Review: Won't Back Down - The Steve Peat Story

Jun 4, 2014
by Scott Secco  

Directed by: Clay Porter and John Lawlor

Despite being his home ground there is never a shortage of new stuff for Steve to ride thanks to a generation of inspired local riders constantly digging.

bigquotesAs athletes we live more than any rich yacht owning motherf*cker could ever live in his life. When you risk your ass going down that hill and you stand on that podium. There's no f*cking drug in the world that gives you a high like that. And I've done a lot of drugs. And it doesn't even f*cking compare to that f*cking feeling of being the best in the f*cking world. - Shaun Palmer, Won't Back Down

The most illuminating quote in the movie comes from Shaun Palmer. Now, that may seem a little contradictory considering the film in question is Won’t Back Down: The Steve Peat Story (and not The Miserable Champion, the Shaun Palmer documentary). Palmer’s quote, profane, and vitriolic, could never come from the mouth of Steve Peat. And that’s why Palmer burned so brightly and left so young. He loved the thrill of victory and the alpha male status that came with being the best. Peaty just loved (and still loves) riding his bike.

With the woods being unnaturally dry it made for fast and loose riding. Steve fits in filming into an already tight schedule between world cups it is increidble to think he has been doing this for 20 years

The very first UCI-sanctioned Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships were held in 1990 at Durango Mountain Resort, in Purgatory, Colorado. The podium was swept by Americans, and Greg Herbold was crowned as the very first World Champion of downhill. Purgatory. It's a state of suffering in Christian ideology, and it's an apt term to describe how Peat probably felt when he finished second at the World Championships in 2000 at Sierra Nevada, or after his silver medal from Vail, in 2001, or perhaps in 2002 in Kaprun; or maybe it was in 2008 that he felt it, at Val di Sole, when it finally seemed as if luck was on his side. Sam Hill crashed on his race run while holding a 6 second lead, and Peat held on to the hot seat with one rider left. Then Gee Atherton stormed down the course en route to his first World Championship win. Peat was 34 at the time, with three World Cup overall titles (2002, 2004, 2006) and four World Championship silver medals. Questions had already begun to swirl regarding his age and a World Championship curse that seemed unshakable. But then Peat did what he always does on race day, he rode as fast as he could, and took home the 2009 World Championships in Canberra, Australia.

An American an Irishman and a crane in the depths of Wharncliffe polishing off the introduction to the movie. Moving this amount of equipment through the woods is no easy task but Clay won t settle for anything other than the best.

Every die hard race fan, and most casual Pinkbike readers, will know something of the history of Steve Peat. It's a life story so deeply entwined with the World Cup circuit as to be inseparable, and that's what Won't Back Down is: the complete history of professional downhill racing as seen through Peaty's eyes. Covering the evolution of a sport over the course of 20 years may seem like a daunting task, but it's one that's taken on with consummate skill by co-directors Clay Porter and John Lawlor. Porter is the man behind some of the most iconic DH movies of the past decade, and his filmography: The Spectacle, The Second Spectacle, Synopsis, Hypnosis, Between the Tape, F1rst, The Tipping Point, and 3 Minute Gaps, spans from the pre-Youtube NORBA era all the way up to our current Red Bull sponsored World Cup live streams. Lawlor first collaborated with Porter on 2010's Three Minute Gaps, and spent the past decade racing World Cups (he retired in 2006), and subsequently documenting them for Specialized, and Santa Cruz. You'd be hard pressed to find two more experienced World Cup filmmakers, they know the cold muck of a World Cup course just as well as the athletes.

bigquotesVouilloz was Darth Vader, he was the boss. - Steve Jones, Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down is billed as the definitive story of Steve Peat, but how does one tell the life story of a man who has probably had more media coverage than any racer in history. You start at the beginning. The film covers Peaty's entire career, from his childhood in the town of Sheffield, where he gleaned his nickname Sheffield Steel (which, you'll learn, replaced his earlier monikers ''Pinball Wizard'' and ''Sketch Peat'' - he crashed hard and regularly), to the influence of Jason McRoy and the utter dominance of Nicolas Vouilloz, then to Shaun Palmer, Sam Hill, and an endless parade of World Championship silver medals. During that time Peaty started a family and became one of the biggest names in the sport, a three time World Cup champion, known for both his flat out riding and his good-natured personality.

