How Hard Can It Really Be? Red Bull Hardline Photos and Interviews

When the best mountain bikers on the planet crash out or decide to drop out of a downhill event, there has to be something significantly sketchy about it. Thanks to MTB pusher of limits, Dan Atherton, Red Bull Hardline is significantly sketchy.

Returning to the Dyfi hills of North Wales for the fourth time, Hardline is a downhill race that features invited riders, chosen by the likes of the Athertons, Red Bull and even hustlers like Sven Martin, who got a stoked Bruce Klein an entry into the show. I was at Interbike, trolling the halls and saw Bruce cruising by at a quick clip. Ready to start a conversation, I said "Hey Bruce." His fast walk turned into a jog and I figured he was trying to run thinking a team rumor question was coming. He yelled back, "I JUST GOT INVITED TO HARDLINE, GOTTA GO!" Bruce went from doling out KHS demo bikes at Bootleg Canyon the day before to hopping on a plane to England to race the most savage downhill course on record. This is one of those positives of invite-only events. Bruce was seen blasting Hardline booters a day later in Vital RAW from Day 1 practice.

The riders invited to Hardline are primarily World Cup downhill racers, but Darren Berrecloth was on the list. Unfortunately, he got hurt early. Enduro and video-hijinx-man, Yoann Barelli showed up, too. Combine the rowdiness of the course with greasy, rain-soaked conditions and small windows of practice time, and he chose not to compete, saving himself for other feats of fortune on his two-wheeler. Sam Reynolds sampled some jumps in superman fashion but didn't try for the show. By race day, when the field of attempted qualifiers were narrowed down to ten finalists, downhill race specialists remained. A testament to Affy's twisted outlook on what a race course should be, the qualifiers agreed this was the most difficult run down a mountain they'd ever tried to race.

Not even Rampage makes drop-outs and knock-outs of skilled riders like Hardline does. Gee Atherton? Charlie Hatton? Out because of crashes. Getting crashed out was almost more normal than finishing the day alive. There's something about rain mixed with bikes, immovable rocks, hucks to flat and aged trees that a crashing human body doesn't like - unless you're Adam Brayton. He crashed into a tree so hard in his run that he left a massive, permanent gash in its bark. Brayton didn't even notice, hopped back on his bike and finished his run. The tree was left there to weep.

Hardline, from a competitive standpoint, is kind of anti-climactic compared to the DH races we're used to watching. The small field of 10 riders, hoping to just not die, don't visibly push the pace in the same way they would at a World Cup. As a viewer, the nail-biting comes from watching these psychos catapult hucks that land in rock gardens instead of fiending over split-time margins that are tenths of a second apart. No matter, we're glad Hardline isn't a one-off World Cup downhill. The chaos and carnage from practice, the sheer ability of our most respected bike riders to handle this disgusting terrain, and the fact that it all comes from the mind of Dan Atherton, makes Hardline one of the most exciting mountain bike events to witness - even if it's from the safety, traction and warmth of our office chair. Keep 'em coming, Affy! -gordo

Listen to the rider interviews and drool (and cringe) over the nasty photos from Dan, Sven and Boris!

 

Stoked shaggy Sheffield steeze-machine, Craig Evans, ready to pay off some debt, get a new BMX bike and a TTR.

Adam Brayton looked the most focused on hunting down the win throughout practice. He tactically took fewer practice runs than most, knowing his confidence and ability over the big jumps didn't warrant wasting any more energy.
Brayton making light work of the enormous road gap.
Hardline is more a race against the course than each other. Riders want to win, but it's all love once the clock stops. We wonder if Brayton went up to hug the tree he permanently scared.

The three wildest men in downhill right now. Craig Evans, Bernard Kerr and Dan Atherton.

Problems with TV cameras meant the start of finals was pushed later, meaning thanks to some poorly timed rain, the course was more slippery for later riders. Bernard Kerr was frustrated to not put down the run he wanted but still heads home with 2nd place and a smile on his face.
The first evening of riding lasted only an hour, but Bernard Kerr was quickly comfortable enough on some big features to show some style.
Many of the riders, Bernard Kerr included, found the sections between the jumps far more problematic than the jumps themselves.

What you can't see is that Dan Atherton landed a gnarly drop-to-flat about 15 feet behind him.

