We Asked Rachel, Gee And Dan Atherton 21 Questions They Weren’t Expecting

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A few weeks ago, we had a young lad, Aran Francis in on work experience. Along with the regular work experience jobs of going to find some tartan paint, a long wait and a left handed screwdriver, and after he’d made us all a cup of tea, we got him to write down seven questions for each Atherton sibling that he reckoned they might not get asked that much.

Read on to find out the weirdest prize that Gee has ever won, whose arms Rachel would like, who’d win a cross country race and why that none of them like fitting tyres…

Dan Atherton

The lesser seen of the three, Dan, or ‘Affy’ is always hard at work behind the scenes having found his vocation as a trail and jump builder of excellence – as seen in the monster jumps of the Red Bull Hardline event. He’s currently also helping restore many of the trails around Corris and Machynlleth, when he’s not building stuff at his cabin in the woods.

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Dan, playing in his garden… on jumps he sculpted.

What features does the perfect track have?

I guess it would be natural, the more natural the better. When I’m building a track I always look for the natural features first and then look what I can add to that to create a course that feels as natural as possible. At Hardline we did a lot of work, but if you look closely it all follows the contours of the hill and uses the changes in terrain, where there is good natural dirt we used it to build jumps, where there are rocky outcrops and boulders we used that – don’t fight what Nature has given.

When you raced as kids, what could you always beat the other two at?

Nothing! Well I could for a while because I was the eldest, I guess all siblings go through that time when the eldest  is bigger, stronger and faster but then there’s a weird time when the younger ones come through and start beating you . It’s actually a cool feeling , you know so much about where they are from and how they have trained it’s awesome to see that progression.

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Look for a feature on some of Dan’s favourite trails in the magazine soon.

If you could switch places with another person who would it be?

Nobody! I love my life, I’m the luckiest person alive.

Who’s the least modest in the family?

Depends what we are doing! Gee and Rach are both pretty confident! That’s what makes then World Champions!  But they both have their humble moments.

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Dan, just hanging out, you know?

Who would be the fastest in a cross country race out of the family?

Me! The other two are too lazy!

What do you think you’d have been if the pro contracts hadn’t come in and enabled your career racing bikes?

Exactly the same as I am now, I’d always have found a way to race bikes and build tracks.

If you had to do all aspects of bike maintenance yourself and could only pick one task for a mechanic to do, what would it be? 

Pumping tyres up! I hate seating tyres, I hate bangs and loud noises, I always get someone else to do it if I can!

Rachel Atherton

It’s hard to believe that it’s ten years since Rachel Atherton won her first UCI Downhill World Championship title. Since then she’s increased her speed and fitness and on any course is still the rider to beat.

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Rachel. You should see her when she’s really happy… (Sven Martin photo)

What was the first bike you won a race on?

In BMX it was this MTB frame that brother Dan had made into a BMX for me, the other kids were like “That’s not even a BMX” and I was like “Yes, it so is” then they were like “Why has it got bottle cage mounts then?” In mountain bikes, it must’ve been the boys’ old Kona Stab, I inherited it and loved it!

Do you have a pre-race ritual?

Yes for sure! I hate my routine being interrupted, it’s a routine from the moment I wake up on race day with lots of little rituals in there, but I always put the LEFT thing on first: left glove, left shoe etc

I always have to touch (Team Director) Dan Brown – like a knux thing,  before I go up for a race, and certain people I can’t touch at all!

I’ve got loads more too but you’d get bored!

Who do you admire most on the scene?

I don’t know that’s a tough one, everyone has their stories and things that make what they’re doing even cooler, I guess I’ve always admired the girls who race and hold down a full time study programme : Emmeline Ragot and Pompom (Miriam Nicole), they both studied and qualified for their Physio degrees whilst also racing fast! That’s impressive!

What do you worry about before a race?

Literally everything! In Lourdes 2017 I accidentally left my shoes outside and someone actually stole them! Race day I was freaking out I had no shoes, practice was started and I was like “That’s it I can’t race I’m going home”

I weirdly always hope that somehow the race will be cancelled and they will go off the qualifying results.

 Do you get jealous of anyone else in the family?

I get jealous of how good at dirt jumps the boys are, I watch them and think “Damn it I know they are having the most amount of fun right now” – fun I can only imagine because I can’t go as big as them!! I get jealous of their physical strength too, I imagine how easy I’d find it if I had Gee’s arms 😆

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Rachel has shown that dedication and guts will get you to the top. (Sven Martin photo)

What do you think you’d have been if the pro contracts hadn’t come in and enabled your career racing bikes?

Something sporty – a sprinter I used to want to be, or a vet, or an English teacher.

 If you had to do all aspects of bike maintenance yourself and could only pick one task for a mechanic to do, what would it be? 

Probably setting the gears up, I suck at that. I remember the first time when I was younger, in the barn where we had all our bike shit and skate park ghetto, I banged in my own headset with two bits of wood and a hammer, I felt like Affy (Dan) was so proud of me!

Gee Atherton

The ‘other’ Downhill World Champion in this talented and hard-working trio. Gee is well known for his extreme focus and his overarching desire to win. But did he really want to win that television?

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The Teapot is this year’s must-do move. Photo by Sven Martin.

Is there a bike related product you’d like to un-invent so it didn’t exist anymore? What is it and why would we be better off without it?

I sometimes wish my road bike hadn’t been invented.

What’s the weirdest prize you’ve ever won?

I once won a TV at a street race in Budapest and they gave it me there and then, I had to fly home with it.

Is there another cycling discipline you would like to try is there one you would never try?

Yeah, there’s loads I’d like to do. I’ll have a go at Enduro some time maybe, and Crankworx is always good to mix up the disciplines with slalom etc. I’d never say no to anything on two wheels

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You’ll never see Gee in non-sponsored gear, right? (Pic by Moonhead media)

Have you ever had a crash or injury that knocked your confidence? How did you get over it?

Yes of course, so many. Every crash you have knocks your confidence and makes you question what you’re doing, but it’s all about finding a way to learn from it, and explain it to yourself, the more information you give your mind the better it can work out a way to process it, rather than trying to ignore it

Who’s the most competitive in the family

All of us in our own way, it depends on the circumstances

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Gee – a focussed individual, like the rest of the family. (Sven Martin photo)

What do you think you’d have been if the pro contracts hadn’t come in and enabled your career racing bikes?

I’d love to be in some kind of motorsport, I’d be racing what ever I was doing, I think I have that competitive need to be battling against people and trying to always better myself

If you had to do all aspects of bike maintenance yourself and could only pick one task for a mechanic to do, what would it be? 

If we are running tyre inserts, I’m not fitting them!

 

Thanks to Aran Francis for posing the questions and Gill at Atherton Racing for standing over the Athertons until they’d all done their homework.

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