Peter Sanger is part of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Cycling Team and we sat down for a Quick Fire Q&A session. We spoke about what it’s like to be in the Navy and Race as well as everything in between.
I have been fortunate enough to know Peter for some years now and have found his career path interesting and I must admit I am a little jealous of it, but what does it mean to be part of the Navy yet mainly take part in sports. Well lets find this out and more.
LET’S START WITH WHO IS PETER SANGER?
I’m 29 grew up in Dunstable however now live on the South Coast. My background was in the leisure industry as an activity instructor however in 2017 I chained careers and joined the Royal Navy.
I HOPE YOU HAVE BEEN KEEPING BUSY AND SAFE OVER THE LAST YEAR WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON GLOBALLY. WHAT ISHAPPENING IN YOUR WORLD? // HOW ARE YOU KEEPING BUSY?
Recently I have been self isolating due to a colleague testing positive. Up until then recently I branch changed from an Air Engineering Technician (Gucci name for attempting to fix helicopters) to Navy Diver so I have been back into trade training.
SO EASY START, YOU ARE IN THE NAVY. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU JOIN UP?
I joined up in 2017 as I was just bored in the outdoor industry and wanted to retrain in something else however going onto a full apprenticeship etc wasn’t really an option. I thought it would be a good way to get a new career yet still be able to do all the sports I enjoy.
YOU WERE JUST STARTING A FAMILY AT THE SAME TIME, HOW DID YOU WIFE FEEL ABOUT THIS CAREER CHANGE?
Yeah it was very difficult to start with as its such a lifestyle change, plus adding a baby into the mix wasn’t the easiest however we managed to get through it with the help of the in-laws!
AM I RIGHT IN SAYING YOU ARE ON A SPORTS DRAFT? // MY UNDERSTANDING OF A SPORTS DRAFT IS YOU’RE IN THE NAVY….BUT NOT ON SHIPS….YOU JUST TRAIN AND RACE AND REPRESENT THE NAVY IN MOUNTAIN BIKE RACES…IS THAT RIGHT? // HOW DOES THIS WORK COMPARED TO WHAT I, AND OTHERS, WOULD TRADITIONALLY THINK OF AS BEING A NORMAL DRAFT AND BEING ON SHIPS SERVING ABROAD?
Almost there but also quite far off!!! So being an Aircraft Engineer (WAFU Navy speak) I was based in Yeovil on the Air Station anyway! At the start of this year I’d managed to gain a seat in one of the Royal Marines crews who were training for the Devizes to Westminster Kayak Race. For those of you that don’t know its 125 miles, 78 portages in 24 hours! So this was my sports draft we would kayak all week, every week from February to April to then compete in the race over the Easter Weekend. Obviously this didn’t happen!
WHAT SPORTS DO YOU REPRESENT THE NAVY IN THEN?
Nationally and Regionally its only been Enduro and Downhill, however at a more service level I’ve also been on the Sport Climbing and Bouldering Team.
ANY STANDOUT RESULTS WHILST RACING ENDURO/DH FOR THE NAVY? // HOW IS THE TEAM SET UP? // TALK US THROUGH A QUICK SUM UP OF IT ALL.
2019 was a good year for me and is actually when I decided to make the switch from DH to Enduro. I raced the National DH up at Fort William, I surprised myself getting a 20th in seniors however I realised that I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I used to. At the end of the year I thought that I would give Enduro a go, even though it was at a Regional level I really enjoyed myself and the concept and I did quite well. I managed to catch the last round of the 2019 Southern Enduro at Milland came 7th in Seniors, I then did the mash-up event at QECP and finished 4th!! As you can imagine I was pretty happy and was hooked.
YOU RACED BEFORE THE NAVY AS WELL, SO WAS THIS THE PLAN ALL ALONG? // OR DID IT JUST COME ABOUT?
I did, again just local races but I enjoyed them. I knew the Navy had DH & Enduro teams due to a friend who rode for the Army so that was the aim once I joined.
I KNOW YOU ARE A VERY SPORTY PERSON SO HOW DID YOU GET INTO RIDING? // WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST BIKE?
