Recent videos from Manon Carpenter have been less on the shredit side, and more on the commune with nature side. This latest speed has a total absence of hike-a-bike, it’s just top to bottom descending, jumps and turns.
As we all know, many plans got changed this year. For myself, I ended up graduating virtually with my classmates, and adjusting to some serious alone time after my partner moved away to northernmost Sweden for work just before everyone got locked down in the UK. With all original summer plans cancelled, I booked flights to spend the summer in Sweden – long enough to make the inevitable two week quarantine worthwhile on return to the UK!
I’ve had my eye on Åre Bike Park for a while now, and circumstances lined up that it was a perfect opportunity for us to stop off for a ride on the journey up north. I also had the opportunity to get in touch with photographer and videographer Niklas Wallner, who is based near Åre and was free to show us and shoot some of Åre’s best bits that week. It’s been a while since I’ve filmed purely for the riding, so it was good fun and a good challenge jumping into new trails inside and outside the bikepark – dusting off my airtime and park shoes properly for the first time since before lockdown!
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The first day filming we checked out Våfflan and El Perro trails outside the bikepark, which were a really fun mix of fresh loam, rocks and some built up flow sections. We started straight away on the jumps which took some time for me to learn, but were really nice once I figured them out. The rest of the trail wound its way down the mountain, making the most out of the natural shape of the ground and some amazing greenery.
Then we headed into the bike park, which has completely distinct upper and lower sections. The top of the mountain is above the tree line from ~900m up, thanks to the pretty high latitude of Åre, and hosts a flowy blue ‘Easy Rider’, rough, rocky red runs, and also ‘Hällrajd’ – a black run that basically consists of arrows directing riders over the (relatively) smooth bedrock.
The trails on the lower half of the bikepark dive into the trees, again with some flowy, winding blues trails, rough and rooty red runs, jump lines and some seriously rocky black sections! A section of the 1999 World Champs track still exists as ‘Ripbranten’ – some steep, tight rocky switchbacks which lead into more rocks… But unfortunately (fortunately?) not much footage from riding that section on a trail bike made the cut for the final edit!
Apart from the gondola scene, the landscape looks like something we might well find here in the UK. Green trees, green moss, brown dirt. It’s all very lush and refreshing looking. Let’s hope Manon has got her fill of fresh air and loamy scents before she hits the quarantine time on her return.
We interviewed Manon Carpenter in issue 126 of Singletrack – you can refresh your memories here: