Peter’s been riding and racing for Rocky Mountain for a really long time. He’s worked his way up from a grassroots hookup to representing our brand proudly at the Enduro World Series. He’s been a member of our North American enduro race team since its inception and isn't slowing down any time soon.
RMB: To start it all off, Peter, where are you from?
PO: I grew up in North Conway, New Hampshire, and stayed there until after I finished University. It was only an hour or so from my hometown. After wrapping up at Plymouth State University I moved up to Girdwood, Alaska for 6 years to ski and ride. Now, I’m back in the Northeast USA living in Burke, Vermont. It’s really awesome being so close to the Kingdom Trails, and there’s a ton of other great riding nearby.
RMB: What first got you into riding?
PO: I was lucky enough to grow up in a family who loved being on the move and doing things outdoors. My folks introduced me to mountain biking, and at that time North Conway had a fairly strong riding community. My buddies and I were pretty competitive, and we grew up pushing each other, chasing around the older riders, and rode mostly on trails which were way above our heads at the time.
From there I got into XC racing at a state level, which included everything from 24-hour solo missions to competing at the cross-country nationals. Mountain biking has always been a passion of mine when there wasn’t snow on the ground. I grew up alpine ski racing and was fortunate enough to compete at the national level and consistently through university. It’s always been exciting trying to balance both sports while dealing with the dynamic swing from season to season.
RMB: So how did you go from XC to Enduro?
PO: Throughout my years XC racing, my goal had always been to race a World Cup in Europe - just to see if I could hang at that level. Once I pushed through the local ranks and had gained enough points to race “across the pond”, well…it was an eye-opening experience. I realized it wasn’t the path for me. My timing was good though, because enduro was gaining momentum in the US and having a new discipline to compete at was interesting to me. I had always trained on aggressive trails for XC racing, riding bikes like the Slayer for most of my rides during my XC racing years. Fortunately, it’s that exact kind of riding which I enjoy most, so it was a natural transition for me. I’ve been a part of the enduro scene for the last 6 years.
RMB: Tell us about your history riding Rocky Mountain Bicycles, it starts long before your enduro racing career.
PO: I’ve been riding a Rocky Mountain since I was 12 years old and first jumped on a 26” wheeled bike (which was the original Instinct). I think it may have been size XS just to make it work for my size, and it was my absolute dream ride. I owe my introduction to Rocky Mountain to the regional sales rep at the time, Mark Jenks. He took me under his wing, showed me some basic mechanic skills, and helped me with my riding as a coach and mentor. Mark had set me up on a regional sponsorship program, which gave me the opportunity to represent Rocky Mountain as a junior with a sweet bike and riding kit. From there, I was introduced to the US sales manager, John Olden, and worked my way up to some larger races and events on a similar program.
Things really clicked when I was on my way to Utah for a race, and I met two guys from Rocky Mountain’s R&D office in North Vancouver. The Product Manager, Ken Perras, and Marketing Manager at the time, Peter Vallance, took me on a ride and gave me the chance to share my background and present some ideas to move the brand forward. It paid off! I was able to make my way on to a more structured program, and a season or two later, Dre Hestler brought me aboard the first enduro team with the new Altitude. The Altitude Team included a young Jesse Melamed, Keven Soller, and myself. We hit a few of the very first EWS races as the Altitude team, and grew into the Rocky Mountain Urge BP team, and now the Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro team. It’s been a crazy journey!
RMB: It sounds like it’s been a pretty awesome journey!
PO: Being a part of a strong team with some of the best riders in the world is a special thing. I have learned so much about bike racing over the last 5 years. It’s so important to have teammates that you can trust at the races to talk about the tracks, bounce ideas off of, and keep the energy high. Having the support of the EWS team has been great, and it’s allowed me to bring experience, stories and knowledge back to the regional and national races in the US.
RMB: What do you do in the winter? Tell us about that?
PO: Winter’s always been about skiing! I mentioned I grew up as an alpine ski racer, and then raced at the national level in university. Now, I’m a ski coach, and I keep the passion alive through my career and continued involvement in the sport. This is what led me, besides the amazing skiing, up to Alaska 7 years ago. I began working at a junior program at Alyeska Resort, and it evolved into somewhat of a full-time gig. As with many things in life, it's a balance. I try to give the athletes I coach the best opportunity to reach their potential, while striving to accomplish my own goals as an athlete.
RMB: Do you coach year-round?
PO: I coach skiing mostly in the winter, but there are a handful of summer ski camps I’m involved with. Right now, I’m working at Burke Mtn Academy in Vermont, which is a ski academy that has produced numerous Olympians and successful alpine racers over the past 48 years. It’s been really working at the school that was the first sports academy in North America. My job is somewhat seasonal, which gives me more time to dedicate effort towards both my biking and skiing career, keeping my life dynamic and fun.
RMB: What does your schedule look like for the year?
PO: For the upcoming season I plan to race a few EWS events (Austria, Whistler, Spain and Italy), a handful of Eastern States events, Trans-BC, and the Continental EWS races in North America. The goal is always to podium at national level races, Trans-BC, and try and be up there in the ranks at the EWS races I attend.
RMB: Everybody knows about the PNW trails, so tell us about the northeast US trails.
PO: The PNW gets so much attention, but the Northeast US trails are pretty rad! There is some really amazing riding and super varying terrain. There’s everything from rolling hills to fairly sizable mountains, modern flow trails to raw and technical trails. The mountains aren't as big as the Alps or BC, but they pack a punch and offer tight, challenging steep terrain if you know where to look.
I don't think the Northeast gets the exposure like the Pacific Northwest because the culture is just different, and these places have only just recently pushed to become riding destinations. The PNW is leading the charge, but with strong engagement from the NE municipalities and land owners to push for more MTB tourism, I think the momentum is growing around here.
RMB: What bikes are you riding on this season?
PO: I will primarily be riding Instinct, Altitude, and Thunderbolt. I also spend a fair bit of time on the Suzi-Q in the winter, riding on snow and going wherever I can. When the conditions shape up, its actually pretty fun.