Once we watched one of his videos I didn't realize he was so into cycling. I thought he was a runner at first but he's done tons of epic cycling including riding from Honduras to Colorado and he has ridden across the states a few times from Maine to key west Cuba. He's done Oregon to New York city. It just goes on and on and on and I just can't wait to hear all about it and he just finished Leadville 100 which I can't wait to hear because Leadville has a place in my heart so just let's get to it.
Before we get into everything, I just want to give you a quick story about five or six years ago. I re-read the book
Born To Run and I got excited again so I went on YouTube and I started searching all these videos about the race down in the copper canyons and all that. Then I came across a video about a bunch of friends who took a bus down to Mexico to do the Caballo Blanco Ultra and at that time there was a war going on in the canyons and so the race didn't happen and I thought that was just a cool documentary and then two days ago I happened to watch some of your older videos and there it is the freaking video that I saw six years ago. It was funny. Video Here
GRR Can you tell everybody who hasn't heard the story how you transitioned from that into the social media icon you are now?
Ryan: I don't know about icon but I’m trying to get there anyway. So, I got a degree in broadcast journalism ever since I was a young boy. I loved telling stories and I thought journalism would be a great place to learn and hone my skills and storytelling and I did broadcast journalism which essentially teaches you how to be like a local news anchor and I did an internship at the local station in Denver and it was fun and exciting to be like on a tv set. But it wasn't really what I liked. You know if you watch local news, it's kind of depressing and sad. They reported a lot of stuff that doesn't put a smile on your face and I wanted to make happy news. I wanted to make inspirational news and I didn't quite know what to do from there so after I graduated college. I joined the peace corps and lived in Honduras for two years. It was an amazing experience. I work with at-risk youth. I've worked with Mexican immigrant youth for a lot of my life and I loved the experience and when I finished my service in Honduras instead of getting on an airplane and flying home like a lot of the other volunteers. I cashed in my ticket, bought a bike and rode a bicycle home to Boulder Colorado and I filmed that adventure with my little Sony Handy Cam. Then, I when I got home, I edited together like a little five-minute short teaser of the trip and from that moment on I was like I want to do this I want to travel the world and tell stories and I want to show the audiences around the world how amazing people are really I love connecting with the humans that I meet. It's fun to see beautiful landscapes but it's really the people around the world that excite me and so that's a very quick and dirty explanation of how I became a YouTuber and not a local news anchor so now as a YouTuber I essentially document my adventures whether they're running or biking with the hopes of inspiring people to get off their couches and challenge themselves
GRR So, what advice do you give to beginners for starting a YouTube channel?
Ryan: I always tell people just to keep at it because everybody gets excited. I'm gonna be a YouTuber and I’m gonna become big like everybody else and then you make like five or ten videos and they don't get many views and give up. It happens a lot. I see that all the time. It's just to stick with it like every single video you make is amazing but the next video is going to be a little bit better and then a little bit better and I feel the same way about my videos. Every video I make is a little bit better than the previous video. So, you're constantly learning and it's a really fun process so you might not be getting the views that you're hoping to get but you as a creator as an artist you are getting better at it and that's great and someday the audience will come. You know you make a video it’s your first video ever on YouTube and it has 10 views but then those 10 people each tell one person so your next video has a few more views and then you up to 20 30 50 and it slowly builds like my first video on YouTube did not get many views at all and I put my heart and soul into all of them and you're wondering why it was discouraging. Because like why am I putting so much work into something that doesn't really have results (quantitative results) but really you're getting better you're becoming a better storyteller and an artist and these are skills that I think can help you throughout all different aspects of life.
GRR Let's talk about Doozer TV, then so your first film you did was Honduras. How long after did you start making that part? I'm gonna make my YouTube channel basically biking across. What was your first one or the next one after Honduras and how did you get the idea?
Ryan: The first video was the Honduras video and then I wanted to find a way to get paid to travel essentially so, I think that's everybody's dream and at the time YouTube wasn't really a way to make money. A way back in 2005-06 at least for me. And I worked for a local public access station here in boulder. In public access, you probably all seen Wayne’s world. It’s along those lines where everybody can have a public access show. Nobody's really making money on it but it's just a way to practice your art whatever you want to call it and so my next video series was riding my bike from Maine to Key west down the Eastern coast of the United States
and for that I wrote weekly articles for the local newspaper boulder so that's really what paid me not the videos right and for each article I got fifty dollars. So, I was rolling in the money but it was a start and it gave me a voice and again it was practice. You know it takes time to get good at what you're doing and then it takes time for people to say, “Okay! This would provide value to my magazine or newspaper or brand. I’ll pay you x amount of money and it takes a while to build up that name”.
GRR Speaking of bike adventures and you've named a few but before so we'll transition now into some of them but just for our audience, who may not be familiar. You cycled across Cuba. You cycled from Boulder Colorado to Burning man which was a thousand miles. You cycled from Vancouver, Washington to Capo San Lucas. You rode a cruiser bike along the US, promoting bicycle advocacy and that first ride was from Honduras was not just, “Oh! I'm just gonna ride home. It was 4000 miles, 6000 kilometers.” That’s crazy, so how have you done some pretty epic things but how do you now choose the next bike adventure because obviously within North America and central and south America there's so many things you could do that for and how do you choose? What are the parameters?
