Employee of the week – Web dude Pete Scullion

We’ve had a few changes here at Wideopenmag this year.

At the start of 2016 Pete Scullion took the helm of the good ship Wideopen and is now in charge of fueling the site with great content.

Without further ado, here’s a quick intro to the man that’s keeping Wideopenmag rolling.

pete scullion mountain biker

So Pete. Can you describe yourself to the world?

I guess I am a former downhill racer turned wannabe media squid, that puts me in the mountain bike world context somewhat. I like to carry my DSLR with me whenever I go riding to try and keep improving my photography.

Beyond that, I’m a short, hairy, excitable oaf that lives for big rides up even bigger mountains, heavy metal and WW2 aircraft. I like to indulge my pastimes probably to the point where work suffers, but it’s all about finding the balance.

How did your discover cycling and specifically, mountain biking?

We always rode mountain bikes as kids, so I’ve my parents to thank for being fairly active in buying us bikes, and constantly getting us outside. I guess that’s where the need to be outdoors a lot came from. My brothers took to mountain biking seriously before I did, but it was after watching my older brother Rob race at the Coney Green RAV4 race near Leominster that I told myself “that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m going to do that.”

That Christmas (2000, I think) I got my first mountain bike, a Saracen X-Ile, and that was me. Never looked back.

You’ll mostly find Pete up a bloody big mountain.

Can you recall how you got involved with Wideopenmag way back when?

I remember there being a shout out for riders to join the Wideopenmag race team, which then was a far less coherent affair than it is now. I think the formula was to submit an article and the best would get a parts flow deal. I didn’t win, but I think my SDA race report from Innerleithen wasn’t full of spelling and grammar mistakes, which helped. My mate Steve-O was working for Wideopenmag back then, and he got a couple of our MTB film nights some exposure through Wideopenmag too.

So what’s your role at Wideopen all about? What do you do?

I’m the guy that puts stories, videos and all the other lovely content on the website. Between myself and our merry band of team riders and freelancers, we test product, ride bikes, have opinions, and this all gets fed to me to pour into Wideopenmag.

What makes you feel like you’ve done a really good job? And what pisses you off?

All my favourite features are the ones that aren’t difficult to write. I try not to get myself in the position where I’ve got to write about something that I’m not mildly excited about. What’s the point?

Having done a history degree and reeled off 3,000 words an hour when it mattered, writing coherent prose isn’t a massive issue for me. The greatest hurdle for me is writing a first line that I’m happy with. Once I’ve got that, it might take me less than an hour to produce a feature I’m happy with. With the photos, that’s something I’m happy to grant myself a little more time with. As it’s something I’m very new to, and post-processing even less so, I feel it’s good to put the effort in to make it right. The last shoot I did was my best, the weather played ball and I had more photos I was happy with than I could sensibly process. That was a good feeling.

That said, if I can’t coerce the first line out of my head, then I can stare at the screen and write nothing in three hours. Nothing. At that point, I usually go for a ride as it wipes the canvas and allows me to come at it with a fresh head.

Photography is different. Some days I just can’t get the shot I want, or even just one that isn’t shit. Again, riding bikes usually solves the grump.

Pete following his (successful) attempt at the Epic Israel Marathon.

What have been the highlights so far?

Oh man, there’s been a few! Any time I’ve felt the need to say “well, this certainly isn’t shit” qualifies. 

Racing the Megavalanche for the first time was as insane as it could have been, making the main event was quite the do for me. Riding El Cebollar with Basque MTB in 2014, my first foreign journo trip was pretty mega for so many reasons.

Moving back to Scotland might not be directly bike-related, but my god, I don’t know why I left! Smashing out 16 runs at the No Fuss Endurance Downhill was the kind of technical riding combined with serious physical effort I really enjoy and seem to do quite well at.

