Mathew Wollmann to ride in 930 mile Bike Race, fundraising for veterans

Eye on KELOLAND

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been four years since our last interview with Mathew Wollmann. In January of 2017, then South Dakota representative Mathew Wollmann admitted to having sex with two legislative interns, a revelation that led to his resignation.

After years out of the spotlight, the Madison man is putting himself back in a very public position, all in hopes of helping a good cause.

“It’s an obvious embarrassment,” Wollmann said.

A lot has changed since Mathew Wollmann resigned from the South Dakota House of Representatives in January 2017.

“I look back at that event and see how much I’ve grown since then.”

Since 2018, Wollmann has been a police officer for the city of Madison.

“My dad was actually on the same police force that I’m on for 27 years,” Wollmann said.

A career and a community…

“The community of Madison has been nothing but supportive of me my entire life
that’s offered him a lot of fulfillment.”

…That have brought a lot of fulfillment. But he says another of his passions has lead to even more personal growth.

“Cycling is just one of those things to me that after a long day or after a tough interview four years ago, you can get on that bike and your mind just escapes,” Wollmann said.

Wollmann began cycling while serving in the Marines.

“I got stationed down in San Clemente, California in Camp Pendleton and its just opened the doors to cycling for me. Its just sunny and 70 all the time, so we’d do 40, 50 mile rides every Sunday.”

Now he’s gearing up for the ride of his life.

“It’s a 930 mile course. We’ll start from Oceanside, California on June 15th at about noon.”

Then he has just 92 hours to make it to Durango, Colorado. He is one of 28 cyclists in the world competing in the Race Across the West.

“Basically I’m riding until I get tired, then I’ll take a 20 minute nap. My crew is there to help with food water, hydration, it will be abut 110 in the dessert most likely.”

He plans to bring a crew of six from South Dakota to follow him through the race.

Berry Fast Bicycles, one of our sponsors, will be there with his mobile bike shop unless there are any breakdowns or anything like that,” Wollmann said. “I’ve learned that the logistics are just as hard as the training.”

But preparing for a race across the desert and some of the nation’s highest peaks is no small task.

“There’s over 50,000 feet of elevation so its going to be not like eastern South Dakota.”

He’s traveled all over South Dakota to train.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to get out to the Black Hills and do some riding out there,” Wollmann said. “I’ve done a 150, 250 and hopefully will get a 300 miler in before the event that has really taught me how long can I stay up.”

But he’s also spent months training inside his garage to help prepare for some of the steep inclines he’ll face along the route.

“I can simulate that grade indoors and ride up virtual Mt. Everest,” Wollmann said. “Things will change when we get to the heat of the dessert.”

But he’s made reaching the 930 mile finish line about much more than the race.

“Our end goal is to raise $20,000,” Wollmann said.

Wollmann is using his race across the west to support Semper Fi & Americas Fund.

“Semper Fi, its the Marine Corp motto, Latin for always faithful,” Wollmann explained. “96-percent of all money raised by the organization goes right to the pockets of veterans.”

A cause he hopes to spread as he rides across the western corner of the nation.

“It’s not just about money raised, its about getting the word out there and spreading the message for the program that there is still a need for wounded veterans in the state.”

A cause so close, it helped pull Wollmann back into the public eye.  

“This is the first time I’ve publicly put myself out there again as you could say on social media and other avenues and its felt a lot better than I thought it would.”

Wollmann hopes more South Dakotans will follow his progress on his 930 mile journey.

“They say I’ll donate 50 cents a mile for every mile completed, and that’s a big motivator
and join in by making a donation throughout the race,” said Wollmann. “I think that will be huge for me when I’m 700 miles in on the race.”

“Whatever he puts his mind to he can do,” his wife & crew member, Emily Wollmann said.

Switchings gears and pushing through thanks to the community of support behind him.

“He’s going to be biking for 40 hours and still have a smile on his face, because that’s truly who he is and what he stands for,” Emily Wollmann said.

The Race Across the West is the first leg of the Race Across America; only about 50 athletes from around the world are participating in both races, but two of them are actually Madison, South Dakota natives. The other Madison High School graduate will be riding in the full Race Across America.

If you’d like to support Mathew’s Race Across the West, click here. You can follow his progress through the course on his website or Facebook and Instagram pages.

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