Ryan: I try to choose things that I’m personally excited about and passionate about. I love Latin America. I love speaking Spanish. I lived in Honduras for two years. I've lived in Mexico so when I’m in those countries I feel alive and it's fun for me to travel through those places and really get to meet the salt of the earth when you're just on a bike, on little roads in the middle of nowhere and you meet some farmer who invites you into his house and feeds to dinner and you have these amazing connections that you'll never forget so for me I pick adventures that sound interesting and places that I know that I can learn something. Cuba was fascinating. Canadians can get into Cuba, no problem but for us it's always been an issue so I always wanted to go to this place called “Cuba”. Our media has told us it’s bad and communism is bad and I wanted to explore what it was all about and Cuba is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been and I’ve learned a lot about that country and I learned a lot about the people. It's a very gentle, kind society and it's the safest country I’ve ever been to in Latin America. I’ve travelled all over Mexico and Central America and always looking over my shoulder because I’ve been robbed a few times in Central America. It's very scary that stuff does not happen in Cuba and it's because of communism. If you do anything wrong in that society, you get punished big time so people don't act out they're big consequences for being a bad guy in Cuba.
GRR How were you received there by the people?
Ryan: They were all very curious about me at first, they thought I was either European or from some other Spanish-speaking country because my Spanish is pretty good but when I told them I was American. They're like, “Oh! No way, let's sit down and have a talk today.” I stayed in Guantanamo. One night on my bike trip with this wonderful family there and obviously Guantanamo is where the United States has a base and they didn't have anything bad to say. They didn't rip on Americans. You know what has happened between our governments and the sanctions but they just wanted to know what life was like and what's it like out there because a lot of Cubans have obviously relatives in the United States. A lot of them just know a little bit about the United States but not a ton and it was fast every single day in Cuba, I stayed with a different family that's just how do it rent people's rooms for like 20 bucks and so it was like I had a host family all the way across the country and got to meet all these wonderful people.
GRR Did you get to see all the 50s and 60s American cars in Havana?
Ryan: Yes, if you're into those cars, I mean it's like being in an open-air museum. It really is amazing all the cars, all the buildings are old and classical looking and it’s fascinating. It's like going into a time capsule.
GRR Our favourite video is when you went from Oregon to New York city because you spent 200 miles going through Canada. Stopping at Tim Horton’s and then Niagara Falls and have you ever thought about doing the Trans-Canada trail?
Ryan: I have. I think that would be amazing. It would be beautiful, so much beautiful country but also you know it's nice and long. It'd be a good full summer adventure and I’ve been to lots of places in Canada but I’d love to travel a little bit more up there as well. If you've been watching some of my videos, I’ve been travelling with a Canadian guy here and there who has a dog with him and he's become a fan favourite on my channel. They live in Kenmore.
GRR When or why did you start running?
Ryan: I have been a runner since I was a little kid. I know everybody goes to my channel and it's a lot of biking but really running is my favourite sport and I started running at an early age and I don't really know why but I was good at it in gym class. I was always the fastest kid and it's fun to be number one and I remember our little elementary school had a yearly race in May called the mile marathon. It was a one-mile race and I took that race as seriously as an Olympic athlete would take the Olympics and I trained and got ready for it and it was really important to me to win that race and so from that point on I just loved running and when I was younger, I was way more competitive like it was all about winning through middle school and high school but then I stopped winning I wasn't as fast other kids caught up to me and from that point on running for me has just been a way for exercise to explore to be out in nature to connect with myself to connect with other runners. I love the energy at races. It’s supportive and fun. It's like a big family. So, I'm very grateful that I've been a runner ever since I was like five years old, I didn't get into ultras until about 2013. I had done a few marathons. I had done the New York city marathon and the Copenhagen marathon and that was hard that seemed to me like as far as I ever needed to go 26 miles, 42 kilometers but I went to burning man and burning man's a big festival type thing out in the deserts near Reno Nevada and they have an ultra-marathon out there called the burning man ultra and I ran that race. It was only a 50k so not much further than a marathon but I loved it and I loved it again. It was the people and it was the culture behind it all and that really just sucked me in and then I met these ultra-runners that do all these other races and so I’m like oh okay I’ll come to your race over here and I’ll try this race and then I read born to run and run inspired me to want to go down to the
copper canyons and run the Caballo Blanco Ultra race right and I ran that race and that for me that was 50 miles and that was like oh my god this is going to be the craziest day of my life. I can't imagine running 50 miles but I did it and it was awesome and then my friends at that race were like well now you have to try a hundred-mile race of course and I was like nah that just sounds crazy 100 mile that's too much but you know six months later there I was on the starting line of the Javelina 100 and the rest is history.
GRR Were there any surprises in your first hundred miler that you weren't expecting or had at Javelina?