Rob Warner rehydrates after nearly two hours in the hot seat divulging story after story and keeping the whole crew laughing

Earthed, Sprung, Porter's own filmography. There have been a number of classic race movies made over the past 15 years, but to my eyes, Won't Back Down is the best mountain bike race documentary ever made. Porter and Lawlor have crafted something extremely rare in mountain biking - a film that tells a real story. This is a film that will appeal to those nostalgic for the days before working suspension (never mind 650b wheels) and the ignorant few, who know nothing of Steve Peat. Porter and Lawlor have gathered an incredible array of archival footage and still photos, and their interviews with the likes of Rob Warner, Shaun Palmer, Nicolas Vouilloz, Greg Minnaar, and Nigel Page (among many others), allow the characters to tell their own stories. The film, Peaty's life story, is perfectly bookended by his World Championship victory, and it's hard not to wonder if we would have ever seen this film without Peat's 2009 triumph. True to the movie title, Peaty never quit chasing his dream, and he still has plenty of great racing left in him, in April he finished 7th at the Cairns World Cup and beat riders half his age.

 One more time I wonder how many times Steve s heard that over his career.

You already know the race results, so why watch this movie? Watch it for the history lesson, and the story, the characters, and the riding, but most of all watch it for Peaty. Won't Back Down will make you feel as if you've spent two hours with the man, an omniscient spectator on his life's journey through victory and defeat. And really, who wouldn't want to go for a pedal and a pint with Peaty? At 40 years of age (in June), Peaty has spent 21 seasons racing, and amassed 17 World Cup wins, three World Cup overall titles, and one World Championship. But his life, and this film are about so much more than that. Won’t Back Down is the story of one indomitable spirit, and the way that mountain bikes have shaped his life story. Nearly every piece written about him asks one of two questions: ''how do you stay motivated?'' And, ''When when will you retire?'' After 21 years of racing on the World Cup circuit (that's longer than Loic Bruni's been alive!), Peaty's answer remains the same:

bigquotesWhen I first started out in this sport, it was all about having fun - playing with my mates - with a bit of racing thrown in. Nothing has changed. - Steve Peat, Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down will inspire you to let your fingers off the brakes, and that's something Peaty, Porter, and Lawlor, should be proud of.

Download the film on iTunes

Review: Scott Secco
Film directors: Clay Porter and John Lawlor
Still Photography: Duncan Philpott

Author Info:
scottsecco avatar

Member since Sep 18, 2009
1,013 articles

  • 71 2
 Makes me proud to be from Yorkshire, one of the few athletes in any sport at the moment who really does set a good example for how to be an elite athlete.
  • 7 130
flag SeanFionn (Jun 4, 2014 at 6:30) (Below Threshold)
 (good example for how to be an elite athlete) hmmm necking down beers i dont think so
  • 30 2
 Oh yea Steve Peat drinks beers, terrible person, not an elite athlete.... Come on man
  • 47 0
 hmmmmm, maintaining elite level performance whilst having fun and having a few beers. Yeah, i think that is better example than having an army of personal trainers, a super strict diet and standing on the podium with a face like a smacked arse.
  • 7 0
 I can't say I'm from Yorkshire but I can say makes me proud to be English which I rarely say. SeanFionn the fella trains like crazy, he'll train a lot more than I ever will. You'll be hard pushed to find any male that wasn't "necking down beers" in their younger years. He's a true downhill soldier.
  • 2 0
 I have friends who have hung out with pro MLB players, pro basketball, etc.... They party as much as anybody - don't kid yourself.
  • 8 0
 I first met and raced against Steve Peat in the early 1990's in the UK - he whooped all our asses of course

he was riding a rigid Kona, and soon became a regular on the race circuit and in the bike magazines like MBUK

I grew up riding and racing with guys like Steve, JMC (my team mate at Hardisty Cycles before he signed Pro for Specialized), Rob Warner, Helen Mortimer, Bobby Blake, Will Longden, Mark Weaver and a host of others in the UK, and cannot wait to see this documentary as I will truly appreciate what an exciting time it was as mountain biking went through massive changes in what seemed like a short decade

in the UK we had great events like the Malvern Classic and the National Series, the Malverns got cancelled one year due to a stabbing in the car park during the night, and we entertained the waiting crowds including Steve and Rob Warner after the racing got cancelled, with some lake jumping where I learned quickly that water is not "soft"

Steve is a true legend in our sport and a great example of an ambassador for mounting biking
  • 5 0
 "Last year I quit drinking and lost some weight... but I wasn't right up here [points to head]. So this year I've carried on drinking and it's better." -Peaty, NWD 5

Different strokes for different folks. Doesn't mean he's not a great example of an elite athlete that he likes to de-stress by drinking beer rather than do yoga or watch movies or read a book....
  • 3 3
 keep your hair on lads. the man is a legend no denying that
  • 14 0
 All the elements make an amazingly entertaining and very watchable movie. Had me bawling after seeing Peaty tell his son "Daddy won his "race" .... pure raw emotion.

