Stephen Matthews, 26, works in downtown Vancouver at a shiny three story office. He’s the Ambassador Coordinator for Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) a major outdoor goods retailer in Canada. He’s a desk jockey, spending 40 hours per week behind the glowing box of his computer, ‘’coordinating a team of Ambassadors for content curation, design feedback, event involvement, and supporting their own initiatives.’’ Whatever that means. Basically he makes sure MEC sponsored Ambassadors are doing cool stuff, and promoting their adventures effectively.
|Trail building gives you a new perspective on mountain biking. Once you spend time patching holes or building corners, you start to realize how much hard work has gone into every trail you ride. I think putting time into building can give riders a deeper connection to the sport.|
Peter Matthews, 28, is Stephen’s brother and spends his winters on the slopes of Whistler, driving a Sno-Cat and grooming runs for skiers and snowboarders. During the summer, he works as part of the Whistler Bike Park Trail Crew and maintains the trails we’ve seen on video so many times before. Peter rides in all of Whistler’s marketing videos and he may be the most seen - and least recognized - rider in the sport. He moved from the Matthews’ hometown of Calgary, Alberta strictly to live in Whistler and to ride his bike as much as possible.
| Peter and I grew up riding on the bike paths and trails of Calgary's Bow River Valley, and now we're living among some of the best trails in the world. Riding has always been about having fun and exploring, and the sky is the limit in this part of the world. He's a super solid rider, and when we get out and ride it's still nothing but good times!|
Virtually every athlete in Builder is a full-time professional; they ride bikes for a living and spend their days behind bars whether it be riding with friends, on photo shoots, or in the woods with a shovel. Stephen is the everyman, the kind of guy you’d ride with after work, who kicks your ass up and down hill, who used to ‘’do a bit of racing, a few hucks back in the day.’’ He built stunts for the movie on his own time, during fleeting moments of weekend possibility. Stephen is more motivated and organized than most career athletes combined: he has to be in order to balance his marketing job with the life of a part time professional rider. in 2014 alone he built and rode for his segment in Builder, organized a photo trip to Iceland with Mattias Fredriksson, and went on numerous adventures with Reuben Krabbe in search of double page gold in various magazines.
| Working in the bike park has provided me with some of the most amazing and frustrating experiences in my life. There's nothing more amazing than rebuilding a section and sessioning it until the rope drops, and nothing more frustrating than seeing your work crumble into dust. It's provided me with a lot of great lessons in impermanence. You can't get attached to things. Everything changes whether you want it to or not. I think trail building truly is the glue of the sport. It creates identity, unity, and camaraderie within the culture, and helps shape the next generation of riders.|
Riding for a paycheque forces a different headspace upon riders: if you don’t progress then you better look for a new job. Missing a season due to injury can be catastrophic for a rider’s bank account and career prospects; one has to find the right balance between risk and reward (i.e. media coverage) to ride sustainably. Guys like Stephen have a desk job waiting for them on Monday morning and can’t take the risk of severe injury. However, there’s still that inexorable pull of testing one’s limits, the personal satisfaction that comes from scaring yourself and overcoming raw fear.
Stephen and Peter grew up riding street in Calgary and left the province in search of new trails and a lifestyle devoted to riding bikes. The work that Peter does at the Whistler Bike Park is ridden by thousands of different people from across the world. And while Stephen’s stunts may never be touched again after this movie, if they can inspire someone, somewhere, to pick up a shovel, then we’d consider their segment a success. Trails really are universal - appreciated by any mountain biker from any province, in any country, and in any language. The thrill of riding is borderless.
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