It was starting to look like the Athertons were unbeatable this season, with the way the family locked up both the men’s and women’s podiums at the first two stops on the Downhill World Cup. Gee won by narrow, but convincing margins at both Fort Williams and Val di Sole, while sister Rachel ripped the competition with victories so huge that they could have been measured on an analog wristwatch. Meanwhile GT, who lured the kamikaze British family to their brand in the off-season, were smiling smugly about just how well their bikes were performing.
But the glory lap is over. Red Bull has found a descender faster than the Athertons. More importantly, they’ve made what has to be the coolest bike video ever.
We would have loved to be in the brainstorm meeting where they came up with this idea: “Yeah, let’s get the most badass bird of prey in the world and sick it on Gee.” It sounds totally ridiculous and over the top—hardly a surprise. A few weeks ago, I gave the amped-up beverage purveyor a hard time about injecting a little too much caffeine into their film about Rebecca Rusch. But here the melodrama works, even with a score straight out of Crouching Tiger.
Part of the success is thanks to Atherton’s understated Brit routine. “It’s gonna be hard to concentrate with this falcon chasing me down the hill,” he says at the start of the video. Ummmmm, ya think?
Atherton looks like he focused just fine, with some amazing bits of riding that show exactly why he’s cleaning up on the DH circuit right now. Not quite amazing enough, but give the guy a break: he was dueling with a peregrine falcon, an animal perfectly evolved to rain down from the sky like artillery and destroy its competition. No matter if he’d won or lost, it’s bloody brilliant idea all around.