Outside of my family and photography, the other big passion in my life is cycling, mountain biking in particular. While I might not be riding as much as I’d like right now, when I started mountain biking back in the early 2000s, it opened the doors to adventures and friendships that persist to today and probably will for many years to come. A big part of that was Scott Scudamore, or Scud to almost everyone who knows him. Scud was the biggest voice welcoming me — and countless other — into MORE and the mountain biking community.
It’s hard to underestimate how enormous the impact he’s had on the thousands of people who consider him a friend.
Scott had a serious accident on his bike on Sunday and he’s in the ICU at the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville with a fractured C1 vertebrae, swelling around his spinal cord, and numerous other injuries. Along with so many others, we’re sending all of our prayers and thoughts to Scott and his family this week. The road to recovery will be a long one for Scott but he’ll have many cheerleaders along the way. Please take a minute to click on over to scudfries.org to make a donation to help with Scott’s recovery.
To get an idea of what Scott has meant to the mountain biking community, here’s an article that I wrote for Spokes Magazine in 2011 about Scott…
A Mountain Biking Life: Scott Scudamore
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is bigger, the impact mountain biking has had on Scott Scudamore or the impact Scott Scudamore has had on mountain biking in the Mid-Atlantic.
Known to just about everyone as ‘Scud’, if you’ve done a Wednesday’s at Wakefield race, you probably know him. If you’ve been a member of MORE or ever done a MORE trail work day, you’ve probably met him. If you’ve ever done a night ride at wakefield or accotink, you probably know Scud. Have you raced the SM100? Well then you probably saw him running the kitchen the night before and the night after the race. If you’ve been active in mountain bike advocacy in the last 15 years, well you’re probably getting the picture by now. And if you’ve been to one of the MORE Douthat camping trips, you definitely know Scud.
Even if you don’t know him, you’ve almost definitely ride on a trail that he helped save or get built. But this this story isn’t just about how much impact one person can have on a sport, It’s also about how much this sport, mountain biking, can have on a life.
Scudamore took up mountain biking in the early 90s after taking a trip to cape cod with friends. There were some old bikes at the house and he took one out for a ride. In his early 40’s at the time and an avid soccer player the ride rekindled a childhood love of bikes. Later that year when looking through a rewards program catalog he saw a Raleigh mountain bike that he had enough points for, so he ordered it. Early excursions were on paved trails like the Mount Vernon trail and the Washington and Old Dominion, but soon a neighbor suggested taking a spin through the woods on singletrack trails. After playing around in the woods and fields behind his house, he started heading to local parks.
Soon after starting to ride, with a bike computer and camelbak, but still no clipless pedals, he signed up for a race at Gambrill State Park in Frederick. “I thought I was the bomb “ said Scudamore, “it was a beginner race, about 12 miles… I started the race and I’m going and I’m going and I’m so tired and I’m ready to quit and I look down at my bike computer and I’ve done 1.4 miles.” So began a cycle of bike upgrades and an odd pattern of injuries right after upgrading.
In 1995 Scudamore discovered MORE. Riding almost every weekend at that point his first MORE ride was a ride at Cedarville State Park led by Dan Hudson who was president of MORE at the time. “[Dan] really was a mentor to me. I loved the way he led rides [and] I learned a lot of the way I do rides based on Dan.” said Scudamore. After attending a board meeting and when he complained about the lack of updates on the website and pretty soon found himself being encouraged to join the board. He became a board member of MORE in 1998, soon becoming the president-elect and the president in 2000. “At that point it started taking over my lifestyle. I quit playing soccer because I wanted to ride my bike more.”
Seeing the permanent closure of the trails in greenbelt where he worked, Scudamore realized how important advocacy was. The trails in Greenbelt had been lost because there was no one to speak out for them. In addition to his work with MORE, Scudamore became more and more involved with IMBA, becoming the WashinfronDC IMBA rep in 2004. “That was about the time that Mike Van Abel took over as the executive directoor of IMBA and I ended up with a major personal relationship with IMBA and Mike that continued to change my life.”
In 2004, a friend introduced Scudamore to Xterra. Xterra are off road triathlons consisting of swimming, trail running, and mountain biking . “That was another major change … that became yet another group of social friends, not just in Washington, DC but across the country.” In his first year of Xterra racing he won the regional championship and in 2006 he became an Xterra Ambassador. In 2007 he went to Xterra world championships for the first time. He’s been back to worlds 2 more times since and will be going back again this year.
When looking back at a life in mountain biking, he said he “first did it for exercise, but then I discovered it was just fun … and it provided the opportunity to travel all over the world. I’ve met all these great people and I’m as fit as i’ve ever been.” When stationed in Germany with the Air Force he didn’t ride, but when he went back he said that he “found that a lot of my friends had started to mountain bike too.”
On the advocacy front, Scudamore says the key is “don’t be complacent. There are still people who believe that mountain biking is bad for the environment. 99% of mountain bikers just want to experience the same things as hikers and horseback riders.” He points out that while mountain biking is making inroads and developing a reputation in the equestrian and some of the hiking communities that we are hard workers and build great trails, but there’s still the mountain dew effect. “I’ve had an opportunity to make a difference in advocacy and that’s been great. I wouldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for mountain biking.”
Now retired with a move to underway to the Charlottesville area he’s already been receiving inquiries from mountain bikers in the area eager to tap into his advocacy talents. “I’ve already met with the director of Parks and Rec” He already knows where to ride. “CAMBC is a great organization… The core group of friends are mountain bike related. If not for mountain biking we might not know that many people.”
Every new chapter of his life in mountain biking has widened his social circle. “I just keep riding my mountain bike. My granddaughter just got her first geared bike as a 6 year old because the singlespeed was holding her back.”