By Sal Ruibal
If you don’t live and ride in the Mid-Atlantic region, you probably haven’t heard of Scott Scudamore. But for mountain bikers who live in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., ‘Scud’ was The Man. He would be notable enough for his Top-10 finishes in Xterra off-road triathlons or his many years of building the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) organization into a trailbuilding powerhouse.
But there was a lot more to Scud.
He retired from the U.S Air Force as a captain and had a second career as a technical sales specialist with Hewlett-Packard Co, but his real mission in life began when he emerged as ‘Superman Scud.’
Disguised as a mild-mannered salesman at The Bike Lane bike shops in suburban Virginia, Scud didn’t just sell bicycles. He gave new riders entry into a world of crazy fun on two wheels.
Newbies were his specialty.
“Over the years he worked part time at our shop, sometimes for pay and sometimes as a volunteer,” said Anne Mader, co-owner of The Bike Lane stores. “He was a natural salesperson, but it was his passion for riding that would get customers really excited about their new bikes. Scott would often sell a bike and, the next thing you know, he and the customer would be scheduling rides together.
“He loved the challenge of getting a new rider on the trail or racing. He had this spark that would inspire you to try new things.”
Through MORE and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Scud took trailbuilding in the Mid-Atlantic states to new levels, creating a step-ladder approach that began with mountain-bike skills courses adjacent to parking lots at community athletic fields, luring stick-and-ball athletes away from their regimented sports and into the world of free-form riding on boulders and ladders and then on gnarly East Coast singletrack.
It was a formula that would prove successful wherever it was done. The next step was linking those areas into a local, then regional, chain of mountain-bike venues with county trails as two-wheeled access roads. All over the Mid-Atlantic, riders could link those singletrack chains into all-day rides with the same level of professional construction.
In the nearby Shenandoah Mountains, Scud and IMBA helped build some of the toughest trails on the East Coast, giving riders world-class races such as the Shenandoah Mountain 100.
He wasn’t all business. For many kids growing up in the region, Scud was the funny uncle, the silly grandpa or, for most, Superman.
“Scott had a way of building up your confidence with his enthusiasm and contagious smile until nothing seemed impossible,” Mader said. “But I think he most loved riding with kids. Their eyes would light up when Scud showed up for a ride and they would follow him through the singletrack, smiling the whole time. Every year, he led the kids’ ride as Superman at the annual Trails for Youth Children’s Health Festival.
“Superman on a bike pretty much sums up Scott Scudamore,” Mader added. “When you rode with Scud, you knew an adventure awaited. Not one ride was ridden without passion and the love of mountain biking.”
Scudamore was riding with his son-in-law and granddaughter at Bryce Mountain in Virginia on September 22, 2013, when he attempted a new jump on the mountain bike course. Something went terribly wrong and he landed hard on his head, fracturing his C1 and C2 vertebrae.
He was helicoptered to the University of Virginia Hospital, and word of his accident quickly spread. Paralyzed from the neck down, he was only able to communicate with his big smile and optimistic demeanor.
Scudamore was sent to a New Jersey rehabilitation center with the hope of restoring his body, but on December 28 he was taken off life support, which was his decision. He had assured his family it would be okay as he maintained his dignity, courage and moral strength until he was gone.
Superman was dead at age 63. The shock wave was palpable across the mountain biking community. The most vital and positive man many had ever met was gone.
“I can’t grasp Scud’s absence,” said Erin Bishop, wife of pro cross-country racer Jeremiah Bishop. Scudamore served as Master of Ceremonies every year at the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, wearing a tuxedo with black bike shorts.
“His energy, enthusiasm and huge smile seemed like they could never be stopped,” Bishop said. “He helped me take on some of my biggest challenges and inspired and encouraged me to reach some of my best accomplishments. But my ‘Scud Story’ is not unique. He similarly affected and inspired so many others.”
On January 6, Scott Scudamore, defender of our nation, trailbuilder, husband, father, grandfather and friend, was buried with military honors at the Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia, just a short ride from many of the trails he created and the many riders he inspired.
For more about Scudamore and ways to help his family, go to Scudfries.org.