Scott has been racing 4X and BMX at an elite level for a long time and the 42 year old is still going strong. As you'll see Scott is one of the most passionate and determined ambassadors for mountain biking and specifically 4X racing that you could find with the drive not only to win, but to further the sport he loves as best he can. Scott also had a lot to say and some interesting ideas about development for the future for UK gravity based mountain biking.
Give yourself an introduction
So my name's Scott Beaumont! I'm a professional mountain bike rider. I’ve been riding bikes since I was four years old and I'm now, globally, one of the oldest pro-riders around. Still competing at Elite level, and still trying to show 18 year olds how it's done... or something like that.
What has been your best moment in racing?
I won the UCI BMX World Championships in 1995 in Colombia, South America. I was part of the first British Cycling BMX team, which was myself, Dale Holmes, Jamie Staff, Dillon Clayton and Vicky Overson. We went to Colombia as the first-ever GB team - billed as sort of dream team at the time, all five of us could have won. Fortunately I was able to get my hands on my first UCI rainbow jersey, and yeah, from crossing that finish line it was all pretty much a blur for the next 24 hours! It was pretty crazy. It was a hell of a time, a brilliant race, loved it, and I'm looking forward to that feeling again one day soon.
You have had a pretty long racing career. What keeps you motivated and keeps you coming back for more?
Over the years I've found various ways to train, changing what I do, and stayed on top of my game. I also love 4X. I love head to head racing. I was brought up racing BMX, went on to race mountain bikes - I had a dabble in World Cup downhill, and a few different things before 4X came along. For me the timing was perfect and it buzzes me out more than anything else on a bicycle. I think I do a good job for my sponsors, I do a good job for the sport that I represent and I don't let other people, the MTB media or the industry change my principles. I know what I like and I don’t change the narrative to suit the current trends. When I'm representing 4X in the way I do and everything else, I want to be front and centre every time, doing a good job. That is what keeps me motivated.
What do you think has been the key to your long career?
My focus is not just on me but also my sport. I believe in 4X. It is the most action-packed cycling discipline on the planet. It ticks a number of boxes in terms of crowds, family participation, demographics, skill building and more.
So, yeah, my long career is not just about me racing, I believe in my sport and I want to make sure my sport goes as far as possible before I'm done with it. The plan is to leave it in a better place and in good hands going forwards. The weight of not just my career, but also the future of 4X is firmly on my shoulders. I'm happy to have that responsibility and it has certainly extended my career. I think 4X is something special.
You are a rider who’s ridden a broad range of racing types, how important do you think that is to your success?
I think it's great to have a broad range of skill sets but I do think they should all revolve around something similar. Riders need a goal and a purpose. I can find things in downhill, dirt jumping, BMX racing, 4X and dual slalom that all mesh together and makes me a better rider.
My thing will always be head to head racing. I like to race other people rather than a clock. It's massively important to me that I still race BMX to a high standard and will be at the BMX World Championships this summer. It has similarities to 4X, but then so does slalom and pump track so I like to do them also. I think as long as it is complimentary it is worth trying. However something like enduro, for example, would not be beneficial to what I need to achieve. It would be a waste of my time, when I could be doing something that was beneficial. I think it is very important to have goals and it's served me well to this point.
You know, quite a few years ago Yeti wanted me to try enduro but after trying it once, it was clear to me that it was wasting not only mine, but also Yeti’s time. I have been racing BMX since I was four years old. I've been completely focused on doing one minute sprints as fast as I can, enduro races just don’t float my boat.
I think, you can try to spread your wings and try to do all these different disciplines, as a few people do, but something has to suffer. Inevitably, it will all end up being mediocre and, simply put, that’s not how I like to do things!
Do you think now that you can’t just pigeon hole yourself as one style of rider? Do you have to be more than that now?
I think you can be one style of rider yes. Who is anyone to tell riders they can’t be!?! I don’t want to see Loic Bruni doing enduro. I want to see him going even faster in DH. I don’t want to see Martin Soderstrom racing enduro, I want to see triple back flips. There are some incredible talents in mountain biking and they should be embraced and supported. They should not be adapted to conform to the narrative of this month decided by some marketing dept in air conditioned offices.
There is nothing wrong with riders broadening the pigeon hole they sit in. I am a 4X rider, but I race BMX, pump track and slalom. It's all relative to my goals of winning 4X races and meshes into my focus of being the best 4X rider I can be.
That’s where I think being a pro-rider differs from the majority of people who ride mountain bikes. They go out, ride and do whatever on that day. But, my goals are solely to win races which means I have to focus on what I need to do. Certainly the older you get, to enable yourself to do that you really have to knuckle down and focus on what's important to you.
