Ruthie Matthes is a born-and-raised Idaho girl who dreamed of ski racing in the Olympics like Jean-Claude Killy. But things change and she abandoned her dreams of ski racing for another form of speed – bike racing. She began road bike racing at 17 when her ski coach and Boone Lennon (the inventor of the first aero time-trial bars) told her talents would be suited for the sport. Turns out, they were right. Her skills in endurance athleticism surpassed her ski goals and she quickly got the hang of road racing. She went on to win National Championship titles in road racing, criterium and team time trial in 1989 and 1990, and even won a silver medal the Road World Championships in 1990.
But those were the days of little sponsorship support in female road racing and she laid down her road bike for an opportunity to race mountain bikes. Here, her ski training showed and she won the World Championship in 1991 and medaled four times after that. She was a five-time National Champion, won World Cups and even competed in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Ruthie, now a member of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, has become a proud ambassador of Club Ride gear – sporting it when biking through the hills near her home in Durango, Colorado (the Colorado Trail is her favorite mountain bike ride) or just on a commute to the grocery store. Here, she answers some questions for us about her riding, her favorite outfits and what’s next for her.
CLUB RIDE: Why did you choose Durango, Colorado?
RUTHIE MATTHES: I moved here to advance my mountain biking skills back in 1993. Now I’m still here enjoying the amazing trails, wilderness, mountains, river and friends. But, being born in Sun Valley and raised in Ketchum, I do get homesick for Idaho.
CR: What bike have you been riding recently? Why?
RM: I ride a custom Moots Rogue YBB 27.5. I was so fortunate to race for Moots in 1997 and 1998, when I won two National Championships. I love the way their titanium bikes feel. It is a smooth, responsive, light ride. I feel like I have a tailwind at my back when climbing, and descending is stable, fun and fast. Plus, the 27.5 wheels roll over obstacles with ease. The YBB rear suspension is light and very effective and my body feels great after rides.
CR: Right now, road biking or mountain biking?
RM: A bit of both! I mountain bike for adventure and to be in the quiet of the woods. I hit the road to let the legs spin out and just enjoy pedaling.
CR: When heading out on a ride, what do you wear?
RM: I am very partial to the Club Ride Queen Bee jersey and Bandara jerseys paired with the Zest Short. For commuting, I wear the same tops, but my "go-to" bottoms are the Freedom Short and the Transit Pants. Other times I am in my custom Magura road race-style kit, which has the Worlds stripes on the sleeve and collar.
CR: Do you commute on your bike?
RM: YES! I commute as much as I can. Durango is a pretty busy place now, and in tourist season it’s much easier to navigate by bike! I bike out to the grocery store, post office, hardware store, friends’ houses, etc.
CR: What's going on in your life right now?
RM: I work in product research and development and as a brand liaison for Magura Direct, who import and distribute Magura, Uvex and Vredestein. I travel to consumer events, trade shows and bike shops with our independent sales reps, and I communicate with the press. I am also a Moots ambassador, which includes research and development, as well.
I am also learning the wonders of power tools and am involved in remodeling a small house here in Durango – very challenging! Plus, I’m getting on my bike daily – either for commuting or for fun and health.