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Manon Carpenter: Mont Sainte Anne Chronicles

Junior Welsh World Cup star Manon Carpenter continues her tales of World Cup life with round #4 Mont Sainte Anne.

MSA + NY
I’ve just sat down to write this after schooling Jase through the trails at Whistler bike park, he threw a tantrum in the end saying we had to go because it was dark ‘cos he was too scared to do them!

(JC says – actually was too dark to ride and there were mosquitos the size of robins eating me…)

Llangollen

The weekend before we left for Mont Saint Anne was the Llangollen national. It was a really good weekend with plenty of drifty corners and sun burn! Jase and I had our usual battle (me trying to beat him) and I did managed to beat him in qualifying but after a cautious race run he managed to beat me. I’d finished my exams for good the Friday before Llangollen so I was missing the usual end of exams party but honestly I was pretty wrecked anyway!

All I’d done was spend a week in the house revising doing pretty much not much else but somehow I’d managed to get a cold and I started off the weekend sounding like a mouse ‘cos my voice had gone and ended up sounding like a bloke!

First post-exams drink. Emily Horridge had a really good weekend coming second in Elite Women!

Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms www.laurence-ce.com

After Llangollen the Monday was spent packing for the trip the next day. Loads of people going out had had flights early on the Monday morning, which would have been horrible ‘cos they had to pretty much pack on the Sunday night after Llangollen – luckily it was a dry race! It wasn’t too stressful for us and we arrived at the airport on Tuesday morning with plenty of time to spare. There had been the usual stress whilst packing trying to get everything to within the weight limit and as usual everyone stares at you in the airport when you’ve got a million tonnes of baggage.

Harry Molloy and Nathan Vials came out with us again and between us we had 6 bikes, 2 wheels bags and all the kit bags and suitcases that go with it – which is a hell of a lot of stuff when you try and fit it on the airport trolleys!

Jason pulled out his blagging skills at check in and talked at the guy at the desk non-stop until we were all very confused but somehow he’d managed to get all our bikes and kit on for free, with no extra charge!

I don’t really think the guy at check in knew what had happened either!

JFK

We arrived at JFK and dragged all our stuff over to the car hire place and tried to squeeze all our luggage into the biggest vehicle they had.
Unfortunately, it was obvious as soon as we got there that it wasn’t going to fit and we spent the next hour trying to get it in whilst being watched by various employees, and in the end we had to admit defeat and put some stuff on the roof. The only problem was we didn’t have any ratchet straps or anything at all really so we ended up using the straps from the bike bags to strap the bike boxes to the roof until we found a better solution. Needless to say the first hour of the journey was very tense with Harry hanging out the window every ten minutes to check the bikes were still there!

Wednesday

We stopped overnight on Tuesday after we thought we’d done half the journey and carried on Wednesday morning after a quick stop at Walmart for ratchet straps and a tarpaulin after the bike boxes had got drenched during a rain storm the previous night!
However once we passed the American border we began to realise we had nowhere near done half the journey and the ETA on the Sat Nav was getting later and later. I think it must have thought the speed limit was 100mph instead of km/h and by the time we reached Quebec there was less than 1 hour before sign on closed and still an hour’s worth of driving left and Jason ended up driving a lot faster to get us there in time, especially when we kept taking the wrong exit on motorways because we couldn’t understand the Sat Nav!

We arrived 5 minutes before sign on closed and missed the last lift to the top so we ended up walking all the way to the top of possibly the biggest mountain on the world cup circuit. It was very sweaty and there were hundreds of midges drawing blood and Jason wheezed all the way up and struggled to keep up! Eventually we got to the top, Nathan and Jason couldn’t make it to the very top of the massive wooden start hill though…

Trying to get to the very top of the track

We arrived at the accommodation and we soon realised that someone had to sleep in the bed downstairs in the lounge that was next to Jason on the sofa bed and the boys quickly ‘shotgunned’ both rooms. We don’t have shotgun in South Wales though and I’d booked the accommodation so Harry got kicked out to sleep downstairs… I soon learned my lesson though at the end of the weekend when I found my hardtail in the tree!!

I spent ages trying to get it down and no one would help me, they just stood there laughing!

Thursday – First day of practise

Building the bikes up

It had been raining Wednesday night I think and the track was very wet in practise with plenty of bogs to get lost in at the top! The track was so good though and I loved the rocky sections, there was nothing very hard or technical on the track, it was just rough so you just had to go flat out.

It was a very long track so it took me a while to figure out the different sections and it was clear racing was going to be very physical and pretty much the strongest rider was going to win. After practise we went to walk the track, and we didn’t want to miss the lift again so I rushed to get changed and we didn’t have time to get dry shoes on – so by the time we got down our feet were very soggy, very muddy and very wrinkly!

Nath drying his feet out the window

Friday – Qualifying

On the Friday we went to see Shane at DT Swiss to try out some lighter DT rims to make me go faster! I didn’t destroy them first run so they seemed to work pretty good.

Shane building up the new wheels

After a few practise runs and some coke it was time to go for my qualifying run. I’d lost my top ten protection after missing Leogang so I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect.

Going up for qualifying, Harry giving me some last minute advice…

My run was going well until I messed up towards the bottom of the track coming into a drop and managed to tuck my front wheel in behind some rocks. It was a slow motion over the bars crash and my body armour saved me so nothing was hurt except my pride and I’d lost a lot of time, however I still managed to scrape 10th place and Victor got a good photo of it!

Victor’s photo of me crashing from his Mont Saint Anne 7-a-day qualifiers.