Personally I have no real interest in riding a mountain bike up a hill. For me I want to be at the top of a hill with fresh energy and then plummet downhill as fast as I can. So that's what we do.
What’s your take on the racer/social media influencer argument, do you think it's tricky to settle on one over the other?
It's very simple for me - racers are the influencers. If you're comparing racers and social media influencers, I believe that winning is great because it shows that athlete has trained harder, their equipment is probably better, better prepared or has done something superior on that day to win that race. It proved itself, nothing will ever replace that.
Going back a couple of years I was sponsored by USN for 4 years. The bodybuilding industry is full of social media influencers and that’s basically all there is. They had lots of influencers who posted daily, to their hundreds of thousands of followers with tens of thousands of likes, then guess what? Sales didn’t change one bit after those posts.
From my point of view; if you're not winning championships, titles, events or races then who cares? Working with USN we had a real insight into this. Influencers make their posts and they get all their likes, but does it actually sell any more products?
If your bicycles, wheels, tyres or products are winning, the message is very clear: if you want to go fast or you want improve on your bike this product helps you because it's just won this. But to show a filtered picture and say this product is great and that’s it, I don’t think that’s enough. That's the main separation in the influencer vs racer argument.
Our contracts have changed over the years. I'm now expected to post by some on social media. That’s fine but it will never, ever replace the job a racer does at races when they talk to fans and push the limits on track. That’s what influences in mountain biking. It is what it is, I'm lucky that I have a good photographer in Charles Robinson who travels with me to every event, we have a catalogue of amazing images that he's taken and that’s what predominantly populates my social media feeds. I've also got several film guys around me who make great films documenting our races.
You don't hire an influencer and suddenly the sales of a bike go up, that's how I see it. I don't think the time will ever come when people actually walk into a shop and say I want to buy this bike because this influencer has it. Racers will always have that influence though. I think it's also magazine and website reviews that are the most influence. But I stand by racers are the influencers and I don’t mean on social media. I mean at races, on top of podiums, chatting to fans, sat in uplift trucks and in the car parks at trail centres. These guys have so much influence over people on Instagram.
I will just set aside a select few like for example Sam Pilgrim. There are a very select few superstars who can do what they want and really have influence. But so called influencers who literally don't race, don't ride very well but are just labelled as mountain bike influencers because they have a high number of real or fake followers I think is pretty poor judgement by companies who choose that path. It's just not good enough and as an industry we can be better.
2020 was pretty much a write off. Just how tough was it for you? Was it hard to keep sponsors with the lack of racing?
I've raced for an awfully long time and the majority of my sponsors have been with me for 15 years plus. For example I've been an Oakley athlete for 30 years! So, the pandemic comes along; yes it's a write off year for racing but I have forged strong relationships with my partners and it was what it was. These companies have all stuck by me, so going into 2021, I have exactly the same sponsors as I had in place for 2020.
I put my heart and soul into my racing which I believe all my partners see and appreciate so I have their full support which makes life much easier.
Last year I spent a lot of time with my daughter - Astrid. She learned to ride a bike during lockdown which was amazing. It was just a good year where I let my body heal, became injury free for the first time in years and I had the opportunity to take a breath for the first time in 38 years of racing. I am now revitalised and ready to go in 2021!
What are your goals for this next year come in 2021 I'm guessing, more of the same: more winning?
In 2019 I had some massive injuries, I broke my radius during the second BMX National series so we fought through that for the early part of the season. I got back racing within 4 weeks, which was phenomenal but then at BMX World Championship in July I suffered an open fracture & dislocation of my thumb. We came home after two days in hospital. This was just 5 days before the 4X World Championships in Val Di Sole, Italy. So I was home on Monday night, and was just literally sat there thinking I couldn't believe what happened. I remember looking at my body and thinking 99% of it was ready to race and it was just this thumb. So an hour later we jumped in the van and drove through the night to Italy.
I ended up getting 15th at the UCI 4X World Championships, which doesn’t sound like much but it was an incredible achievement when you think about what had happened that week. So, you know, I battled through 2019 with a couple of really major injuries, which both required surgery under general anaesthetic, so it was a tough year, and I didn’t really achieve what I wanted to that year.
So this year I'm looking to come back strong. I'm fit, healthy and feeling great right now, the fastest and strongest I've ever been, so I feel really on top of my game coming into it. My main goal is UCI 4X World Championships in Val Di Sole. We've been so, so close to really making something incredible happen in recent years, and just faltering in the semi finals. Val Di Sole is good track for me I feel really good there; so the whole year I will be building towards trying to nail that rainbow jersey in 4X. That's the goal. As the stepping stones towards that we have UK National Series and National Championships and we will be looking to perform well in those on the way to the goal at World Championships.
