Matt Fraser makes tracks in his first-ever mountain bike race
-by Bill Dunphy
Picking his way carefully along a trail at Keppoch, Matthew Fraser was more than 13 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor to win his first-ever mountain bike race.
Who said hockey is everything?
When Matthew Fraser reached the Peewee level of hockey, the game was losing its appeal to him. It was then he decided to hang up the skates and try something different.
Last month, the energetic 14-year-old entered his first-ever mountain bike race at Keppoch Mountain outside of Antigonish. He blew away the competition, finishing the downhill course in two minutes and two-tenths of a second, more than 13 seconds ahead of the Annapolis Valley rider who finished second.
“Thirteen seconds is a big difference in that kind of race; the times are usually a lot closer,” he said. “The difference I think was just a lot of practice: every day, sometimes for an hour, sometimes two.”
Matthew had lots of time to practice. Since starting to ride mountain bikes a couple of years ago, he had to turn 14 before Bicycle Nova Scotia would allow him to enter an adult race.
So utilizing the terrain in back of his home in Deepdale, he and his best friend Brent Ryan began developing a couple of jumps out back. This led to the construction of a trail, which is now about a quarter-mile long and takes about 45 seconds to go down.
“I gave up hockey altogether. I had been playing since I was five and thought it was time to do something different,” he said. First it was snowboarding during the winter months, which he says is fun but not something he wants to do competitively, and downhill mountain biking and freeriding during the summer.
The son of Carrie and Doug Fraser, his mom said while his riding can be a little “nerve-wracking,” it was good to see him develop a passion outside of hockey.
“It’s safe to say, when he is not actually riding, Matthew is happiest with a shovel and wheelbarrow building his trails.”
Matthew admits to taking a couple of tumbles during his mountain bike training, but he is prepared for it. “I have knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, neck guard, full-face helmet, goggles and gloves.”
He’s not sure yet how involved he will become with the Nova Scotia downhill circuit. If anything, he would like to see his sport eventually sanctioned by the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation so that he could represent Inverness Education Centre and Academy at the provincial level.
“It would be fantastic if that ever happened,” he said. “I would recommend the sport to anyone; it’s the funnest sport you will ever do.”
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