As usual watching the men’s qualifying was tense, some of the British boys managed to make it to the finals but lots didn’t, Harry went off line in his run, losing time and ended up coming through in 68th or something so it was very stressful when we lost count of who had gone faster and we didn’t know if he was 78th or 82nd! Luckily he scraped through in 78th.

We had said Nath could only come with us again as long as he didn’t do another South Africa and have to go to hospital, but he didn’t make it down in qualifying and when we found him he’d had a massive crash landing on his shoulder and wasn’t sure how badly he’d inured it. It turned out he had a haematoma and for the rest of the trip he had a hell of a bruise on his arm!

It started off at the top of his arm where he’d hit it and after a week or so his entire arm was discoloured as the blood made it’s way down. After qualifying Jase took Nath to hospital and me and Harry had a quick lap of pumptrack at the venue before heading home for food and arm wrestles.

Jase struggling!

Sat

On Saturday we had a few hours of practise so I did a couple of runs cruising down and looking at sections. The track was getting pretty rough by now and there were so many holes to disappear into! I hadn’t done the big hip at the top of the fast section yet so I had a look at that and persuaded myself to have a go. There was a corner just before the take off and I messed it up but it was too late to stop so I had to send it anyway, unfortunately John Parkin was there to film it and you might have seen it on the DirtTV video – it was a pretty dirty case!

After practise we went to walk the track before going to a waterfall nearby with Brendan and Troy. The water was freezing cold and I was shivering as soon as I got out after a minute or two let alone staying in there for ten minutes like Troy did. Although I don’t think he stopped shivering the whole time afterwards until we got back to the venue!
Jase pulled out some of his tricks although you could tell they hadn’t been practised for a while…

Jase gooning into the plunge pool!

Sunday – Race Day

Sunday morning I only did a couple of runs and tried to save my energy as much as possible for the finals. After pretty much a month of revision I wasn’t feeling strong enough and although I had tried the hip again the day before my arms weren’t feeling strong enough before hip so I decided in practise not to do it in my race run as hadn’t done it in quail and still ended up with a fairly good result even with a crash. I was just hoping to make the time up on the bottom, more technical part of the track.

It took me a while to get started at the top of the track but I was having a fairly good run until I binned it in the second corner from the finish!

I’m not totally sure what happened, I think I was changing gears ready for the pedal to the finish and my foot slipped off my pedal but all I can remember is riding the stem into the berm and going over the top of it, landing in the dust on the other side!

I was pretty devastated, especially after crashing in Fort William and I had wanted to make up some points after missing Leogang but it wasn’t to be… However Gary Perkins did get some good photos of it! I’d lost loads of time and momentum and was so tired I struggled to get going again and ended up in 14th I think. I was most disappointed ‘cos I didn’t get to jump big finish line jump!

The race was really good to watch, I was stoked for Tracy winning in the women’s and the men’s was just as exciting.

The boys watching the finals

Troy had an amazing run ending up 6th, I still don’t think anyone has got their heads round how a Junior can beat some of the best riders in the world, it was crazy seeing him in the hot seat in the middle of Leov and Neethling, experienced world cup racers.

Troy on the hot seat

I guess you already know all this but Josh had a wicked run too especially after winning Llangollen the weekend before. Everyone was so chuffed for him and he was pretty funny on podium with his goggles and tear offs. Greg and Gee had some bad luck, and Gwin was still killing it in the men’s. Brook is also having an amazing year!

Men’s podium, pretty funny to watch!

After watching the podium we had a quick session on the pumptrack then went home for food then to find some wifi so everyone could laugh at my crash on Freecaster.

Pumptrack at Mont Saint Anne

We also found a pretty drunk Josh Bryceland and Sam Dale hanging around at the media centre nicking all the food and beers! Then we went home to chill out for a bit before hitting up the party at the race venue. As it was the first time I’d been out since my exams finished there was lots of dancing and bouncing around!

Monday

On Monday morning my calves were crippled – I don’t know whether it was from downhill, pumptrack, dancing or a combination of the three but they were wrecked!

They were still hurting on Wednesday but luckily they sorted themselves out for Windham!! We packed the bikes up in the morning then went go-karting with some of the boys.

Al Bond the purple stig

Mono won the race but Jase got the fastest lap time so he was over the moon and I managed to have a massive crash on the fastest corner of the track in the first lap of the race so everyone saw! I had grass and roost all over my go-kart and spent ages trying to drag it out of the verge, then I crashed again because my wheels were covered in dirt and wet grass! I’m pretty sure I was trying to go the fastest out of everyone but I was just drifting everywhere in the corners losing speed. I think my tactics were a bit like Mx vs Atv Alive, I was flat out on the throttle and kept overshooting the corners!! Annoyingly, pretty much everyone lapped me in the end.

Jase strapped the Go Pro headcam onto his go-kart, unfortunately he hadn’t set it up properly but it did get a shot of me crashing into the grassy verge!

After go-karting we went to the waterfall again, and I tried staying in for as long as possible to sort out calves and general aches and pains from the weekend. I think maybe I managed 5 or 6 minutes and it was SO cold. A few of the world cup racers turned up as well and Aaron Gwin and Mark, Marc Beaumont’s Mechanic were pulling some pretty cool stunts into the water.

Freezing under the waterfall

Manon leading the Junior overall at Mont Sainte Anne

That’s all so far, we’ve been practising the dual slalom track in Whistler today and it’s riding so good, I had the biggest adrenaline rush ever for the first hour of practise!

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to write Windham up in the next few days…

Thanks again to everyone who’s helped me this year especially the guys at Madison Saracen and Jase for sorting my bike out at the races!

And also thanks to everyone whose I’ve had photos I’ve used for the blog.

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