Mon. Jun 17th, 2019

Singletrack Thoughts: Meet the Biker Leaving a Legacy in Dust

Canadian Mark Matthews set in movement a progressive freeride bike park that’s now a surging dust playground for riders on their means up.

In 2004, Matthews began a 5-year venture of turning an empty lot right into a legacy. He was simply 14 years previous. Since then, he’s turn out to be knowledgeable mountain biker and set his sights on all varieties of out-of-the-box initiatives within the mountain bike world.

Matthews is amongst a core group of cyclists who dedicate their time to each driving and path constructing. Due to their efforts, all of us have extra entry to well-designed, skill-building parks and trails. Matthews masterminded British Columbia’s North Saanich Freeride Park, the place he’s put in tons of of hours within the final decade to take care of a neighborhood pump monitor.

Now an envoy for Hydro Flask and its new mountain bike-specific Journey Sequence packs, Matthews is an inspiring instance of how one particular person’s actions can influence a whole neighborhood of future riders.

It All Began With a Little Dust

Matthews grew up in North Saanich, a suburb of Victoria, British Columbia. There wasn’t a lot to do, and driving bikes appeared nearly as good as any exercise exterior. When Matthews hit highschool, he determined he needed to journey his bike extra. And he needed tougher terrain that didn’t require a carry from his mother and father.

Mark Matthews on a mountain bike at North Saanich Freeride Park

“That was again when BMX driving was common, so I began driving dust jumps within the native forest across the neighborhood,” he stated. “There was a membership in school, so I saved up and bought a mountain bike. It was far more versatile on a mountain bike. It was a substitute for a automotive, and I fell in love with it.”

Then he began digging, placing some teen angst into motion. “I used to be simply attempting to get extra locations to journey my bike,” he stated. “So I’d dig stuff up within the woods, and folks would get indignant.”

Freeride Park for Pals

That’s when he knew he’d must steer in a unique course. In 2004, Matthews began advocating alongside a neighborhood lodge proprietor, who had a child who additionally favored to bike, for a spot the place freeriding wouldn’t trigger a commotion.

Town gave in, donating rather a lot in North Saanich for a motorcycle park. However that was it — no extra funding, no upkeep cash.

“The city gave one sq. hectare of land however hasn’t given a dime since then,” he stated. “The park has been 100 p.c constructed off of volunteers.”

North Saanich Freeride Park

Matthews, his buddies, and volunteers took over. He and his dad road-tripped to Vancouver to acquire a free fence for the park and spent every week straight constructing the park’s bones.

The North Saanich Freeride Park, positioned at 10180 Littlewood Highway in North Saanich, British Columbia, has been “formally” open for a decade now. At this time, the park has expanded from one bounce line and a small pump monitor to 2 full pump tracks and separate multi-line sections for newbie, intermediate, and superior riders, plus knowledgeable line.

The progressive driving facility has one thing for each potential stage: a pump monitor, rollers, hole jumps, berms, and banks. There’s handbuilt terrain designed for leaping, cornering, braking, and just about no matter ability a person must work on.

“At this time, there’s a brand new technology of children on the market, and it’s means past what I assumed it was going to be,” Matthews stated.

Native riders have coined it “a bit of piece of heaven.”

Going Larger, Coming Again

Matthews has since moved farther north, the place he builds unofficial trails and obstacles in forests marked for clear-cutting a number of years out. Logging corporations personal some 90 p.c of forests within the space. However seeing diamonds within the dust, he builds superior twists, turns, and leaps. He transforms covert landscapes, even lower and burned woods, into private mountain bike playgrounds.

freeride trail in the woods

Matthews additionally returns to North Saanich to observe the evolution of his freeriding legacy. Each summer season, he spends 2 weeks driving and serving to to take care of the park. Typically he teaches dust clinics to children. Different days, he shoots movies of buddies within the park. The footage provides to his rising library of mountain bike content material from Canada and across the globe.

Bike race at North Saanich Freeride Park

Youngsters who grew up within the park with Matthews carry their toddlers. “It has such all kinds of driving. The whole house is full. There’s one thing for the very newbie, like rollers for Three-year-olds, to professional riders who would have enjoyable on large hole jumps,” Matthews stated.

“And if you happen to had no thought what you have been doing, you may spend a yr right here and be taught. There’s simply such a mellow development that anybody can present up right here.”

jump on freeride trail, shovel packing dirt

Whereas Matthews continues to be reducing his personal means nearer to the mountains, his coronary heart will at all times be in that metropolis lot in North Saanich. A bit slice of heaven set in movement a lifetime of advocacy for a sport that will get dust in your sneaks — and underneath your pores and skin.

Hydro Flask sponsored this text. See why Mark Matthews and different mountain bikers are speaking concerning the new MTB Journey Sequence hydration pack.

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