Manon Carpenter: Windham Chronicles 2011
Welsh World Cup junior rider Manon Carpenter continues her 2011 World Cup race diaries with tales from Windham, New York.
I’ll be honest, Windham isn’t my favourite track on the world cup circuit mainly because I broke my arm there last year the weekend before the Worlds in Mont Saint Anne so I was feeling slightly nervous about going back there in the week leading up to it!
Tuesday was spent driving down to Windham, we’d packed up the night before so we left fairly early after squeezing all our stuff into and onto the truck and headed off for Windham. The drive to Windham took pretty much all day as we had to stop basically every hour or so for Jase (dad) to get a coffee shot and toilet and food breaks.
We had a bit of a disaster in the hire car when Jase went round a corner too fast and the massive pile of seats, bags and laptops collapsed on top of me, knocking a full slush puppy out of my hands all over Harry Molloy (team mate) and the car... Amazingly I don’t think we’ve had any complaints from the hire company yet!
When we arrived we went to find our accommodation, the house we’d asked for had been fully booked and they’d put us somewhere else, and when we found it we realised we’d definitely been downgraded!
It was half the size, had no pool, only one shower worked and the water was slimy and smelly... Safe to say Jason wasn’t very impressed and started writing a list of everything that was wrong with the house to arm himself with ammunition for the next day when we went back to complain!
In the end they gave us half of our money back which cheered Jase up a bit, and apparently the slimy water was to do with sulphur in the rock strata or something, although we still weren’t brave enough to drink any of it!
Sign on and track walk was a bit more chilled out this time and we didn’t have to rush, so we waited until it had cooled down a little bit before going to check the track out. It was pretty much the same as last year although they’d missed out one of the mental rock sections and put some mint berms in. Eventually we made it to the point in the track where I broke my arm last year. In the run up to the road gap there is a drop off/fade to flat that you have to go off flat out to make the road gap and I guess I messed it up last time. I think Chris Ball had got them to mellow out the take off of the fade after seeing my crash last year!
Anyway the road gap looked do-able so we moved on before I could think about it anymore! We saw most of the usual suspects on the track walk and caught up with Sion Whitecross who’d grown a handlebar moustache in the week after Mont Saint Anne, he must have chickened out though ‘cos he shaved it off so it was gone the next morning!
Thursday – First day practise
First day of practise was so hot at Windham, we rode the 2kms or so to the venue on the hardtails at around 9 o’clock in the morning and we were already sweating by the time we got there – and that was before the body armour went on!
The track was riding flat out already and it took me a while to get used to going so fast. I bumbled down in my first run and got stuck at the rock garden near the bottom. They had had 5 inches of rain the previous weekend so the track was greasy.
I tried twice to ride one line through it and failed both times, losing my front wheel on a rock. I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong when Lauren Daney rode through it flat out on a different line, making me sort myself out! The rest of the track was riding so good and the jumps at the bottom of the track were wicked.
Friday - Qualifying
On Friday it was time to get the road gap done. I wanted to get it done and out of the way so first run down I stopped and had a look, messed around for a bit and then sent it. You went so far off the fade and had to land and get sorted before you hit the lip of the road gap but I think I cleared it fine.
Two guys Dan and Derek turned up from Finish Line to watch the race and meet everyone and they brought with them the biggest box of every cleaning product you could want! Which was a good job really because although it was really hot there were some pretty dirty and sticky bogs on the track.
Then it was time for qualifying. Jase was still checking my bike over before I went up for my run so I took my Hardtail up so I could warm up on that whilst he finished with my bike. I got on the lift to the top and it started to thunder!
I was holding my breath the whole way up hoping it wouldn’t rain because I didn’t have any tear offs but just as we got to the top it started. To make things more stressful, they stopped the lift and said it wasn’t going to open until 20 minutes after the thunder stopped – by which time I would have missed my run and I didn’t fancy riding down on my hardtail!!
Just as I was getting ready to beg the UCI guys at the top they decided to delay racing as some girls were still at the bottom, so Jase made it up just in time with my proper bike... It got my adrenaline going though wondering if he was going to make it up in time or not!
