Conquering Lady Chancellor

Everyone has to make this ride count

Remembering back to when I first started racing I’d just ride for fun and strangely I probably spent more time on my bike then than I do now as a fully fledged pro. I’ve never gone out there and said I am going to win a world title or a world cup or even a national race for that matter, I just enjoyed racing and being on my bike.

The results just came. People may say that’s rubbish but that’s how it was. I never wanted anything out of bikes until I actually did win a few good races. The winning was all just part of it. Don’t get me wrong though, once I got used to winning, nothing else really mattered. I would get pissed off with a second. I believe this sport moulded me into a winner. I never expected a thing, and I think that means those wins mean more to me.

Every year it gets harder to come back and know if I will be competitive. To be honest, this year I didn’t have great expectations for early on in the season. I was thinking I will be busy with my new kid so my preparation won’t be as good as hoped. I was planning to wait until later in the season to get some better results.

Each year I’m always trying to do different things that I think I’ll benefit from, but ultimately I know what makes me feel good and it’s basically getting down to some hard work. It could be time in the gym, it could be downhill runs, it could be motorcycles, or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s fun and I am doing something. I also do a little road riding in the off-season, when the weather is nice and I am feeling fit.

I quite enjoy a good road ride, and Sheffield is known for being built on seven hills so the rides are always hard. Of course I sometimes doubt myself in the off-season, it comes naturally from the English mentality. I get to the first test session or the first race and think… “Do I still have what it takes?” It usually takes me a few runs or a few timed laps and I get the confidence back, but it’s always at the back of my mind.

My family life and business interests get more and more each year so I don’t get to spend as much time training and preparing for a season as I used to. I am sure most of my motivation comes from the fact that I love being on my bike — whether it is the first day of practice or a race run, I still just love riding.

Racing at Fort William in Scotland is probably the course which means the most to me. The crowd is unreal there and it seems like most of them are cheering for me — I bet every rider feels the same but it sure does feel like I get that little bit extra from the crowd. I have other venues that feel special, places I have won at, places that always have a good party, such as Mont-Sainte-Anne, and places that have rad tracks, I’m thinking of Slovenia back in the day.

They all mean a little something special but Fort William is top of the list. The tracks we ride today are much harder physically and bike-wise, some tracks destroy wheels in one run while others leave you feeling beat for a few days after. Our bikes can certainly take more of a beating these days and we are able to ride way gnarlier stuff because the bikes have improved so much.

I find it hard to leave home for any race these days. My family means so much to me, that’s the reason it is hard to leave — I don’t want to miss what my boys are getting up to. I can be gone for a weekend and come home and they are doing something different so I feel I have missed part of their lives. That’s why all my packing gets done at midnight, plus I hate the flights. Once I am there, it’s fine but I like to get back fairly quick after the race now.

I enjoy my home life and also have commitments that I can deal with way easier from home. I am constantly trying to think of business ideas that will secure the future for my wife and kids. It’s also a pleasure to help out younger guys through the Royal racing program and give a little back to the sport that has given me so much.

If I was going back in time to give a message to a young Steve Peat, I’d say: “Train harder, drink more and stop crashing!” I certainly think I have learned a lot about how to train and what is needed to be fast at downhill. In the early days I just cracked on with the races, nowadays it’s way more serious and almost methodical.

I also used to crash quite a bit — you could say I was too fast for my time! Or I just wasn’t good enough to go the speeds I was trying to do. When I finally figured it out, I started doing much, much better.

Steve Peat, Sheffield, UK. This year Steve broke the record to become the rider with the most world cup victories. He also finally became world champion.