You’re not from BC, where are you originally from and when did you move here?
I’m originally from Calgary, and lived there up until I first moved to Whistler at 19. I’ve been back and forth between the two while going to University in Calgary, before making a permanent move to Vancouver about 2 years ago. Now, I’m back up the Sea to Sky, calling Squamish home. Who did you grow up riding with?
I grew up riding with my brother and friends from around the city and from the shops I worked at. We mostly rode at Canada Olympic Park and Millennium skate-park, but we had a few jump spots around the city. I rode hardtails long before I ever got on a Downhill bike. I was only able to get into it because of working in a shop, and that’s when I started going out to Moose Mountain, following with longer road trips to Invermere and Golden, BC. Why did you move here?
The draw to move to Whistler came from a road trip I did with my brother and dad in 2002. The setup is so dialled in Whistler, I just wanted to move there and live in a town with lift access mountain biking. So I moved there when I was 19, got a job, and just stayed the summer until classes started up in the fall. A big part of me wanted to stay...but I decided to try and balance school and the resort town life. It just drew me back every year, and finally, I settled on BC as home. I loved growing up in Calgary, but the constant commute to riding spots gets old, and the access out here is unbeatable. What were your memories of the riding in BC growing up, and how does that compare to how it is these days?
Growing up was the classic ‘on the outside looking in
’ scenario. The best movies were in BC, the best riders, the best trails, it was always presented as this unreal destination, and it was only a province away. When I got my license I was always on the road doing daytrips to Golden or Invermere, just to ride there for half a day or whatever. Now it’s so easy to take it for granted. If I go 3 hours in any direction of my house, I have more riding than I know what to do with. I try to keep myself in check and not take it for granted; I know I’m fortunate. The riding here has only gotten better, and although before I was hungry to get here, now I’m just psyched to be in the thick of it. Which riders inspired you growing up? And how has that changed now, with who you look up to?
When I was young I looked up to the guys in the movies and in the magazines. The first video I owned was NWD 2, and I must’ve seen it 100 times. Joe Schwartz and Robbie Bourdon’s section in that film was amazing, and then once The Collective films came out, guys like Matt Hunter and Wade Simmons always seemed to have an effect on how I wanted to ride. Now that I’m older and can see which kind of riders have lasted, a lot of the same names still stand. It’s not necessarily the guys after fame and glory; really I look up to anyone who’s managed to create a positive life around riding their bike. Vancouver has been home, but now you live in Squamish, how do the two compare?
After living in Whistler, it was always my dream to be back up the Sea to Sky. I wanted to be back in Whistler ever since I first lived there, but Vancouver was more of a reality based on work and life. Living in Vancouver was amazing, and I really enjoyed discovering the North Shore. The Shore has a strange appeal, but I’m into it! It’s consistently the hardest place I’ve ridden, which I think really helped me appreciate other networks. Now I’m up in Squamish and there are so many similarities terrain wise, but it’s a completely different scene. The access is so good, and so is the variety. When I was in Vancouver, I didn’t live in North Vancouver, so every ride was a commute across a bridge. Now I can literally go out my front door and I’m on the trails at the end of my block. I’m just so happy to be back up the Sea to Sky, that much closer to the bike park, but still close to the shore, with amazing riding in my backyard. Have you found “the spot” to be?
In terms of riding, I would say, yes. The Sea to Sky is perfect in so many ways. Like I said, an hour or two in any direction you have Squamish, the North Shore, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, Pemberton, a little bit further Lillooet...it’s just endless. Is it the spot for life? I’d like to say definitely, but so many other things can come into play. Trying to find a home and lifestyle that you can afford isn’t in the cards for Vancouver, but I’m hopeful for Squamish. How hard is it to be motivated to ride in the winter?
Not at all, it’s so easy to go out and ride in the winter around here. A lot of the time I think I prefer it. The first 19 years of my life in Calgary, and you couldn’t ride at all in the winter. So now, even when it’s pouring rain I think nothing of it, and go out and ride. I like riding in the rain, and just being in the forest in general. It’s mellow out here! What do you think of when people complain about the winter weather?
It’s crazy. Those people are, in my eyes, crazy. Yeah it’s wet, but once you’re 10 feet out the door and moving, so what if there is a little rain? It’s just rain…get a jacket. You sit behind a desk for most of the day, what do you do, and how does it compliment your riding?
True enough, I have a job. I work in marketing for Mountain Equipment Co-op, and I don’t know if it complements the actual riding part of my life, but it definitely enables me to do it. It’s a working lifestyle and it drives me to get out and ride when I can. It also makes sure that I plan to use my free time effectively, whether it’s for a video, photo shoot, or road trip with friends. Lets touch on that, how do you find a balance between work and being a Chromag athlete?
I really like being able to be a part of what Chromag is all about. They’re a company that I want to help, because they are so true to their image. I really believe in the people that keep Chromag alive. As mentioned though, it takes a lot of balancing. Time management and organization are good things, and being able to work, play, and the ability to take on a lot has helped me move forward in the industry and in a career. Ultimately, if I didn’t think I could do a good job representing Chromag, I wouldn’t do it, because they deserve the commitment from their riders. How would you describe your riding style?
Well for starters, I love to ride pretty much anything. I got started riding dirt jumps and skate parks, and that faded away as I just loved being in the woods, riding trails. I really like riding downhill bikes because of the speed, style, and the feeling you don’t normally get riding trail bikes. In saying that, I’ve really got into riding my trail bike. At its simplest explanation is because of the ease of access, especially in Squamish. The trail experience is so different than riding in the bike park, so I really like them each for their own attributes.
Style wise, I love trying to keep speed on the trail, popping natural hits, and just trying to stay smooth. I’m not much for tricks like I used to be, but every once in a while I get the urge to try them again. It’s the same with racing and competition. I’m definitely a competitive guy, but not in the way of craving a competitive environment. I like seeing myself improve, but don’t really care at all about the clock or timed segments. If I’m off the back riding with my friends, I use that as a baseline that I need to pick it up. You grew up riding with your brother Peter, and he’s a pretty well known character in Whistler these days. How would you compare that style to your brothers?
I would say Peter has more natural talent on a bike, but it’s like following a refrigerator down the trails when you’re riding with him. You can’t see anything, but he’s insanely nimble for his size. He’s more talented, and he’s put a lot of time into it, which is why he can ride the way he does. When I used to race the Phat Wednesday race series in Whistler, we’d always swap rankings. One week he would beat me, the next week I would beat him. We’ve always been close matched when it comes to speed, and I think we do have a pretty similar riding style to. He’s definitely more focussed on riding and developing the bike park, where as I’ve started pedalling my trail bike a lot more than him. Then again, I don’t live at the bottom of the Whistler Bike Park anymore. Beyond Chromag, who supports you?
Beyond Chromag, I’m supported by Mountain Equipment Co-op and Ghost Bikes, Dissent Labs and Oakley Canada.
Growing up I had a super solid crew of riders that were dedicated to nothing more than having a good time. I’ve always tried to keep it light, and create positive memories rather than knocking checks off a list. Thank you to the guys I grew up riding with, the bike shops I’ve worked for, my parents, my brother, and Calgary as an instigator for road trips! Thank you to all my friends in Whistler, Chris Winter for taking a chance on me at 20, Reuben Krabbe for shooting wicked photos, and to everyone I’ve ever done a ride with. I’ve made years of decisions with the focus of riding in mind, and it’s brought me the best life one could ask for. Thank you.
- Stephen Matthews
Video by: Ross Measures
Photos by: Derek Dix