The mountain bikers among you will most likely be familiar with the Atherton name, and it has probably not escaped the notice of British roadies either. Reigning downhill (DH) world champion Rachel Atherton and her two older brothers have ruled the British mountain biking scene for several years, particularly in the DH discipline. Theirs is a lifestyle which oozes adventure and adrenaline. Based out of North Wales, the family lives and breathes MTB, quite possibly spending more time building trails and jumps than they do racing their bikes. With the DH racing season well underway, let’s catch up with the exploits of the Atherton family and look at the bikes they ride.
The Atherton Diaries
This unique family are the subject of the hugely popular video series, the Atherton Diaries, which follows their off-season, training and racing calendar riding for Trek Factory Racing. It balances their experience of injury and disappointment with their high-energy lifestyle, enormous sense of humour and immense passion for their sport. Many of the films take place in enviable locations, including their own base in Wales where they have set themselves up with all the facilities a MTB dynasty could possibly need, including a dirt track, access to cross-country trails, gym, workshop, office and private quarters. When they’re not at home, the videos reflect the nomadic lifestyle of a professional bike racer as the team travels the world on training camps and at races.
Atherton Diaries Episode 3 covers the first World Cup of the season in Lourdes, France, where Rachel continued her winning streak.
That winning streak
Rachel Atherton had sustained an unprecedented streak of World Cup wins, racking up no less than 13 since the Fort William World Cup round in 2015. In 2016, she not only won every single World Cup event, but was also able to retain her British and World Championship titles. Sadly, her historic run came to an end in Fort William of all places after she dislocated her shoulder on a practise run before the event. Rachel took to social media to express her devastation, but put a positive spin on it in true Atherton fashion, praising the rest of the field for their efforts in rubbish conditions.
The weapons of choice
Atherton Racing have been partnered with Trek since the beginning of the 2016 season in a deal that lasts through 2019. As downhill specialists, their primary bikes are the Trek Session, a full-carbon OCLV frame with a particularly stiff chassis making it super-fast on the toughest terrain. When not racing, the riders train and play on a plethora of alternative machines, including motorbikes. While Gee and Rachel race the Session downhill, Dan Atherton will be racing the Trek Remedy at select Enduro World Series events. The Remedy is a full suspension all-mountain bike that promises to take every ride to the next level. When not racing or training MTB, the Athertons carry out endurance training on the super-light Trek Emonda road bike.
The Downhill World Cup makes a welcome return to Vallnord, Andorra on the first weekend of July, having last visited in 2013. The Athertons and their team will be met with a steep, fast and highly technical course. Hopefully Rachel will be back to fitness following her injury-forced absence, while Gee will still be side-lined by the dislocated hip which has ruled him out since mid-May. If you’re just getting into following mountain biking, downhill is one of the biggest spectacles with fast racing and a perpetual party atmosphere. Keep your eyes peeled for the red livery of Trek Factory Racing and Rachel’s world champ’s rainbow stripes as the season unfolds.