Mark Scott’s 2019 could in many ways be summed up by the frustration of the visa issues which saw him miss the Northstar, CA round. Despite both his own and his Santa Cruz X SRAM team’s best efforts, his travel application was lost in red tape and he was left with no other option than to board a plane to return home. With that, Mark missed not only the penultimate round of the season but also a remarkable record came to an end. The year’s third round had seen both himself and Florian Nicolai celebrate ‘100 not out’. The pair remained the only riders to have raced every stage of the EWS since its beginning back in Punta Ala in 2013. Scott’s visa battle would see him lose out on keeping the streak alive not through a mechanical or an injury but through bureaucratic paperwork.
You don’t compete across all those stages, over all those years however without a deep well of mental toughness and along with much of 2019, the Tweed Valley-based rider is plotting a return to the sharp end. We sat down with him at EWS HQ to talk about how his preparations have been going ahead of R1 in Zermatt:
Mark Scott with one of his old Santa Cruz race frames. Pic: Innes Graham
EWS: Mark, you've a new video project that's just been released, can you tell us about it?
MS: I was in Belgium, in Flanders earlier in the year, doing some (Santa Cruz) Stigmata stuff. I was just checking it out with Krunkshox and Joe Parkin, we went had a look at the Paris-Roubaix cobbles and shot a video with Steel City Media. We’d always been fans of the road race there and Santa Cruz wanted to shoot something a bit different so we just decided to do something like that! We took Joe the ex-pro with us so he could tell us all about how it was back in the day. It was mega cool, a ‘bucket list’ thing I guess.
You can watch Creepy Fatigue, here:
Before Covid-19 dramatically altered the calendar you had been already doing a lot of bike racing in 2020, hadn't you?
Yeah, cyclocross went well this year. I just dipped my toes in really and ended up doing five races, won two and then was on the podium for the rest of them - I was pretty buzzing! I’m keen to get stuck in and try some bigger races maybe next year.
Does ‘cross contrast with racing enduro a bit as it isn’t your ‘job’? Can you relax and enjoy it a bit more?
I just enjoy racing bikes to be honest. That was really a way to keep me going over winter and was something a bit different as well. You see it quite a lot with other riders these days; Van der Poel, Wout Van Aert… they’re all crossing disciplines. For me, I think I’ve got a decent enough engine to do that as well but going from gravity mountain bikes to cyclocross and cross-country. I just like racing bikes. I’m a bike racer, all round.
Mark in action in Olargues, 2018.
There was a bit of talk at the start of the year about Mathieu Van der Poel expressing an admiration for enduro - how do you think he’d get on?
For sure, I think he’s obviously a great bike rider but I’ve gone the other way and I know how far it is away from cyclocross. I don’t think he’d do too badly but I think it would take him a few go’s to get his head around it. Even getting a top 40 in an EWS these days is quite a job. It’s just so far away from what he does at the minute… We should get him to do a full season and he’d learn a thing or two I think (laughs)!
The 2019 season maybe wasn’t the one that you were hoping for, how is the admittedly delayed 2020 prep going?
Last year was my worst season to date. I missed a round through visa issues but apart from that I was really fighting back from an injury I sustained at round three in Madeira. I lost a bit of confidence. I finished Zermatt alright with a top 15 but it’s still not where I wanted to be. Now I just want to write that year off. Preparations for 2020 have been going really well - I’ve opened myself up to doing a lot of new stuff. I’ve been racing ‘cross and being a bit more relaxed with my training. Normally, come January I go somewhere and destroy myself for a month but this year I’ve focussed on a lot more structure and a bit less volume.
What rounds are you looking forward to this year?
All of them, to be honest! I really liked Olargues last time we were there - it was gnarly. I like Colombia too as the fans were nuts. I’ve got my Colombia football jersey ready for that! I’m a big football fan so that has to come with me. I was looking for retro ones but there aren’t many around, I’ve just got the 2018 World Cup one. I might have to purchase the latest one or maybe contact their football federation to see if they’ll send me one (laughs)!