Why Do They Risk Their Lives? The Claw, McCauls, Athertons and More Conquer Fears in Reverence

A deeper look into how the world's best mountain bikers overcome their fears in the name of progression and breaking new ground.

What is fear? Is it that feeling of dread that shows up before you’re about to do something that scares you? Is it the sweaty palms, the shaking hands, or the beating heart? Is it a moment of panic as you stare pain in the face, or a little voice in the back of your head talking about failure and consequences? Fear is all of the above, and more still, and it’s something that the vast majority of people have to face up to at some point in their lives. Whether at work, at home, or out there pushing yourself to do something new, we all know those familiar symptoms and we all know that sometimes fear takes over. But what if pushing your limits and doing your job were the same thing? What if throwing backflips off huge cliffs in the desert is what helps you pay your bills? And what if you have a family that’s relying on you to put food on the table? If fear wins, you might lose everything you have worked for, but overcoming your fear might come at an even higher cost. This is the central theme of Reverence, as it takes us on a journey into fear and how those who chose to make a living out of overcoming it make sense of it all.

“Fear itself has to be channeled into positive energy.” – Darren Berrecloth


Tyler McCaul, Darren Berrecloth, Gee Atherton, Dan Atherton, Rachel Atherton, Cam McCaul, James Doerfling and Matt Macduff – apart from being heavy hitters and some of the raddest shredders in the sport, the cast of Reverence has one thing in common: they’ve all faced a lot of adversity, injuries, setbacks and doubt. From Rampage to racing, these athletes have overcome more obstacles than most people will see in a lifetime, and in doing so they’ve pushed the progression of our sport. But if you thought that these people feel no fear, Reverence is here to set the record straight.

“I’ve always hated myself immediately after giving into the fear of it.” – Cam McCaul
Reverence puts a real time spotlight on the riders in their most vulnerable moments, and this is what makes it truly stand out.

Fear is a natural reaction to danger, there to prevent yourself from putting your body in harm’s way. But action sports athletes have to overcome this fear, and make it part of doing what they do. It’s unusual for high-level athletes to openly talk about fear, ironically enough because they probably fear what it might reveal about themselves and what that might do to their careers. However, the Reverence cast is accomplished enough to know their value and the movie gives us a unique opportunity to see what really goes into making all those movie parts or winning all those races. Talent and hard work yes, but also a singular ability to function under duress. Reverence puts a real time spotlight on the riders in their most vulnerable moments, and this is what makes it truly stand out.

“My biggest fear is not becoming the person that I want to be.” – Matt McDuff

Fearless and brave are two different things. Doing something you’re not afraid of doesn’t take much, even if to other people it might seem dangerous or scary. Overcoming fear and realizing your dreams in the face of adversity is far more impressive than some jackass belly-flopping off a cliff just because his friends told him to do it and promised to put it on YouTube. Going back to the scene of the crime and having another attempt at something that got the better of you once before, that is the true definition of bravery and resolve.

“Knowing that you accomplished something that you’re so scared of and that took so much work to get to, I think that’s what keeps bringing me back.” – Tyler McCaul

So how to tell this story? The action sequences in Reverence are breathtakingly well shot and would more than hold their own in any mountain bike movie, but getting a taste of just what the riders had to lay on the line to stack these clips adds a whole new dimension to the viewer experience. It’s a shred flick yes, but it’s also so much more. From Utah to Vancouver Island, we’re treated to high quality eye candy that perfectly illustrates how scary it can be to push your limits – and how the sweet the reward can be when you stomp your move. 

“Your mind is good at protecting your body, and if you’ve done something that bad it will try to stop you from doing it again.” – Gee Atherton

Superbly well produced, Reverence shows us what happens before the high fives and the hell yeah’s, but it also gives us a glimpse of what comes after. Understanding what drives these exceptional athletes gives the movie its edge, and might also send the viewer home with a renewed sense of purpose. That’s more than any producer could hope for (incidentally, Reverence was produced by Darren and his brother Ryan).

“The act of setting a goal and trying to achieve that goal – there’s no better feeling.” – Darren Berrecloth

Cam McCaul retired from slopestyle competition in 2014. Darren Berrecloth retired from Rampage in 2018, an event that he helped create and define. Gee and Rachel are still winning at the highest level, and Tyler’s 6th place finish at Rampage showed that he still has lots left in the tank. But time marches on, and time changes everything. All of these athletes are now facing perhaps their biggest fear to date: the fear of what comes next. When your life has been defined by something so extreme, letting go of it is not really an option. The drive that took you here won’t go away, and there will always be more goals to accomplish. Luckily for us, it seems as though we get to be part of that journey too!

“For me the fear of losing, not being the best, not winning feels much worse than the disappointment of being hurt, because it seems to last longer.” – Rachel Atherton

Reverence is available today on iTunes and other media outlets.


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