You have a really nice set up with regards to bikes and pit set up. How important to you is that side of things?
This is essential to me. We have a number of partners who invest in our program so we need to look immaculate and clean, representing myself and their image to the best I can possibly do it. It starts with clean Spada race kit, the bike being immaculate every time, the pit banners being washed every morning, our Dethleffs motorhome being polished before we get there so that the whole look and feel is that of a professional sports team. You noticed that and asked the question so it clearly works!
I know my value, so to get that money I know what I need to do to achieve it. We leave no stone unturned, we will be at the races looking fresh and clean every time, and that's the key thing. You can't ride in a dirty jersey and expect anyone to see the logo you're trying to promote, so it's all about looking clean presentable at all times and making that full effort.
Despite, as you say, you focussing on your own riding, I always see you coming to the younger riders helping people out, you're always one of those people that you see keen to share their knowledge which is good.
That's where it comes back to my role for 4X and what, over the years, we've had to do to fight for this sport. It's something very few people understand or know much about.
I care more for this sport [4X] more than anything else in mountain biking. I think it's something really special so, yeah, I'll always give help and advice to anyone at 4X events. My tent is always open so just walk in and ask away. At events, I'm there to help everyone. Nothing buzzes me out more than to see a great 4X race. Helping riders reach their potential in this sport makes me happy. I believe so heavily in the sport that when good racing is happening or kids ask me for advice about specific things I'm all in.
How do you feel the UK MTB scene is holding up?
I think mountain biking got a little bit lost over time and my theory for the reason why is because I believe human nature does kick in at some point. What has happened with downhill for example, is there's no club structure whatsoever in DH. So in downhill people would go and race, practice all weekend, race the clock and go home - a very individual sport. My feeling on this is, and I'm happy to be proven wrong, is riders started leaving downhill, not for enduro like some people think, but they started going to just ride uplift centres and these kind of things because they started to feel more like they were in a club.
Uplift centres became the clubs of choice for these riders and I don't even know that they are consciously thinking this but subconsciously they became the meeting grounds. They were a lot more relaxed and made riders feel like they were at a club - meeting friends, riding and being social.
DH and 4X really needs a club structure to give people a feeling of belonging. They are not just downhillers, they could ride for local clubs. The same with 4X as we have these phenomenal venues around the UK, most of which are all on private land, yet we didn't ever embrace the club structure. The thing that we're working towards with 4X is that by 2022 there's a Regional Series of 4X going on.
A brief history. 4X was built from the top down. It was built with World Cups first, because of a TV demand for more action than cross country could provide and there weren’t enough cameras for DH. So 4X was created. But there were not any National Series around the world, let alone a Regional Series or any clubs. The structure has been worked backwards over the years. I am proud to announce that the UK 4X Club Structure was launched in April. We now have five clubs set up in the UK attracting new members, providing club training days, coaching and a whole new structure for the sport in the UK. It’s a very exciting year for us.
So I think mountain biking, if you look at just sale figures and rider numbers, government stats on who's riding bikes etc we're in a great place and everything's great. But we do a very poor job of embracing our current and new riders. They spend thousands of pounds on bikes, they chase around the country and we do not embrace these people and make them feel part of something, give them a voice or give them an opportunity to express what it is they want to be a part of. We just put these races on and assume they will turn up. That’s no longer enough. In downhill, I believe that’s been its downfall. Ultimately, numbers are down, even enduro race numbers are down, ultimately it's just become another event.
So I think in the UK we need to focus on, building club structures and this sounds a bit cheesy I know but it really is giving people a place to belong and get involved with. I think you'll see the UK mountain bike scene/racing scene grow because there's all this energy from a lot of people but unfortunately it gets lost.
If we start to create clubs, club events, regional events, building towards different races, really engaging and embracing everyone across the spectrum of riders through coaching, grassroots and club structure. Once we get that pathway somewhere near up and running in gravity I think you'll see improvements in race numbers. It's there for the taking right now, it just needs pulling together.
In just one month we have created five 4X clubs, signed up over one hundred new riders around the country and we are working towards regional races, more facilities and improving our riders over the next few years. We're also very aware at the moment that BMX has been locked down for the last 18 months and a lot of BMX guys went and discovered mountain bikes last year. We have received a huge amount of messages and questions from BMX riders recently and we need to make sure we're ready and prepared to embrace this new influx of riders and give them a home at these tracks and clubs we are creating.
