If you’re anywhere near Australia or New Zealand during the past fortnight you’ve no doubt heard a lot about Cyclone Debbie (the bitch). You might also know that the wet weather affected the calendar for Crankworx in Rotorua – one of the most challenging events for mountain bikers and downhillers in the world. What you might not know is that on the same day all of the professionals were given a free pass due to the weather, one event did go ahead: the New Zealand schools’ national mountain bike championships.
That’s right – school aged children under the age of 20 rode the trails in the mud, abound with slipper rocks and roots, cheered on by their parents and friends despite the wind and rain.
Upon hearing this, we decided to check out the results of the women’s DH and saw a name that we don’t think we’ll ever forget…
She came in first place more than 15 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor – an U20 – and more than a minute ahead of 3rd place, who was U16:
We arrange a chat with Jenna through her dad, Rupert, and ask her a little bit about the race, riding bikes and being fearless.
Chicks Who Ride Bikes: So what was the ride like the other day?
Jenna Hastings: It was sketchy… really slippery… but it was fun!
CWRB: Were you nervous about it?
JH: I hadn’t ridden the top bit of the course so the first practice round I was a little bit nervous, but yeah, it was fun.
CWRB: When did you pick up riding?
JH: I started BMX when I was 6, and then I started riding in the forest when I was 9 or 10.
CWRB: How awesome is that?! A lot of people around the world would be so jealous of that setup. Do you have siblings who ride as well?
JH: I have a younger brother who’s 11 and a younger sister who’s 9, and they’re all getting into it.
CWRB: Mum and dad must be thrilled… Getting into downhill is quite a big jump from BMX, what made you want to do that?
JH: Well, Dad suggested doing the 2W Enduro, so that’s how it started. Most of the time I’m the only one in my age group but when you compare my time with the open women I’m normally 2nd or 3rd.
CWRB: Were you surprised the first time you did it and didn’t really know where you sat with other riders?
JH: Really surprised! But it’s so cool.
CWRB: What do you think it is that makes you fearless?
JH: I don’t know, really. [pauses] I just enjoy it. Heaps of people pulled out [because of the weather], but I didn’t want to because I really like riding that stuff, especially when it’s wet.
CWRB: For me, having a full face helmet makes me feel brave!
JH: [laughs] yep. Knee pads, body armour.
CWRB: What’s next for you after this?
JH: I have BMX nationals coming up soon, I keep it up because of the skills. I’ve done nationals every year since 2012.
CWRB: And what kind of results have you had so far?
JH: Well, I got first at my first nationals! The next year I fell off and got 8th, and then I came 2nd in the third one.
CWRB: Any good injuries?
JH: Once I fell off and landed on a log on my hip which hurt, but that’s about the only one.
CWRB: And how does Mum and Dad feel about riding?
Jenna’s Dad: Oh I love it. Mum gets a bit nervous. I ride with them so I know what they’re capable of. Mum’s new to biking and she just goes “no. no.”
JH: Mum especially doesn’t like watching my younger brother who does a lot of jumps.
Jenna’s Mum: I don’t watch them live. I watch videos of them riding because I know they’ve made it home safely.
CWRB: Thanks so much for chatting to us today and good luck in the Air DH competition later this week!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Jenna also went on to win the Air DH a few days later. Remember the name, you’re bound to hear it again alongside Rachel Atherton, Jill Kintner, Casey Brown and Tracey Hannah quite soon.