Ryan: The first 50 or so miles, I was happy and jolly it's all in the video and then it just i kind of hit a wall and what was hard for me and what I didn't realize is that you really have to like constantly be eating the whole time and I wasn't doing that because there were many times where you're just not hungry but if you're not putting calories into your body, you just hit the wall and that's what happened to me in my first hundred and it became it became a death march very quickly and it's hard once you hit that to recuperate and get the calories back in and get your body recharged. But another great thing about the hundreds is that there is time to recover. It's such a long race there's so many hours involved that yeah you can have a really bad 10 miles but you can also recover and like to finish strong right.
GRR Would you ever wear a full costume at the javelina?
Ryan: I’ve never worn a full costume. Although, I should and that race is all about costumes and fun.
GRR Well, you went from the desert of Javelina to the mountains of Colorado, what made you choose Leadville?
Ryan: Again, going back to Born To Run the book, Leadville was always this iconic race. It was almost mythical when you read it in this book it's like, “Oh, I gotta do that someday and it's a home. It's a home state race. It’s a few hours away from boulder. I don't need to fly an airplane to get there so it was nice to do something close by and that's kind of why I chose to do lead build and also challenge myself with a mountain ultra. You know to see how I could do up at high altitude the entire race is above 10,000 feet and that's presents a lot of challenges sure does that's essentially why I did it, I wanted to just see what it was all about see, what hope pass was all about feel that energy,
GRR Well, you were smart to go to the training camp because that's when I first did Leadville because I born to run I dnf'd in 2010 and then I got smart and then it took me four years to go back but I did the training camp first because I wanted to be able to run with people who actually finished this race. So, what was your strategy going into the camp of Leadville?
Ryan: Yeah, the camp was great again just like you, I was like, I knew that I needed to see some of the course to get some miles on my feet and meet other people and that really was the best part, was meeting all the other people and again. It’s that energy. It's fun. It's the support you get and so the camp to me I think was invaluable and learning to see what the course was like but also realizing okay this is the real deal like you need to train a lot for this race the rest of the summer like this is a focus right here.
GRR So, take us to the day, how did you feel going to the start line of Leadville.
Ryan: Leadville was just about what nine days ago. So, I was excited to be up there. I loved the expo; it was fun to see everybody. Those mountains are beautiful in the summertime and I was like, I had you know I felt like I was in pretty good shape. I had run quite a bit, I biked quite a bit which doesn't necessarily translate into running but my body felt like it was in really good shape and I got to the start line and it was cold. What I love about Javelina is that it's not cold. I love warm weather and it was so cold the morning of the race and I was like the start line and just the sea of people and all the headlamps running by it really was a magical experience and for the first 50-60 miles, I was in pretty good shape like I felt great. I was talking to people. I was running with my camera. I was filming going through the aspen trees and just loving all aspects of the course and the beauty and going into twin lakes was insane. I had no idea that that was going to be such a raging party. Yes, it's like the Tour De France when there's you just running through tunnels of people just screaming at you. I fed off that energy, I love that energy so much and it was great to have my crew up there the same as my Mom and my close friends, Dana and Santa and then hope passes really when things got hard for me. I was like, oh! Man, this is what people talk about yeah hope fast was rough but it's really cool there's the aid station halfway up where the llamas carry all the gear up there so it was fun to have a little bit of energy up there and some food and then hope pass is just stunning when you're up there you want to hang out and catch the view but you gotta keep running. So, yeah up and down hope pass was great and then coming back up and over was a grind and by about a mile. 70 to 75 is when I really started kind of hitting the wall. You know all the downhill like the hard pounding of running downhill just did a number on my quads. Mile 75, like I know my body well enough I was like this is gonna be a long march finish and it certainly was luckily I had Darcy Piceu
with me. She’s an amazing runner and she took good care of me made sure that
I had all the nutrition that I needed and kept me moving and man seeing that finish line at four in the morning was a beautiful sight, wait a minute though.
GRR I think you skipped one of your other pacers there.
Ryan: Oh yeah Amelia Boone.
, how did I forget her. Well, so Amelia got me right after twin lakes and at that point I still felt pretty good and it was light out and I could actually run and we were just chatting, having a great time the whole way so I’m fortunate that I had two amazing women on my team that day to keep me to keep me going.
GRR I want to ask you about what you found harder going back up Hope Pass or back up Powerline?
Ryan: That's I would say back up hope was harder for me really. I found at Powerline that the back side of Hope is so steep, way steeper than the front side and that that wrecked me. And, it was getting cloudy and thundery. A little bit of rain was coming down and I was getting ugly pretty quick but yeah going back up Powerline also is very steep and it's just it's so much shorter than Hope Pass.
GRR What was it like having Anton Krupicka? How is it like seeing him after so many years of being absent from the ultra-scene?
Ryan: It was cool. I was coming down Hope when he was going up and it was good to see him . He was not wearing a shirt and it was cold. I was wearing a long sleeve and he's cruising up with no shirt on he's like hey dude what's up and I was like wow he looks a-okay like nothing has fazed him at all. It was really cool. I think everybody loved seeing him out there again. It was exciting for sure and he's a boulder guy so it's fun rooting for a local friend and I think he inspired a lot of people by getting back after it after such a long time of injuries. He's been spending a lot of time cycling.
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