Riding Spicy with Christian Peper
Christian Peper is a pro downhill biker from Utah. He’s the founder and instructor of a complete online course, ride.Spicy, that teaches future mountain bikers how to take their riding to the next level. And in true BinkyBro fashion, he’s also a dad of two. He sat down with us to tell us how he got into biking and some advice for parents of young riders.
Hi Christian! Thanks for chatting with us! To start, tell us how you got into riding.
My dad rode bikes through college so he wanted to start me young. When I was three years old I started riding a little Walmart bike and by the time I was four my dad was taking me to BMX races. At five I was the state champion and then I started to compete on a national level till I was about 12.
Wow, impressive stuff. How did your dad help you develop as a biker?
I grew up in Alpine, Utah and there was some land behind my house. My dad and I started building jumps and we turned the land into a track. Bikers would drive over an hour to ride there. My dad was super structured in coaching me from a young age; we did sprints and racing on that track behind our house everyday. There were times I hated riding, but my dad made me stick with it.
My dad pushed me in biking and my mom pushed me in school. She felt it was more important I succeeded at school than at biking. I woke up early to do homework so I could ride after school. That balance is something I’m really proud of.
What was the next step with riding? When did sponsorships come?
When I was younger I would get sponsored by small local shops. I was at the peak of riding from when I was 18 to 22 years old, but I actually didn’t get paid to ride bikes until about two years ago. I currently ride for Cannondale and have a sponsorship through Zoic Mountain Bike Clothing. For my day job, I run client pages on social media.
Most BinkyBro customers are parents themselves; it’s very cool that you’ve adapted and continued to progress personally through parenthood and different phases of your career.
Adapting is something I’m used to. When me and my wife were married five years we realized having kids wasn’t going to be as easy as we had hoped. We already knew we wanted to adopt, so we adjusted the timing we had in mind and got matched super fast. Luckily we had the savings we needed and in 2018 we welcomed our son to our family. Two years later, we adopted again and our daughter joined our family.
That’s beautiful. As a parent, what’s the best advice you would give other parents who want to get their kids into riding just for fun?
For me, the approach should be to support kids to be the best at whatever they end up doing. If it ends up being biking, that’s great. If not, that’s OK too. Ask yourself, how can I support them and make it as fun as possible?
Strider bikes and pedalist bikes are something kids can pick up from the time they’re babies. They can walk around as an infant and then they can move faster and faster and even skip training wheels. Also, a product like Mac Ride is great. The idea behind their product is that a child's seat can be placed in the front of an adult bike (instead of the back like a traditional seat). This can helps kids get the idea of how to ride as well.
As kids progress and maybe show more competitive interest in biking, what would be the next step?
Get a coach—that’s part of what I’m doing with my online course, ride.Spicy. Encourage them to have a level of riders around them that make them better. Most of the battle in riding is a mental battle. It is a mental exercise to get over the mental barriers. It also takes trust that all the time you spend practicing will mean something.
Mindfulness is something that can help kids and adults. Learning breathing exercises to keep calm over your physical performance can help you do awesome things.
What aspect of riding are you most proud of?
I already touched on the balance that I’ve been able to have between biking and other aspects of my life. As far as the actual riding goes, I regularly get feedback that I’m a fluid, smooth rider. That means a lot. I get good amplitude and have control—I prefer that ability over any technical tricks.
Thanks so much, Christian! Looking forward to following along wherever your career takes you.