Over the course of the summer, we’ll be doing a series of blog posts profiling our local riding heroes. These are the people who inspire us to be better mountain bikers ourselves and we look to them as mountain bike role models.
Susan DeMattei is probably best known for being the first American to win an Olympic medal in mountain biking at the inaugural event in Atlanta in 1996. Originally from Marin County, she met her future husband and fellow competitor Dave Wiens while racing in the early ’90s. Since then she’s been a Gunnison local, helping with trail advocacy projects and local biking non-profits all while pursuing her nursing career at the local hospital.
What brought you to the Gunnison Valley? Were you riding before you moved here?
Dave brought me to Gunnison, begrudgingly. He refused to move to CA, where I was living. I was riding before I moved here, mostly on the road, in the hills of Marin County, north of San Francisco.
What’s your favorite Gunnison Valley trail?
It changes on any given day, but the Hartman’s trails in the early morning or evening are pretty special. You can choose a variety and keep yourself entertained (and worked!) for as long as you’d like.
Favorite post-ride refuel food and beverage?
I’ll eat anything and everything that’s in my kitchen. Not picky. Extra virgin olive oil, good parmesan, and hearty noodles are a favorite.
What’s the best costume you’ve ever seen at Chainless? What’s the best costume you personally have ever worn at the Chainless?
Embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen the Chainless race (only photos).
What’s your favorite Gunnison Valley bike event?
The Growler holds a favorite spot; Dave and his amazing crew of volunteers have created a stellar event that puts smiles on lots of bikers faces.
What’s the best all-around bike for riding in the Gunnison Valley?
My trusty Schwinn townie has gotten me to work almost every day for many years, no special tires, in sun and snow alike.
How many miles of singletrack do you think you can knock out on Trailquest this season?
This is how old I am– what’s that? Kind of kidding, I think I’ve heard about it. I’m a bit pushed for time due to work and kids, etc., so I don’t make it up to CB as often as I’d like in order to knock off some of those rides. Let’s just say my rides start from my porch and anything over an hour is golden.
What’s your favorite ride for wildflowers? What about for fall colors?
The rides in CB are obviously all about the flowers, but I still marvel at the local lupine, Indian paintbrush, etc. that I see behind WSCU and at Hartman’s. Ditto for the fall colors– it just takes a few trees to give you the pleasure of overwhelming beauty as you whiz by.
What’s the biggest epic you’ve ever had riding in the Gunnison Valley?
Probably the old CB Fat Tire Bike Races in the early 90s. The courses were pretty long, lots of really strong competitors, and that burning feeling in my throat after those dirt crits was epic!
What’s the nastiest piece of gear you should throw away, but just can’t bring yourself to do?
If the definition of nasty means “old”, then I’ve got lots of neon jerseys and shorts that are tucked away somewhere… I still wear a lot of 20 year old stuff because it works and I’d rather spend the money on a dinner out with the family.
What bike part should you invest the most money into?
A saddle. Am I right, ladies?
What’s your favorite biking hack under $10?
Water. I don’t drink anything but water on my rides, and some homemade chocolate chip cookies go a long way.
What’s a trail you haven’t ridden yet that is on your ride bucket list for this summer?
There are a few new ones in CB that I hope to see this summer, but I’ll be pleased with seeing 401 or 403, etc. if possible.
Fat bikes? Yes or no?
I’ve never ridden one, but I hear they’re fun. I like to Nordic ski in the winter, so a break from the bike is nice.