Photo Epic: The Ridgeline - Behind the Scenes with Gee Atherton

Dec 3, 2020
by Dan Griffiths  



"It's pretty rare that a film project is this scary"... when Dan Atherton is nervous, you know that something big is going down. The Ridgeline falls from a summit high above Dyfi Bike Park. It's bleak, inaccessible and brutal to work with. A place where the slightest mistake will come with great consequences... of course, Gee was inexorably drawn to the challenge.

If you haven't already, you can watch the full video here.


The Ridge is nestled between Snowdonia the Cambrian Mountain Range and the Irish Sea - If the wind wouldn t let us ride there were no objections to sitting around and taking in the view.
The Ridgeline is nestled between Snowdonia, the Cambrian Mountain Range and the Irish Sea. During those long waiting periods where wind had called the riding off, there were no objections to sitting around and taking in some of the best views that Wales has to offer.
In the distance Machynlleth a vibrant community with an eco-friendly vibe.
In the distance, Machynlleth, a vibrant community with an eco-friendly vibe.


The last slither of evening rays light the way.
The first practice session: the last slither of sunshine coats the mountain, lighting the way for the evening that lies ahead.


As remote mountain ridges go this one was particularly inaccessible. In order to get the crew bikes and kit to the top we had to get resourceful.
As remote mountain ridges go, this one was particularly inaccessible. In order to get humans, bikes and kit to the top, the crew had to get resourceful.
One could only hope that Gee's bike-strapping abilities would withstand the test of the brutal mountain moorland.


Gee had a brilliant crew around him and Dan as ever was a huge support. But when it came down to it it was one man against a mountain.
Gee had a brilliant crew around him and Dan, as ever, was a huge support. But, when it came down to it, it was one man against a mountain.


At the edge of the precipice. The Ridgeline is a mere 2 metres away from the cliff face the margin for error is infinitesimally small. Its not a fun place to ride the exposure is terrifying.
At the edge of the precipice. The Ridgeline is a mere 2 metres away from a cliff face, the margin for error is infinitesimally small. Gee might have made it look easy, but would still describe The Ridgeline as "totally not a fun place to ride", reinforcing that "the exposure is absolutely terrifying."


A few inches either way would have spelt disaster. Gee would make it down the mountain one way or another calculated preparation would decide whether that was on his bike or a stretcher.
A few inches either way would have spelled disaster.
Simple yet effective. In the case of a 70ft sender Gee s safety depended on these 13 stones.
Simple, yet effective. In the case of this 70ft sender, Gee's safety depended on these 13 stones.


The face says Do I have to do this - Somewhere in the distance a blind landing says that he probably shouldn t... but where s the fun in that
The face says "Do I have to do this?" - Somewhere, in the distance, a blind landing says that he probably shouldn't... but where's the fun in that?


David vs Goliath Round 2.
David vs Goliath.


First sends are always a gamble. Gee went all-in and it paid off.
First sends are always a gamble. Gee went all-in and it paid off.


Compose. Drop In. Survive. Repeat.


Standing face to face with the Ridgeline is enough to make anybody feel small.
Looking down on The Ridgeline is enough to make anybody feel small.


Last minute wind check.
Pre-drop nerves double up as a wind check.


 I wanted it to be cool and fast and big and I knew that it would be spectacular. You got that right.
When asked about his vision for The Ridgeline, Gee's answer was simple - "I wanted it to be really fast, really big and really cool - I knew that it would be spectacular".


The run-in was absolutely vital and any mistake would come at a cost.
The run-in was absolutely vital and any mistake would come at a cost. The first big crash came after Gee landed well but was going too fast to pull up for the next jump.


Coming up short on the 70 footer Gee described the experience as feeling like he d dropped off his house. The stakes were high and some of the hits this bike took were incredible.
Coming up short on the 70 footer, Gee described the experience as feeling like he'd dropped off his house. The stakes were high and some of the hits this bike took were incredible.


 Athy is my sanity check. Without him it would have been way less successful. Sometimes he d say no you ve got to change that down other times I d be doubting and he d say you ve got this
"I guess we're used to feeding off each other when we test stuff but these jumps were too big for me so I just talked him through it" - Athy was on hand as Gee's right-hand man. "Athy is my sanity check. Without him, it would have been way less successful. Sometimes he’d say no, you’ve got to change that down, other times I'd be doubting and he’d say “you’ve got this”



Every push back to the top was a test of Gee's resilience and it was "partly the blood, sweat and tears of the dig crew" that kept him going back up there.



A Series of Fortunate Events.
A Series of Fortunate Events.


4am starts were tough but beautiful.
4am starts were tough but beautiful.


Most of the time we had to work at dawn when the wind was at its lowest. On top of the Ridge anything over 6mph was a no go. Fortunately there was a quiet window for a couple of hours every morning where we d squeeze in as much as we could before the Wind God s had their say.
On top of the Ridge, any gusts over 6mph were a no go. Fortunately, there was a quiet window for a couple of hours every morning where we'd squeeze in as much as we could before the Wind God's had their say. We had 4 lads with walkie-talkies at points along the ridge checking the wind speeds. Once it was ok all the way along Gee would drop in.


The final morning was a beauty but October in the Welsh Mountains is not known for predictable conditions. We knew we were already pushing our luck with the good weather and this created a sense of urgency to get this project done before winter really set in.
The final morning was a beauty, but October in the Welsh Mountains is not known for predictable conditions. We knew we were already pushing our luck with the good weather and this created a sense of urgency to get this project done before winter really set in.
The wind had died down the sun was shining it was good spirits all round.
Working at dawn meant that Gee was hitting some of the biggest gaps he'd ever ridden half asleep and cold with no chance of a warm up. For now, the wind had died down, the sun was shining, it was good spirits all round.