My family were always keen cyclists and where I grew up I was lucky enough for my house to back onto Dunstable Downs so I had “mountain biking” on the doorstep. The scene on the street I lived on was also quite big and we had a small set of jumps in the field next to the road so that’s where early “sessions” went down!! First bike, god knows however ones of note are my first proper BMX, a Haro Nyquist R3 and a Mission Cycles Lockstock
YOU ARE ALSO A VERY CAPABLE PADDLER, SO WHEN DID THAT START FOR YOU?
Again my family were keen kayakers, I then went to Sea Scouts, joined a local canoe club and went from there. I loved paddling and struggle to recreate the same experiences and feelings that you do when in a boxed in gorge or a big rapid.
IF YOU COULD RIDE OR RACE AT ONE VENUE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE WOULD IT BE? // SAME FOR KAYAKING?
Tricky question I’d love to ride in Norway, after being there with work it’s stunning, untouched and very adventurous, as I’m getting older I think I’m more drawn to this now. Bikepark laps in Queenstown would also be sick but there’s something about riding places not many have. Kayaking it would have to be the Dudh Kosi in Nepal, it starts at the Khumbu Glacier (Everest Base Camp) and flows down through stunning countryside.
BEING LUCKY ENOUGH TO KNOW YOU, I ALSO KNOW YOUR VERY GOOD ON A JUMP BIKE. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST TRICK OR JUMP TO MENTALLY OVERCOME? // HOW DID YOU, IF YOU DID?
Haha! I wouldn’t go as far as say very good… I try! 360’s are something that is always have been elusive for me! I never have managed to get one and ride away clean that is of a reasonable size! That’s life though.
AS A SOUTHERNER WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RIDING SCENE ON THE SOUTH COAST? // HOW ABOUT THE RACE SCENE?
It’s really good, there’s new spots always popping up and the tracks and riders are progressing fast. The old skool nu skool “jam” format of sessioning stuff has come back and its great! From what I’ve seen the race scene is huge with rounds being sold out very quickly and places being quite sort after!
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO RIDE, EXCLUDING RACE ROUNDS?
I’ve been really enjoying QECP this year as it’s relatively local and has a good variety of tracks for everyone. Also some stinking climbs!! Other places to mention is The Hollow in Yeovil, great jump spot and I’m going to miss it! Also in the South West, Triscombe! Scares the shit out of me everytime!
OK SO TALKING FAVOURITES, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PAST RACE VENUE/EVENT SO FAR?
Fort William has to be top of that list as it’s such an iconic place and track in the U.K that I’ve grown up admiring.
SO, I AM GUESSING WITH THE CURRENT SITUATION ANY RACING AND EVENTS WERE EITHER CANCELLED OR POSTPONED IN 2020? // DO YOU THINK YOU WILL GET TO COMPETE THIS YEAR?
Unfortunately I didn’t race in 2020 however fired up for next year!
DO YOU GET TO COMPETE OUTSIDE OF THE NAVY, OR ARE YOU UNDER CONTRACT WITH THEM?
I could however we get incentives to race such as claiming for travel, a percentage of race fees reimbursed and also insurance as it comes under representative sport so you can go fast!
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR PETE, STAYING IN THE NAVY? // MOVING INTO SOMETHING ELSE?
Staying in the Navy, hopefully finish my Diver training by next summer! I’ve recently taken over the running of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Enduro Team so lots of exciting stuff on that front to keep me busy!
BRILLIANT, NOW WE ALWAYS ASK, WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES AND MOTIVATES YOU?
As lame as it may sound my children and wife motivate me to be a better person and to push myself, and I want to do things that inspire them which in turn inspires me.
I KNOW YOU HAVE TWO YOUNG CHILDREN, WILL YOU BE ENCOURAGING (I DON’T LIKE TO SAY PUSH) THEM TO RACE WHEN THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH? // OR WILL YOU LET THEM DECIDE WHAT SPORTS THEY LIKE?
100% they are riding bikes, sold to the slave trade if not! Obviously I’d like them to enjoy riding however I’m not going to force them into anything.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A LIFE IN THE NAVY?
Give it a go, you might like it! It’s not for everyone but the opportunities it can give you if you pursue them are good.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR A LIFE MOTTO?
It’s all about “feeding the rat” – google it, buy the book!
WE ALWAYS LIKE OUR GUESTS TO DO THE SIGN OFF, SO ANY LAST WORDS?
This question is a bit like asking someone what the last words they’d say before they died! Food for thought! Don’t try predict the future!