For many of us, racing bicycles is an important part of our everyday lives and is something that can and often does take its toll on what we do around it. For anyone who thinks making it into the pro ranks and racing World Cups is a sure fire thing for living the rock n roll lifestyle, needs to think again… The amount of hard work, commitment and focus needed to compete at this level is something else and with sponsorship contracts as competitive as the racing, riders often have to dip into their own pockets to take their racing to the next level.
At only 23 years old, Scott Mears has already become one of the most recognisable faces on the domestic circuit. His personality, both on and off the bike is certainly getting him noticed further afield as well, becoming a firm favourite with both spectators and photographers alike.
Scott lives and breathes bikes and where many aspiring World Cup racers look at what they can do in the off season to supplement their racing, Scott has taken a different approach and looked at building something that is both lasting and relevant to his other activities; a bike shop. We caught up with Scott between races to find out what’s been going on and what’s behind his decision to open his own shop, but also to ask some prying questions all would-be racers will want to hear the answers to…
- Alright Scott, so, a new direction for you this year. What’s been the driving force behind opening a shop?
Yo Olly! Well, basically it’s just a more interesting way for me to make money and to allow me to race and be involved with the sport. Before starting this, I was a full time joiner for 6 years and working on my knees all day in the dust and had to come to an end one day and the shop opportunity came up, so I jumped at it with both feet!
- You’ve been missing at a few of the events this year. Are you taking a step back and being more selective for this season or will this be a more permanent move for you with a business to run?
Basically, I have been more selective with my races this year. The shop initially took a lot of work, but it has never stopped me training or racing. The Canadian and America World Cups were just too damn expensive for me this year, but I’ll will be back and doing a full season next year that’s for sure!
- You’ve worked in the construction game for a while and I know that you’ve got interests away from mountain bikes, so what made you look at a bike shop?
It’s really just a more interesting way of earning the money I need to race and with owning a bike shop and racing bikes, well, it was a simple decision really. When I’m not there, I’m not earning and that suits me. Initially, the shop is just doing bike maintenance, supplying spares and doing repairs, but as Christmas comes and I get the hang of things, Cyclefix will be a fully-fledged bike shop.
- How are things going so far?
Really well considering the small amount of advertisement we have done it’s been a success so far!
- Any big plans to on the horizon?
Eventually it’ll be a big bike shop with me on the road as a manager with a race team!
- Do you think balancing a career outside of racing while maintaining a competitive racing edge racing possible?
100%! I think having a work life at home isn’t easy one bit, but I’ve been doing it for so long, if things were handed to me on a plate I don’t think I could cope. I like being active all day every day and keeping my mind on the business while at home allows me to have a really structured lifestyle and training plan.
- Quite a lot of the top lads in your position smash the regular job in the off-season and sack it off for racing come spring. Did you see this approach as a backwards move or just not sustainable?
To me, it’s just not suitable. It may suit some people but I like the home lifestyle and if I don’t earn money, I can’t do anything I like to, like ride motocross, train in MMA and have the odd weekend away without bikes just for leisure.
- The money the top boys earn is pretty good, but it tails off pretty quickly outside of the top ten. How do you feel about the distribution of good contracts and salaries at the top of the sport?
Well those guys definitely earn it and I know the work it takes and when you compare it to British motocross salaries it’s quite impressive, but to me, it’s not about the money, obviously money is great, but if I was at the top and as long as I got paid enough to live comfortably at home and ride whenever I wanted… That’d be great!
- If you think that only 80 guys qualify for a World Cup and only a small percentage of those guys are on a salary, and well over a hundred enter, it puts things into perspective at how many of the world’s fastest racers fund their own race program. Will this change as the sport grows or do you think it will just make more money for the top boys?
I would like to think it would effectively spread out more, but unless people are willing to put money out there and take a bit of a risk it’s unlikely to happen. Hopefully one day people like Honda will come back into the sport, then Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki stepping up to the plate… If this happened, it would bring millions into the sport. I don’t see why they don’t as the avenue for them is unbelievable. The amount of crossover riders is insane right now. To me, big brands like Santa Cruz are doing a great job with their big team and of course the Peaty Syndicate. That is exactly what the sport needs, more grassroots stuff.
- Natural talent is always a bonus, but do you think those on the outside appreciate how much work goes into the preparation needed for a successful race season? Training, balancing the books, planning a schedule that often involves going across the world and support from sponsors is no mean feat…
It depends on the type of rider. I know some riders out there who have huge natural talent, yet don’t put the work in, whereas other riders bust their ass and still don’t get the results they want. That’s just damn depressing!
- Looking at that, you can see the where being an entrepreneur, running a business and a World Cup racer have their distinct similarities?
I’m no entrepreneur, just a grafter and if you believe in something and don’t let anything slip one day it will work. ‘Most’ entrepreneurs are just from a rich families anyway, ha-ha!
- Looking at the races, you’ve had a few good results now, but you also embrace the media a lot more than some and see the advantage of a getting in front of the camera and of course, a good web edit. How important do you think these are to keeping sponsors happy and how important is style as well as speed?
Personally, style points do win you a lot of support, but if your speed level is up there and you’re in the top 20 and you still ride like a goat…. It will win you respect. Style can also be a really bad thing from a sponsor’s point of view as I have seen people with bags of style struggle to get inside a top 100 at a national. A good balance is ideal but selling yourself through web edits is just a free and easy way of showing appreciation to your sponsors.
- Talking of sponsors, you seem to do pretty well, working with some of the best brands and companies out there. If you were to offer any advice to would be racers looking for some support, what would it be?
My sponsors over the years have kept me in the sport! Fox primarily. I’ve been with them for 6 years now and they have been incredible. Props to Aaron Hay and Brode Vosloo! Bigging up sponsors and learning a bit about their brand so you can baffle them with your knowledge of just how sick their brand helps too!
- Going back to the web edit subject, you’ve worked with Sam Oaks in the past on at least two belters that I can remember pretty well; are there any new ones on the horizon?
Every winter, me and Sam get together and do some filming and in my opinion, he’s one of the easiest out there to work with. So naturally talented, and in a unique way as well. He will tell you straight up what’s wrong or if anything needs changing, but so far nothing has ha-ha! Yeah for sure, around every winter we get something together and this winter there will be another good one…
- Away from races and retail, your mad about smashing the gym and the nickname “six pack” isn’t one you’ve got for having a beer gut! How much of this is ‘Geordie’ vanity and how much is training or do they both go hand in hand? No harm in looking good is there?
Ha-ha! Looking good makes you feel good. However, I would trade all the looks in the world for a top 10. To be fair I don’t do any “looking good” style training. I just train hard, no woolly hat bollocks, just shorts and a vest and get it done, think I get the physique from me dad… hahahaha!
- What do you make of ‘Geordie Shore’?
It’s hilarious. I know one of them, just normal lads who have been told to put on a show for the cameras. A bit like the Go-Compare man; no one would remember him unless he was annoying…
- Moving on… Where will be seeing you on a bike next and what are your plans and goals in the near future?
Rest of the Nationals and Norway this year, then full BDS, full World Cup circuit with top 10′s in the UK and top 30′s in the world; these are my targets for next year.
- So, we need to get people checking this new shop out don’t we? Where about’s are we?
In the heart of Washington, half a mile off the A1, 1 mile off the A19 just past Chesterley Street. The post code for you sat-nav is NE37 2SF. Call in for a brew and a workout in the gym out back and if your up for it, there will be a cage in there as well soon. Bring ya gum shields!
- Thanks Scott and all the best!
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