Our own Paul Begg got to catch up with Mountain Bike legend Scott Sharples in between death-defying hill bombs at the legendary Kamikaze Downhill at Mammoth Mountain. Here’s what Scott had to say about life in California and his career as a Down Hill pioneer.
PB: You’ve had lots of jobs in the cycle industry. I can remember you were a BMX racer and Freestyler, a pro Downhill Mountain Biker for Diamond Back, Haro and Trek. You coached the Aussie Downhill team and took the first group of BMX riders to the Olympics, you’ve spent time at Specialized, Intense and Felt. Have I missed anything? And what are you doing these days?
SS: “I’m now the Marketing Manager at Bell Helmets, up in Santa Cruz, and loving it.”
PB: So what’s a day in the life for you at Bell?
SS: “I wake up in my shack in the redwoods, very buried in the redwoods, there’s no chance of getting woken by the sunlight. I ride to work through the redwoods, on single track, then not a bit of road for the last bit. I spend the first part of my morning checking the news and activities in the cycling world. Then I dive into my pool of emails. Swimming around in them for the remainder of the day. Chasing riders for content, making sure we are getting the coverage that we pay for. Making sure riders are safe, and wearing updated helmets, that haven’t been smacked on the ground too many times. I spend a bit of time with the creative team, working on new designs, and PD going over product feedback, and how to make a better product.”
PB: So you work with all the Bell athletes on road and dirt?
SS: “Yep, I work with BMX, race and freestyle, ramp dirt etc.., I work with all mountain bikers, all road riders, crib racing track cyclists, gravel riders [whatever that is], and all forms of road cycling.”
PB: Who’s you favourite athlete?
SS: “Bryll (aka pro cycling couple, Bryn Atkinson and Jill Kintner)”
PB: What’s you favourite event and why?
SS: “My favourite race?? Hmmm, to watch?? MTB DH World Champs, its always exciting.”
PB: Do you get involved with the design process? How much input do the riders have in bringing a new product to market?
SS: “I do get involved in the design process, I am the liaison between the riders and the engineers, I push the point hard when I see reason for it. We have a great team of Industrial designers and engineers. The Bell lineup is pretty advanced.”
PB: What¹s the latest and greatest at Bell?
SS: “Latest and greatest that I know of can’t be spoken about. The latest on the market is MIPS all the way through the lineup, its not only the people that can afford the most expensive helmet that deserve an added layer of protection. We even do kids helmets with MIPS. The best thing to hit the market from Bell has been the Super 2 and Super 2 R, with the detachable chin bar. Both versions offer so much protection, considering what we do on trail bikes, we need something substantial on our heads. Bell Super 2R offers it.”
PB: There are lots of bike brands in Santa Cruz. Does it get tricky keeping secrets?
SS: “It is, there are loose lips, plus we see things being tested in the field. Santa Cruz Bikes do a very good job though.”
PB: I know you ride to work on some killer trails. Can you describe the riding in Santa Cruz so we can be really jealous?
SS: “Giant redwoods, my ride is through forests full of trees over 70 meters tall. On nice loamy dirt, with natural jumps and berms, mixed with off camber drifty runs, and then you end up overlooking Monterey bay…”
PB: What do you miss about being a long way from home?
SS: I miss my friends, my family, hamburgers with the lot, the beaches, coloured money, writing the date with the day first, not having to explain my jokes, Pavlova, not causing a traffic jam when I walk across the road, not tipping.