongest performance for the finale. Finishing a close third, and with it claiming back some pride for the older riders in attendance.
Other standout results for Bay of Plenty riders were Whakatane's Brad Jones finishing second overall in the men's and Amy Haddon (Rotorua) third in the women's.
In the mid course Alex Coventry (Whakatane) finished fourth in the men's to secure the overall series title.