While guys like JB, Sager and Sneddon stood on podium each day at TSEpic 2011, this guy was actually the first across the line pretty much every day! Of course, he’s moto assisted, but he’s also a hell of a guy and an incredible volunteer so in this installment of the TSEpic, ‘What do we fill the space with this week’ blog we dropped moto maestro Matt Speiglmeyer a line and asked him what he thinks about this whole schebang happening – literally, on at least two days – in his backyard.
TSme: Matt, I know we say it a lot, but we can always say it more – thanks man! We wanted to introduce you to our readers and chat a bit about some of the plans you have for the forests around State College.
First, why in the world do you give up a week of your time to help out with this thing?
Matt: I love adventures and that is exactly how I would describe the TSE. I have spent 30 years racing motorcycles and am at the point where it is time to give something back. Helping with the TSE provides me with an opportunity to do that as well as make some new friends. I have a personal goal to get my ass in shape and compete in the event in 2013.
TSme: You don’t talk about it much, but we’ve heard through the grapevine that you are a dang fast moto guy. Elaborate for us, would you? Yep, it is fine to brag a bit here, please do.
Matt: I rode my first motorcycle when I was 18 since my parents wouldn’t let me have one until I moved out. As soon as I took my first ride I was hooked. I threw myself in to the off road racing scene and after 3 years of hard work managed to get competitive. I’m a big guy so I have always done better at survival events where my strength helps out (at one race I carried my bike through a swollen stream to finish). I got good enough to qualify for the US team and rode the world championships from 94-97 in Finland, Italy, Poland and back in the US. This is a 6 day long race similar to the TSE. There is a famous 2 day race in Canada called the Corduroy Enduro (named after the numerous “corduroy” bridges that you have to cross) that is very gnarly and I managed to win it 3 times. One year I was one of 3 guys out of 300 to finish. I’ve slowed down a bit now but still like to give the kids a run for their money when the going gets tough.
TSme: I think I heard something about earning the number 1 race plate in the Canadian Enduro series a time or two or something like that, eh? At the same time, those of us heavily involved with the race know how concerned you are about trail impact on the moto. What do you do that allows you to tread so lightly even with the sort of power you have at your disposal on the moto? How do you approach the trail riding during TSE?
Matt: You can get sloppy with a motorcycle and still go pretty fast due the the acceleration of the bike. A good rider will use high corner speed and momentum to keep a fast pace, cutting down on the acceleration (and resulting wheelspin) necessary. I think this is how the good Mountain Bike guys go so fast without the power of a motorcycle. When working on the TSE, my main goal is to get my job done as efficiently as possible and the motorcycle is the best tool for this. I try to minimize my impact so that someone doesn’t take my tool away. Of course when hauling Colt around I have to slow down a bit so he doesn’t go off of the back.
TSme: We know how much you care about the trails and how you do everything you can to minimize your impact including using relatively smooth trials tires, avoiding off-limits trails, building sustainable trails and teaching others to do so too. Speaking of trails though, you have some of your own we sampled this past year. How’s that new trail coming at your place? What are you working on and can we use it, please?
Matt: We just completed the EnduroCross course and it is quite a test. I can’t wait to see the Mountain Bike riders go through it. We are also putting in a 1.5 mile downhill mountain bike course that goes from Sand Mountain Road to my house. We are going to have a practice day this fall (we will haul the bikes back to the top in trucks) so keep your eye on the SMCC website for details. www.
TSme: So you get perhaps the best seat in the house (except for the bit about having to drag Colt around) for the week. What do you think of what you’ve seen? Do you have any good racer stories for us?
Matt: Only how much respect I have for the racers. I was sitting in the middle of Old Burn trail during this years event and fully expected a lot of bitching about how tough it was but all I saw were smiles.
TSme: Colt says there is no one he trusts more than you to get him through the woods. It sounds like you try to have some fun at his expense though – any truth to that? Care to elaborate?
Matt: I take hauling him around pretty serious. I have to balance his safety with his desire to keep in the action. I also never want to get in the way of the race. At the end of the day I’m mentally exhausted and ready for a beer. We have 2 straight years with on get-offs under our belt and I just hope we can keep it going.
TSme: You’ve done some great work in Bald Eagle State Forest over the years [note: we use Bald Eagle on stages 1, 3, 5, and 7]. In fact, the moto guys in Bald Eagle have been perhaps the most active trail maintainers in that forest in the last 5 year or so. It was great to hear some of the State College locals remark about how much fun they had on Stage 7 and that is basically all due to the work the moto crews have done. Anything else special you’re working on there?
Matt: Just continuing to work with DCNR on trail maintenance. We are also working on putting in better switchback turns so that all riders as well as mountain bikers can navigate the hills.
TSme: We know you’re working on a new organization in the area to ensure future access to the forest – which we know you’re losing access to despite hundreds if not thousands of hours of volunteer labor you’ve put into the trails. Tell us about the new org; you’re vision for it and how to get involved.
Matt: We formed Seven Mountains Conservation Corp this year with the goal of preserving the outdoor experience in Central Pennsylvaina. It is mainly Moto guys but I hope to expand it to Mountain Bikers, Equestrian Riders, Adventure Runners and anyone else who uses forest trails. The goal is to promote events and use the proceeds to purchase or lease land to build new trails. It is a member owned corporation and if anyone is interested in becoming a member please contact me through the website. Our next event is planned for this fall and will be a Mountain Bike Enduro run under the motorcycle format. We will also be selling social memberships which gives members access to our trails.
TSme: Matt, thanks for the time and see you soon! More importantly, thanks for the on-going efforts to build better and more sustainable trails for all users and create an organization guaranteeing future access and the promise of some really sweet new singletrack in coming years. Hopefully we’ll get you out on the mtb with us for a bit when we’re in town this fall and see if we can’t get you ready for 2013. And, we hope you find us someone as easy, fun and professional to work with as you are when that edition rolls around so Colt can film you out there on the course!