Mountain biker Ryan Leech is the first to concede he’s had a great life so far. A professional rider his entire adult life, his career now combines cycling with teaching yoga and inspiring adults and kids to find their own life path.
Whitehorse will have the opportunity to meet Leech on May 26. He’ll be the showcase performer at the City of Whitehorse’s new active living event on the waterfront, Shipshape.
Leech began his career riding trials, where bikers navigate a series of obstacles. He now makes his living, in part, by demonstrating bike skills through live performances and video.
Leech admits that while competition comprised his early career, it wasn’t his ideal.
“I enjoyed the more creative kind of riding, creating video segments and being a performer,” he says.
It was competition and curiosity that drove him to excel.
“I always wanted to be the one to learn the new trick and was the first to do it,” he says. “That was a big motivating factor, combined with my curiosity about what the human body is capable of.”
Leech draws upon his multi-faceted experience to reach out to young people through a presentation called the Trials of Life. Aimed towards school-aged children and young adults, it intersperses demonstration riding with thought provoking dialogue.
“The riding is just a great way for kids to connect with me,” he says. “It’s very visual so I can quickly earn some trust and respect and with that they’re a little more open to listening to what I have to say and sharing some stories.
“The show isn’t for people to get into riding bikes, but for people to find their own thing.”
Leech tackles such topics as: how to approach decisions, define success, deal with obstacles and criticism, and finally, the importance of determining their own potential.
“It’s often hard for people to discover their passions and interests and take some personal risks rather than just following the status quo,” he says. “My story is pretty unique and I’m just encouraging students to find their own unique story.”
Leech is also certified as an Integral Coach who facilitates and assists clients in navigating change and decisions.
“Coaching arose because of my own struggles in trying to figure out what to do in my life beyond riding.”
Leech has also been practicing yoga for most of his career.
“I was so much more familiar and connected to my body through the yoga practice and through the exploration of how my body worked,” he says, explaining how yoga helped him develop a unique style of riding.
He also hosts cycling retreats that combine mountain biking and yoga, called Ride and Reach Retreats, and recently released a yoga for cyclists DVD.
Leech, who is based in the Vancouver area, is looking forward to returning to Yukon.
“It’s just a wonderful place to ride, every day is a different ride and place to explore.”
Ryan Leech will be the featured guest at the City of Whitehorse’s event Shipshape on May 26. He will conduct a yoga class (no mat required), and will do a mountain bike performance at 3:30 p.m. at Shipyards Park.