Ryan Leech isn’t your average mountain biker. Trials hasn’t been ‘cool’ for some time now but Ryan doesn’t care. His fans don’t care either and Ryan makes a spot for himself in some of the best mountain biking films around – including Roam, The Collective and Progression: Kranked 6 – despite never doing a three whip or a 50 foot gap. He’s not such a bad dude either. Saying Ryan is a nice guy is a bit like saying Hitler was a bit of a jerk. Ryan is one of those people who does not have a mean cell in his system. It’s impossible to imagine him saying anything negative about anyone at all. He’s just a sunny, happy-go-lucky guy who happens to be a wizard on a bicycle. He should be bottled and sold as an alternative to Prozac. Recently we asked him a few questions and he was cool enough to give us a few answers.
Railing. Photo ~ Rob Hamilton Smith
nsmb – Vitals
Ryan Leech – Grew up in Delta, BC. Been riding mountain bikes since I was 13. Now I’m 27, living in Port Moody with my wife Caryn.
nsmb – What was your first two wheeler like?
Ryan Leech – This is a special memory. My dad secretly scrounged together parts for this bike that he custom built, painted, and tricked out as a birthday gift.
nsmb – Who was the person who got you into mountain biking?
Ryan Leech – One rider I randomly met while riding in the forest across the street from my house was Bryan Anderson. He told me he was selling his bike, and I wanted it so badly. Later that evening I tried all the numbers in the phone book for him, and ended up buying it. Not only did I get the bike, but Bryan taught me everything about mountain biking and got me racing. For my trials days, I was lucky to have my friend, Robin Coope take me under his wing and teach me not only trials, but about the trials demo business too.
nsmb – What was it that lit your fire?
RL – I was pretty stoked about racing, but not fired up. That came when I discovered trials riding. Seeing Team Orb and Hans do a demo. Then, after watching an Ot-Pi video, I really kicked things in to full gear.
Keeping the fans happy. Photo ~ Marc Landry
nsmb – Were you into sports in high school? What did you do?
RL – The usual sports, basketball, track, and soccer. Skiing was my main passion though…until I discovered bikes.
nsmb -How did you get tangled up with Norco?
RL – I had just started doing shows with Team Orb, and we were invited through the West Coast School of Mountain Biking to do a show at Norco for a luncheon. The main marketing man, Pete Stace-Smith thought it’d be useful to sponsor the team, and the President, Jim Harman seemed to agree, and hence we became the Norco Factory Trials Team! It’s been over 10 years of adventure since then!!
nsmb -Which bike lights you up most right now and why?
RL – Two bikes, okay well three. My trusty Moment is the most comfortable thing under my two feet. I’ve used this bike over the last few years for everything I do, and trust it completely. I’m also excited about the ’07 Evolve, this bike has an aggressive geometry that’ll be heaps of fun to play on. I also love my ’07 Fluid SE, so light, so nimble, so capable. I’m looking forward to some good times on all those rides! I’m SO spoiled!!!
nsmb – How do people react when you tell them you are a sponsored bike rider?
RL – For those that don’t know much about riding, they either think I must be some crazy daredevil or think that all I do is ride my bike. Both are far from the truth as my style of riding is all about precision and control, and the amount of off bike stuff I do for my career is actually a lot more than most think. It’s certainly a pretty unique job, and people are generally pretty curious to hear all about it!
nsmb – What was the best thing you learned on your bike in the last year?
RL – I would have to say it was on my Norco 4X, and it was not so much a particular skill, but it was more of a style. Calibrating my skills to match that bike with the trail that I had built for ‘Kranked: 6 Progression’ was both a challenging and satisfying riding experience!
Working on his Manifesto. Photo ~ Caryn Leech
nsmb – What was your most recent injury and how did it happen?
RL – Knock on wood, I’ve been pretty healthy! About a year ago in January on a ski trip, I threw my back out, could barely move! I had been off my bike for a while and hadn’t done any cross training. One thing I’ve learned is that there’s always a hidden message in every injury, they happen for a reason, and will keep happening until you figure it out!
nsmb – What sort of training do you do off your bike to help your riding performance?
RL – As you can probably imagine, trials is a tweaky sport, and can be hard on the body. I’ve had plenty of back, wrist, elbow, and knee issues. I have been doing power yoga (ashtanga) for a couple years now, and that seems to have sorted most of my problems out. I’m doing a pre-season core strengthening routine at Trailside Physio right now, and also try to get out and do some endurance work, whether trail running, mountain biking, or road riding.
|nsmb – Do you have any pre or post ride rituals?
RL – Not really. If anything I have some pre-move rituals, especially if it’s a video line of consequence, then it’s all about visualization. When you start seeing a crash in your minds eye, it’s time to back off! But when it all feels and looks right, then it’s time to ride! nsmb – Tell us about a rider you looked up to when you were younger. RL – I remember studying both Hans Rey and Ot Pi videos, watching them over and over, studying every little detail of their moves. I’d race home from school, watch a bit of video, go out and practice, then study the video, then go out and practice. I couldn’t get enough! nsmb – What about a young rider who impresses you now? RL – There are a few riders from the UK who are just incredible right now. The moves they’re pulling off are ones I hadn’t even dreamt of! Some of the newly styled trials bikes (like the Norco Evolve) combined with a young breed, are redefining what is possible in trials.
Photo ~ Marc Landry