Just recently, MBUK got to hang out with the current women’s downhill world champ and one of the most successful mountain bike racers of all time, Rachel Atherton.
When we met up with Rachel just before the Fort William World Cup, she was sitting pretty on a 14-race winning streak. Unfortunately, soon after our visit her run of victories was broken by a dislocated shoulder, sustained in morning practice before the World Cup finals in Fort William. Sorry if we were bad luck for you, Rach!
Rachel has had numerous injuries over the course of her career, and she admits that with each one it gets harder and harder to recover mentally and rebuild the confidence and race-winning speed that’s expected of her. Anyone as dominant as her in the sport has a huge target on their back and considerable pressure to keep winning. Rachel confessed that this gets worse every year, and if anything is going to prompt her to retire, it’ll be this. Thankfully for the 29-year-old, being back at home in rural Dyfi, Mid Wales, gives her a chance to get away from all the stress and recharge.
By no coincidence though, Dyfi also happens to be one of the best places to in the country to ride bikes, and that’s thanks in no small part to Rachel’s brother Dan. For the past few years, he’s worked mercilessly, carving the rugged landscape into an incredible network of downhill tracks and jump lines, which as yet still remain almost secret. So, when the invitation came to go riding there and gain an insight into the mind of the world champ, who were we to refuse?
If you want to read our full-length interview with Rachel Atherton, you can still get hold of a copy of MBUK Issue 344 here.
You can keep track of Rachel’s road to recovery in the latest Atherton Diaries videos. We hope to see her back between the tapes at the World Cups soon!
Features Editor Alex calls the mellow rolling hills of Dorset home, but before he started on MBUK, he lived in The French Alpine town of Morzine for seven years. Here he developed a scary ability to make the steepest and gnarliest trails look like a walk in the park. Occasionally his speed caught up with him, resulting in several bone crunching crashes at World Cup downhill level. Since hanging up his racing shoes Al regularly clocks up a massive weekly mileage on his trail bike, so is one of our hardiest testers.