MIJ Downhill Events South Wales Series Round 2


This week saw me loading the Santa Cruz V10 into the van and heading south to the Valleys to race the MIJ Downhill Events South Wales Series Round 2 at the amusingly named Taff Buggy.  MIJ events always have a wicked vibe to them and get people in a good mood - the racing's still competitive but everyone is there to have a laugh with their mates.  It was great to be back in South Wales as this is where I first stayed when I arrived in the UK at the start of the year.  It's one of the friendliest places I've ever been to and it was a good opportunity to catch up with a lot of riders I hadn't seen in a while.


MIJ Podium Manon Carpenter on the top step with Jenny #2


The weekend started dry and dusty - just how I like it!  Saturday practice was so much fun, riding with Josh 'Loose Dog' Lewis and Tom Kelly.  The boys showed me some sneaky lines and I had fun trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with them.  The track was mint and had some real flow to link the sections.  There was something for everyone - loose turns, rock gardens, roots, flat corners, a chute and a nice fast bermed line to finish.  I can see why everyone says Taff Buggy is so much fun to race, the other lines outside the tape that have been used in previous events looked just as good as the course we were racing and I'm looking forward to seeing what Jon, Ian and Martin will come up with as a track for Round 3.


It was great to see so many women racing too - six of us, including Junior World Cup Champion and local girl, Manon Carpenter.  The atmosphere was super-friendly and one of the girls I'd only just met invited me to her MTB uplift hen's weekend - cheers Sarah!  What a cool idea - it beats getting wasted in a short skirt with devil horns on in some expensive city centre somewhere.  Gutted I can't make it as I'll be in Scotland watching the World Cup at Fort Bill.


On Saturday night it was gale-force winds and rain all the way through ‘til morning, but I managed to sleep through most of it thanks to a combination of four quid all you can eat carvery dinner and a set of earplugs.  After so many practice runs on Saturday, I took Sunday a bit easier and only did three runs before racing started.  It was pretty greasy after all that rain but with an exposed hillside and gales, I knew the track would dry out fairly quickly as soon as the rain stopped.  The first race run came around and I tried to put in a solid performance without going crazy and risking crashing.  The  tactic paid off and despite missing two lines, I was second to Manon after everyone had got down the hill.  For the second run I felt relaxed and Josh and Tom decided it would be cool for me to try and take off 7 seconds or so, to just squeeze inside the 2.30s.  I had a clean-ish run, pedalled hard and just made it.  Manon also took 7 seconds off her time, which meant she still finished 25 seconds clear of me!!  But then she is one of the best riders in the world, so I wasn't exactly disappointed to hold on to second place and get to stand next to her on the podium! 


This weekend probably equalled the Steel City race as my best result so far, but the weekend wasn't really about race results at all.  It was a bunch of mates riding downhill together and having a mint time. I'd definitely recommend an MIJ event to anyone who's thinking of having a go at DH for the first time because the atmosphere is so relaxed and fun.






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