Crankworx Rotorua is under way and there is royalty in the house.
The reigning King of Crankworx Sam Blenkinsop, born and bred in Whanganui, begins the defence of his crown in Rotorua this week.
Consistency was key for Blenkinsop in 2018 as he racked up podium finishes at Crankworx events all over the world to claim the overall title.
"I felt like I came into the season pretty strong last year, I had some good testing going into it and the trails really suited me here in New Zealand. I'm pretty excited, I feel like just having fun on the bike and enjoying everything around it.
"I'm just taking it as it comes, I'm not really too fussed on the Crankworx events this year, I'm more focused on the World Cups because I'll be missing one round of Crankworx anyway because we've got a baby coming.
"I'm just treating it like training, but that's sort of what I've always done. The only reason I like doing Crankworx events is because it's so much fun, just a whole week of riding and racing - that's what I enjoy.
"If I enjoy my racing, that's when the results come. If I feel like I'm trying to force it and get really good results all the time, then you don't get it, you sort of get angry at yourself and it's not enjoyable."
At Crankworx Rotorua last year, Blenkinsop won the Redwoods Downhill and Rotorua Downhill, and finished second in the Giant Toa Enduro. One of the keys to his success throughout the year was simply having a good time rather than focusing on the end result.
"I was just doing anything I wanted to do, I wasn't really thinking about the King of Crankworx at the start of the season, I just wanted to do lots of events. I did well in Rotorua and that got me off to a good start for the overall.
"Innsbruck and Les Gets were kind of maintenance, trying to keep things good, I just did downhill there so it was hard to keep up with the others. In Whistler, I knew I had lots of different events I could do well at. Rotorua and Whistler are good because there's so many events I can do well at."
He said being crowned King of Crankworx had sunk in more during the off-season.
"At the time I wasn't really too fussed, but when you think back on it it's pretty cool because you get a good pay cheque which helps out money-wise.
"Then there's the cool trophies that you get to keep and show your grandchildren one day. I was just enjoying it and having fun and it worked out for me."
He said he enjoyed having the opportunity to show riders from all over the world how good the trails are in his home country, particularly in Rotorua.
"For us it's a good bit of competition and it's a good warm-up before the first World Cup events. Rotorua is one of my favourite places to race in the world. The dirt is so good here, even if it's wet it's awesome. You can't really complain, if it's dry and dusty it's awesome, if it's wet it's just as good.
"Rotorua almost feels like home to me. I kind of grew up racing here, my first ever national champs as a young kid was here and I didn't live too far from here, in Whanganui, so it was only a three hour drive - we were up here every weekend there was a race on."
Sam Blenkinsop's podium finishes at Crankworx events in 2018
1st Redwoods Downhill, 1st Rotorua Downhill, 2nd Giant Toa Enduro.
2nd Innsbruck Downhill
Crankworx Les Gets
2nd Mont-Chéry Downhill
3rd Garbanzo Downhill