Steve Peat made a dramatic entrance when he visited academics at Sheffield Hallam University to thank them for the role they played in helping him to win the 2009 World Championships.
To the strains of For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica, Peaty entered a packed lecture theatre in full downhill gear on his Santa Cruz V-10, popped a wheelie and then proceeded to bomb down the steps towards the stage.
University spokesman Joseph Field told BikeRadar: “It’s quite a big theatre, with 500 seats, but it must have taken him just over a second. He basically rode straight onto the stage, parked his bike on a stand, took his helmet off and sat down.
“The audience were blown away, they loved the entrance. Then we did stuff like showing footage of his World Champs win in Canberra and talking them through it. There was massive applause and cheers when we showed that.
“There was also a question and answer session, which went down really well. The best question prize went to a guy who asked what was the biggest skid he’d ever done, and had Santa Cruz told him off!”
Sheffield-born Peat, who has an honorary doctorate from the university, achieved his ultimate ambition in 2009 by becoming UCI Downhill World Champion, after winning the silver medal on four occasions.
Before he went to Canberra he was struggling to cope with the pressure, so he spoke about this to Sheffield Hallam psychologist Dr Rob Copeland, who emailed him tips to use each day to build his confidence. As he told BikeRadar earlier this month, he began feeling more confident day by day.
During the lecture, Peat thanked Rob for his support, saying: “Training at Sheffield Hallam has given me a new focus. The training programme that the Podium Performance guys here put together helped me structure my training and leave time for my family. It was definitely one of the things that helped me win the World Championships.”
He continued: “In the past I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to do it for the fans and the sponsors. In Canberra I didn’t think about it as much, I just went out there and enjoyed myself.
“I knew every rock and stone on that track, I knew where I was going to be braking or changing gear. But the track changes a lot day-to-day so you’ve got to be ready those little changes.”
During the lecture, Peat was presented with the CA Rhodes Memorial for 2009 in recognition of his achievements. It means he is the official ‘Yorkshire Cyclist of the Year’.
Born in 1974, Peat began racing mountain bikes when he was 19, with Beighton All Terrain Squad and Langsett Cycles. He turned professional in 1995 and now rides for the Santa Cruz Syndicate.
His achievements include eight consecutive wins at the Lisbon Downtown race, 17 World Cup wins (with a total of 50 podium places), twice European champion, eight times British champion and three times World Cup champion.