Meet Kona Factory 'Newbie' Matthew Slaven, he was recently crowned the 2011 North American Enduro Tour Champion. Lucky for me he is a local rider and we share a deep love for Dakine, so we are kinda teammates. As the host and announcer for the Oregon Super D series this year I was able to witness the great riding of Mr. Slaven, most of the world hasn't heard this name yet. Now you know. Enjoy the read! -Mike Estes Name, rank and serial number?Matthew Slaven, Admiral, 3030 Where did your mama squeeze you out?I’m guessing you want a city and state?... I shot out in Gallopollis, Ohio, but grew up in the Heartland of Lincoln, NE. When did you discover two wheels?Pretty sure I learned to ride a bike when I was 5 years old, although my dad admits to riding me around on his handlebars at age 3. What crazy stuff did you do growing up that your parents probably don't know about?Are you kidding me? I was an angel…
Well, I was an only child and I was never at home, so I’m pretty sure I did a lot of stuff they didn’t know about. Overall, I think I was a pretty good kid…I never really got in trouble for anything to major…mostly because I could run faster than my friends when the po po showed up. Racing seems to be your forte', how did you become addicted to the sound of seconds ticking off in your head?I started racing BMX at an early age. I can remember buying a bike at a yard sale and taking it down to the dirt jumps and breaking it in the same day. That’s when my dad decided to sell his own mountain bike and buy me a real BMX bike. I’ll never forget that! It was a new GT Pro Series and I fell in love with playing in the dirt on 2 wheels that day. It meant a lot to me that my dad would sell his own bike to get me a freshy. He rode quite a bit back then and still does today!
You really got a boost in 2010 after winning the inaugural Oregon Super D Series, the Sandy Ridge event turned you into a local hero and you were able to secure some great sponsors. Who are they?Yeah, last year was great! It was a tight series and the first of its kind, so it meant a lot to me to win it. The trails at Sandy Ridge are some of my favorite close to Portland. They are doing some progressive trail building there that matches up with these new All Mountain bikes that are becoming so popular. With the rise of these bikes has come a new interest in show casing All Mountain athletes and I have been lucky enough to work with some great sponsors this past year. Kona has supported me for almost 8 years in one way or another and last year they asked me to be a Factory Team rider which has been a dream come true! I also have Dakine as a clothing sponsor which is in my backyard in Hood River and Chico keeps me fresh and clean year round. Continental Tires is also a big supporter for me and I love having input on new tires coming down the pipe. Bell Helmets picked me up early this spring and I have been helping with some cool new things that mtbers should like. PBR has kept my friends and I well hydrated for a couple years now and I hope to keep that going. Also, I just picked up Skull Candy which I can’t wait to use for my next plane ride to Vegas!
Photo Credit Roo!
Those are all personal sponsors, but there are also all the sponsors of the team like RockShox, WTB, Muc Off, Shimano, Easton, Clif Bar, and Smith Optics. Before the racing season even started this year you set a goal for the Mega-Avalanche in the French Alps, did that event live up to your expectations?The Mega Avalanche…man...well the name says it all...it’s Mega for sure. I loved that race and really learned a lot as a racer riding over there. Everything is on a much bigger scale terrain wise. I realized that I am a good bike handler in the USA, but not in Europe. Those guys and gals are on another level as far as I’m concerned. In the states our Enduro/Super D racing is almost all fitness based. There is some downhill skill involved, but usually the most fit people always win. Racing in Europe has me excited to train more on technical terrain and practice turns and skill building this winter, instead of just putting in long miles in the rain (which I will do also of course). I highly recommend this race to everyone that enjoys racing down mountains and I think it works well as a vacation and not just a race in Europe, so it should be fun for all. Are you going back?Yes! I would really like to get a top 10 there next year. I qualified 3rd in my heat and made it to the front row start for the big show, but had 4 crashes on the ice and snow. My teammates Karim and Alex did very well this year and I would like to see a freight train of Kona Blurple and Orange charging down that mountain for 2012! This year was the inaugural year for an even bigger series of multiple day MTB stage racing called the North American Enduro Tour hosting races all over the USA, you were just crowned the first Champion of the series, how does that feel?It feels awesome! I hope that it grows to be something more publicized by the media next year. I really enjoyed traveling around and hitting all the different courses this summer. It felt more like a national circuit. Even though most of them are still in the Northwest, except for Trestle Park. We need to get some stuff going on the East Coast and more in Colorado for sure.
Every time I see you with your Kona bike you have a cool new part to show off, is product development in your future?That’s funny… every time I see you you’re looking at my bike with a microscope. I really like trying new stuff and giving feedback. I’m hoping I get to do more of it in the coming years and the companies that sponsor me seem to think I’m good at it, so that’s nice. I already work with a few companies on product development like Kona, Bell Helmets, Easton wheels, and Continental Tires. Explain your role with Continental Tires?Well, I have a great job with Conti! I have been a Tech Rep for them for the past year now and it has been fun. You’ve probably seen the Black Chili van at several events this season spreading the Continental cheer in the Pac NW. This winter I went to the factory in Korbach, Germany and met everyone there and learned a lot about the tires and the facility. I also did a some testing with new casings and compounds to help with the new Tubeless PROtection tires that came out this year. The spring and summer have been full of Shop clinics, visits, events and races… and now it’s time for a trade show. You reside in Portland Oregon, you must enjoy a good Cyclocross event?Living in Portland you pretty much have to love Cyclocross and coffee...and tequila! I used to race cross every Fall, but now I do a few races for fun and would rather do some Fall mountain biking with my buddies. Although, my girlfriend and I were the ones to start that SSCXWC race that will be in SF this year, so I might have to hit that bad boy! Are you going to Interbike?I will be going to In and Out Burger…is that near there? Most people ride down Dog River Trail, but Slaven leads rides up it and waits! What does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?I wish I could see into the crystal ball, but I can’t…I hope to still be racing with Kona in 5 years and getting better every year! I also hope that I have a job in the bike industry that keeps me riding and traveling to cool places. Maybe doing more product development stuff with some of my sponsors. I don’t really see myself leaving Portland any time soon, but you never know…Costa Rica looks real nice! Who would you like to race and beat just once? Any race, any discipline?Hmm… I just lost the Sandy Ridge Super D to Brian Lopes, so maybe him at Super D. Anyone you'd like to thank or give a shout out?Yes of course. I would really like to thank all my sponsors again and everyone who has helped me out not just this year, but previous years. I’d like to thank my folks for getting me into bikes and shredding early and Dani and Zoe for being supportive this year. I’d also like to give a special thanks to James Patrin for helping me with more things than I can list here. Thank you for your time Matt! Looking forward to seeing you on the trails!Thanks Pinky!!Checkout Mathew Slaven and Karin Armour showcasing the Oregon Super D courtesy of Kona World
Interested in the North American MTB Enduro Tour? Check this OUT.
Thanks for giving me the interview Slaven and may you defend in 2012!