What do you think the future holds for UK 4X in the next 5 years
I see 4X growing in the next few years. I think in five years there's going to be a large swathe of the mountain bike industry who are going: Hang on a minute, how did 4X go from where it was to this now? Because I think it's going to make a big resurgence and shock quite a lot of people. In the UK, 4X is being regarded as the ‘Gateway to Gravity’. Get used to hearing that phrase. You will hear it a lot soon.
So if there's one change you'd make to the way UK racing's done what would it be? Would it mainly be that club structure?
Yes, it would be the club structure. It's very important going forwards because I think DH especially has been bleeding for a few years. It's not just about putting on more uplifts at races, give them a good track and it’ll be fine. It's not that simple and it's not going to be enough.
So, yeah, we need to get these clubs going in the UK. I think the voice of the riders needs to be heard. There are no real forums. There used to be the forum of Southern Downhill and Descent world and you could directly speak to organisers whereas now Facebook's kind of diluted that so we get into this weird place - even more weird than forums used to be but I think just getting the opinions of the riders gathered in a better way, more surveys, more questionnaires - we need to really discover what the riders want and like. These will be distributed through clubs to engage members.
I know you're taking more of a guiding role in UK 4X are you enjoying it? Is it something you want to do more of moving forward.
I've helped Chris Roberts with British 4X since the early 2000s, we have both organised the 4X ProTour since 2012, I was an advisor to the UCI on 4X and I've been on the British Cycling commission for a lot of years. I like these roles, I thrive from the challenge.
But the bottom line with 4X will always come back to a lot has happened behind the scenes that probably just me and Chris Roberts know about. An awful lot of politics. I'm happy to do it, I want to do it but it comes down to I need to do it because no one knows the sort of stuff that's gone on behind the scenes as well as we do, and that's how you fight your corner. Knowledge is gonna win this and recollections of conversations and commitments over the years comes into play all the time.
So in terms of 4X’s interests certainly for the short to mid term I need to be the one front and centre on this sport because the journey will continue to be interesting. I'm going to push the sport forward. If you've got a question on 4X then come to me and I'll sit here all day and talk about my sport. You couldn't care more passionately about a sport than I do and it comes from my history. I could have gone to enduro or downhill, I could have just sacked it off when the World Cup was let go. In 2012, me and Chris Roberts said, whilst we're around this carries on - you got to have someone with that passion to front it out and at the minute that's me and Chris.
What would be your advice to a kid wanting the make their way into racing?
I would certainly start with either BMX or 4X because you learn how to ride a bike properly. You see now, far too often, early teenage kids riding £6,000 carbon bikes and that to me is frightening. They can't ride them very well but it’s ok because the industry made £6,000 instead of a £500 jump bike sale. My advice is to start off with a hardtail or BMX, learning how a bike feels correctly without suspension soaking up all the feelings is essential in my book. I think 4X is the best place to start mountain biking and something British Cycling believes as well; because it's a controlled environment with jumps and bank corners, but you're racing against someone, you're making friends, you're traveling around the country. It's not too strenuous for young riders.
That's a great starting point, really friendly atmosphere and as we said, going forward, we have a lot more coaching available at our clubs so I just think learn your trade through BMX and 4X. It did me no harm whatsoever but so many people have the same story that they came through from BMX, be it motocross riders like Jeremy McGrath or track cyclists like Chris Hoy. I just think you to do BMX or 4X and decide where you want to go there, that would be my advice.
So, as much as we would like to avoid it obviously, time marches on, and we get a bit older. Do you see yourself, Beaumont racing, becoming a team with others joining you and you becoming more of a like a coach team manager role at some point in the future?
Well, we used to have other riders on our team. A few years ago Dave Richardson and Darren Howarth were part of the team and we had a very successful few years. I'd be open to it again but for 2021 I’ll be concentrating on my plan. I know it's a very selfish thing but I wanted myself and the people around me to just focus on what I'm doing and if we're gonna try and win these things, we need to focus and knuckle down.
I'm obviously really aware of, you know, my age! The whole team setup is there ready to go in the future so who knows. I've got a few irons in fires as we speak and people want me to do some things in the future and different stuff. So, we will see what time brings.
Well that's pretty much me, do you have any kind of shout outs and stuff you want to give to various people.
Thanks for the interview. Some fun questions! Anyone who wants to see a bit more about my programme, my sponsors and everything I'm doing now look at my website which is Beaumont Racing
If you want to see me on social media it is @Beaumontracing on all platforms. If you don’t that’s fine too! Ask me any questions through those platforms, if you want to message me about anything I've talked about here, please do.