A two-time downhill World Champion with numerous World Cup victories to his name, Gee Atherton has enjoyed remarkable success on two wheels. But perhaps what makes the British rider so special is his ability to bounce back from severe injuries and progress the sport to whole new levels.

Appearing on Red Bull’s ‘Just Ride’ podcast, Atherton discussed overcoming adversity, seeking out new challenges and previewed the 10th-anniversary edition of Red Bull Hardline.

The 39-year-old Atherton, who got his first bike for just £10 aged 10, has enjoyed remarkable success throughout his career but has also had to overcome some serious setbacks. As with many downhill riders, he has suffered his fair share of injuries such as dislocating a hip and breaking several bones.

Then there was the crash in 2021 while filming ‘The Knife Edge’ that saw him suffer a punctured lung, a fractured eye socket and a severely broken femur. Atherton admits he came close to quitting in the aftermath of that accident, but after 15 months of physical and mental recovery was soon back in the saddle.

“Afterwards, I did think I never wanted to ride again. But I think it was a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with it all. I knew it was bad, but I was soon telling myself this would never happen again,” Atherton explains on the Just Ride podcast.

This remarkable strength of mind and body is common among elite athletes, and it helps to explain just why he continues to get back on the bike.

“It’s for the love of the sport. Whether it’s racing, filming or just riding in a bike park at home. It’s not a grind for me, it’s something I love, and it keeps pulling me back. I’m always buzzing to get back out there, get back up the next mountain or find another cool project.”

This dedication and passion for the sport is what led Atherton and his MTB track pioneer brother, Dan, to create Red Bull Hardline. The first edition of the event was held in 2014 and provided riders with the chance to tackle a course with a succession of mammoth jumps, boulder drops and technical puzzles.

Over the course of the last decade, the course has evolved, and Atherton believes this year’s event will be the toughest ever thanks to a new top section.

“When we first built Hardline, we wanted to make it as gnarly as possible. The next year, we had to progress it again and we’ve had to do this for 10 years. Now, we can’t make it any bigger, so we have a whole new top section.”

To learn more about Atherton’s backstory, his remarkable achievements and his desire to push his body to the limit, listen to the latest episode of Red Bull’s ‘Just Ride’ podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts from and on the Just Ride YouTube channel.

Thu 30th May, 2024 @ 12:30 am

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