Ultimate Renegades | How Adele Croxon Changed Women's Mountain Biking
Stylish, skilled, a role model and cool with it, this incredible rider has it all
We’ve teamed up with Jeep, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, to shine a spotlight on some of the ultimate renegades from the world of action sports - past, present and future. Pioneering rider Adele Croxon has done a lot to push women’s mountain biking in the UK, and is cited as a major influence by none other than current World Champion Rachel Atherton. Yet as Mike Rose explains here, despite her enormous impact on the sport, Adele only really started mountain biking by chance…
Many of you out there may know the name Adele Peat, but before Adele became a ‘Peat’ she was in a fact a Croxon - a super fast BMX racer turned mountain biker who raced on the World Cup Downhill circuit in the years around the year 2000.
Adele started out interested in all things two wheeled and off-road when she started watching her brother racing motocross when she was around seven years old. She wanted to give it a go but her mum didn’t think that it was a good idea. The whole family was bike mad, so Adele was destined to be on some kind of bike.
With motocross being a no-go she was encouraged to go and watch her cousin who had started racing BMX locally, and that (as they say) was that. She was hooked. Any interest in MX went out the window and it was all systems go on racing BMX. She won her first local race and then the following year she decided to do the national series (the Schweppes National) which she also won.
"The whole family was bike mad, so Adele was destined to be on some kind of bike."
She had several different sponsors (Boss Racing USA, Titan, Cyclecraft and Giant/Mosh), she won the National Series eight times, she was six times British Champion, she came second on two occasions in the Euros and fourth at the Sough Worlds in 1986. Her best result though was the ABA Grand Nationals and Race of Champions that was held in Oklahoma City, “I was the first ever English rider to win, so I was really proud."
Hanging out with the likes of Neal Wood, Paul Roberts, Dylan Clayton, Geth Shooter, Kerry Edgeworth, Chico Hooke, the Murray brothers (all big names in the UK BMX race scene at that time), Adele says: “We used to get up to quite a bit of mischief every time we went abroad."
In the mid-90’s Adele moved on from BMX to racing mountain bikes. “After 13 years I was beginning to get a bit fed up of it… I wanted something new".
It all came from a chance meeting at Brighton BMX track with the fledgling Animal team’s manager Steve Kitchin: “He was looking for someone who was not known on the MTB circuit but who would come in and do pretty well. I said yes straight away, even though I had never been on a mountain bike before, I just thought ‘why not’. I was completely new to mountain biking, and didn't know anyone. I had never even watched a mountain bike video."
She tried to do both BMX and MTB in the first year but it wasn’t working, so she dropped the BMX side of things. The Animal team that she joined was easily the coolest team out there. With the likes of Steve Geall, Tim Ponting, Andy Bostock and even Greg Minnaar at one point.
Her favourite team mate was Robin Kitchen: “We got on so well, he was a bit like a brother. We had a good laugh." Downhill and mountain biking were a little more relaxed back then, with events like the Malvern Classics it was “just like one big party. Everyone camped and had a drink; they were always so much fun".
Adele got to travel the world with her racing career (she appears in a few of the early Sprung series of films), but it was back in 1996 that she started dating the legend that is Steve Peat. They were the ultimate MTB couple, a perfect partnership. It was a marriage made in heaven… in fact they did eventually get married in 2004 in Scotland, and they would go on to have two boys, Jake and George.
She stayed on the Animal team for around four years, with her last race being the 2001 World Championships in Vail, Colorado, “I was getting a bit fed up of travelling, and it was getting more of a chore to go to a race than me actually wanting to be there." Adele did make a few ‘comebacks’, most noticeably at the Fort William World Cup in 2006, “I wouldn't say it was a comeback really, I just fancied doing a couple of races for fun, nothing serious, that was it. At one of the races it started to snow and I was frozen, and thought ‘what am I doing?’ So I just packed up and went home!"
With husband Steve retiring this year there will be some changes in the Peat household, but of course there will always be bikes. They might not ride as much as before: “I very rarely ride now," Adele says, “I've done a couple of Steel City races, they are always fun and there is always a good crowd," but like her celebrated husband, Adele is still lightning quick - and given all she’s achieved in her career, it’s little wonder she’s such an inspiration to the those who've followed in her footsteps.
The Jeep Ultimate Renegades
We’ve teamed up with Jeep, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, to shine a spotlight on some of the ultimate renegades from the world of action sports – past, present and future. The series kicks off with mountain biking, as seen through the eyes of one of the scene’s best-respected riders and trail-builders, Dan Atherton. Next month we’ll shift our attention to surfing, asking big wave surf legend Andrew Cotton to pick out his ultimate renegades.