Thanks Clay, John and Steve.
  • 12 0
 I enjoyed this film so much. Yes I'm a massive Peaty fan so I was always going to like this. But some highlights for me were the way it showed so much fantastic archival footage. But also the narrative it built around Peaty and the World Champs. Because it's so true. There was this sense that he was simply running out of time. Funnily enough by showing interviews with him in the lead up to the 2009 World Champs you could actually see a difference in his demeanour and attitude Which no doubt contributed to him taking the title at long last. As Greg, Cedric and Rob all said, Peaty made so many people so happy that day - myself included.
And am I the only one that watches his World Champs run in Les Gets (and Sam's run at Val Di Sole) and even though the outcome is well and truly in the history books, hopes to see him win?
Such a great way to look back on the (still going) glittering career of a true legend.
  • 4 0
 This film is a great summary of the sport downhill mountain biking, it would be great, if they did an extended edition when he retires in 100 years :-).
Nice work this film is nothing like any bike movie before, it is focused on riding, but it shows everything around and all the legends. Really nice work.
  • 18 5
 I'm curious as to how the prices on iTunes are determined.

For Americans: $12.99. Seems fair. Not cheap but fair, and I would happily pay that.
For me (living in Denmark): $21,76... For a download... A f*cking download!
  • 17 6
 Minimal wages in Scandiland are more than twice that of those in the US, so it's stilll cheap. Pay up! Quit nagging.

See it this way: If you would buy it in a store on BluRay, it would cost somewhere around $60 and the makers of such epicness wouldn't get paid more. We live in a time and age where one has started to take free entertainment for granted, not thinking about how much work lays behind just a simple 3min edit. Paying $20 for 2hours of epicness and entertainment is, if you ask me, really cheap. If you still think it's expensive. Get a better paid job.
  • 1 0
 Well in Denmark its kind of expensive, same in Norway. In Sweden this movie cost 99sek = around 14$. So yes, the cost of the movie in Denmark is kind of expensive, but I don't think you would care about that if you like the stuff you see.
  • 1 0
 In norway it costs 99NOK. I would happily pay up, even if it was 199 og 299.
  • 17 1

"Minimal wages in Scandiland are more than twice that of those in the US"
And our taxes are generally 2-3 times higher as well - just as the price we pay for food, cars, gas, etc.

"If you would buy it in a store on BluRay, it would cost somewhere around $60"
Are you high? Blu-rays are usually released at $24-27 AND they are in way higher quality than the brutally compressed 720p/1080p downloads.

See it this way: $12.99 to $21,76 is a 67.5% increase. Although Apple is obligated to charge the Danish 25% VAT of their sales (and not of the $12.99 retail price but the original price before American VAT) that comes nowhere near to a 67.5% increase in price! And since the files are placed on the same server (or servers) regardless of where you are downloading from, the distribution costs are exactly the same.
So tell me, where do you think that huge chunk of money ends up? In our respective government's budgets? Nope, we just disproved that. In the hands of the artists? I strongly doubt it since their cut is usually not a percentage, but a fixed price per play/download/sold copy. In the pockets of Apple's investors? BINGO!

They rip us off because THEY CAN, not because THEY HAVE TO.
  • 1 0
 Just to clarify: The Danish price on iTunes is 119 DKK = 130.44 NOK / 145.16 SEK
That's a fair bit more than the actual price of 99.- in Norway and Sweden...
  • 6 1
 easy guys. play nice and have a cuddle...
  • 2 0
 Mmm, I like cuddle. ...and turtles.
  • 1 0
 I won't start arguing about taxes and shit. We have free healthcare and reasonably good unemployment support among other things, so taxes is something one should pay with a smile. Also, 130NOK is still ass cheap.
  • 1 20
flag ethanhagle (Jun 4, 2014 at 4:58) (Below Threshold)
 Its just like buying gasoline man, there's no arguing with the pump, they set the price and screw you however much they want to. By the way, scandi pride, half Icelandic, white power
  • 3 3
 Norwegian health care is not free. I my head free equals: I don't pay anything for my healthcare. Norwegian health care is heavily reduced. Visiting the doctors costs circa 200kr, a course of antibiotics cost 1000kr...most country this is not considered free. Norwegians just earn so much and are so preconditioned to paying 3 times that actual value of something (and being greatfully for it!) that it 'appears' to be free. Northern people unite and f*cking complain about paying more for shit...maybe then things will change :o).
  • 28 3
 Jesus.........^^^These guys just won't back down
  • 14 1
 wont back down : 12.99$ ---> 1h 54 min.

