Ryan Leech sharing his passion for biking with the world
RYAN LEECH is a professional trials mountain bike rider who started out in the sport at the age of ten. It wasn’t long before he had made a name for himself. At 16 years old he became one of the youngest trials event organisers to hold a competition from his home and soon attracted the attention of Team ORB who invited him to become one of their riders.
In 2005 Ryan made and starred in the DVD Mastering the Art of Trials, which was an instructional compilation of 38 trials related skills. Today, despite not competing, he continues to be active in the biking community and in 2006 set up a schools’ programme – Trials of Life. The programme supports children who are interested in the sport and helps them to use the skills they learn to form careers later in life.
Recently Ryan has created the ‘Ryan Leech Connection’ which is a website that aims to provide weekly practices for mountain bikers to help them optimise their performance and experience.
Question and Answer time:
When did you first get involved in mountain biking and was there anyone who helped influence you into the sport?
At 12 years of age I started riding through the biggest puddles I could find but didn’t know I was ‘mountain biking’ until I found a magazine about it a year later. It was the early cross country and downhill racers in the magazines that initially inspired me until I discovered trials riding a couple years later. Hans Rey and Ot Pi are two riders who influenced me early on.
At the age of 16 you became one of the youngest trials event organisers ever after you held a competition from your home. Could you give us some more information about this event and what was the outcome of the competition?
Trials, the style of mountain biking I specialise in, is quite rare, especially back then. I had set up a great training ground at my parents’ home using various wooden structures and obstacles, and decided to host a competition for all the local riders. Loads of people showed up, and in good form I went on to win the contest!
When did you join Team ORB and what did that involve?
Team ORB was a trials show group, they went around to different events to perform their bike tricks. They though it’d be a good idea to bring me on-board as I was one of the best riders at the time. Eventually, after they taught me everything about running a show business, they quit and I continued on to be a one man show.
What have been some of your biggest successes in mountain biking?
In general, I’d say maintaining my health, fitness, and passion for the sport in order to continue as a sponsored athlete for over 18 years, much longer than most pros in the industry. In terms of specific achievements, performing with Cirque du Soleil was a unique one, creating a school presentation program that I toured to over 200 schools, and being one of the first to bring yoga to the mountain bike world through video and retreat settings.
When did you get involved in the filming side of things and how did that change how you were involved in the sport?
I have been featured in a couple dozen mountain bike films, starting when they were just available on VHS tapes. I’d say it was my riding in these early films that really launched my career and enabled the level of sponsorship, recognition, and opportunity necessary to call what I do a job.
Could you tell us more about the Art of Mastering Trials and what was involved in its making?
I produced this film personally because no one else had, classic story. Like any labour of love, the amount of work that went into it was huge but I remember it being an awesome process.
In 2006 you started a school programme called Trials of Life. What was the purpose of the programme and what message do you try to get across to children?
My purpose was to share with students my experiences of how my passion ended up turning in to a business, thereby opening up the ideas and possibilities that their hobby or passion could be connected to their eventual careers and how they contribute in the world.
Could you give us some more information about the ’30 day wheelie challenge’ and how can people get involved?
My favourite trick is the wheelie, it’s so much fun…but it’s so hard to learn! I think every cyclist should have the chance to relish in the bliss that comes from the wheelie experience, and I realized the only way to teach such that someone truly learns is if we had 30 days to do so, hence the 30 day challenge. I’m striving for it to be the ultimate wheelie learning program, and I hope you’ll join me! More info can be found at www.ryanleech.com/wheelies
What is the Ryan Leech Connection all about?
This has been a labour of love too. The Ryan Leech Connection is a membership based product, where members have access to a weekly flow of practices designed to optimise their mountain biking performance and experience. To make a distinction, performance is the objective, and experience is the subjective, both are considered in all the content created for the site; I know riders who are awesome but don’t enjoy it, and riders who love it but don’t have any skills! So I provide practices for both: riding skills progression, lifestyle practices, yoga stretch or strengthen routines, and meditation/focus practices. The library of content has been building for 14 months, and feedback has been fantastic.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
I’ll be creating a couple more products similar to the Wheelie Challenge, for manuals and bunnyhops. I’ll also be nurturing the growth of RL Connection. However I’m really pumped about spending time on my all mountain bike exploring some of the incredible trails that are freely available throughout BC and the West Coast, mountain biking rules!
I’ll be continuing to work with my sponsors on various media projects: Shimano, Norco Bicycles, Nutcase Helmets, Ryders Eyewear, and Marzocchi suspension. In terms of beyond, I’m not sure, my passion for coaching, yoga, and mountain biking keep surprising me with ideas, so I’ll continue to stay open and listen to what’s needed, and in the meantime enjoy the mountain biking lifestyle and the great people in the industry.
Find out more at Ryan’s membership site: www.ryanleech.com/connection