* Editor’s note: This is the third in a five-part series focusing on the Class of 2012 of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.
Susan DeMattei is living her dream life …
She’s married to her former mountain-biking teammate, Dave Wiens, and the couple are raising three boys — Cooper, 14, and 12-year-old twins Ben and Sam — in Gunnison, Colo.
Surrounded by mountains in the southwest part of the state, the accomplished rider has plenty of off-road challenges at the ready.
DeMattei, a Chico State graduate, is a surgical nurse in the local hospital: “It’s a job I love.”
Now, just two weeks after her 50th birthday, DeMattei has additional reason to rejoice — she will be one of four bicycling greats to be inducted into the Davis-based U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 3.
“(It) is really an honor and a privilege for me,” DeMattei says. “Being among those previously inducted cyclists and industry icons is something I don’t take lightly.”
Inducted in the Off-Road Competitor category, DeMattei will join Modern Road and Track honoree Erin Harwell, Contributor to the Sport Tom Ritchey and Veteran Road and Track member Rob Parsons as the guests of honor at the ceremony, which takes place at Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus.
“I’ve always felt so fortunate to have had a career in mountain biking, meeting so many wonderful people along the way,” the personable racer told The Enterprise. “Traveling all over the world and eventually settling down with Dave …
“I couldn’t imagine receiving another gift from the world of cycling.”
DeMattei comes by her new “present” with solid credentials.
She became the first American Olympic medalist in mountain biking (bronze) at the 1996 Atlanta Games. In six of seven seasons from 1990 to 1996, DeMattei hit the podium in the National Championship Series.
She took the ’94 World Mountain Bike silver medal in Vail, Colo., just up the road from her current home.
“I’d say Susan is an inspiration to both male and female riders,” says Hall of Fame Executive Director Joe Herget. “Susan was one of the handful of luminaries within the emerging sport of mountain bike racing. If you ask people to name the top women from that era, they’re saying (Juliana) Furtado, (Ruthie) Mattes, (Jacquie) Phelan and DeMattei.
“Also, until the recent London Games, Susan was the only American to have medaled in mountain biking at the Olympics.”
Herget says the much-decorated competitor gives back to her sport with teaching assignments at high-caliber bike camps.
DeMattei was a talented rock climber who got her biking start as a road racer. While in Chico, she took up trail riding and almost immediately rose to the top of her sport, setting local, state and national hill-climbing records along the way.
DeMattei is happy to live less than 15 minutes from Hartman Rocks trailhead and has said in the past that when she gets together with girlfriends, it “isn’t for drinks or other normal engagements … it’s for bike rides.”
DeMattei grew up in Marin County.
Notes: A tribute to San Mateo racing giant and national shrine member Bob Tetzlaff, who died last month, will be part of the induction ceremony come Nov. 3. Tetzlaff was considered to be the first new-era heavyweight in racing. Tetzlaff won the first two Nevada City Classics (then called the Tour of Nevada City), as well as many other national and world races throughout the 1950s and ’60s. … DeMattei’s husband, Weins, is no racing slouch himself. He has beaten Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong in separate Leadville, Colo., competitions. At 10,000 feet and up against (we find out now) potentially artificially enhanced riders, Wein’s accomplishments are all the more impressive. Find out more about the festivities surrounding the induction ceremony (and tickets to the event) — or more about the Hall of Fame — at www.usbhof.org.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.