Downhill MTB Tips From The Athertons


If there are two names everybody’s heard of on the downhill mountain biking scene, it’s Gee and Rachel Atherton, the brother and sister combo who’ve been shredding down Fort William and at competitions all over the world for more than a decade. They know a thing or two about going fast downhill. Here are some tips for you downhill junkies out there who love nothing more than to bomb off six-foot drop offs at 40 mph.

Drop Your Saddle

Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve got a downhill bike, you’ve already got a low saddle. But if you’ve not bitten the bullet and blown $5,000 on a downhill rig, then a dropper post is a must. Rachel Atherton says that most people make the mistake of keeping their saddle high when they’re going downhill. But a seat that’s too high can lead to leaning back too much or going over the handlebars. What you want is a nice low saddle, not only to keep your weight central on the bike but also so that it’s easy to dab the floor if you start losing your balance. As First Born Bikes points out, mountain bikes are great for riding over rough terrain, but they’re not usually ideal if all you’re doing is downhill. Downhill bikes have a lower center of gravity, making them easier to manoeuvre.

Don’t Go Easy On Yourself


Getting good at going fast downhill takes more than just doing the same old routes week after week, says Gee Atherton. You need to head off to pastures new and find descents you haven’t done before. New trails force you out of your comfort zone, he says, and into the zone where you’re learning more about your own skills and what the bike is capable of. Try going a little tougher every week he says so that the rides you’re doing are a real challenge.

Grab A Practice Partner

Training alone can be a little scary, says Gee. That’s because you’re out by yourself, usually in the middle of nowhere without anybody to help you if you have an accident or your chain falls off. Having a partner by your side is much better, he says, because you’re less likely to want to take it easy and more likely to push yourself. Having a partner allows you to compare lines to see which are the fastest.

Don’t Grab The Brakes The Whole Time

Wikimedia Commons

Many riders, says Gee, grab the brakes down the entire length of the course. Instead of gliding down the side of a mountain, they end up squealing down it unceremoniously. Gee says that new downhill riders should try to let go of the brakes when they don’t need them and only grab them when they’re approaching obstacles. The more you make a habit of staying off the brakes, the more fun you’ll have and the faster you’ll go.

Dig Into The Corners

Rachel says that riders can go faster around corners if they raise their inside foot on the pedals and drop their outside foot. If your feet are level, it keeps your weight high.

Enjoy Your Ride
Pin It

Comments are closed.


    July 2024
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to

Nutrition Tips