Sit down with Gee Atherton
A downhill legend – Gee Atherton is regarded as one of the world’s best mountain bikers. An overall UCI World Cup winner, two-time World Champion and a multi-World Cup winner just to name a few, Gee Atherton has seen it all in his near two-decade career.
Who is Gee Atherton?
For those of you who don’t know (although we should know) who Gee Atherton is here is a quick look at the man himself:
- Name: Gee Atherton
- Age: 37 years old
- Discipline: Mountain bike downhill (DH)
- Current bike: Custom Atherton AM200
- Notable honours: British & European DH Champion, two times UCI DH World Champion, seven times UCI DH World Cup winner (just to name a few)
WATCH: Lauren spends the day with MTB legend Gee Atherton.
Fresh from his return to racing at Red Bull Hardline, we got the opportunity to ride some of Gee’s local trails at Dyfi Bike Park before sitting down with the legend himself to ask him a few questions.
Question 1: What is the biggest mechanical that you’ve ever had on your bike?
Gee’s answer: Biggest mechanical, I’d say over my career, I’ve probably broken everything on the bike at some point. I feel like the worst mechanicals are when, say, when the bar snaps or something vital to the control of the bike snaps.
You know, I’ve had landings before in the past, like the bar snaps one side and then you just left in like a situation where you just have no idea what to do. Like there is no controlling it (the bike), you know you’ve got milliseconds to panic before a mega crash happens. But touch wood it’s not happened recently.
Question 2: When you watch the crash back – do you think – I can’t believe that happened to me?
Gee’s answer: I don’t watch it back, to be honest. I mean, it, you know, some crashes. I don’t mind. Once you’re OK, you watch back and they’re kind of amusing in a way. But that one, I I try not to watch it.
Just because of the severity of it, the nature of it. And, you know, when you watch it, it just looks unpleasant, like the shape of me and like how bad the injuries were.
So, yeah, I try not to watch it, but I feel like my recovery is going well and I’m back on the bike and riding again so it feels good.
Question 3: Do you remember the first bike you ever had?
Gee’s answer: I remember my brother (Dan Atherton) phoning me up and he was at a friend’s house. And Dan says ‘this guy’s selling his BMX. He wants £10 for it. Shall I buy it?’ And I remember thinking, probably not say don’t worry about it.
But he came home with anyway, he brought it, and I’d never ridden at that point. So I just started following him around on a BMX, from that moment on, it was literally just like bikes, everything, bikes. Jumping them, building little tracks, building take offs; we didn’t know there was a whole cycling world out there. We just knew that we had so much fun and these little bikes in the little village we lived in.
If you haven’t seen Gee’s horror crash (please beware it is a horrific crash) you can check it out below:
Question 4: At age did you think, this could be a career for me?
Gee’s answer: Quite old, really. We raced BMX (from the age of) 10 and then probably 13, 14 we started getting into mountain bikes. (At) 15/16 we started racing but then we were just racing and riding and just on our bikes all the time and you know, all the way through to the point where racing World Cups. I think I’d like had my first World Cup podium before I was suddenly thinking, you know what, this is my job now.
It wasn’t a decision at any point. I just merged into it purely because we loved it so much. You know, there was never any pressure. It was never a point where I was like, I need to be a professional I want to do this as a job. It just kind of just happened. And suddenly I was there, you know, for me and for Dan.
And it’s such a natural way to do it. You don’t feel like a pressure. There was never a point where we thought we have to be able to do well here. We’re just doing it purely because we loved it.
Question 5: This is going to be a tough question, but is there like one bike that you would love to ride for the rest of your life?
Gee’s answer: Probably my bike right now (Custom Atherton AM200). They’re so much fun to ride, and I do love riding my trail bike. But on the downhill bike, I enjoy it so much purely because you can just go so hard on it, you can just charge it and hit all the big stuff.
And, you know, I’ve had a bit of a break from my downhill bike, obviously been injured for a while and I forgot how much I enjoy it. You know, jumping back on it, you feel so brave. The bike just seems to be able to take anything. I just feel invincible on it. And that feeling, that feeling of pure bravery when you jump on a downhill bike.
We’re so lucky being able to develop the bike ourselves. You know, we’re working so closely with all the guys at Atherton bikes, who develop the bike and constantly improving it. And because it’s manufactured, it’s 3D printed, we can test it and come up with a prototype and then ride it the next week and change it again.
Question 6: I’m sure you’ve got to ride your bike all over the world. If you had to pick one place, where is your favourite place you’ve ever ridden your bike?
Gee’s answer: Dyfi bike park – when the sun’s out and the trails dry, you know, we’ve been riding the Oakley line all morning and you know, there’s not many lines that are more fun than that.
You get here and the bike park can be really busy, but you go to the top and you drop into the Oakley line and it’s quiet. There’s not many people around and you feel like you’re just on your own riding down this flow trail of gaps and step downs and big table tops. You know, it’s so much fun.
Many thanks to Gee for taking time out to speak to us and show us around the Oakley Line at Dyfi Bike Park.