Rachel Atherthon tells Juliet how how her army of fans help her through the tough times.
Red Bull's new short film series, Four By Three gives a fascinating inside view of the lives of legendary mountain biking siblings, the Athertons. The first episode focuses on the youngest of the siblings, Rachel, as she deals with the pressures of competing in front of a home crowd at the UK round of the Downhill World Cup in Fort William.
Rachel and I had a chat last night whilst she prepared to take on the the last World Cup race of the season this weekend in Norway.
Are you excited about the World Cup finals this weekend?
Yes, very excited but pretty nervous. There's so much riding on the last race, so it's going to be intense. It's hard going into the last event of the season having had a bad race last week at the World Champs where I came fifth and I injured myself. I've been to the doctor and he sorted me out with some stuff to help my back so it's not too bad, but I still think it's going to be tough. So I'm just tying to keep that under control and go into the finals with a clear head.
You've done really well this summer, does that give you confidence?
Yeah, its gone really well. I missed the first round of the World Cup in South Africa at the beginning of the year but since then I've won 4 out of the 5 races I've entered. It's gone as well as it could have really. I was really surprised!
Episode One of Four By Three follows you over the weekend of the World Cup Race at Fort William. I know it's important to you that you do well there, how tough was it?
Doing well at Fort William is always one of my main goals of the year, it's my home race and I want to win it! But the track definitely showcases my weaknesses, you have to be extrememly fit which is something I've had to work on over the years. I've come second so many times there, but in a way that can be a good thing because it gives you the hunger to train harder, it makes me want to start right away and get as strong as I can. But at the end of the day, a disappointing result is still gutting and really hard to take.
After The Atherton Project, you must be used to having your every move followed. How was it being tailed again for Four By Three?
It's been really exciting and cool to film. Each episode is focused on one of us as individuals so it wasn't as in your face as the Atherton Project has been in the past, it was a bit less intense so I just kind of got on with what I was doing. The next few episodes focus on my brothers and they are very much more in depth, getting really close to them as riders, but mine was a little more relaxed.
Along with filming, you give your fans plenty of updates on social media sites and instagram. Does it ever feel weird sharing every moment of your life?
I'm very aware that it helps your profile as an athlete but at the same time I have to be careful that I keep a personal life as well. You don't want to be constantly thinking 'how can I broadcast this to the media?' But my fans are important and it's a good way to connect with them.
Do you draw a lot of strength from them?
This year because I've had a lot of wins on the World Cup scene and the fans and their support have been amazing. They say so many nice things all the time but it's amazing that when I have what I consider a bad result, like the 5th I got at the World Championships or the result at Fort William, they're still happy for me and they're still supportive. That's when you really notice it, it's when you not doing so well and they're still there. It really means a lot.
It must be tough being constantly on the road. How many days have you spent at home this summer?
Not as many as I would like really. Probably about one week a month. The garden gets a bit overgrown and I think my dog is a little bit upset with me for not being here enough! So the first thing I do when I get home is go out into the hills with the him and then tackle the garden which I enjoy.
I guess you have to catch up on a lot of chores. Do you ever get a whole day off from training, interviews and all the jobs you have to fit in around your home?
Well, not often, I definitely save up the time off for the end of the season, but at the end of the day, I ride my bike for a living and when I go off riding into the hills, it's pretty relaxed and like a mini holiday. So it's not like I have a hard life, it's pretty cool!
You've got a really big fan base and I know some of them want to know if you've got a boyfriend...
I have got a boyfriend actually, I started going out with him at the start of this year. I haven't had a boyfriend for years and years so it's been a little bit diffferent this season. He races as well so we see eachother when we're racing but then not at all when I go home which can be hard. And then it's also tough at the races when I want to see him but I have to just concentrate on doing my job instead. So it is hard, but you just kind of have to get on with it. Having a dog at home definitely helps because I don't miss my boyfriend so much with him there.
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