Plus after 3 years of not getting to double figures, it was nice to smash it out of the park! Floating in the Dead Sea after a 600m vertical ride from 450m up while the sun sets over the Jordanian Mountains was fairly rad. There’s far more rad stuff than I can think of and I don’t plan on changing that in the future! 

Is your job easy? or hard?

I’d say it isn’t difficult. There are a lot of shit jobs out there, and this isn’t one of them. Difficulty is relative as well. I could do a job that paid more and gave me proper security, but then I’d likely not be able to ride my bike at the drop of a hat. Again, it’s about finding the balance, and a job sat behind a desk 9-5 isn’t one I’d relish.

What is mountain biking all about for you? What do you love? What don’t you love?

I love anything physically and mentally engaging, preferably both, simultaneously. Steep and technical in both directions please!

It turns out I don’t love sandy fire roads into headwinds for three days. The Epic Israel taught me that the hard way.

Tell us what you’re currently most stoked on riding?

I’m lucky to live within an hour’s drive, sometimes much less, of some big old Scottish peaks, and now that the snow has gone and the summer is here, I’ve been going high more than hooning around the woods. I had a mountain to myself after work last week, and I couldn’t quite figure out why nobody else was out… Magic.

Wideopenmag MTB in Israel (5 of 12)

Do you race much?

Not really. I raced downhill for 10 years and was fairly crap at it. Practice was always mega, and I usually smashed loads of runs, but my head just isn’t wired right for 3 minutes of madness. I race better now that I don’t do it so much, and I can lend my strengths to longer races where a degree of technical skill is required.

Pete Scullion mountain bike scotland

And outside of Wideopenmag, what else do you get up to? You freelance and do some other stuff right?

Yes, outside Wideopenmag I produce as much glorious adventure content as magazines will commission me to. I have been very lucky to be whisked off to some amazing places I might not have been otherwise, and I get to tune a lot of rides I want to do anyway into work. That goes back to the writing of a feature I mentioned earlier. If it’s something you wanted to do anyway, it makes it heaps easier to make it sound amazing to others.

What do you think of the sport at the moment? What are we doing really well and what’s less good?

Oh god, industry commentary is something I’m usually fairly terrible at. The one thing that is apparent is nobody makes shit any more. You think back to the early 2000s and how truly awful some bikes were, and it was almost by fluke that you got a bike that might work well. That’s probably why Nico decided to make his own bike, because he couldn’t find one in production. All this great kit allows us to go wherever we want, and the world is a smaller place because of it.

One thing that does wind me up is that there’s so much BS coming out of ‘standards’ these days, and it’s not getting easier. We’re in the privileged position of not having to go into a shop and buy a bike at RRP. I feel sorry for anyone getting into mountain biking or looking to upgrade, I really wouldn’t know where to start.

So many people buy into the idea that a 50t cassette is a must that, for example, that someone asking for advice gets poorly informed opinions thrown at them by people who have read someone else’s opinion, likely on the internet. Less of this shit please!


Are you a techy nerd or are you more about getting out and riding? What would you rather see the net filled with, products or stories?

I ride my bike a lot and worked in mountain bike marketing for a distributor and a brand. This gives me a somewhat cynical view of modern trends, and as such, I usually roll my eyes at new ‘standards’ or the latest enormous, plate-sized cassettes. On the first point, I prefer to real-world test anything before forming too strong an opinion on it. While I don’t burn through kit that much, it will soon become apparent whether or not it’s for for purpose. A techy nerd I am not.

You can’t have stories without the tech, as they both feed into the never ending cycle. Without tech, you wouldn’t need fancy feature articles or videos by brands to show off their capabilities, and conversely, we wouldn’t be able to ride in these amazing places where the new tech allows us to venture further into.

Where do you want to take Wideopenmag?

I’d like Wideopenmag to continue to play to its strengths while growing in its reach. We do very well within the UK, with our race teams and our closer connections within the industry here. I’d like to keep building on that.

You can look at everything Pete has posted on Wideopenmag here or you can follow him on his very excellent Instagram.