Pete Scullion is quite possibly the most motivated bike rider we’ve fired these questions at yet. Not an out-and-out racer, he just has a particular fondness of anything that involves two wheels, getting out there and getting rad… He recently moved from the wilds of Scotland, where he’s been based for some years, to Halifax where he now works as the marketing magic man at Orange Bikes. But he still gets out on his bike at every possible moment and spends every bit of money he has on traveling to ride his bike in the best British spots.How much do you love riding bikes and getting out in the mountains…?
There simply aren’t enough superlatives available to describe how much I love riding bikes in the mountains. Riding bikes is more of a dietary requirement than a hobby and has been for some time. It’s taken a while to find the magical formula, but following a ride of Hellvellyn shortly after my move to Orange, I’ve finally cottoned on to the fact that big days out in big mountains with good friends is what really makes me happy.What motivates you to get out on the bike even on the grimiest of days?
I don’t really need much, or any encouragement to get out if the weather is gopping. Strong wind is the only thing that stops me going out, but biblical rain is just another condition in which to master the trails, and it’s just plain wild fun! The Calder Valley saw some serious quantities of rainfall over the summer and if I’d let it stop me riding, then I’d likely not have ridden at all. I’m all for beautiful days with a warm sun and a cool breeze, but there’s certainly a place for a bit of slip and slide in some heavy rain.Do you set yourself goals or do you just love riding bikes so much that you don’t need any of that…?
When I’m out riding, I’ll push myself the whole time, I rarely just go for a cruise about in the woods. I’m fairly competitive but mostly against myself, every year is another opportunity to be not quite as average as last year. If I’ve done a race before and the course and format remains the same, it’s all about going faster than the previous year.
For example, I did 13 runs at the Fort William Endurance DH last year having not gone into double figures in the previous 3 years. 15+ is the target this year. I was part of a pair that won the senior mixed pairs at 10 Under the Ben last year, so winning by two laps this year rather than just the one is the goal. Going faster than 5 hours at the Half Big Ben Triathlon is another target.
I basically race my former self rather than a person as performance can come and go so easily that it can ruin the fun, which at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.Is racing a major feature or a sideline event for you?
Watching my brother (Rob Scullion) race at Coney Green in 2000 was what sparked my interest in bikes in general. It was at the time the coolest thing I had ever witnessed and immediately wanted to be a part of it. The first race I did was a baptism of fire at Hopton Castle, one of the most root-infested courses I’ve ever ridden. I crashed at least 5 times each run regardless of whether it was a race or practice run. As soon as I got home I signed up for every race in the series and probably fell off even more than I did in the first one. I’ve raced almost all year round, every year since.
Racing is just riding bikes but with a clock and probably a considerable amount more fear and nerves. It’s definitely a base feeling for me, primal fear almost and something that a certain smart phone app cannot recreate.
It’s all about the walking of the track and scoping lines, practice runs, the honk of sweat, the nerves at the top, the awful PA music, the beeps, the tape and the heavy legs and lungs.
Many of the people I know as good friends I met at races, so there’s a huge social aspect to racing for me. It’s awesome getting towards the bottom of the run and having familiar voices shouting daft stuff at you.What, if anything, are you doing differently this winter to usual? Staying motivated?
Last winter I learned what worked to make my legs strong and fit, and then this winter pretty much completely disregarded it.
My core and upper body was where I focused, so there’s no real issue there. The coming of the first Innerleithen MTB ‘Innerduro’ made me realise that there was a lot of work to do. It was a hard race, but I suffered more than I have at any other event in recent years. I spent the entire time trying to coerce more power out of my legs while my spit had the consistency of treacle. I immediately promised myself I’d never be that crap ever again and went back to what I knew would work.
Motivation is something I’ve only lacked twice and both times have been this year. I found myself convincing myself I didn’t want to go out and ride. After asking myself, ‘Have you ever met me?’ (the real question was far more profane), I had two of the best rides I’ve had in a long time. I haven’t needed to have a word with myself since and won’t need to in the future either.What races are you signed up for this year and what big adventures do you have planned?
Right now, I actually haven’t entered any races apart from the final round of the Innerduro series. I’ve had two fairly mid-pack performances, which are classic Pete Scullion, so there’s an opportunity to finish where I know I can at the final round. The usual suspects of the odd UK Gravity Enduro, the local Brownbacks XC series and the usual varied spread of No Fuss Events races that range from 6hour DH races, off-road triathlons, a 72km lap of Ben Nevis, a 10hour endurance race and a race down a river on an airbed.
Usually between April and September I will be away up a large mountain making myself very tired but having a blast or pushing myself as hard as possible at a race. I usually take a week off in April and October to disappear into the Highlands with my best friends. Last time I did 10 days of solid riding with no shorter ride than 4 hours. There’s the added bonus of no phone signal or 3G if you head into the wilds, so it’s good to concentrate on what is known to us as ‘doing the rad bikes’. We’ve got a lap of Scotland planned in April and probably another later in the year.