All smiles for Dan Atherton who finished 3rd, his second podium after the inaugural Hardline in 2014.
A crash in training worsening a shoulder injury meant Gee Atherton wasn't able to ride on finals day. Dan and Al Bond in tow.
Champagne showers for Craig! Along with his chainsaw, he'll be taking home £7000 prize money. It may be a bit longer than he expected before cleaning windows again!
To win at a track like Hardline you need to lay it all on the line in places but also know where to hold back. It all paid off for Craig!
8th place for Taylor Vernon, returning to Hardline for the third year running. Some mistakes in the rock garden cost him time in finals.
It's amazing how many people come to watch Hardline up close and personal. Dan Atherton sends a big table for the crowd.
Dave McMillan whip epicness.
Bruce Klein doing his best high-jump impression over the big step-up.

Yoann Barelli felt he wasn't adjusting to the brutal track quickly enough, especially given the small weather windows that training happened in. He took the decision not to race, not wanting to injure himself so close to the end of the season.

Having lived in Wales for some time now, Graeme Mudd is skilled in sloppy, wet conditions and crossed the line just half a second off 4th place. He settled for 6th in finals.
Alexandre Fayolle embracing the G-force and railing berms in typical downhill racer style. He was frustrated to crash in finals and spoil his chances of reaching the podium, especially given how aggressively he's been riding over the previous 3 days.
Kaos Seagrave, the youngest rider, was consistently throwing some of the best whips of the event.
This drop can never be done justice until you see it in person. Super dark woods, a slippery slow speed run-in and steep landing with a catch berm at the bottom. It's called 'Hardline' for a reason! Adam Brayton takes it all within his stride in practice.

Charlie Hatton didn't make it through practice. An awkward crash and a concussion put him out of the running. He's been such a strong rider on the World Cup downhill circuit this year and one we were keen to see compete in finals.

Laurie Greenland drifting his was through the top of the course during practice.
Having ruled himself out last year with a crash in practice, 18-year-old Norwegian, Brage Vestavik, was back for another attempt at taming the beast. He was stoked to take home 12th place and leave injury-free!
Two days earlier, Bruce Klein was checking out demo bikes to bike shop nerds at Interbike. He got an unexpected invite the day before practice, booked a plane on-the-spot and headed straight from Interbike to Hardline. Legend! Unfortunately a crash took him out. We enjoyed having you Bruce and hope you can come back again!

He may not have qualified, but Sam Reynolds certainly brought the style! #SuperSam

Dave McMillan was one of the three unlucky riders that attempted but didn't qualify. His jaw-dropping whips more than made up for it all week long.

With the gnarliest course comes the raddest trophies!
Always stoked to be riding at Hardline, Brayton gives a fist pump as he sends the jump into the finish area.
That concludes another Red Bull Hardline from the wild Welsh countryside.

Red Bull Hardline 2017 Final Results

  1. Craig Evans (GBR) – 02.31.29
  2. Bernard Kerr (GBR) – 02.33.30
  3. Dan Atherton (GBR) – 02.33.73
  4. Laurie Greenland (GBR) – 02.36.26
  5. Adam Brayton (GBR) – 02.36.40
  6. Graeme Mudd (AUS) – 02.36.73
  7. Kaos Seagrave (GBR) – 02.45.40
  8. Taylor Vernon (GBR) –02.45.96
  9. Al Bond (GBR) – 02.49.99
  10. Alexandre Fayolle (FRA) – 03.04.31

Watch the full live webcast replay

 

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5 comments
  • Mwood

    9/26/2017 12:54 PM

    Yes spomer, we appreciate your speech bubbles...please keep doing them.

  • Lifeblood-MTB

    9/26/2017 5:20 AM

    Great event and great coverage. Cheers to Dan for hanging in there for third against those young bucks.

  • LLLLL

    9/26/2017 3:26 AM

    Great shot of Charlie coming over the crest!

  • phillemaistre

    9/25/2017 8:21 PM

    D-Mac whip shot over the stone wall is hot fyah. Interview with Evans is even better.

  • bizutch

    9/27/2017 5:22 AM

    Been waiting for that pic to surface. Sven was giggling like a mad man when he snapped it in the RAW video.

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