Scott Chapin was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, where he raced BMX until he sent a jump at the Santa Clara PAL track a little too far, and came crashing down on his tailbone. After taking a multi-year break from riding bikes, he discovered mountain biking in high school, and it wasn't long before the DOWN series and other movies kindled an interest in downhill and freeride. The lack of a local DH series hampered his efforts at world domination, though, and he returned to BMX and dirt jumping while pursuing a degree in Earth Sciences from University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2007, his friends talked him into racing cyclocross on his singlespeed mountain bike (his only bike at the time). He won, and has been hooked ever since. In addition to running the shipping doors at the Santa Cruz Bicycles warehouse, Chapin currently races a full season of cyclocross, plus about 15 mountain bike races(both XC and enduro), but says, "Cyclocross is the reason I love racing bicycles, and why I enjoy my career at Santa Cruz. Being on Santa Cruz bikes, and with the new Stigmata, my world is all coming together under one roof."
There's really no describing the force of nature that is Scott Chapin, so we got him to sit still and asked him some questions.
Do you have a focus or specialty?
Yes, Ride bike fast. I love riding all types of bikes and all types of terrain. I have found myself drawn to the two disciplines (cross and enduro) that require equal amounts of skill and fitness to excel at. I enjoy the challenges presented by these types of racing because you need to be well versed in all aspects of the sport of cycling to be competitive. No one said it would be easy. And that's my favorite part of cross, it is just really hard. Go as hard as yo can and ride your bike as fast as possible until they say stop.
What's your favorite race to participate in?
SSCXWC is the best mix of everything I love about cyclocross, Fast racing, rad obstacles, booze shortcuts, crazy spectators, and an all around super fun party! My favorite local race is the Bay Area Super Prestige Series Night Race. It's in a construction zone in an industrial park but the course is awesome. I like it because the course is mostly corners, it's pretty technical, and I've got a pretty good idea of how to win on that course. Which I can't tell you or I'd have to kill you.
What's your favorite race to watch?
The 410 sprint cars at the Watsonville Speedway 1/4 mile dirt oval. 900 horsepower, direct drive with a wing on top to keep the wheels down. When I win the lottery I am going to sponsor myself to race sprint cars. Oh you mean bicycle race? I have only had the pleasure of watching CX worlds one time and it was amazing. It was hard watching a race I wish I could be participating in. But being able to watch the best in the world of the sport I love representing for their country racing to be world champion was completely exhilarating. I think the ulitmate goal for any competitor is to be the best in the world at their specialty. I can only hope that one day I will get a chance to race and hopefully win a world championship.
Do you use any product in your mustache, or are you an 'all-natural' kind of guy?
I find shaving to be a time consuming hassle. I'd rather get an extra 15 minutes of sleep than be clean shaven. If I happen to look in a mirror I have to double take because I forget what a wierdo I look like sometimes. I only get the 'stache waxed up for special events like the SCB holiday party or Cross Nationals.
What's your favorite Santa Cruz taqueria?
It's hard to pick a favorite because when it comes to food I am the least picky person. Usually the preferred taqueria is whichever is closest to me when I'm hungry. Here are four choice places, though. South Side: Los Gordos - super nachos. East Side: El Chipotle in Soquel - excellent vegetarian menu but I would get chicken burrito. Mid-town: Blue Agave Dos - el carne en su jugo. West Side: La Cabana- aztec burrito with artichoke hearts
What's your opinion of disc brakes on cyclocross bikes?
At first I couldn't have given two shits about disc brakes on cross bikes. Why slow down? The euro pros haven't fully adopted them yet. Personally I consider myself a fairly good cross bike handler and back when I was on cantilevers in a race I got gapped off by a fellow racer on a sketchy descent because he had more control slowing down and could wait longer before braking. I had to grab handfuls of brake to avoid smashing through the turn at the bottom. At that point I wanted disc brakes really bad, and now that I have them I would never go back to cantis. After getting disc brakes and having the pads on my mechanical calipiers wear out in two laps of a muddy race I swore them off again. But the pads on the SRAM hydraulic brakes retract more, allow clearance, and don't wear out as quickly. I mean, the race is only an hour and you should have a spare bike so the pads really only need to last for 30 minutes. Then you can get new ones.
Who is a rider you idolized, growing up?
Not only while growing up, but now and forever; I idolize anyone who has skills. That extends beyond my love of cycling. Everyone in the world has something they are passionate about and excel at. Some people know from birth what their destiny is, some people search the world their whole life for inspiration. I find pleasure in viewing creatures in their natural habitat, doing what they do best. Like a hawk searching for prey, a pelican soaring inches above the waves, or that guy at the bowling alley in lane number one with the comb-over throwing the perfect strike, every time. Now for some actual people: This guy used to work at Family cycling center, I think his name was Tobin? He taught me how to take my entire bike apart and put it back together. I don't recall if he was a super shredding rider but he definitely helped me learn bike handling skills like cornering in berms, pumping rhythm sections, hitting jumps, and manualing. I will never forget the time he was at my dad's house and saw a skateboard, I had no idea he could skate, he says "I love skateboards," threw it down and did what looked to me like about a 3-foot-high ollie. Then he leaned the board up and showed me how to adjust a one piece crank bottom bracket. It blew my mind. Massive respect to local Santa Cruz legends I have had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with a time or two; Justin Robinson, Larry Hibbard, Ben and Andy Jauque-Maynes, Jeff Kendal-Weed. One more to add to the list is Steve Peat. Legend. Hats off to Peaty for everything he has done for the sport of Downhill Mountain biking. I am honored to work for the company that carried him to the rainbow jersey and he will forever be world champion on my eyes.
For some reason I keep coming back to this one with the same answer; Live fast die. But I really don't believe in that. I would like to live as long as possible and do the most cool rad shit that I can every day. Thanks to Santa Cruz Bicycles, the dream I have been dreaming about living is slowly becoming reality. Work hard. Be nice to people.