I ended up 13th I think, after a steady and cautious run but it still made me realise I needed to pull my finger out!
I’d messed up the run in to the road gap in my run and chickened out so I knew I’d lost quite a bit of time but I still needed to go much faster!
Saturday – Practise
We had a few hours of practise on Saturday morning so we did a few chilled out practise runs, then went up to walk track and went home to relax before going back to watch the Gravity Series East Downhill Citizens race ( http://www.gravityeastseries.com ). Jase won the vets race there last year so he was determined to retain his title and lots of the boys who hadn’t qualified the day before had also entered it as there was over a grand in prize money!
When Jase came down the score board said he was third 3rd and he was quite a way back. We could see straight away how put up he was and he started making excuses about catching someone up... but after a while we realised he was actually 3rd overall and had won the veterans by almost 8 seconds and would have won masters too.
It was so funny to see him cheer up instantly! Jase had persuaded Nath to enter the race on Saturday morning and although he got a puncture he still ended up 5th.
Sunday – Race day
Race day came around and it was extremely hot. Practise went well and we were both feeling happy with the track and were ready to race. I went up early to warm up and it was so so hot – I was melting in my body armour. I still trying to cool down on the start hill 30 seconds before my run but time ran out and I had to go!
My run was pretty good, I made one mistake which cost me some time but it felt fast so I was surprised when came through the finish line in second, especially as I had my run before most of the fast girls. I ended up 14th so I guess I was just not fast enough – that track is so fast I just wasn’t used to it!
The times were very tight though so I wasn’t too disappointed and I was just pleased to survive Windham in one piece and I got over my fear of the road gap!
We were all in one piece and ready for Whistler – I couldn’t wait to ride there and get lots of jumps done to give me some more confidence.
On Sunday night we packed up and went out for food. Harry got a shock when he got shut down ordering a beer ‘cos he was under 21 and we spent most of the time watching videos on Freecaster and Dirt from the race, then went home to finish packing!
On Monday we didn’t have our flight to Whistler until 10ish that evening so Jase had a snoop on the internet and found us a waterfall near Windham, so we left early in the morning and went to have a look. When we got there it was so cool, you had to walk up a gnarly rocky path to get there that went along an overhanging cliff and Nath and Harry were getting a sweat on edging along it!
Jase had been banging on about having a press up competition the whole trip so then was a good time to have one. Amazingly, Jase won and I came second beating Nath and Harry, who still haven’t really heard the end of it!
We did regret it over the next few days though; we were feeling pretty achy on the first few days riding Whistler!
Then we drove back to New York and went for a drive round the centre of town in rush hour to kill some time and Nath got very stressed. We took a million wrong turns and spent about 2 hours weaving through mental taxi drivers.
When we were driving the New York Nath was asleep in the front and Jase showed us a piece of paper he’d written on...
Nath’s reaction was pretty funny and he got his own back on Jase later on...
Jase had to walk round the airport with soaking wet shorts looking like even more of a tramp than normal!
We had to spend quite a while haggling with the woman at check in at the airport, they wouldn’t let us strap the wheel bags together so we had one less extra bags so Jase made a fuss about paying for 3 extra bags.
She ended up making us pay for only 2 bags so we only had to pay 200 dollars extra for all our stuff which wasn’t too bad considering just how much luggage we had!
As soon as I got on the plane I was itching to move around and couldn’t face sitting for 6 hours on the cramped plane but we tried to sleep as best we could so we could ride in Whistler the next day.
We arrived at 2 in morning and Peter from Ticket2Ride who we are staying with in Whistler did us a massive favour and picked us up in the middle of the night at really short notice.
We got to Ticket2Ride in 2 hours and were in bed by 4am.
4 hours later we were up at 8 ready for breakfast with Harry bouncing off the walls wanting to go riding!
Whistler/Crankworx update coming soon!
Massive thanks to Ticket2Ride who picked us up and are looking after us in Windham and also to Finish Line who hooked us up with loads of stuff.