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Interviews

20 years/20 questions – Dan Atherton

We ask, Affy answers

 TO CELEBRATE THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF DIRT WE’RE SPEAKING TO THE BRANDS AND RIDERS THAT HAVE SUPPORTED US THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. WE’LL BE ASKING 20 QUESTIONS ON THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING TO THOSE WHO ARE TRULY IN THE KNOW. CHECK OUT OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK THAT’S AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER HERE.

This time it’s Dan Atherton. Dan is the oldest of the Atherton siblings and has raced everything from 4X to BMX supercross and enduro. Now he spends his time deep in Welsh forests building some of the most progressive tracks in the world of mountain biking.

We grabbed a quick chat with Dan about mountain biking past, present and future.

20 Questions Dan Atherton

What achievement are you most proud of?
“2008 Andorra World Cup. Winning the 4X on the same day that Gee and Rach won the downhill. Standing on the World Cup podium with those two was pretty special for me”

Give us a story from your wildest moment in mountain biking?
“When I broke my neck was pretty wild.  We were filming some dirt jumps with Clay at our local spot, when I fell. On the way to the hospital I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and suddenly the ambulance slams on the brakes and there is a car stopped in the middle of the motorway.

It turns out a guy was drunk on his bike riding in the middle of the road and some woman ploughed into him and decapitated him, we were the first ones to arrive. It kind of put my situation into perspective.”

What has been your favourite moment of Dirt’s history?
“Just their huge influence on both the UK scene and world wide. Mountain biking is a pretty cool sport, but somehow Dirt have always managed to capture it without going too commercial, they have been able to convey what we do to the public in an almost art-like form.” 

How were you first introduced to Dirt?
“Dirt was our inspiration when we were growing up. The first Dirt mag I bought had Peaty on the cover and I remember thinking how rad it would be to have a Dirt cover.”

What would be the first question you would ask Dirt?
“WHEN ARE YOU BRINGING BACK PRINT …???”

When did you first start mountain biking?
“We raced BMX for years, always thought mountain biking was pretty kooky. Then Oggy brought a downhill bike along to a BMX race and we were hooked, it looked so sick.”

What bike were you on then?
“My dad’s old GT hard tail.”

What rider or person has most influenced your career?
Steve Peat, the UK scene is so strong because of Steve. Every weekend we would go racing and try to beat him, but he was not only fast he would help riders out. When I was first on the British team in juniors, I was so nervous, all the juniors were, but Steve was there to talk to and it definitely helped.
”


What has been your favourite or most memorable race?
“The first year of Hardline, we were still waiting for the OK from the land owner six weeks before the event. I was out in Whistler when I got the call saying we could go ahead and build the track, so it was straight off the plane and flat out. 6 in the morning till 9 at night every day, right up to the morning of the event, it was nuts, but it worked ok.”

Who would you loved to have raced against or ridden with
“I only rode with him a few times but Stevie was pretty special”


Your opinion on E-Bikes?
 “Never ridden one. If I want an engine I get on my motocross bike!” 

What’s your favourite wheel size?
“I’m not too bothered, I have always ridden BMX so its cool switching wheel sizes.” 

What life lessons has Mountain biking taught you?
“Patience. You have to learn to take the highs with the lows, getting injured teaches you to be patient and get healed up properly.”

Who doesn’t get the credit they deserve in the industry?
“The trail builders, without them a lot of people would have nothing to ride. Speaking from experience people have no idea how many hours go into a good section, especially when its being ridden on a commercial level like Whistler.”

What’s been the most questionable thing to come out of mountain biking?
“Camelbaks, my life long hate.
”

What’s been the best track you’ve ridden?
“The early years at Fort William were pretty cool.”


How would you change World Cup downhill?
“World Cups are always going to be about speed, flat out speed, and that’s fine, but the guys and girls that are racing them are the best in the world and sometimes the jumps etc. they build are a little questionable. 

These are the best riders in the world. Some of the riders should remember that as well. World Cups are not about taking part, if you’re not at the level then you shouldn’t be there.”

What do you still want to achieve in mountain biking?


“To help build the UK scene, and help young kids get into the sport, I am currently working on a cool project in The Dyfi that will be a step towards this with plenty of room to expand.” 

What do you want to see more of from the Dirt website?
“Front Covers!!”

What do you hope the next 20 years brings for mountain biking?
“Better access to fast and technical tracks, and a clearer route for kids to follow who want to start racing World Cups….That’s my goal anyway.”

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