Matt Beers – from motocross to mountain biking
08 June 2016
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Thanks for downloading, this is another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast, I’m Gerald de Kock. we talk all matters mountain biking and today we’re talking to a young man who has converted from one form of off road riding to another. His name is Matt Beers, Matthew Beers. Matt, you’ve turned yourself into a mountain biker, but what were you doing before? What sport were you involved in before mountain biking?
Matt Beers: Before I changed to becoming a lycra bandit, I was a motocross rider, so quite a bit transition. I had a few quite big injuries and just decided to call it quits. It was too much, the risk wasn’t worth it. You’ve got to consider some future planning, so I thought I want to keep in the sport. So I decided to get into mountain biking through rehab for one of my injuries. That’s how it kind of all came about.
GDK: I suppose aside from the lycra though, and the kit you wear on a motocross bike, there’s a reasonable similarity isn’t there?
MB: Yes, what I did would be considered cross country in mountain biking terms and then enduro would be marathon, so the actual dynamics are quite similar in terms of format and racing. I just preferred the marathon for some reason, it was actually because my foot couldn’t handle the cross country when I first started cycling, so I had to do longer distance and stuff.
Motocross into mountain biking is a doable transition
GDK: What level were you racing in motocross?
MB: I was one of the top national riders in SA. Then I went over to the United States and raced there as one of the top amateurs. So yes, it was pretty big, it was just under the pro contract. When you get injured, when you’re sitting, healing, everyone else is just getting faster.
GDK: Seemingly, it didn’t take you too long to make the transition from being near the top end of that game to being at the sharp end of mountain biking. There was clearly a natural aptitude for the fitness and the demands of mountain biking.
MB: For sure, I still can’t fathom how quickly it happened. People still ask, I don’t really know much at all. I still learn at every stage race, it’s very interesting. But actually, at the facility I was at in the US, we did a whole bunch of testing for performance and all that for the motocross bike.
They basically told me, dude, you’ve got something pretty special on a bicycle. You’re hitting numbers we’ve never even seen before, on any of the other riders, maybe you should look into it. I was like, there’s no way’s I’m cycling. Funnily enough, it came to it and that’s what basically gave me a bit of confidence to actually pursue it.
Handling the changes in lifestyle
GDK: Does the training and the fitness work come fairly easily to you?
MB: It’s a different type of training because motocross you’re very busy. You’re riding in the morning, then you go to the gym, then after gym you go for a cycle. Then after cycling you go to the gym again, so it’s a very busy day.
Cycling, you do a four hour ride and you’re almost disabled for the whole day! It’s quite a different, like from being really busy all the time, to actually having to recover. I like training, I like pushing myself and trying to do better than I was.
GDK: You clearly have the discipline because you’ve ridden at a high level in one sport, it takes a lot of focus and discipline to get to the top in another.
MB: I would say that would be my main attribute, I’m extremely strict on my training. I work very, I’m actually borderline psychopath when it comes to my training. You can ask anyone, I love it, I don’t know why, it’s something that really drives me. So it’s a benefit, it’s a bonus.
GDK: Where are you living and where do you regularly train and where’s your life at the moment?
MB: I stay in Constantia with my dad, so basically Chapman’s Peak. All around the whole south coast basically, everywhere in Cape Town.
GDK: Hours, what’s your average week of training?
MB: It would range from 15-20 hours per week, that’s on the bike. Then I do extra things like core stability and stuff like that, depending on where you are in the season.
GDK: Are you now a fulltime mountain biker?
MB: I’m very fortunate to get paid to ride my bike, so ja, I’m extremely lucky to have that happen. I do do other things on the side, I’m studying a course now. I do bike setups, just to keep myself busy because I believe it’s good to have some other focuses, not just riding your bike. I think that really messes with your mind quite a bit, because you’re sitting at home thinking, am I good enough and this. I think for these youngsters, I think it’s really good to have something else that interests you.
Learning from those around you
GDK: You’ve had various partners over the different events and at the KAP Sani2c you rode with Adrian Louw. I suppose there are a lot of experienced mountain bikers that you’re riding in and around, do you find you learn from them and pick up things?
MB: Definitely, it’s awesome to understand just how different people are, even though you’re in the same sport. Like how different people do things and sometimes it tests you. But I think that’s all part of how you grow and become a better rider; to understand how to take different situations and make them better.
GDK: How do you deal with the highs and lows? Let’s start with the lows because those happen quite often, do you get heated/ angry, how do you deal with it?
MB: I would say I get very angry when something goes wrong. Because I suppose it’s something I’ll learn to take with more grace in the future. But as of now, it really grinds my gears, just because you know how much work you’ve put in.
You sacrifice, you go to bed early, you’re eating like a rabbit and then all of its because of a puncture and all that hard work. Like someone like Waylon has taught me also that there’s nothing you can do, that’s how it works. I’m learning, but it’s hard.
GDK: You had an experience at the World Marathon Champs didn’t you?
MB: Yes, last year in Italy, that was horrific! I have never done something that hard in my life. It was also a very hard time in my life and I just broke my wrist a month before. So I was on the indoor training every day and you just can’t have the same effect. 84km with 4 500m of climbing, I didn’t even know that was possible! It was just something else, the whole dynamic there, those guys are so good in their country.
Lack of true commitment costing our riders?
GDK: There is the thing, we see this every year when the Epic comes around. We all think South Africans have got great riders and really talented strong riders. Yet we’re still quite a way off where the rest of the world is, or Europe is.
MB: That’s one thing I can’t figure out. With motocross, you get there eventually, but with cycling, I think the main thing, you have to live there. You have to do what they do, how they ride, they are so passionate about it, that’s what I noticed there. They’ll rider 3-4 times a day, it’s just, that’s what they love to do. I think that puts them in a different calibre basically.
GDK: We’re still looking at it, it’s a nice part time, it’s what I do, it’s cool. But we’re not absolutely committed.
MB: I would say that is the main difference. To them, it’s their life and their dad’s did it and it’s like generations. It’s like rugby here, so it’s very different.
GDK: You’ve achieved a hell of a lot in a short space of time in the sport, what are your ambitions and goals still?
MB: I would definitely like, Epic is a big goal of mine. Now that I’ve done it this year for the first time. Then ultimately go overseas and be that guy who made it, that would be the ultimate goal. But it’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of other obstacles to get through in order to get that done, but we’ll pursue and push that and hopefully it works.
GDK: Describe yourself as a rider, what type of rider are you?
MB: I’m good on flat power, just powerhouse, that’s what everyone describes me as. I would guess that, pretty much. I’d actually like to do a crack at the time trial, SA Time Trial Champs next year. That’s actually something I’m going to do, so that could be quite interesting.
GDK: What do you reckon you need to do to fill that ambition to be riding overseas?
MB: Just train as hard as I can basically. You know what numbers you need to hit and where you need to be, the level. I think the main thing is, everyone said to me; in order to do well in Europe you have to live there and race with them and you will get to that level.
It’s just, the racing is so different there, it’s gravel, dirty road, it’s not like South Africa. You see, when they come over here, we’re not far off there, so it kind of shows. But then when we go over there, I mean we’re out the back. You can kind of understand how it works.
GDK: Matt, good luck in all those ambitions, it’s fantastic to have an exciting new face in the sport.
MB: Thanks, I’m looking forward to just getting more racing under my belt and just experiencing the whole thing while I can, while I’m young.
GDK: Matt Beers, a young man who has got ambition and a huge amount of talent, good luck in the future and thank you for chatting to us. Thank you for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast. Download again, we’ll be talking to many more people, characters and personalities from the sport. Until next time, cheers.