As Steve Peat piles into another season of full–contact racing, friend and fan Nick Hamilton, takes a brief and personal look into what makes the man.
From Dirt Issue 137 – July 2013
Words by Nick Hamilton. Photos by Duncan Philpott.
Stood in the local woods, at the start line to a race, one competitor assails the other with the callout, “I can’t believe you’re a pro, I’m so much faster than you!” This is nothing out of the ordinary at a dual mate’s race but when it was hurled at the most successful downhill mountain biker of all time* who had been receiving a constant barrage of acid tongued heckles all night, it highlighted to me just how special Steve Peat actually is. Being around him, I often think ‘how many World Champions of other sports would do this?’ Do you reckon Federer or Nadal knock balls about on their local battered court or that Usain Bolt draws his arms back in triumph in the park at the end of his road? I doubt it.
Steve has achieved so much in his long career but he is so much more than just a series of jaw dropping statistics. It’s not his 52 World Cup podiums or 17 wins that make him a sponsors dream, or the 3 World Cup Championships he’s gained since he started racing in 1991. His World Champs winner’s rainbow stripes may have taken the majority of his career to acquire but it’s not these that make him arguably the most famous mountain bike racer in the world. As a fan and someone fortunate to have spent a little bit of time with him, his true success is having achieved all this but to still remain one of the most genuine, fun and hard working people I have ever met. He always makes time for others; be they wanting a photo or a little help tackling a drop. A glimpse at his diary would reveal a man without a free day for the next year and that each of his fingers and toes is in a different pie. However, a watch of any episode of ‘This is Peaty’ would reveal that no fun is lost in the process. He’s as happy dicking about on bikes with his mates and his kids as anyone else. He puts so much back in to the sport he loves because he “wants to see others having as much fun on bikes as he does”. From nurturing the next generation of riders or putting on grass roots events, his energy and enthusiasm seems boundless. He truly loves what he is doing and it shows; he’s worked very hard to be where his is today and he intends to enjoy every minute of it.
Santa Cruz bicycles owner, Rob Roskopp, said of Peaty “For me, Steve is such a true ambassador of mountain biking, I’m surprised he hasn’t been knighted! I guess if he was on a road bike he would have been…Steve’s achieved longevity in mountain biking because he encompasses what our sport is all about; a lifestyle. Despite all his years racing at the top level, and the toll that takes on your body and your personal life, Steve still jumps on a bike and genuinely looks like he’s having as much fun now as he was doing two decades ago.”
Peaty has often been described as the people’s champion, that’s about getting into people’s hearts, not just their heads. He always gets the loudest cheers from trackside and the longest lines signing autographs. He’s admired by riders, envied by racers and coveted by the industry. He’s not going anywhere just yet; he’s still racing at the highest level because that is what he is driven to do.
Like Sheffield’s other famous export, Stainless Steel, Steve just isn’t rusting as he gets older. His sheen is as bright today as it’s always been; the lustre of his grin is as deep and the gleam in his eye as sharp as his bike skills. There’s only one Steve Peat, thank fuck for that.
*Statistics and judging criteria dependent