You didn’t hear much about mountain biking back in 1975; you didn’t see advertisements for guided tours, commercially available gear, or even cool mountain bike shops to hang out in. But there was a Matt Hebberd, raised in the Mecca of the birthplace of the mountain biking phenomenon. If you could find Matt at all as a kid, you’d find him on his bike zipping through the streets of Marin County and mastering the trails on Mt Tam.
At fourteen he experienced the first Repack Race, which inspired him to commit his future to mountain biking. Within a year he had received a call from Donny Koski who hired him to work at the Cove Bike Shop. There he learned the tricks of a budding trade, as well as created a few of his own while he was building Pro Cruisers. In 1979 he was talked into bringing a five-speed bike with him for his journey over the Pearl Pass. The next year, he decided to stick with his original idea and brought his favorite one-speed.
In 1981 when Eric Koski branched out to start Trailmaster, he called Matt who jumped at the opportunity to be a part of influencing the development of the mountain bike. He developed a reputation for building wheels, and was able to support himself doing it while he studied solar technology in college.
After doing a standard town lap with friends, he was returning home when it happened. A car, a bike, and his legs crushed between them. At the hospital he found out that he had seventeen breaks, had shattered his legs and was told he may never walk again. But what really scared Matt was the concept of not being able to ride again. Despite the doctors’ claims, he continually pushed himself beyond physical limits, got out of his wheelchair and back on his bike. Six years later, not only was he back at the lead of the pack, he was able to walk.
In 1986 he became the first paid full time employee at Wilderness Trail Bikes, which he had made his home for the next four years. In 1990, Hebberd moved to Moab, Utah and became a professional guide for Rim Tours, Moab’s original bike touring company. Within a few years, Matt had become co-owner of Rim Tours with Kirstin Peterson.
Now that it’s 2002, Matt is still making his living with his mountain bike, happy that he has never left the industry. Since his very first job at fourteen, he has supported himself with the 26″ wheel. He has inspired and introduced countless numbers to the sport, either personally or through Rim Tours. His generosity is legendary, even making his house a welcome crash pad for those weary mountain biking buddies while in Moab.
When he was a boy, nothing was better than ripping through Marin County on his cruiser. As a grown man, nothing is better than making his living through the thrill of his sport. His passions have inspired him to be part of the development of the industry, always at the hub of the activity. There aren’t many who are involved with mountain biking who do not know of Matt in one way or another. There aren’t many who have so tirelessly dedicated their lives for the simple pleasures of the experience of going for a bike ride.
Bio Submitted by Andy Bamberg