Culture

Out of the Saddle with Michael Matthews

The Australian known as ‘Bling’ has worn the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia and won the green points jersey in the Tour de France.

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Some call him “Bling.” And, actually, the Australian embraces his longstanding moniker, which hails back to his days racing motocross. Michael Matthews of course, is one of the most versatile riders in the professional peloton. A punchy sprinter who climbs well, he has worn the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia and won the green points jersey in the Tour de France. But he is also known for being one of the most colorful riders in the peloton, and a perfect candidate for our Out of the Saddle Series.

What was your first bicycle?
My first bicycle? Oh, that is a difficult question! I don’t remember to be honest. But before I had a bicycle, I had a motorbike. My dad put me straight on a motorbike and I had a Honda Peewee 50. It had training wheels on it to be fair. But that is how I learned to ride. We set up a little space in the backyard with a little jump and that is where I spent most of my afternoons, to be honest.

If you could be anything other than a cyclist what would it be?
A professional motocross rider. That was always my dream before cycling. And that’s what I was preparing for, but then when I was 15 or 16 I had a crash and had a bad knee injury. But there were tests at school to see what sports kids might be good at. A teacher suggested I do that. The results came back, rowing or cycling. Rowing wasn’t interesting, but with my interest in motocross, cycling was.

Matthews won the 2019 GP Quebec. Photo: James Startt

What non-cycling object to you treasure the most?
That would be my Honda CRF 250 S. A mate of mine in Canberra, Australia has a motorbike shop and he built me up what would be my dream bike, with my old race number, number seven on it and “Bling” written across the back.

Which living or historical person do you most admire?
Oh, that’s a difficult one, but I think it would be a sports person, and I have really looked up to Michael Jordan all of my life. I played basketball as a kid and I just loved his approach to the sport. I love the way he was so cool both on and off the court.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Oh, these are difficult questions, haha! My wife says my hairstyle when I was young, but I think my style, in general, is pretty extravagant. They don’t call me “Bling” for nothing!

What is your greatest flaw?
Well, my wife would say, my collection of sneakers. I think I have 50 pairs of Jordans. Well, she says that is a flaw, I would count it as an extravagant!

Micheal “Bling” Matthews. Photo: James Startt

What quality do you most like in a person?
People that just have fun and enjoy life.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Having fun!

What is your favorite film or film character?
Oh, that would be Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 1. That movie was like a childhood dream and you just feel like you are part of it. Still to this day I can watch the movie over and over again.

Michael Matthews
Mathews bested Peter Sagan and Greg van Avermaet at the 2019 GP Quebec. Photo: James Startt

What is your favorite musician or band?
Well, my favorite musician is probably Tupac and my favorite band would be Red Hot Chili Peppers. I just love Tupac. He was such a cool cat and I just love that old-school race.
Every song he sang was about real-life experience. I don’t think there is a song I don’t like. You will never see anything else again.

What historical event has had the biggest impact on you?
Well, I think we are living it now. This who COVID-19 crisis is as big as it gets. It is the one that has certainly had the most effect on my life!