We were lucky enough to get 10 minutes with the man behind the craziness that is Red Bull Hardline, Course Designer Dan Atherton.
Give yourself an introduction?
We’re Red Bull Hardline 2021 and I’m Dan Atherton. We’ve just finished the race weekend, it’s mental, I can’t believe it. Done for another year.
What does Hardline weekend entail for you?
The weekend is actually pretty chill for me. It's the months leading up to it that are gnarly. You’ve got to try and make sure you’ve got a solid crew together, who you can trust on the mountain and will get stuff done without you shadowing them all of the time.
So this is Hardline's 7th year. Does it get any easier to set up the course?
Honestly, I think it becomes way harder. The first few years everyone was just hyped to have a different event. We literally threw a big road gap in and a few dirt jumps and everyone was super stoked on it. But now some of the riders, like Gee and Bernard, they've pushed it so hard over the years and they're hungry for more. It's hard to find that balance between having new riders being okay on stuff because they've never been here before, but then having something for the boys who've been year upon year.
How long does it usually take to set up roughly?
Well, the first Hardline we did we were actually racing in America when we got a call from Red Bull saying we could go ahead and we banged it out in six weeks. But now it's a good four to six-month project.
Do you think the hill’s got more to give?
Yeah, I think the way it's going whatever we build the riders are doing it. It's so mad to see like the bar go up every year and you kind of think where will it stop! But, you know, I don't really think it will, the riders just keep improving, technology keeps improving and it’s mind-blowing.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that you said if they keep tricking jumps you're going to keep making them bigger. Is that true?
Well that's kind of happened this year but at the same time, it is Hardline it's not a World Cup, so it doesn't want to be too serious. I think seeing Kaos and those boys last year flip and stuff was for me just as exciting as watching them stomp those be drops.
Do the riders make you develop the course more?
Yeah, but I think the riders have a lot of input now. Yeah, the first few years it was kind of just me and Gee. Now Bernard has a lot of input, Kade and Kaos were up here giving feedback. Getting input from other riders makes for a better more rounded course rather than just being all coming from me.
Where do you find inspiration for each feature?
I think it's coming from years and years of racing and riding all over the world. You remember a sick jump you rode there or a road gap and then just trying to work with what the hill has to offer to replicate that.
What was the hardest feature for you to build?
The landing off the drop after the step-up was so hard! The boys have been on it for literally weeks just trying to get it hard enough and the weather has been crazy hot it's been impossible to pack. The boys have put so many hours into that landing.
You obviously get to ride a little bit of course, which bit of it do you enjoy riding yourself?
None of it.
Would you ever like to design a World Cup course?
Nah, I think the hype from the course comes from having the locals involved and having a sick dig crew who throw all their passion into it. I think if every World Cup had that then their courses would be dialled!
Speaking to your dig-crew, do you want to want to give any shout outs?
Alf Raynor he’s headed the project. Jamie Robertson, he’s got the road gap super dialled this year with the D3 guys. Jim Monro who was racing here, that dude digs all week and then rides so hard at the weekend. Wilf Carey, Snoop, Bentz and Sam Malster, it’s amazing.
What do you think is the easiest bit of the track?
Over the years it's been the road gap, it just never seems to have claimed anyone. Even though it's so gnarly, all the riders respect it. You can see, when we’re sectioning stuff, everyone takes that gap seriously but everyone gets air.
What’s the hardest part of the track?
Probably the tech stuff like the huge cannon out of the woods. That just seems to always claim people, there are so many variables, and yes it’s a massive jump.
Where do you think the race is won and lost here?
Honestly, I think is like the first two days of practice. You need to come in with a strong, positive mindset and be able to hold that positive mindset throughout the week, even as you see other riders drop out.
Thanks again to Dan for taking the time out to chat with us.