''Twisty, rooty, rocky and in places wildly exposed, the singletrack in Afan Forest Park is the enthusiast's dream. The trails here have been carved out of hillsides once surrounded by coal mining, but now the valley has been transformed into a biker's heaven.''
After reading words like this at the Afan's website
, we instantly knew that this must be the next place where we put our tires on...
With only two days there we only skimmed the tip of the iceberg with what the Afan Forest has prepared for mountain bikers, but on another hand, it made us even more eager to go back there again, as soon as it's possible...
Without any further ado, scroll down and see what Blake Samson and his special guest rider, Manon Carpenter herself, were up to...
Later that evening, when we had a moment to sit down and sip a cold beverage made in the local brewery, we talked a bit about the season which was slowly fading away into history...
Here's what Manon has to say about her racing, achievements and plans for future.
*Many thanks to Laurence Crossman-Emms
for additional photos.Q:The 2013 season has just finished... What was your highest high and lowest low from the past season?A:
My biggest high, I would say, was the Andorra World Cup. I absolutely love that track and I felt like I was riding really strong there. Even though I missed out on the win by just over a second, it was the most ragged I've got in a race run for a while and I was buzzing for a long time after! My low would be World Champs in South Africa. That's another track that I really enjoy and I was excited to see how I could do there, but as downhill goes a slightly misplaced wheel put me on the floor and out of contention before I even knew what was happening. Coming back with a vengeance for 2014...Q: What is your main goal for the 2014 round of the DH World Cup races? Something tells me that you can't wait to stand of the highest step on the box, am I right?A:
Yeah for sure. I had SO many seconds this year and after a while they don't feel so good... So winning is the goal for 2014. Got my eye on a few tracks in particular!Q: Off-season means a little bit less strict routine in your daily life... What are your most favourite things to do in that time?A:
Mainly just riding more bikes! I put my downhill bike away and get the rest out; moto, skatepark, dirt jumps and xc. I love it all and when I'm not training, it is the most fun time to ride bikes as my body isn't as tired. This off season my main goal has been learning to whip. Haha, I'm getting there slowly! And then getting a fair few nights out in and learning how to be a girl again in a dress and heels.Q:Obviously, DH is your number one discipline, but what do you think of freestyle/freeride mountain biking? Today, I've noticed that you are into whips, tabletops and all those kind of tricks... Tell us more, please.A:
Until this year I'd never really thought of trying to look 'stylish' on a bike, just to go fast in a straight line. But since seeing girls like Casey Brown, Katy Curd and Tahnee Seagrave being awesome and looking good I've started playing around more on my bike as well and I love it. I am definitely going to be trying to perfect some tables this winter. But obviously going fast will always come first.DAY 2Afan Lodge Hotel
gave us a very cosy and warm shelter.www.saracen.co.ukwww.animal.co.uk