Today’s Frankly Thursday is a redux of sorts. Last we met Jenna Makgill she had retired from the World Cup Downhill racing scene and just picked up a Red Bull sponsorship on the back of two Courier World Championship titles. That was three years ago and Jenna’s been busy.
True Detective's Rust Cohle says time is a flat circle and I've heard bikes are cyclical, so it was only a matter of time until Jenna found her way back onto fat tyres. That journey was done in steps, mostly to the top of podiums at cyclocross races. She’s still climbing, but nowadays it’s to the top tier at enduro events up and down the country.
The overriding impression of trail time with Jenna is intensity, which is nicely offset by how easy going she is otherwise. Hang out a while with her and you’ll see she rides like a cut cat on amphetamines and sips rum like Anne Bonny savouring Jamaica’s finest.
Jenna's riding goals for the next year are as chilled as she is, but expect see her on the top step at a race near you soon. So, please don’t call it a comeback, because LL Cool Jenna’s been here for years, rocking her peers and putting suckers in fear.
Who is Jenna Makgill?
Some red head biker chick that just won’t go away basically.
How old do you feel?
Oddly I actually feel my age (28) and that is quite liberating. Otherwise I DO NOT feel like some others my age (they're all married and knocked up n sheet). I would rather ride my bike and travel than deal with snotty noses.
What do you do for a crust?
Crust? Job? I like cheesy stuffed crusts, which I pay for from the money I earn running the 3D printing lab at AUT University (yes, it's as cool as it sounds).
What's your ideal day off?
Somehow waking bright eyed and fluffy tailed (after a quality session of hard liquor) away from Auckland with great friends with intended adventures and good food. I love adventure and good company.
You left mountain biking for a while. What were you up to?
Studying, NOT riding a mountain bike, racing fixies around the globe, living in Germany, drinking ...
You've raced all sorts of bikes, from downhill bikes to cyclocross and track bikes. Tell me about your racing career so far?
Started with road at school which introduced me to mountain biking which narrowed into DH which took me around the globe racing World Cups and living in France and Italy until it broke my soul which caused me to race fixies. I happened to be good at riding fixies and that too took me around the globe racing alleycats, which lead on to football. Then I saw the light, got back on my bike and started racing cyclocross and road, which saw me swing full-circle back into mountain bikes. This has been the last 14 years of my life and I wouldn't change it for a thing. If I am not travelling with a bike a feel naked.
What are the biggest changes you've noticed in terms of the trails, scene and technology?
There is more development on the trail front for sure, which is cool because it offers more locations on our doorstep in New Zealand. I mingle in a different scene now (one that didn’t exist before).I just like riding bikes for shits and giggles and for the adventure, so I suppose that element has always been there, I just wasn't in it before now. As for tech development, the exponential curve seemed to taper off when I came in (the Shaun Palmer days). To me, there has been a tonne more refinement in the past eight years, rather than in-your-face redesigns.
What brought you back to mountain biking?
Well it was inevitable. Friends dragged me out a few times and slowly the passion was rekindled. Needed a new challenge and I still seemed okay after five years off the bike.
Where do you usually ride?
I road ride in Auckland otherwise the only mountain biking I do really is when I run away to some enduro race.
Enduro is very buzztag/hashword at the moment. What's your take on enduro racing?
I really like the concept to be honest; I love my 27.5 (gasp) too. I like racing my bike and riding my bike with friends in far off locations. Enduro does this while incorporating elements at the less extreme ends of cross-country and downhill racing. It has such a strong following because the format works for such a large range of riders. But I suppose haters are going to hate for the sake of hating. I LOVE racing and I’m happy to admit it. Enduro seems to hit the sweet spot for me.
Trail of the year so far?
I LOVED the Craigieburn Enduro a few months back. There were a few trails that dumped me on my arse and really showed me how much tech I had lost; but I loved the challenge, just stupid steep. So much fun!
Favourite bit of riding kit?
Giant Trance SX with my Rock Shox Pikes and Monarch: I cannot do that thing justice.
Best thing about mountain biking these days?
The social side of it. Enduro has offered a nice environment to hang out and still race. And the fact that there are so many faces I know and love bumping into.
Worst thing about mountain biking?
I suppose it'd be the wank elements and the occasional wank personality. But to be honest I don't see that much, nor do I get caught up in it.
What are your riding goals for the year?
Just being out there, not spending all my money on coffee so I have enough to travel and ride at the weekends (very rarely in Auckland). BUT truly I want to be living in Vancouver.
How would you describe your riding style?
No idea. Someone else would have to answer that. Thank goodness I don't have to watch myself.
Who should I ask to describe your riding style?
Some washed up old downhiller ... ha ha! Y’all know who you are!