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!
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Alex Evans is BikeRadar's mountain bike technical editor. He started racing downhill at the tender age of 11 before going on to compete across Europe. Alex moved to Morzine in the French Alps at 19 to pursue a career as a bike bum and clocked up an enormous amount of riding. Riding those famous tracks day in, day out for eight years, he broke more bikes than he can remember. Alex then moved back to the UK and put his vast knowledge of mountain biking to good use by landing a job working for MBUK magazine as features editor. Since working for MBUK, Alex's focus has moved to bike tech. He's one of BikeRadar's lead testers, knows how to push bikes and products to the limit, and wants to search out the equipment that represents the best value for money. Alex is also a regular on the BikeRadar Youtube channel and BikeRadar podcast.