arrival 12.99$ ---> 35 min.
notbad : 9.99$ ---> 29 min.
  • 3 0
 scary1 you nailed it hahahaha
  • 4 1
 Pinkbike's gotten to you man, its not a $10,000 bike we're bitchen about now, its a $21,76 movie. Life's too short, just ride
  • 1 0
 My wife is Norge - it's a great country and statistically one of the nicest places to live on Earth. Just wish it was warmer....
  • 5 2
 Fucking hell either buy it or don't buy the movie. We do not need nor are interested in a full discourse on your sociopolitical and economical outlook on mankind.
  • 1 1
 Turns out that sometimes it's actually worth opening your mouth (I guess that "someone" saw this?).
Price on iTunes as of right now: 79.- DKR = $14.42, which IMO is fair for a DL... *Buy*
  • 2 0
 Nygaard - Just bin it and buy it! It's like most other things in life, worth it ;-)
  • 1 0
  • 8 0
 great to see the Jason Mcroy story in it as well
  • 4 0
 Epic is such an overused term, but Peaty's riding career, character and results are truly epic. Won't Back Down does an amazing job of capturing his spirit and monumental place in the sport. Watch it now!
  • 6 0
 I can already see the sequel won't back down part 2, in another 20 years that legend will still be owning it
  • 2 0
 So much unseen footage from the pits all those years ago and to see how intense the rivalry was with different riders over the years made this film brilliant. Watched this in a local cinema in march with around 100+ mountain bikers, you could just sense how much everyone was loving it. Such a great story about such a great guy. Cant wait til it comes out on dvd. AN ABSOLUTE MUST FOR YOUR BIKING MOVIE COLLECTION.
  • 4 0
 hey pinkbike, you said in an earlier article that this would be available on google play. do you know when thats going to happen?
  • 5 0
 fucking legend is our peaty!!
  • 1 0
 The recap of 2008 val di sole had me locked in. I remember watching that when I wasn't yet hooked on mtb. Hearing warner say "is he gonna end peatys dream again" gave me the f*cking chills. He looks speeded up! That and Seasons got me hooked on mtb.
  • 4 0
 Hey guys, will it be available on DVD???
  • 4 0
 There will be a limited Edition book as well as a blue ray And a DVD coming out in Summer 2014 - thats what is said on the Website
  • 4 0
 Downloading! Time for some popcorn!
  • 3 0
 One of the few true legends of mountain biking right there; can't see him stopping any time soon either!
  • 4 0
 Legend isn't a good enough word...
  • 3 0
 Just finished watching this... One of the best mountain biking videos I've seen! Peaty For The Win!
  • 3 1
 "It's a state of suffering in Christian ideology" -Sorry there - Purgatory is part of Catholic doctrine and not Christian ideology.
  • 3 0
 As Ratboy said: "the word legend is used too often", but Steve Peat really is a legend. Makes me very proud to be British!
  • 5 1
 Warner.....That is all
  • 7 5
 Is it available to buy anywhere else? ... I don't do Icrap ... I mean Itunes
  • 1 1
 The first world cup was held at Purgatory Mountain resort in Durango Colorado. Its now Durango Mountain resort because people used to flip out at the name. Fix up your mistakes guys.
  • 2 0
 Call me archaic, but I'm not interested in downloading on iTunes. I want the dvd (or blu-ray).
  • 2 0
 I also wish there was another place to buy this. Not everyone has/wants an iTunes account.
  • 2 0
 Get it on iTunes and remove the DRM. Video file is better than DVD. Physical formats are archaic.
  • 4 1
 That requires technical knowledge, as well as time and effort. Not interested.
  • 1 0
 Its pretty shit Itunes is the only way
  • 3 0
 Is there any way i can watch it with linux? Why just iTunes??
  • 4 3
 Will it make me a better rider if I do loads of drugs and say f*** a lot? Or even just a bit cooler? Thanks for your help!
  • 21 1
 Yes, it absolutely will, start today.
  • 2 0
 Pagey's monstrous dump FTW!!!!
  • 2 0
 Great movie! Warner is EPIC!
  • 2 0
 The reason why our sport is the best in the world.
  • 1 0
 "Is because you get one shot. It's the most honest sport"
  • 1 0
 where on earth could I see the replay of the 2009 World champs in Australia?
  • 3 1
 Best. Movie. Ever.
  • 6 1
 Said on the the past 10 mtb movies. no?
  • 1 0
 Just watched it.. Inspiring stuff...
  • 2 1
  • 1 0

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