YOU may or may not have heard of him but, in the world of downhill mountain biking, Steve Peat is, quite simply, a legend.
Having already been involved in the sport for a long time, in 2009, at the age of 35, the Sheffield-based rider realised the dream of becoming world champion.
His various stage victories that season made him most successful downhill mountain bike racer ever by number of wins.
Despite these achievements, Peat’s passion for racing has far from diminished.
He is one of the sport’s most recognisable and likeable characters and, this
weekend, Peat will be one of a number of top riders from across the globe who will descend on Llangollen for the UK’s biggest downhill event.
Although the venue, at Tan y Graig farm, has hosted a number of big events over the past three years (most recently the British Downhill Series in June), it is the first time that the Halo National Championship has been held there.
According to Peat, who The Leader caught up with recently, there will be plenty of thrills and spills for riders and spectators alike.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he enthused. “It was a great event here a few weeks ago. The guys from the BDS do an amazing job and, when you can work closely with the farmer (landowner Martin Sands), it makes the whole thing a lot better and makes for a really good atmosphere.
“It’s a technical course and there will be a few crashes so it should be entertaining for the riders and spectators.”
Peat is very complementary about the work that has been put in to the up-and-coming mountain biking centre, in particular the new track which has been specially created for the championship.
“Martin has done an amazing job getting people in and helping to build the track,” he continued.
“The fact that he had riders in to build it means that it is great to ride.”
As well as riding himself, for American team Santa Cruz Syndicate, Peat will also be joined by his own team – Steve Peat Syndicate – with a number of their riders competing.
“We’ve got 13 guys at the moment and we’re just trying to make their lives a little easier for racing. “I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot through the sport over the years so I try to share some experience, offer some tips. Not that they listen,” he laughs.
“We’ve got a great set of people though. They all get on with each other and they all help each other out.”
‘Peaty’, as he’s affectionately known, is now 37 and is a family man with two children as well as running his own team. But he still loves the thrill of the race.
“I’m still focused on racing,” he said. “I still love racing and being at races. But I am a family man now so the travelling can be difficult at times.”
In 2009, Peat won the world championship. You can read all about his triumphant season in a book.
“I’d always wanted to do a book,” he said. “As it happened I said to Victor Lucas (photographer) at the start of that year, lets do a book at the end of the season. He took a few pictures that I wanted him to take and, as it turned out, the season was a lot better than we expected. There’s an intro from Rob Warner, some insights from myself and some great action shots from Victor.”
The book, Steve Peat: World Champion 2009, is exclusively available from Chain Reaction Cycles.
See full story in the Leader