Holidays are a time for family and friends to gather together for celebrations. Whether it’s baking treats on Christmas Eve, or a game of flag football on Thanksgiving Day, each family upholds their own traditions. Will Mathews and his family celebrate the holidays in an unconventional way.
“We’re not your typical family during the holidays,” said Will’s wife Nicole Mathews. “The entire week of Thanksgiving we’re riding dirt bikes with other friends and their families. During Christmas, we’re up on the trail for up to two weeks, and we love every minute of it.”
Will and Nicole Mathews were not fans of the sport when it was first introduced to them. It took a couple of bumps and bruises before they developed a love for dirt bikes.
“Driving around on a dirt bike didn’t sound appealing to me at first,” said Will. “One of my friends talked me and my wife to go ride with them one Thanksgiving weekend. As we’re pulling in, the first thing I see was a man being rescued from the track because he had crashed and gotten hurt. My wife and I stood there looking at each other and I thought to myself, no way am I getting onto a motor bike! ”
Almost five years after his first encounter with a dirt bike, Will introduced his family to the sport and they’re now riding through hills, trails, and mountains all year long.
“We brought the whole family on,” said Will. “My kids immediately fell in love with the sport. They were both six when they started riding and we each have our own set of bikes when we go on a trail.”
Their son Kail is now 12, and daughter Kyrstien is 9.
Like any other sport, dirt bike riding can be a risky, and at times dangerous.
“As a parent, you have to maintain a total sense of calmness when you or your child gets hurt,” said Nicole. “I’ve watched my son being clipped off his bike and spun around like a helicopter rolling down the hill. Even though I’m being torn up inside, I stay calm because if I freak out, my child will freak out as well.”
Before heading out to the woods for a ride, the Mathews family makes sure they are well-equipped.
“Our kids know better than to get on their bike if they don’t have all their gear on,” said Nicole. “We always tell our kids to not ride faster than they are experienced. When we’re on a trail we have a trail boss who leads the pact and we make sure each rider is given a certain space when we are on the trail. Safety is our priority.”
The Mathews have used the sport to reconnect and grow as a family. They also use dirt bike riding as an opportunity for their children to develop their life skills.
“To see the growth in our kids on where they started when we first introduced the sport to them and to see how much they’ve improved is a great feeling,” said Nicole. “It’s a rewarding factor to see them develop their life skills.”
— NANCY ANGEL