Tell us a little about yourself (brief background, your profession, etc.
Matt Meyer. I’m 37 years old. I’m from Santa Cruz California. Currently I live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I’m moving back to Santa Cruz soon . I’ve been a bike mechanic for the last 17 years except for 2 summers where I was lucky enough to do shows for the summer. Married for 6 years and have a 1 year old boy.
How long have you been riding bike trials?
I’ve been for 20 years. Probably in that time there has been less than 10 weeks that I didn’t ride trials as long as I’ve been healthy and the weather was good. Growing up in Santa Cruz meant the weather usually wasn’t an Issue.
How did you discover bike trials and how did you get started?
In high school I got into bikes because my family moved close enough for me to ride my bike to school. I mountain biked and dirt jumped for about 2 years before I got into trials. At that time most of the mountain bike videos had one trials rider in them so that is where I first really saw it. It became the type of riding that I enjoyed the most when I didn’t have anybody to mountain bike with. I felt more comfortable riding trials in town, around strangers then being on the mountain bike alone in the woods. I always thought to myself, “if I crash and I’m not moving, at least there are people around. If I’m out in the woods alone, who knows what will happen.” After a couple years of doing both, trials just became my favorite type of riding full stop.
How would you define/describe “bike trials” in your own words to someone who never heard of it?
I get asked a lot when I’m out riding or talking to people at work and I usually try to keep it short and say, “Trials is trying to ride over the hardest thing you can without putting your foot down.”
What type of bike trials riding do you prefer (style, obstacle types, moves, solo/group, etc.) and where do you like to ride?
I prefer riding rocks, competition style. Group rides are great but like most riders, I think, I spend most of my time solo. I do enjoy the more street riding style and I do that more often in the winter because there are usually less rocks available that are lit up at night.
Why do you ride bike trials and what keeps you motivated to keep riding?
Like any trials rider I enjoy the challenge. I have that mindset where I like trying something over and over again until I get it right. I also really like riding out in public and basically demoing trials for anybody walking by. I usually like answering questions and “doing that again” for people to film.
What’s the bike trials scene like near you? Are there other riders? Group rides? Comps?
Here in the Denver area I really think it might be the best scene in the country. We have a pretty solid group and I think most of the top trials riders in the country live here. In the summer we might have 2 or 3 group rides a week. That said there are still only about 20 trials riders here but I think that is a much higher concentration than anywhere else in the country. For anybody who wants to know, we have a text group that we usually use to plan rides.
How do you manage fear when doing scary lines?
I feel like I don’t do a great job managing fear anymore. I’m 37 and I have a kid now. When I was younger it just didn’t bother me as much. I think most of the scary looking things I do now are either similar or the same as something I’ve already done or I have a clear plan for if it goes wrong. I usually trust my skills more than my bike. The “what if my chain/stem/handlebar breaks” type questions are the ones I have the hardest thoughts for me to get out of my head.
What are your personal goals with respect to trials (near-term and long-term)?
Mostly in the short term my goal is to be on the bike 7 to 10 hours a week. In the summer I can usually get that, in the winter not so much. Longer term I just want to try to keep riding as long as I can, maybe get into moto trials someday.
Who are your bike trials ‘heroes’ and/or influences?
Ryan Leech was my first hero. He was usually the one trials rider in the big mountain bike videos when I was first getting into trials. For the first 5 years I rode he was basically the only trials rider I knew about. Doug and Frank in the Bay area have been heroes for me since I started riding with them around 2010. The way both of those guys have progressed at ages people might think is too old to ride trials is so impressive. Also Frank who has always been a major catalyst for group rides even when he was a beginner. I think it is his unrelenting positivity that makes everyone want to ride with him. I remember when we had a weekly night ride that seemed to entirely hinge on whether Frank was going even though he was the biggest beginner in the group.
What was it like back in the day when there were NORBA comps? What was the best / most interesting / wildest comp you attended?
I never made it to any NORBA comps. I think I was riding when they were still going on but I was almost entirely solo for the first 5 years that I rode. It wasn’t NORBA; the Keyesville comps were great. The place is an amazing riding spot. Lots of big round grippy granite everywhere.
Did you ever organize/host any comps yourself? If so, can you share a story about one of them?
I have not hosted a comp.
Any other interesting / funny / crazy bike trials stories or experiences you can share?
Not really. I kind of just ride my bike. For better or worse, I’m not really the type of person to end up in anything too crazy.
What are your perspectives on the trials biking scene in general and in the US in particular?
The scene in the US is really small unfortunately. I do think it is one of the best communities though. I think we all know how few of us there are so we all try our best to try to be as inclusive as possible. I’ve really never met a trials rider I didn’t get along with.
What would you like to see happening in the US with respect to bike trials?
I’d like to see it grow but I don’t know how. I also don’t really think it will in the US. I think it takes a very specific type of person to really like it and I don’t think the US has the best culture to nurture that.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start bike trials or has just started?
Don’t be intimidated by better riders. All of us know how small this community is and I think almost all of us will do everything we can to try to help the beginners as much as we can. If you do go riding with a better rider, ride. We want you to ride and improve. Watch us and ask questions but don’t only do that, try things yourself. We will be stoked for anything you can do. Riding with beginners can be the most fun because often you are the ones that improve the most and make moves you didn’t know you could make. No matter the level, challenging yourself is what it’s all about.
Where are good places to find trials riders online?
The first place I really met other riders was OTN but unfortunately that’s not really a thing anymore. Probably social media is the best way to find riders for a new rider. Facebook has the USA Bike Trials Riders group. Right now in the US I’d also say get in touch with Freddy (Fefo) Astrada, Aaron Lutze (SuperRiderTV), Mike Friddell and you. I think you are probably the most outspoken trials ambassadors in the US right now.
[You can find Matt on Instagram: @mattmeyertrials]
Anything else about bike trials that you’d like to share?
I think a text group with local riders is a great way to plan rides. I think it keeps things informal and allows people to basically say things like “I’m going to go ride at this spot after work if anybody wants to join”. This is what we do in the Denver area and I think it results in us getting more group rides than most places.
What other US bike trials rider(s) should I interview here?
I think most if not all of these you probably have on your list or have already interviewed. I know you have interviewed some of them but I’m going to list them all so I don’t miss any. Freddy Astrada, Aaron Lutze, Mike Steidley, Robbie Pfunder, Ross Winsor, Sean and Ian Farrar, Mike Friddell, Tom McNeal.