Here’s an update from Irish Kona Pro Leah Maunsell, who’s proud to hold the 2017 Elite Women’s National Championship in both Enduro and Downhill. Congrats, Leah!
This year my brother Jonathan and I were delighted to have the opportunity to return to the Kona Bikes Rookie Camp in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis at the beginning of August. Jonathan acted as coach and I was the Kona Bikes Women’s Ambassador. I jumped at the opportunity to ride with and race against the best young girls in the world!
I really like the structure of the camp: it not only teaches the kids bike skills and how to approach racing but also that racing is not the be all and end all. Si Paton was on hand with loads of really helpful information for the kids about racing.
We also enjoy lots of off the bike activities during the week which are very entertaining. We spent an evening at the fun park at 1,800 metres altitude and and then took the “Flitzer” rail toboggan back down to the town. It is such an action packed week! I personally do think that the race is a nice way to finish up the week though! I really enjoy the challenging race track they have there. I was happy to finish 3rd U19 Women against the best up and coming European downhillers!
I did an Interview about our trip to the Kona Rookie Camp in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis which is now up on Pinkbike.
Photo courtesy Sven Martin.
Next up on the schedule was the Irish Enduro National Champs in Carrick, Co. Wicklow, on August 19-20. Carrick is home to the Emerald Enduro – a round of the Enduro World Series for the past 3 years – so to me it is a special place to have our National Champs. It is one of my favourite riding spots in the country and I was so eager to get out and ride there for the first time since the very wet EWS round back in May.
After a fast and dry practice day I was so excited to get racing! With rain forecasted for the afternoon I was happy with my early morning seeded position. It would be a mission to beat the rain! Despite a crash on Stage 3 I managed to keep it clean for the remainder of the day. I took 5 out the 6 stage wins. I was delighted to retain my National Title by taking the win in Elite Women. So that leaves me as 2017 Irish National Champion in both Enduro and Downhill – stoked on that! And all on my Kona Process 153 DL, what a capable machine!
After that it was a round of the Irish Downhill Series so close to my door in Mallow, Co. Cork it was hard to miss. During Saturday morning practice the track was bone dry but with the classic Irish rain in the forecast for the afternoon that dry track wasn’t going to last long. Lo and behold the rain came in and changed up the track. The open top section became quite greasy but the lower wood section really turned in to an ice-like layer of mud! This section claimed the most victims of the weekend and wasn’t long being christened ‘Carnage Corner’ I took a spill there myself during Sunday practice but luckily I was ok. I had a clean race run to take my Kona Process 153DL to the top spot in Elite Women yet again.
The following day I passed my Driving Test – woo hoo, watch out world! It’s not all just riding bikes 😂
Photo courtesy Sven Martin.
The final round of the Gravity Enduro Series took place in Djouce, Co. Wicklow on September 9-10. Due to school commitments I was unable to make the practice but still went up on race day. Djouce is a great venue with terrain to challenge every rider. The forest was littered with roots and loam despite the odd puddle! I made a few silly mistakes almost taking out the tape due to lack of knowing where I was going! I was really happy to hold it together to take the win in Elite Women and grab 2nd in the series overall having missed 2 rounds due to racing in Europe.
I have just written another interview for Prime Mountainbiking magazine in Germany, so I’m excited to see that as well.
Soon I will be leaving for the last round of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure which takes place on the 30 September – 1 October. I’m really excited to give it everything at my last big race of the season. Praying for a bit of sunshine!