2013 Mountain Bike World Championships – Athlete Profile - Rachel Atherton
Overall World Cup Titles: 2 (2008, 2012)
World Championships: 1 (2008)
The ladies of Downhill Mountain Bike need look no further than young Rachel Atherton for the girl to beat at the 2013 World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The 25-year-old British rider has made a habit of constant improvement throughout her career. Atherton was crowned the World Champion in 2008 along with the World Cup Overall Champion that same year, all while racking up four World Cup wins.
Her only down year was 2009 when she spent her time recovering from an unfortunate accident during a training ride with her brothers, Gee and Dan. Since then, it’s been a steady climb back up to the top. “Waynehead,” as her friends call her, secured another Overall World Cup title in 2012 and 2013 has seen no shortage of podiums for Atherton either. So far she’s won World Cup events in Fort William, Val di Sole and Vallnord along with the British National Downhill Championship. Consider all eyes on Rachel, come the women’s elite downhill event in South Africa. Read more and get to know Rachel below:
Oakley: How has your season gone leading up to World Champs in South Africa?
Rachel Atherton: This season has gone really well for me so far… Starting the year with a win at Round 1 of the World Cups in Fort William was amazing and set me up great to win rounds 2 & 3 also, which means I’m leading the World Cup series too, so its really been a mind blowing year so far!
Oakley: Yes, you’ve practically dominated the field this year. Congrats! Any special prep going into South Africa we should know about?
Rachel Atherton: The prep for World Champs was started in the off season… and during the race season its so hard to train specifically whilst still racing so I am crossing my fingers that my prep has been enough!
Oakley: Any superstitions going into South Africa? Do you keep the same routine as a normal MTB World Cup? Or are there any special rituals you keep for a special event like this?
Rachel Atherton: I think I will try and keep everything pretty similar to a World Cup, but obviously it is World Champs so things do change, it will be strange not having our big race truck out there like Europe… but I’m embracing it all and cant wait to see some monkeys!
Oakley: What are your goals for 2013 Worlds in South Africa?
Rachel Atherton: I am in every race to win, as is everyone else. Its going to be a hard battle and I want to come out of it healthy for sure!
Oakley: In your opinion, who is the man to beat? And what will it take to beat him?
Rachel Atherton: The girls have stepped it up the last couple races and are really racing fast now, so I am going to have a hard time if I want to get the top spot. That’s the way it should be. It sucks if it is too easy to win! Everyone will be going fast…
Oakley: What would it mean to you to become the 2013 World Champion?
Rachel Atherton: It would mean that I can relax. I have won World Champs in 2008 and haven’t won since. It is hard to have them and then not have them again. I want to prove to myself that I can do it after everything. I want to do it for the team around me also. It is a cool thing to have ;-)
Oakley: Pretend the person reading this knows NOTHING about professional mountain biking…what are a few quick essentials you could tell them about the sport?
Rachel Atherton: Downhill mountain bike racing requires a very fine balance between skill, physical strength and mental strength. We race at 100% concentration and physical exertion for around 5 minutes, my heart rate averages 190bpm the whole race run, all while riding 60kmph between trees, rocks, roots, jumps and turns. Lightening sharp reactions have to be coupled with an in-depth knowledge of every inch of the race track – It’s a pretty intense sport!
Oakley: Now that they are prepped…what makes Worlds in South Africa such a big deal?
Rachel Atherton: World Champs is always a big deal. The World Cup series takes more consistency to do well at every World Cup, week in week out, but the World Champs is that one-off race that the rest of the world understands. And if you win you take home the Striped Jersey which is something special for sure. I have never been to the previous races in South Africa so the whole trip will be an eye opener for me to see that country…
Oakley: Any special plans or “must sees” for South Africa while you’re not racing?
Rachel Atherton: Well..with it being such an important race, and mid-season, any plans to go on safari have been put on hold! But monkeys I do want to see!
Oakley: What is your favorite memory/story from the 2013 season?
Rachel Atherton: It has got to be running at my brother Gee at World Cup 1, Fort William, when he won. To both win the home World Cup is something I never thought would happen, and I couldn’t stop crying which was pretty embarrassing!
Also at Fort William we were in the house one evening and we all get Twitter message from my mechanic Andy Lund saying “@rachelatherton can someone please help me I am locked in the bathroom upstairs” – That was pretty funny!!!