Feature Interview: Craig Peter (Pedal Heaven)

Last year, a team bearing the name of a Hampshire bike shop, Pedal Heaven, enjoyed great success in British races. We talk to owner Craig Peter …

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Feature Interview: Craig Peter (Pedal Heaven)

There’s a bike shop in Fleet (Hampshire, GU51 3BU) called Pedal Heaven that sponsored a team that took on the big teams with a young squad of riders and made everyone sit up and take notice.

The first team victory at the Tour Series comes at Redditch in 2016, and Craig Peter (right) is over the moon as he goes to hug Dave McGowan

The shop is owned by Craig Peter who is one driven and amazing individual with a great passion for the sport.

Craig, who has four children and was widowed in 2012 when his wife died, not only runs a popular shop packed with some great bikes, but also organises bike races and was always sending me the results of the Eelmore midweek crits when they were on.

In 2016, every weekend at major races around the country this season, Craig would be there hands on getting the team’s pit ready for the riders before races and then pulling it down after the racing had all finished. Looking at the team at races, you wouldn’t know he was the man behind the team but that is Craig all over, one of those who gets on and just does it with no fanfare.

But, after several seasons making their mark in the major British races, the team backed by the Pedal Heaven retail shop, is in 2017 to go back to riding local events and helping young riders as it has done since the start.

VeloUK spoke to Craig about the move back to doing regional races and he’s happy that a lot of the riders who rode in his shop’s colours have a ride with Tim Elverson’s new team, Bike Channel Canyon. He explained “I will now go back to the grass roots and concentrate on having a shop team and bring in some young riders and help them as well. I’ll also go back to organising races like the crits at Eelmore.”

Bath in 2015, and Pedal Heaven are best non UCI team – Craig (right) enjoys the moment as the celebration erupts on the podium

The team has had to move away from the top level of pro racing after losing a sponsor who went bankrupt mid way through 2016 but to every story like this, there is a silver lining for Craig in that downsizing will give him more time for his young family and running his business.

“I need more time for me and the family and I wasn’t prepared to put the money into the team I did this year after sadly, we didn’t get the sponsorship we needed. So while the team did great, and we did well, it didn’t equate to money coming in for it”.

“A UCI team needs a minimum of 150 grand and that is a minimum. Our wage bill was a hundred grand and everything else was free like Tim and I plus the other helpers were doing it for free and we had the mechanics from the shop.”

“Specialized were very good and they were on board and loved what we did. They would have been happy to supply the bikes as long as we were UCI so equipment wise we were okay. We thought we could keep growing the team but sadly that didn’t work so I’ll go back to Eelmore (race organising) local to me and that’s important.”

“Riders like Rory (Townsend) and Max (Stedman) started at Eelmore and have turned into good little bike riders. We need races like that and it’s cheaper for me to do that!”

Whilst the Pedal Heaven shop, a very valued supporter of VeloUK and clubs like VC Meudon, will still be putting back into the sport which is one solid reason for every bike rider to support them, for Craig, the grass roots of cycling is just as important.

“I always say that race teams are all well and good but you need clubs. Teams in general don’t organise races and that is why we’re losing races. I’ve been organising races for many years, I was 20 when I organised my first one I think. So as well as some kids racing and the crits, I’d also like to organise some road races too”.

If ever a picture summed up Craig, besides the job seen above, its this. Tour of Reservoir winner Joe Fry gets his picture taken whilst behind, team owner Craig is busy loading the bikes into the vans

It’s the measure of the man that he has all these goals despite the challenges he faces running a business and family which for many would be quite enough!

Craig admits the team over the last few years did put the shop brand on the map but it never helped him financially. “Sponsorship is more a hobby and passion and I am very passionate about the sport” he says.

So what next then? “I’m taking a step back with a team for local riders, and a few others perhaps who can’t get a ride. For next season, I also want to help out some youngsters. I won’t be doing national A races. I said to riders anyone doing National As will need to support themselves as we’ll concentrate on South East races.”

Asked about a highlight from the journey sponsoring such a high profile team as Pedal Heaven, Craig replies “to start with, the dominance in the local events when it was a regional team in races like the Divs and stuff.”

“Then one of the first big highlights was the Tour Series when we did well and were getting recognised. When we were a guest team, we’d be bullied and pushed around but when we did Bath last year, that was memorable. This year, Redditch was the first win (Team) for us and then Portsmouth the final round.”

Pedal Heaven’s Rory Townsend, wins the Sprints jersey at last year’s Tour Series

“The Tour of Reservoir victory on the road was also fantastic. To come away with an overall victory was fantastic with Joe. He is such a lovely lad and we had some nice kids who appreciated what we were doing. I could have folded the team back in May (when a sponsor went bust) but I said I’d keep it going and that’s what I did and most of the guys supported me. People outside of the team would not have known what was going on as we kept it all in house”.

The Shop
Away from the team and onto his shop Pedal Heaven, Craig says that in 2017, he’s expecting the big thing to be more disc brake bikes going out the door. “We have just had the Specialized Roubaix disc bike land in the shop.”

“I have tested it and it’s a brilliant product; I’m so amazed with it. So you will see more of them on the sportive circuit. We have also just fitted the new Specialized Fitting System, BG Advance and so we’ll be doing a lot of bike fitting for customers”.

“We’re also seeing a big increase of mountain bikes selling and that is on the up. The road cycling bubble has burst a little but electric mountain bikes are on the up too.”

What about upgrades for bikes I ask? One of the most popular upgrades riders make for their bikes says Craig are groups sets. “When the new groupsets come out, like the new Shimano Dura Ace 2017, we’ll see more people upgrading to electric”.

“More and more are keeping their frames longer as they get better and but are keen to change the equipment like going for an electric groupset such as Di2 or SRAM eTap. Mavic also have some beautiful new wheels out. The new hubs are fantastic and Edco (they supplied the wheels to the team) have also upped their games as well. High end, there’s the Zipp NSW 454. That is very high end!”

“Our biggest problem we have are manufacturers discounting stuff and shops and online retailers discounting. It’s a hard game!”

The key though for any local bike shop is not the prices but the service and Pedal Heaven have that in abundance. Those in the shop know bikes, race bikes and as well as bike fitting, there’s the work shop. “We have a big workshop with three mechanics fully trained with Cytech level four. So we’re seeing a lot of repairs and bike fit”.

“We see two types of customer. Those who bring in their racing machine and have a full platinum overhaul where it’s cleaned, stripped down and then they put it away until next year. Then there are the customers who want groupset changes.”

“We’re also seeing more and more people wanting mudguards fitted as well as turbo trainers. The ones Tacx and so on are doing is pretty exciting and more and more people are investing more and more money on turbo trainers. Even the cyclists who don’t like doing turbo training are finding the new ones are a lot more exciting”.

Our thanks to Craig for his time and support of the website. Find out more about Pedal Heaven here ….




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