How s the wind up there Parsnip
Talking of wind, how is it up there, Parsnip?


Without the dig crew the project would not have happened everything was hard access bogs everyone piling on the quad to get up there or hiking up with heavy equipment.
Without the crew this project wouldn't happen – everything was hard – access, bogs, everyone piling on the quad to get up there or hiking up with heavy equipment.
 This was a fairly stripped down production but there was so much to get right wind checks drone up camera up the boys did good.
This was a fairly stripped-down production but there was so much to get right, wind checks, crew in place, drone up, camera up... "the boys did good."


 What Gee s doing here is right on the edge of what s possible. To be honest it was really hard to watch.
"What Gee's doing here is right on the edge of what's possible. To be honest it was really hard to watch."


Fresh out of slumber and gearing up for another early wake up call - no need for coffee on the Ridgeline 70ft senders will do it.
Gearing up for another early wake-up call - no need for coffee on the Ridgeline, 70ft senders will do it.


We re no meteorologists but If the clump grass doesn t float too far that s normally a good indicator that it s a good time to drop.
We're no meteorologists, but if the clump grass doesn't float too far, that's normally a good indicator that the wind is low and it's time to drop.


Wake Up Call.
And the rest... well if you've seen the video you'll know the rest.


Ridge conquered and everybody in one piece - job done
Job done.


Huge thanks to Continental Tyres, the Devon Dig Crew, Dyfi Bike Park, Dan Atherton and everybody else involved with making this project happen.

"The Shred Mansion boys didn't know what they were signing up to!" - Building The Ridgeline was no easy feat and the commitment from the dig crew was unreal - Jim Monro, Alf Raynor, Will Jones, Sam Malster, Jamie Cable & Wilf - Cheers Boys!

The Devon Dig Crew. Photo by Gee Atherton.

If you haven't already, check out The Ridgeline edit.


Words & Photography by Dan Griffiths.


36 Comments

  • 27 0
 And I thought the gaps looked big on the video!
  • 22 0
 Dan said the jumps were too big, kinda says it all. That photo with gee above the landing is insane
  • 25 4
 Damn Gee, what a line. And I must say Gee is kinda handsome (no homo) Big Grin
  • 17 0
 Strongest jawline in mountain biking hahaha!
  • 5 0
 He could play the next bond villain!
  • 3 0
 @Caiokv: chasing after bond on dh bike
  • 5 0
 @Caiokv: Or the next Bond!
  • 13 0
 Insane line! The only thing I'm missing is a single clip drone follow cam shot of him riding the whole line (one from beginning to end that's uninterupted, like Brandon Semenuk's unReal segment)
  • 6 0
 Hopefully that, and the full lid cam footage will come soon.
  • 10 0
 The pic that puts the size of Gee's gigantic technical gnar balls into perspective is the one with the "Series Of Fortunate Events" caption. The landings are stupid narrow for rampage size hits, and one right after another. At first I thought it was a a hair over-hyped, but after seeing all the content I'm not sure anyone has sent stuff this big, this fast, with this much exposure on what is basically an all-mountain/singletrack width trail. If POV footage of the whole line exists....
  • 10 0
 some observations: Gee's really vascular, it's wild how their "dirt" is just little bits of shale, the look of that Atherton bike is really growing on me—I like the simple lines a lot, this whole project was f*cking cool
  • 7 0
 That continental plug though.
  • 2 1
 I tried a Conti Kaiser last year... Never again
  • 2 0
 They changed the photo description now, sneaky buggers
  • 8 0
 give us POV!
  • 2 2
 No, too many people would die of a heart attack sitting at a computer watching a pov of this.
  • 4 0
 That exposure is for real - it's only grassy because it's Wales; that's a cliff! Having been up there and "ridden" the first line the week it got cut (very local at the time), this is insane to see. Kudos all round.
  • 6 0
 I’d say more important than those 13 stones were the two massive ones required to pull it off.
  • 18 12
 Those are the smallest huge jumps i've ever seen.
  • 10 0
 Snipers big time
  • 1 0
 @jefe: and that’s really what makes this one of the most impressive things ever done a bike. . Nothing scarier than a pinner landing!
  • 5 0
 looks like a level in the game descenders
  • 3 0
 Congrats Gee ! Still pushing limits in such a beautiful scenery is quite emotional ! The guy reminds us why he performed so well in DH, Rampage...etc
  • 5 1
 that "dirt" looks awful to work with. Major props
  • 3 1
 There's gnarly and then there's Gee. Hope those Atherton Bikes will be affordable. They sure seem to be able to take a beating, eh!
  • 3 0
 Frames are approx. $4000 US with a Float X2 option.
  • 3 0
 So Dan, when are you going to hit it?
  • 2 0
 Gees one of the more senior guys on the circuit but Damn! He's still got balls bigger than most!
  • 2 0
 my testicles are way to small to attempt anything like that.
  • 2 0
 i'm surprised we couldn't see his massive balls in that piss photo haha
  • 2 0
 Nuts!
  • 1 0
 Great content. Why not continue the line all the way to the bottom?
  • 1 0
 My only question is... what's next?
  • 3 2
 gee atherton=god??????
  • 1 0
 Those are huge!
  • 2 0
 That's what the doctor said referencing Gee's balls when he was born.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2021. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.014062
Mobile Version of Website