Locals: Brent Peacock
Photo by Ryan Dorgan
AROUND JACKSON HOLE, many people recognize Brent Peacock as the friendly, white-jacketed manager of Smith’s Pharmacy, a job he’s held since it opened in 2005. The junior high and high school mountain bikers on Jackson’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) team know Peacock as a coach. And at the starting lines of mountain bike races and off-road and winter triathlons around the world, he’s recognized as the man to beat in his age group. The 58-year-old is a five-time U.S. national winter triathlon champion (including in 2020) and the 2011 International Triathlon Union Off-Road world champion, among other titles.
Peacock acquired his first road bike in the 1980s, a gift from his girlfriend. (That girlfriend, Nola, has been Peacock’s wife since 1992.) In the late 1990s Nola convinced Peacock to try mountain biking and entered him in a race. “I thought it would be a bunch of guys in cut-off jean shorts, but they weren’t,” he says. “It was intimidating, because I was basically in jean shorts.” Despite his attire, Peacock won. “From that point on, I was hooked and started training hard and putting in hours and hours.” Twenty-five years later, he’s still hooked and training hard.
Q: Jackson Hole isn’t the best place to be a cyclist, road or mountain, right?
BP: That’s true. If I were just trying to be a racer, I would have moved somewhere else where it’d be easier—summer year-round and big cycling groups and races. [Mountain bike] nationals are in May and, living in Jackson, I show up and haven’t even been on a trail yet.
Q: So, you’re not just trying to be a racer?
BP: I wanted to live in a mountain town when I was in college, long before my first bike race. Racing is one of the only times when I am completely in the moment and not worried about anything else, but I’d never leave Jackson for it.
Q: Why did you want to live in a mountain town?
BP: At that point in my life I was an alpine skier.
Q: How’d you pick Jackson as the mountain town for you?
BP: My wife got a job at the hospital. She’s a physical therapist. At the time, I was still finishing pharmacy school in Utah, so she moved here a year before I did. I’d come up on weekends.
Q: Why pharmacy school?
BP: I had heard that pharmacists could get schedules with longer workdays and more days off.
Q: And did that turn out to be the case?
Q: Is it still the schedule that keeps you in the profession?
BP: No. I love pharmacy. I meet lots of really awesome people that are totally inspirational. I have been in the aisles [at Smith’s] and long-time customers who became friends are saying good-bye to me because they’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and we’re just hugging. I want Smith’s Pharmacy to feel like a neighborhood pharmacy even though it’s a big company; I like when people come by the pharmacy to say hi and talk. That has not been the most efficient way to run the pharmacy, but to me pharmacy is not about efficiency.
Q: You were one of the founding coaches of the Jackson NICA team; what about junior racing interested you?
BP: We started with my daughter on the NICA team. She’s a superstar cyclist, as is my son. There were so many kids who were interested, and they were so enthusiastic. Coaching kids all summer long is one of the big points in my life now.
Q: Were you ever worried your own kids wouldn’t like biking?
BP: I realize I’m a lucky guy that my kids share the same passion. We’d go on family group rides, even do pace lines on the bike path. There was no way I could be happier than racing with my kids.
—Interview by Dina Mishev