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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 126 > ROCK[ET] SCIENCE


Pete catches up with an enthusiastic and at peace Manon Carpenter on her South Wales home trails

A shout from the front of our three-person train manages to find its way to my ears through the clatter of bikes and dust. “Watch out for the low tree!” yells former World Champion Manon Carpenter as she disappears rapidly round the next apex, despite being three hours deep into our ride. At five foot three, I shrug off the notion that a tree might be too low for me, only to drop a shoulder straight into the four-inch-thick trunk of a birch. Why I didn’t listen is beyond me, as I have no idea where I’m going. The dusty switchbacks have us all champing at the bit for the next turn as we wind our way down our penultimate descent of the day.

South Wales has had its fair share of top riders and racers over the years, but on this bright summer’s day I’m here to see arguably the most successful. Manon Carpenter’s meteoric rise to downhill stardom all began with Jason, her dad, organising races on some of the toughest tracks in the UK. The Dragon Downhill series was renowned for using anything that would test riders to their limits, and it was certainly an arena in which a young rider would either thrive or struggle. Luckily for Manon, she chose the former and it wasn’t long before she was racing Nationals and World Cups. I recall quite vividly standing on a stinking wet Swiss hillside in Champery in 2011 and watching Manon peel apart her competition at the Junior World Championships. That was eight years ago and a lot of everything has changed since; today’s chat won’t turn in the direction of racing very much.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: There Is No Right Or Wrong. Choose a bike, any bike, and enjoy it. International Adventure: Panning For Trail Gold In Arizona. Huw Oliver finds gold in the ghost towns of Arizona. Classic Ride: Don’t Mynd If I Do. Tom Hutton rides the Long Mynd in search of forgotten corners and new trails. Behind the Scenes: Colour Wheels. Sim Mainey finds out how the next bike fashions are decided. UK Adventure: Cornish Fasties Barney Marsh goes to the edge of the UK and finds a world of overlooked trails. UK Adventure: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. Sanny reduces the nicest man in mountain biking to rude words. Hope’s Helping Hand. Chipps checks out a bit of innovative thinking from Hope Technology. Bike Test: Overlooked Awesome. Daz Hall checks out three smaller wheeled, shorter travel bikes that you probably should be riding, from Bird, Cotic and Santa Cruz. Column: Jason steps out of his comfort zone. Pete’s Pros: Rock[et] Science Manon Carpenter may not be racing much, but Pete Scullion finds she’s still aiming high. A Day In The Life: Fort William Saskia Dugon goes behind the scenes at this noisiest of World Cup races. MTB Culture: The Quiet Revolution Rich Rothwell argues that GPS technology has opened up a whole new world of mountain biking joy. Last Word Hannah gets to ride somewhere she thought might only be a far-flung fantasy.