Matt Acker

What kind of cyclist are you?

Although I like to dabble in most facets of cycling, I would have to label myself an endurance cyclist. I enjoy bouncing around between my road, gravel, mountain, and fat bikes. During the winter months I race shorter course fat bike events, and transition to longer distances in the spring. There’s something about spending hours on end on the bike that I find soothing and compelling.

How long has cycling been a part of your life? When did it become more than just “riding a bike”?

I’ve enjoyed riding my bike since I was a kid. I took to it right away and kind of never looked back. During high school and college, I took a bit of a hiatus and spent a lot of time running, but after college I went out and got myself a mountain bike like the ones I had always dreamed of in Mountain Bike Action back in the 90’s Ha Ha! It wasn’t really until I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan that it became more than just everyday riding. I was fortunate that the company I came to work for has a group of cyclists and they invited me out for weekly rides. It really helped nudge me into that realm of racing and pushing myself.

The cycling accomplishment you’re proudest of to date?

This is a tough one. There’s a lot of accomplishments I’m stoked on, but I guess I’d have to say Dirty Kanza 2015. I had never raced more than 100 miles before that and didn’t really know what to expect. A sponsor told me they had an entry, asked if I was interested, and I figured why not? The race itself was pretty brutal with the rain, wind, and mud. I had no idea where I stood until the last checkpoint where my crew told me I was in fourth! It was a big surprise to roll into the top five with some really awesome athletes.

Favorite place you’ve been on a bike so far?

Although I’ve had the chance to ride abroad, I’d have to say that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan really captivates me when it comes to cycling and in general. Da UP as it’s referred to is a fairly wild place where you can really get out there on all types of terrain. Marquette, Michigan is a favorite hot spot of mine for the friends, culture, and endless riding options. If I’ve got the time I love to journey up to Copper Harbor or the Huron Mountains to crush some gnarly gravel!

Favorite place to daydream about that you haven’t yet ridden?

I spend a fair amount of time longing to ride more out west. I love the mountains and climbing for miles on end. Wide open spaces definitely attract me as much as the dense forests of Northern Michigan. A dream of mine is to go on an epic multi-week bike packing experience through the American West.

How do you describe what the bicycle means to you?

The bicycle stands as a bonding tool between myself and other cyclists. I’ve met many good friends, and even my soon to be wife while cycling. It’s something that brings people together both young and old, and transcends different generations. The bicycle has formed a bond between Jenny and myself that continues to grow as time goes on. There’s something special about riding your bike on a lazy Sunday with the person you love.

How will your future as a cyclist unfold?

I hope to always have the physical ability to be a cyclist whether competitively or recreationally. I love to be an ambassador of the sport for others to find the joy that I’ve found riding my bike. I’d love to transition over time from the regular schedule of competitive events to larger undertakings such as ultra-endurance events, bikepacking epics, and cross-country trips.

Who inspires you and your riding?

I grew up being that weird kid who watched the Tour De France when everyone else was into sports ball. I found the epic battles on famous climbs such as the Col Du Tourmalet, Alpe D’Huez and so forth to be so enthralling. So I guess I’d say some of the old school road racers from the 80’s and 90’s. I also loved to watch Ned Overend, John Tomac, Tinker Juarez and others tear it up on the mountain bike scene.

Favorite Salsa model and why?

Also a tough question, the Salsa Beargrease is by far my favorite fatbike that I’ve ridden, it’s a rocket in all conditions and comfortable for long bikepacking trips. I have formed a bond with my Warbird though over the several thousand miles I’ve ridden on it. I love the geometry and design of the Warbird, and thoroughly enjoy pushing the pedals for hours on end on it.

Favorite pre, during, and post ride/race food and bevvies?

Pre-ride hands down is a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, and orange juice. There’s nothing like a large hearty breakfast before a 100-mile mountain bike race! When I’m on the bike I typically keep it simple for short events under four hours with Skratch drink mix and chews. For events over four hours I like to mix regular foods with gels, chews and drink mixes to keep my stomach happy and body fueled. It’s not abnormal for me to carry beef jerky, potato chips, apple sauce, dehydrated fruit and other items on 100-mile plus events. Post-race I like the simplicity of pizza and how filling it is after a long effort or cruise, and naturally a cold beer to help wash it down. There’s nothing like a Belgian farmhouse ale or Saison after a long warm ride to mellow things out!

When you’re not cycling…

I’m typically outside with our dogs, camping, hiking, or spending time at a local brewpub with Jenny. We’re both social people so we like to get outside with friends or meet up for a backyard bonfire or beverages.

What don’t you leave home without on a ride?

My cellphone because I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten to bring one item necessary to fix a flat tire Ha Ha! It’s also awesome for documenting all of the adventures I take on my bike!