Headed to the home and HQ of the Atherton family in Wales after the Fort William World Cup I was most excited to see (and ride) the backyard track that eldest brother Dan has been so feverishly busy with since last September…
From Dirt Issue 126 – August 2012
Words by Sven Martin. Photos by Sven Martin.
All the Instagram and web updates couldn’t prepare me for the sight though. What the binary code and digital cellulose can’t capture is the idyllic setting his work of art is situated in. Ancient oak trees, stone walls and views of the countryside for miles and miles.
Set in a two acre block of land that a neighbouring farmer has let him use, it is just a stones throw from his bedroom window across the lane. Dan says, “When we first talked to the farmer about building the jumps he didn’t really know what to expect…we started work on the Wednesday and he came up a few days later and was pretty shocked, all he could mange to say was ‘Well, fair play boys, they’re a bit bigger than I expected!’ ”
Initial work was five weeks of 12–hour days in a digger, hours on a shovel are immeasurable, it has no completion date, as Dan says, “It will never be finished, we live in Wales and the weather likes to wash things away.” Dan’s most memorable moment in the yard was when he was building it. Gee and Rach had been to The Warehouse Project in Manchester and got back at about 4.30am, and just as they pulled in the drive he was just getting up to start driving the digger.Dirt: What’s different between this one and the old one at your previous house, especially now that you don’t race 4X anymore?
Dan: This one is all about flow. I know it sounds funny, but I think riding dirt jumps is almost more beneficial to me now that I ride enduro, being able to pump and hop into backsides is so good for saving energy for pedalling.
Pre–planning was all in my head really, with the way the field sloped I knew at the low point I wanted to be at full speed so it would carry through for the uphill part. I find that lines open up and become apparent once you start building. If you have a design that you want to stick to it definitely holds you back. When you’re sat in the digger you see things differently, usually I build things way too big and then downsize after, but I always build things so that you have to get the jump before perfect to make the next one. I want to have to always be trying. I don’t measure my jumps, its pointless, I could build a big jump and just pedal down the field into it, it’s more about the speed of the line and the technical aspect, how close they are to each other, how much you have to turn to get into a certain jump, it’s rare for me to build a straight jump. I just wanted to build something that makes me smile when I ride it. I watch vids and look at stuff online to get ideas for jumps. I am always looking for a different idea, not just a straight air dirt jump, if I start feeling like I want to start doing tricks then it’s time to make them bigger or change them up.Memorable moments?
The first session we had on the jumps this year. It took us three days solid to get through all the lines. Gee had huge blisters on his feet from casing so much!And future plans?
Just to keep improving, already there are huge changes that need to happen. It’s a cool feeling having something five metres from my bedroom that I can get creative with and put as much or as little work into as I want.