Top MTB pros open up on their mental health and the many pressures that racing brings

A pro rider on a floor after a race
(Image credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Bartek Wolinski)

If you've not checked out the Race Tapes docu-series on Red Bull TV, it's a revealing and no-holds-barred look at the different challenges undertaken by pro riders in pursuit of MTB excellence. While all six episodes are now available to watch, episode five 'Between the Ears' deserves a special mention as it highlights the mental health issues that racers at every level can face.

Pro riders Brook Macdonald, Gee Atherton, Evie Richards and Kate Courtney openly discuss the mental pressures of competition. The downhillers, Macdonald and Atherton, have also both returned from career ending, not to mention life threatening, injuries following huge crashes in the past. Macdonald in particular discusses how physically and mentally hard it was returning to competition. During the Mont-Sainte-Anne round of the 2019 UCI MTB World Championships, he broke his back and had to learn to walk again, but incredibly he was back racing again in just over a year.

The full list of all six episodes is below. Head to redbull.com to check them out.

  • 1. Road Less Travelled – Tom Pidcock and Jolanda Neff on competing in both XC and road
  • 2. Doing it Yourself – Aaron Gwin and others discuss being an MTB entrepreneur
  • 3. Alt-Rock – Nico Schurter on the dedication needed to be an endurance racer
  • 4. The Freeracers – Kade Edwards and Kaos Seagrave on freeriding and racing
  • 5. Between the Ears – the mental pressures of competition 
  • 6. Parental advisory – Jackson Goldstone on transitioning from Junior to Men's competition
Richard Owen
Editor, Bike Perfect

Rich has been riding mountain bikes for over 30 years and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, he has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance MTB races. A resident of North Devon, Rich can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 


Current rides: Merida One-Forty 6000, Banshee Paradox

Height: 175cm

Weight: 68kg