Compared to some of his competitors, Aaron Gwin hasn’t been riding a mountain bike for all that long. But his background as a BMX and motocross racer gave him an edge when he started downhill mountain biking in 2008, at age 20. Since then, he’s climbed to the top of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series, taking multiple world titles as the lone American in a field dominated by Europeans. Aaron grew up in Morongo Valley, a small desert town outside of Palm Springs, California. When he was four years old, his dad got him into BMX racing as a way for a rambunctious kid to let out some energy. It turned out, he was a natural. He traveled extensively for races, including Nationals, and he picked up his first sponsor at age six. But by eight years old, he was already burned out.
Known across the world of mountain biking as Gee, the middle Atherton sibling has been a sensation in the sport since the age of 15. In 2004, at the age of 19, Gee won his first Downhill World Cup on the technically challenging track in the Austrian resort of Schladming. A win at this level may have seemed inevitable after his results in the junior categories, including two World Championship medals, but to gain it at such a young age was outstanding. That year he also won the National Championships at his first attempt and has gone on to top podiums the world over, finishing in the top five of the World Cup series every year since, most notably taking gold at the 2008 World Championship alongside sister Rachel, and securing the 2010 Mountain Bike World Cup crown. With second at the inaugural Red Bull Rampage, the toughest of events to be judged on creativity rather than speed, he demonstrated his all-round talent. Gee placed second at the end of the 2013 World Cup Series, and took the title as British downhill national champion 2013. He headed into 2014 even more focused and determined, the highlight of his season being the win at the World Championship win at Hafjell. Gee tore into the World Cup competition in Cairns to take the win, but couldn't find the pace for the podium in a tough field, ultimately finishing his 2014 World Cup season 5th overall. It was a mixed bag for the Brit in 2015, from highs including his Fort William win in the British Downhill Series, to crashing out at the Worlds in Vallnord. "It was going to be a podium or crash one way or another," Gee wrote after the race. "Unfortunately it was a crash but I had a blast trying". Gee continues to crank it up with his all-or-nothing attitude, with his sights set on more podiums in 2016.
Curtis Keene spent 10 years dominating the fast-paced world of downhill mountain biking. Then, in 2012, he decided to give the growing sport of Enduro mountain biking a try. The new discipline clearly suited him, and that year he took home the overall championships title in the North American Enduro Series. Around the world, Enduro is still mostly made up of European competitors, so it is no wonder the nickname American Dream has stuck.