By Tym Manley
Steve Peat manages to find the balance between fun and seriousness. He's sane, mature, and grown-up, with solid convictions and a strong moral code, but he also knows how to party, go fast downhill and have a good time.
The 33 year-old gravity rider has an impressive list of accomplishments on his resume. When asked if he could still get any better, he said, "Always. I wasn't really on top of my game last season [in 2006]. I started a lot of World Cups with niggling injuries. I was pretty consistent and happy with my season, but wasn't at my best."
The downhill scene is only getting more competitive over time. "I think we're always pushing to go faster and there are always ways to improve on everything and make everything faster," said Peat, a veteran competitor. "We keep pushing the boundaries - that'll go on forever."
On top of the tougher competition are the demands of his personal life. Peat said having a wife and child doesn't change how he races. "But it has affected the way I think about my whole life."
"It definitely gets harder. My life's a lot busier. I've got so much other stuff going on that it's harder to get the motivation to train in the winter."
Winning is just as important to Peat, but his family helps him keep it all in perspective. "At the end of the day I can go back to my wife and Jake and everything's rosy. The race just gets put behind me."
"Downhill racing is my job; it's definitely a job for me now," said Peat about his vocation. "I wouldn't say it's less important, but there are just other things that I have to do. I have to prioritise now."
The Mental Game
One of Peat's greatest assets has been his steadiness, even during times of stress. "I think one of my strengths is dealing with all the stuff around a race meeting; the things that can make you nervous or mess with your mind a little bit."
"I can put that behind me," said Peat, who said his approach just happens. "Nothing bugs me once I get in that start gate; I just get on with the job in hand. That's definitely one of my mental strengths."
Peat's focus is on the positive rather than the negative when the going does get tough. "When I start feeling nervous, there are little things I can do that will take my mind off it. I actually know what I've got to do if I start feeling nervous and start thinking about the competition or about a place on the track that I'm crashing on, so I can turn that round to positive thoughts."
In fact, it's all about converting negative thoughts into positive ones. "Say if I'm going through the track in my head and I keep getting stuck on a place where I've had trouble in practice, then I can get around that in my head and visualise the perfect run. People do it in their own little ways, but most people don't even know they're doing it."
To read the complete interview, click here.