Manon Carpenter: Maribor Chronicles
Manon Carpenter is a young British junior rider who has potential to be the Junior World Champion this year. Here's her Maribor story.
Manon's first world cup - scary stuff!
Maribor was my first ever world cup and as usual there was quite a bit of drama..
(Sorry for lack of/poor quality photos Jase's (Manon's dad) phone died and mine's rubbish)
Actually there was no drama at all on the way to Maribor, we arrived at the airport a whole 2 hours before the plane left, everything was the right weight (well Jase reckons 1kg over) and check in, we found the event easily enough without getting lost and the first b+b we tried had space for us. I was pretty amazed how smoothly things were going and I hadn't been grumpy with Jason once!
On the road to Maribor, but is it straight on or right???
Jason had been complaining about having tonsilitis all the way to Maribor and I didn't really believe him 'til thursday but he was looking a bit rough in the morning, so at breakfast our landlord convinced him that a shot of extra strong Slovenian Schnapps every morning would cure him.. So every morning Jason had his Schnapps whilst telling the 4x boys Will, Duncan and Chris, and Rich T stories about his industrial ethanol parties in Uni.
Then we went to sign on in the registration office, check out the competition - 36 girls, and walk the track. There was a massive trek to the start of the track down a ski piste and by the time we got to the start Jason and Katy were both hobbling because of their bad knees and we hadn't even started on the track. The track looked pretty fun, a load of mega rooty corners and a wooden huck a third of the way down that I wasn't to sure on - and where Katy said she'd ended up in plaster both times when she'd been to Maribor before - the rock garden and then some more tricky rooty corners at the bottom. We also discovered the monster Slovenian slugs that were at least a foot long and seriously fat and a Gecko chilling out by some roots. Someone reckoned they'd seen a leopard slug but it might've just been muddy..
On friday morning I was really tired because Jase had spent the night snoring unbelievably loud and I'd had to hold my pillow over my head the whole night. I've never heard snoring so loud, but he blames it on his illness. Another morning Schnapps shot for Jase and I went up for practise whilst he hung out in the pits we'd blagged in the MMA sports 661/Royal van waiting for me to come down in one piece. Actually Jase knew Dom the MMA rep who is driving the van for the year from the Dragon days, he was a great help on the weekend feeding me and letting us stay in his pit. Unfortunately I kept getting told off for leaving rubbish everywhere.
Manons Lapierre DH920 all prepped and ready for WC1 Maribor
I really enjoyed practise on Friday, although I spent half of it looking at the rock garden and the other half on the wooden drop, the track was getting drier all day and by the end I managed to get myself to do the drop after a LOT of pushing back up.. but then it rained on Friday night so I chickened out on Saturday. In the evening we watched a bit of 4x qualification which was pretty entertaining cos the track was real muddy from the rain and there were some fairly big hucks to case on the step ups towards the bottom and only a few of the superheroes were doing all the jumps on the last straight, and Jase was going on about how amazing Cedric Gracia was 'cos he jumped everything at the bottom right at the end of quali when the track was really chewed up.
It rained all friday night and all day Saturday, so the track was really wet and not many people were jumping the double just before the finish line.. despite Jase going up in the middle of the night to fix it up and coming back very drunk and at 2 in the morning so in the morning my mechanic was hungover, ill and fast asleep when I went up for practise.. Although to be fair he was up, showered and ready with the pressure washer when I came down from my first run. ( Jase wrote this because he reckons I was making him sound bad!)
Qualification went pretty good, I was really nervous at the top and Rach was off behind me, so when I got to the bottom few corners of the track and she still hadn't caught me up I started to relax thinking I should be through qualification. I ended up 11th and Rach was the only girl to try the bottom double (I think) in quali but was unlucky and cased crashing pretty bigstyle just before the finish line ending up in 15th or something.
Most of British guys made it through qualifying except a few, Gazzy B had a bit of a disaster with his goggles at the top so he couldn't see anything in his run and Tom Deacon went through the tape and had to run back up through it. Mark Scott did really well qualifying at his first world cup and was one of the few Juniors to make it through.
4x in the evening was good to watch again with lots of sliding around in the mud and overtaking. Fionn won the womens even after having a major operation on her arm recently because of trapped nerve issues.
On Saturday night we had a text off my mum saying the volcano Eyjafjallajokuldfnbfepkjb in Iceland had been erupting again and that the ash cloud was making its way to London where we were supposed to be flying to on Monday, to be home for an exam I had on Tuesday, and that air space was likely to be closed on Monday. So there was a minor panic on our behalf and I had a text around for someone's van we could squeeze into on the way back.
Luckily Jase's voice went completely on Sunday - I think the Schnapps killed his voice box as well as any bacteria that was making him ill so all he could manage was a whisper. Practise on Sunday was almost a disaster, the gondola was shut because of the wind I think and we were only allowed one practise run - and I nearly missed the last bus to the top for practise, as well as being told by a marshal that I wasn't going to get down in time to get back up to the top for my race run and I had a phone call off Jason telling me 'its all over'. I think he might be the biggest drama queen I've even met! Although he was pretty pissed off because he had driven all the way to the top to pick up a coat I left there in qualifying whilst I was stuck at the bottom with no transport and I didn't think to get him to drive me up too! Oops. And also while he was going mental and driving to the top (without me) he drove through a drainage ditch and ripped the bumper and number plate off the hire car so Gaz had to fix it.
Jas drove me to the top in the end for my run because I didn't get down in time to get the bus up for my race run. I had a pretty shocking race run but I think everyone did really. I ended up 14th and was fairly happy to be the first junior, although I bounced down most of the bottom section on my saddle with my feet in the air and had a minor crash which slowed me down a bit - I saved my only crash of the weekend for my race run!
Rach won the womens by a whole ten seconds (ish) and was really chuffed as it was her first World Cup back after a year off injured.
Rach loving her podium!
Manon getting the Junior Womens leader Jersey
Gary Bacon and Minnie the Minx solving puzzles
We ended up driving back in Gaz's van on Sunday night on the way back because we didn't want to risk not getting a flight home, along with all our stuff and Sam Dale's dad so it was a bit squashed and there were a few complications with hire cars etc but we got back okay and the van didn't break down.. although we got caught out leaving Slovenia 'cos they had the wrong vinette (toll ticket thing) and a crazy Slovenian man stopped us and we got fined 150e's as well as having to pay 10 euros for the right vinette! We got to the ferry port early and were only charged 10 euros to change ferries and Steve, Jason and me all got on for free so that was a bargain, though Gee texted Gaz when we were on the ferry saying the flights were all on and not cancelled! Oops.
Thank you to Gaz's dad for letting us in his van on the way back, all the sponsors Dom McCartan for letting us pit in the MMA truck and my dad for looking after me and my bike all weekend.
(written by Manon this time – mostly!)