Need a crowd? The best way to be sure you get one is to bring in the talent. This tactic worked on Saturday when downhill world champion Steve Peat turned up to the grand opening of the new premises of Yorkshire mountain bike shop, Stif.
Peaty was the centre of attention from the moment he arrived. Some visitors had driven from as far away as Carlisle to get an autograph, but what most wanted to do was congratulate Steve in person for finally landing a world championship last year after just 17 years of trying.
Steve took it all in stride, joking with fans, and discussing bikes, gear and the globe-trotting life of a gravity megastar. He also signed things. Whenever you looked, Steve and Santa Cruz Syndicate team-mate Josh Bryceland had a marker pen in hand and were scribbling their names on posters, helmets, jerseys and just about anything else you can imagine (except body parts; North Yorkshire in February is just too cold.)
Peat: always happy to oblige fans.: John Stevenson
Early afternoon, Steve and Josh took part in the biggest ride of the day. A 40-strong group of hardy souls braved the cold and grey February afternoon for a quick spin round the local woods, a great excuse to fill up on free chili, coffee and cake afterwards.
40 hearty souls showed for to ride with the world champ.: John Stevenson
Steve didn’t have much to add to the interview he gave us last week, but one story shows the sheer emotion that went with that world’s win. Flying out of Australia to head home, he opened up his laptop to start reading the 800 or so emails he’d downloaded overnight. Sitting between “two big blokes” in the exit row, he kept getting teary as he read message after message congratulating him on finally landing the big one.
Steve has no plans to stop any time soon, though. At 35 he’s past typical retirement age for a downhiller and he admits that the travelling and being away from home gets harder every year. “But I still love racing,” he says, “and I know enough retired guys who say ‘keep going as long as you can’ because they don’t know what to do with themselves.”
With a recently-signed three-year deal with Santa Cruz and a couple of World Cup wins last year to show the world’s victory with no fluke, Steve Peat will be around to read our congratulatory emails for a few years to come.
Meet the new shop
Hosts Stif were overwhelmed with the turnout and especially the way people stuck around to shop, chat and tuck into more coffee and cake as the afternoon grew dark.
Attendees filling up after riding with peat.: John Stevenson
Tucked away in an industrial estate in Summerbridge, North Yorkshire, the new shop is close to the trails at Stainburn. It’s well positioned as a ‘destination store’ even though it’s not going to get the kind of passing traffic Stif’s old shop in Leeds benefitted from.
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