WON'T BACK DOWN - THE STEVE PEAT STORY
STEVE PEAT INTERVIEW
First off, congratulations on this past season, your results in Hafjell and Leogang were incredible. Were you satisfied with your year?
To be honest the start of this season was terrible for me, I felt good coming in but seemed to be carrying my bad luck from 2012. It finally came good towards the end and I was very happy with 6th and then 9th at Norway and Leogang. Normally, we see documentaries like Won’t Back Down when an athlete’s career is finished, yet you’re still a legitimate podium threat. How does it feel looking back on your life and career while still being highly competitive?
(Laughs) Yeah it is a little strange for me too, but when is the right time to do something like this? People know who I am now and I think Clay and John will tell an amazing story, it’s been a long time in the making so hopefully everyone can enjoy and I can keep my story going! In 'Seasons' you mentioned riding shady jumps with your brothers. What was your first bike? Did you fall in love with cycling at an early age?
My first bike was something that my Dad stuck together out of old parts from my brothers and bits he found in Skips, I also rode BMX for a while but my first mountain bike was a Muddy Fox Roadrunner, still have it today too. I would say I did fall in love with bikes from a very early age, it gave me independence when I was riding round the estate I grew up on. You started your career racing cross-country, what was your first downhill race? Were you hooked instantly?
Yes, I started racing XC first and I always enjoyed the downhills, it was at a time when the two started to split and it was natural for me to continue with DH rather than XC. My first DH race was on the same bike I road XC on the day before. Was there a moment where you knew downhill racing could be your career? When did it become a fulltime profession?
In 1995 I was still working as an apprentice plumber but racing every weekend, then this team approached me and offered me money, I was nervous and didn’t want to let my boss down, it turns out he was the one who said ”Steve, you’re pretty good at this mountain biking lark, why don’t you go and give it a go.’’ Whether you’re racing dual slalom at Sea Otter or a World Cup round, you always look like you’re having fun on a bike. What keeps you fast and motivated?
Exactly what you said! Having fun keeps me motivated; if I take it too seriously then I think I would have burned out many years ago. I have always enjoyed riding bikes and want to keep it that way forever. What is your mindset toward racing: is it more about beating the competition or do you just try to satisfy yourself personally (and the results come with that)?
I am highly competitive obviously, and because of this I feel like I put the most pressure on myself because I want to win. I have tasted the top step on the podium and like how it feels so that keeps me competitive. Your 2009 World Championship win was an emotional moment for race fans everywhere. Is that win your career highlight?
It is a huge highlight for me, more so because it took me 17 years to finally get there, the sense of relief I felt that day was massive. I have other highlights that mean a lot to me personally but the World Champs is the biggest race out there for fans looking in. Porter mentioned that much of the best archival footage is from your camera. When did you start bringing a camera to races? Did you have a plan for this footage or would it have sat in storage for years?
I just enjoyed filming what we were up to, it started quite early for me but I am not good at logging footage so if we didn’t do this project now it probably would have sat in a box in my loft forever (laughs). What’s your all time favorite track?
It used to be the 1999 Slovenia track, I felt like it had a awesome mix of everything good, the last two years I have enjoyed Hafjell Norway and feel that also has a great mix of all the good stuff. The jumps and berms are very well built too. How do you balance your time between, training, racing, business, and family? How has that balance changed over the years?
Who knows? I don’t! (Laughs) It certainly gets tougher the older the kids get and the more things that fill my life. There just seems to be no rest these days so I have to crack on. Have you shown your friends and family Won’t Back Down yet? If yes, what has their reaction been?
A few select people have seen the trailer, but not even I have seen the whole thing, Clay and John are deep in editing mode as we speak and the movie won’t be off the press until the day before the premiere. Makes me nervous too. What does Won’t Back Down mean to you personally? Is it a fitting biography?
I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet (laughs). Will you encourage your sons to race?
I let them make their own decisions; right now they are into BMX and have raced already, no pressure from me though. What do you think your legacy is? How would you like your career to be remembered?
I would like to think I have inspired a few people to get out on their bikes and have some fun along the way. I always try to have time for the fans and kids and be a nice person. Hopefully this relates to getting a few bums on saddles. You’re absolutely beloved by riders everywhere, both as a racer and as an ambassador to the sport. What words of advice do you have for the next generation?
Get out in the fresh air, get muddy, dusty, tired, happy and all the fun stuff, and don’t take yourselves too seriously.
Film Directors: Clay Porter and John Lawlor
Still Photography: Duncan Philpott