Ryan is altruistic, caring and fanatical. Fanatical about life, family, biking and photography.
In 2018, Ryan got news that nobody was expecting, he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Everything stopped, and for the first time in the short few years I have known him he was lost.
It took a few weeks for the news to sink in, but it wasn’t long before Ryan had his usual smile on his face and was lobbying to get a world class bmx track in Fernie, travelling to Canadian National races, getting to know people who he could work with and photographing regional bmx races.
Ryan has twenty or so bikes in his shed, basement, front room and any space in his house. Collated during a life as a fully fledged biking enthusiast. Ryan has ridden bmx since he was a teen, he watched the sport grow and is an amazing flatland rider. He got into mountain biking from about day one, he worked as a bike mechanic, raced, built trails for people to ride, rode with friends, guided, taught kids how to ride and has been actively in biking clubs for many years. All with passion we should all be envious of.
Bikers in Invermere have likely spent hours and hours enjoying the fruits of Ryan’s labour, he was one of the early trail builders in the Steamboat area frequented by riders from all over the province. They flock to ride Milkrun, Attitude Adjustment and Snuffalupagus. They are some of the most fun trails in the whole of BC and the flow and fun factor is largely due to Ryan’s vision and the hard work of him and the people who his passion rubbed off on at that time. He makes his annual pilgrimage there every May long weekend with buddies from way back and his stoke factor is high as long as he can watch his friends loving life on the trails, taking photos and shouting encouragement as they pass through the secret camp location!
Ryan’s bike collection grew from a number of routes. Many bikes he bought years ago after saving hard earned dollars he earned… working as a bike tech, guide or trail builder at Fernie Alpine Resort. Some bikes were donated. Some he rescued from certain death in trash piles or at the dump. He can’t pass a bike that has been neglected before checking if he can fix it up.
If you find a bike that needs restoring in town or anywhere they tend to find their way to Ryan. He scours the internet for the original parts, rebuilds them, cleans them, polishes them until they are immaculate, then he gives it back and charges nothing for his time because he loves every second!
For the past few years Ryan has been unable to work (he is a red seal carpenter) and to ride a bike because of back pain and nerve issues in his legs, it was frustrating for him but ever positive, Ryan continued to get stoked on watching his friends have fun. His wife Elaine doubled down on her job as a massage therapist to make ends meet. Ryan bought himself a camera and taught himself to use it while hoping for a career in photography and started taking some amazing photographs.
This last winter being unable to ski or snowboard, Ryan kept himself active and fit by snowshoeing on the trails around town. It’s worth pointing out that what is easy for most is extremely difficult for Ryan but he got out as often as his body would allow. There was more than one occasion when I personally overheard visitors to town talking about how awesome it was that someone was working on the berms on the fat bike trails by shaping them with snowshoes… I just smiled to myself knowing exactly who it was, Ryan also smiled to himself when I told him the story.
Ryan has also been supporting and advocating for an inclusive trail in Fernie. His attitude is such that it is very close to his heart to make sure that people young and old, with the broadest possible spectrum of ability should be able to get out on the trails together. Ebiking is central to his discussion with Fernie Mountain Bike, Fernie Trails Alliance and other local volunteer groups, his “if it helps people get out to enjoy biking it can only be a good thing” narrative is breaking down barriers.
We don’t know exactly what the future holds for Ryan but there is one thing that we need to get back into his life... biking. Ryan’s legs are weaker these days but if you get him on a bike at the top of a trail I am pretty sure he would leave you in the dust. He’ll be in pain by the time he arrives at the bottom but his smile will say it all, he is about the happiest he can be when he has ridden a trail with his friends and is high fiving them at the bottom.
We need to get Ryan a bike he can use every day, we need to get him an ebike. It can’t be an around town ebike because he rips harder than you and I, he needs something that can take him down gnarly downhills going fast because that is where he is most at home.
If you know Ryan at all, you know how important this is and how happy it will make him. His body needs this. His mind even more so. You’ll also know that he would never ask for something like this from anyone so we need to do it for him. Consider making a donation today and join us in making a difference in this extraordinary man’s life.
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- Heather & Vic Meek/Giudici
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