THE INTERVIEW: DAN ATHERTON - RED BULL HARDLINE 2015
Red Bull Hardline with Jeep, returns to the hills of Mid-Wales this weekend and this time it’s not shrouded in secrecy. With spectators invited to attend (although now all tickets have been sold), 20 of the world’s best riders have been invited to ride Dan Atherton’s construction that promises to be bigger, more technical and all in all gnarlier than the 2014 edition.
Last year’s racetrack was one of the most demanding ever seen, pushing the world’s best to their limits. Remember Dan Atherton's helmet-cam run? Huge rock gardens, giant slab rolls, tight wood sections, technical natural features and the now infamous road gap created a track to push mountain biking up a level and this year promises to raise the bar once again.
We caught up with the brains behind the event - Dan Atherton - about the design and build of the track, and what's in store for riders and fans attending from the sideline.
What has been your inspiration for this year's Hardline?
To make last year’s Hardline even better. We’re racers and so naturally we want to push things and design the hardest race there’s ever been. The inspiration comes from the land, the mountain. The minute I saw the location with the waterfall towering over everything I knew it would be awesome. How long has it taken you to design and build?
This time round three months, last year we had six weeks. In a way that’s helped but in a way, a compressed, concentrated time was better. No racing, no distractions. What sort of things do you have to consider when creating these massive jumps?
The landing! This year the jumps are bigger but they feel safer. The landings are now bigger with more margin for error. I wanted the riders to feel challenged but able to rise to meet that challenge. Every rider has types of terrain that they love to ride, some like to ride gnarly rock gardens, some like mud, some are happiest on the big jumps. Hopefully there’s something for everyone here. What was your most memorable moment from last year's Hardline?
I loved the camaraderie of our first day’s practice, all these guys who’d usually be rivals riding together, sectioning the course, it felt like a jam. Who have you got coming to Hardline?
I'm stoked that our team-mates Taylor Vernon and Martin Maes are both going to ride. Joe Smith and Gareth 'Gaz' Brewin were last year’s ‘guinea-pigs’ with the balls to come back for more! Gee of course, he’s still gutted about his Finals run so he’ll be wanting to show just how fast he can ride this thing. Others include Kye Forte, Lluis Lacondeguy, Matt Simmonds, and Remi Thirion. One of the things I love about Hardline is the mix of disciplines. Downhill, BMX, Enduro... It doesn't matter, it’s just about the best riders. How big is your build team?
Not as big as you’d think! Olly Davey has been up there in all weathers and all hours, then there’s me and Gaz Brewin on the machines and I guess about 10 of us on and off taking turns to shovel mud! What's the gnarliest feature on the course?
It’s not so much one gnarly feature as the intensity of features all the way down, one or two big jumps is easy enough but it’s the combination, no sooner are you clear of a jump than you’re into a rock garden, another jump, into the woods, a big hip… there’s no let up. What's your favourite feature on the course?
It’s impossible to choose! It would be like asking "Which of your siblings do you like the best?" Some of the new stuff is pretty exciting, like the Renegade Step Up, or there’s a new bowl jump back into the woods, the Final Fly off always feels awesome, the Road Gap is cool - no, no way I can decide! Do you prefer building to riding competitively?
They’re different things. I build in order to challenge how I ride, to take myself out of my comfort zone, it’s not digging for its own sake. But similarly I probably compete for the same reasons, different events, new courses and being against the clock all challenge my riding in a different way. It’s the riding that I love. Are there going to be any women riding the course?
No – I don’t think Rachel Atherton’s even tempted! Last year there were no spectators allowed, but this year it's been opened up. What triggered the change?
Last year was kind of a test. We put everything together really fast and wanted to try things out for ourselves, it was such a new, unknown thing. The plan has always been to develop Hardline so that every year is bigger and better, not just in terms of the track but in how people can access the action. It’s way too special not to allow spectators. If I was watching I’d be checking out every inch of that track for the next great feature!
Images by Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool. Video by Red Bull Bike.