Episode 38 - Matt Ray: Winning a Gold Medal at the X Games

Photo Credit: @gutstains

Photo Credit: @gutstains

Growing up I loved watching the X Games. There was something about seeing these professionals either ride their bike, skateboarding, dirtbike, snowboard or whatever that gave me the ultimate adrenaline rush as if I was actually the one participating in the contest. It’s what it inspired me to purchase my first skateboard- not long after getting on it did I eat it BAD. Wind knocked out of me and I could barely breathe. Sad part of the story is that all I was doing was riding the damn thing- not even attempting a trick. After that moment, I never got back on a board.

On the other hand, there are people like Matt Ray who fall and get right back up. Just watching some of his Youtube content made me cringe because of how in control he is when he rides his bike. Backflips off mini ramps, jumping off roof tops and riding down streets without breaks just doesn’t make sense to me. It's okay though because I am not the one riding it - he is.

What's amazing to me about his story is that at 16 he already had a clear vision that he wanted to become the best. He convinced his parents to let him drop out of 10th grade and get his GED after they questioned why he was failing his first two morning classes. Instead of just riding his bike straight to school which is what they thought he was doing, Matt used it as practice time to get better. Fast forward down the line just three years and he was standing 1st place at the 2014 Shanghai, China X Games at the age of 19. The hard work and dedication paid off.

I think we all have the capability of becoming great at whatever it is that we want to do. Some of us will have advantages over others because of certain traits we were born with. But at the end of the day we will have to work for it. There is a difference, however, for the people I think that were born to do certain things in life… “their calling”. In my eyes, Matt Ray’s “calling” was to ride a bike and he sure as hell is killing it.

Episode takeaway: No matter how much success life brings you, never let your ego get the best of you. Even with participating in 2 X-Games and 2 Dew Tour competitions, traveling the world, being part of 2 professional BMX teams, and being able to live his dream, Matt has stayed humble and hungry the entire ride.

Podcast Outline

  • Who is Matt Ray today and how young is he?

    • 21 years young, has been riding BMX professionally for the past 2 years now

  • Grew up in Woburn

    • Went to high school till 10th grade and got his GED

    • Kept going into school late because of his passion for riding and was failing his morning classes

    • Eventually he convinced both his parents after a week and they let him drop out (5:00)

  • Had a plan of going to certain events to start networking and learn how to break into the industry

    • Gave himself 4 years to figure it out or he would go back to school

    • Got a job at a bike shop to pay for flights, started to meet people and build contacts (7:15)

  • One of his bosses, Ronnie Booner told Matt he’d get him into the biggest competitions if he used their parts

    • Had confidence in it so he trashed his bike and built a new one completely out of Shadow Conspiracy and Subrosa parts

  • Went to Simple Sessions, the biggest competition in Europe (Talinn, Estonia)

    • 100 bmxers / 100 skaters

  • Year later flew out to Arizona to film with Bobby Kanode (Filmer for Subrosa)

    • Went there for a week, had never filmed with a legit filmer before and clicked with him quick (12:50)

    • Bobby was feeling him out to see if he was a fit for the team, the family

  • Riding has given Matt confidence from all the trips and competitions he's participated in

    • Has made him into who he is today and now looks at everything outside of riding differently (16:10)

    • Would see people in Woburn doing the same things and made him want to break away from it all

  • Not having a lot in life even with parents just getting by with bills

    • Always had to work for everything he wanted, his father always preached it to him when he was younger

  • “Just a kid from the dirty Wu chasing his dream” instagram bio

    • Finally has gotten to the point where he can get by comfortably but figuring out what’s next isn’t easy  

  • Key to getting better as a rider and pushing himself

    • Small injury on his back scared him, started seeing a personal trainer and eating healthy so that if anything did happen to him again he would know he was doing his best (21:30)

    • Being in shape helps with not destroying your body

  • Riding is both a physical and mental game split 50/50

    • Matt won’t go for anything if he is second guessing it, he needs to feel 100% all in on it

    • For him there is no better feeling then when he lands a trick after he has sat there contemplating it, feels like a blur and doesn’t even remember it  

    • Rides without a helmet because he feels comfortable with what he’s wearing rather than putting it on

  • Part of the Subrosa Pro Team, only nine members on the actual team

    • Did a tour of New England when he started riding their parts, met the entire squad when he went to all three stops on it

    • Sent the team manager a follow-up email showing his appreciation and started tagging them in all his social media posts showing them support

    • Started as the Skeleton Crew which got him parts, then Flow team which was free gear and parts and then Pro was salary, travel budgets etc. Took him 2 years to build organically  (34:20)

    • Joined to be part of the Shadow Conspiracy Pro team the same day

  • Asked if he wanted to do any signature parts, Matt jumped on the opportunity

    • Created the “Ray Bars” with similar branding to the “Ray Ban”

  • Riding brakeless is whole different style of BMX

    • If you’re pedaling full speed at something you’re fully doing it

    • It’s an adrenaline rush and you’re all in it

  • Recently flew down to Florida BMX Series

    • Road in the street contest and ended up coming in first place

  • Participated in 2 X Games and 2 Dew Tours

    • Got invited to Shanghi, China for his first X Games

      • His boss (his father) gave him the money for the flight and the hotel was already paid for

    • Intimating riding with all these professionals he had heard of, only 15 people invited

    • Blew his first run and called it, second run put his dream run together and ended up getting gold (50:00)

    • 2nd X Games in Austin, Texas in Summer 16

      • Got to meet Garrett Reynolds, one of his favorite riders

    • All of these people are there because they want to be there

  • Matt lives by “Live without regret”

    • After Texas X Games, he was regretting it and wishing he had road better but there is nothing you can do about the past

    • Thinks about things he had done in the past and learned to stop regretting it if he enjoyed it

  • Any dream can seem too big but if you make a plan and do everything right… it’ll happen (59:00)

    • Thinking ten years back he never thought anything would happen

    • Always have a plan of where you want to be but be in it on the moment. There's no reason you can’t get to where you want to be

  • Enjoying the process of getting to where you want to be is the real key to success

  • Traveled all around just from riding his bike

    • China, Switzerland, France, Germany, Estonia, London, Canada and all over the United States

  • Aside from the biking, Matt simply enjoys being outside

  • Ask Bobbbaaaay 1 Question

    • Through Purpose in the Youth, you’ve gotten the podcast to where you wanted it to be, what would you be able to look back and say ‘I got to do this’?

  • Picture frame on the wall 10 years from now, what//who do we see?

    • Someone who is fulfilled and happy with what he’s done (74:40)

    • To know he made himself happy but also affect the kids around him

  • Where to find Matt Ray on social media

    • Instagram: @Matt1Ray

    • YouTube: Matt Ray Bmx

  • 2-3 pieces of advice to someone trying to find their passion/purpose

    • Do what makes you happy

    • Never care what anyone thinks or says

    • If you’re going to do something do it and give it your everything