At only 22 years old, Stratton Matteson has an environmental consciousness beyond his years—and the cardio to back it up. Hailing from Bend, OR, he’s been splitboarding since he was a teen, and since reaching young-adulthood, he’s built his life around environmentally responsible behavior. Yet Stratton, who’s backed by K2 Snowboarding, Mountain Flow Eco Wax and Karakoram, saw a disconnect between his snowboarding and his ideals—he wasn’t comfortable driving and flying to far-flung locales to ride. So, last summer, he got on his bike. Since then, he’s been pedaling to trailheads and splitboarding from there. Along the way, he’s been self-producing a web series called “Bike to Board.” Recently, we caught up with Stratton to better understand his motives, plans, and passion.
What do you do for work?
I work as an Ecological Restoration Technician at my own business Tangled Roots Restoration. We work with homeowners and land-owners to plant and restore native plant communities. We specialize in Great Basin native plants and emphasize planting edible and medicinal plants, as our goal is to reconnect people with our plant allies.
Why do “Bike to Board”?
I bike to board to take responsibility for the impact of my travels and to know directly where my energy for transportation comes from. As an avid splitboarder, I have traveled the country many times in search of that feeling. I have always had a deep environmental consciousness, and it didn’t take too long to realize the huge carbon footprint that following powder and chasing dream lines created—at least by means of fossil fuels. I had a realization that it felt more important to be a direct part of the solution to the climate crisis by reducing my carbon footprint than it was to selfishly pursue a life splitboarding at the cost of the health and well-being of the planet and all who reside here.
From that, a dream formed: I could still practice one of my deepest passions and do it in a way that was aligned with my beliefs, swapping the truck for a bicycle. So, here I am about eight months into a completely new lifestyle and thought process to approaching the mountains and I’ve never felt more connected to them than now. This is not just a trip or a project for me, this is a shift—this is the way I want to splitboard from here on out.
Where did you start and where have you gone?
The project started in my home range of the Cascades in July last summer (2019). I’ve gone out every month since then on trips and have created a webisode of each month’s endeavors. This winter, my partner Madeline and I shared a two-month long bike tour to New Mexico to visit her mother in Taos. Once there, we stayed for a month and I explored what the local mountains had to offer.
I had grand plans to bike to and board from Mt. Whitney in the Southern Sierra all the way to Mt. Baker in the Northern Cascades. But with the current situation with Covid-19, I’ve postponed that trip until next spring. I’m currently back home in Oregon taking smaller trips close to home and continuing to bike to board in my local range.
What are the determining factors with regards to location?
There are a lot more logistics to keep in mind when I’m traveling ten to twelve miles per hour and the furthest I can travel in a day is between sixty and seventy miles with all of my equipment loaded up. I’m constantly looking at weather windows to see what zones make the most sense. Wherever I go is a commitment because of all of the energy used to get there. I usually try to pick a location that I can be at for multiple days. If I only have one day of sun and then a storm rolling in, I try to be strategic and have multiple options for terrain out of the same access points. I have to think about where I will be able to find water, what potential snow lines are, travel conditions on the roads, and potential for finding quality snow.
Have there been any moments of self-discovery along the way?
Oh, you betcha. Pedaling for hours on end allows a lot of time for my mind to wander. There have been many mornings where the temperature is cold enough to freeze the vapor of my breath, the warmth of the sun is still many hours beyond the horizon and my motivation for immersing myself in the discomfort and strenuous nature of riding to the trailhead is low. But each and every time I set aside my fears and expectations, I find myself in a deep sense of gratitude and presence. Once I’m on the bike pedaling or on the side of the mountain skinning in rhythm with my breath, all of the preconceived notions, feelings or reservations seem to dissolve.
Moving at a slower pace, I find I have more time to connect with where I am, how I fit into the world, and how I can live in a way that benefits me, my community, and the whole Earth. At the end of the day when I’m effortlessly flying down the long mountain roads, I always feel a deep sense of fulfillment—I’ve realized the things I put the most energy into always give me the deepest sense of fulfillment.
Is this a one-man production? Can you give me a few details on how the process looks from start to finish with making an episode?
I receive so much support from friends and family that really make all of this possible, but about 99 percent of the footage is self-produced at this point. Every now and again I have friends that help capture some shots here and there. As I’m biking or as I’m splitboarding, I conceptualize different shots or angles and storylines that would be interesting to gather. If I see a shot that seems worthy I will set up my tripod, dial in the settings on my camera, hit record and run, bike, or splitboard like a bat out of hell to create the action in the shot. If it’s a wider scope that I’m trying to capture I may ride a whole run and let the camera keep recording till it dies while I skin back up for another lap. So, there’s almost always another run that I receive that is not captured on film. I carry a lot of batteries.
What are you trying to achieve by putting this out to the world?
First, I’m just trying to live my truth and follow my heart. Through that, I hope to inspire others to check in with the ways in which we, as a collective, live our lives and how we can all have an impact on the trajectory of humankind and the health of our planet. I believe change happens at the individual level and reverberates to create a collective force. One of my changes is giving up my direct use of fossil fuels, but shifting our lives for the greater good looks different for everyone. I want this to be an invitation for people to step into their power and rise to the occasion.