Manon now rides for Radon, freeds the 'gram and studies geology
Mountain biking’s movers and shakers select their favourite places to ride. Here’s one such trail in South Wales chosen by Manon Carpenter.
“Through my teenage years there was a period when Wednesdays after school involved an evening group ride around ‘The Superloop’. It was generally a summer thing, and almost all the trails involved weave through incredibly green, deciduous woods over the kind of orangey hard-baked clay that turns to icy slickness after any rain. The loop involves a number of short, sharp and not very sweet climbs to get to the top of the descents that aren’t ground-breaking in terms of length but make up a nice circuit around the local hills, all within riding distance from the house. The descents aren’t that difficult but they are technical, pretty rooty in places and involve some thought to ride them well — which is how I like it.
“During most of my racing years I generally ended up riding other trails, seeking out rides that involved longer descents (with less intense climbs!) or something more technical or fast to suit whatever I wanted to work on. Fast forward to the last few years and I’ve moved across town, ending up a bit closer to the Superloop-loop. I really enjoy spending days out, re-learning and making my way around the circuit, not to mention stopping off at the fair few options for outdoor coffee/cake/full-on-pub-lunch pit stops on the way — weather-permitting.
“One of the hills in particular became of interest to me last summer when I was asked by Radon bikes (one of my sponsors) if I wanted to work on a Dream Build project with Gee Milner.
“If you haven’t seen this online, it basically involved me building a bike up from scratch, then taking it out for a blast the following day. I had this hill in mind as somewhere interesting to film after discovering a number of really cool rock slab and gully features that you don’t tend to find on most of the trails in South Wales. However, I was painfully aware that if it rained at any point in the few days leading up to filming, the riding wouldn’t be anything like I’d imagined! With a back-up plan in mind and a dubious weather forecast, we stuck to our filming dates and lucked out with the ideal trail conditions.
“Fast and tacky, the rocky gully we’d cleared out a few weeks before rode perfectly and I had great fun ripping the trails I’d been riding since I was 14, all within pedalling distance from the house. Just as we packed up after filming and headed for food, the heavens opened with a deluge of rain, turning the trusting tacky dirt into a greasy nightmare.”
Racing success came early to manon – she won the World Cup overall and the Worlds all before her 20th birthday, then retired from the sport aged just 24.
Manon now rides for Radon, freeds the ‘gram and studies geology.