It's been a long, hard winter in the UK and the day of this shoot was no exception: bitterly cold with snow atop the mountains and every bit of trail, but as ever, the show must go on.
Wales is a great spot for training with its vast and varied landscape of mountains, rocks, mud and good old fashion loam. For most of the winter this has translated into trails which are solid at the top and mushy at the bottom. Not only does the area give some of the best mountain biking on offer in the UK, it is also a great place for conditioning yourself, both mentally and physically. Tough terrain, tough weather…they combine to give an off-season training regime that makes escaping to dusty trails and warmer climates seem like the easy option.
An early start to the day meant bitterly cold temperatures as the UK entered Spring with some of the coldest weather this island has ever seen. The location for the day? That will remain a secret, but these are trails designed for training for the rigors of the World Cup circuit: variation is the name of the game.
Arriving back from a pre-season training camp in Italy and being immediately thrown back into training in freezing conditions is not easy, but it's part of the routine and the conditioning to make sure that titles are kept and medals are earned.
The daffodils poking through the snow suggest the arrival of Spring and the looming race season. 2012 was Manon’s first year riding in Elite after doing the double of Junior World Cup winner and World Champion. A renewed energy saw a second place at the first round of the World Cup in South Africa, with a win at the opening round of the British Downhill Series laying out Manon’s intentions for the season. Then came injury, but this did not stop Manon taking the British Downhill Series title, as well as a Bronze medal at the World Championships. You can bet that this season will see a focus on the top step of the podium whether at home or abroad.
Women’s racing is evolving, with established names regularly caught napping by the up and coming youngsters. There's a true fight on now for the top slots as times become closer and closer. Fitness, skill and stamina are what will make the difference come race day, but these things can only get you so far. Your body and mind have to be up for the challenge come sun, rain…..or snow. This is conditioning.
Photography & Videography: Laurence Crossman-Emms