Leaving your own country to ride across the US on a bicycle in less than 75 days is nuts… but Matthew James Ryan plans to do exactly that. Armed with little to no cycling experience, Matt is setting out to cycle the states, stopping along the way to skate, visit shops and help raise money and awareness for JohnnyKicksCancer. We caught up with Matt to hear about his cross-country trek, how it came about and what he hopes to find along the way in his epic journey from coast to coast.
First off let’s start with the basics? Name, where are you from, how long have you been involved in skateboarding and the skateboard industry?
My name is Matthew ‘Dykie’ Ryan from Cardiff in Wales (UK) I have been skateboarding for about 25 years and about 15 years ago I started making welsh scene video’s that went onto to helping with a few company video’s and then on to owning my own company ‘Crayon Skateboards’ for almost 6 years. Watch: Crayon Skateboards 2007 – 2013 RIP
Tell us about your trip, how did the idea come about? How did you go about choosing the charity organization?
Well, firstly my skate company was coming to an end, its pretty tough in the UK, there are over 50 UK companies right now and unless you make it overseas like Palace or Heroin its a big battle, I knew it was always a labor of love, but it was becoming extremely hard to continue how I was doing it, I had done a lot of things that I wanted to do and thought I would leave its legacy there and not drag it down, but I needed to do something off the back of it, something to look forward to, it was such a big part of who I am and I needed the next step in my life straight away, I thought of travelling, doing some sort of charity work and then i thought i really like doing challenges and with that I came up with cycling across America and try to raise money for Charity whilst doing it. Before I really had time to think of it i booked my flight so there was no turning back from there, there’s quite a bit of money I’ll need so it was a struggle raising funds but I managed to get a bit of help from sponsors. I was thinking of an ideal charity just after Real got on board and as Real are associated a lot with the ‘Johnny Kicks Cancer Foundation’ I thought it was an ideal start for my appreciation for Real as well as thinking it was a great Charity to raise money for. Julie and Mike seem like they are doing a great job trying to increase research and funding specifically for Childhood Leukemia in honor of their son Johnny Romano who they sadly lost when he was just 10 years old. I find the whole story extremely sad but very inspiring and if i can help a tiny bit i will be delighted, Roll forever.
Is there a certain goal you hope to accomplish through the trip other than to raise money for Johnny Kicks Cancer?
To get to the other side haha, well maybe to have time to think about what I want to do when I get back, not sure I want to continue with the skate industry, since finishing with the company I have been able to be a proper fan again and skate a little more than I did, I feel my future in skateboarding will be a massive fan and a skateboarder and as for making a living, I want to do stuff that helps people and not really in skateboarding. I’m hoping the bike will make me decide exactly what that is. I would also like to start writing a book whilst on the road, but we’ll have to see about that, the other tasks might be too much as it is, so not committing to anything there.
Have you done any type of cycling challenges like this before? Or are you pretty new to it? How long will you have to train before starting your trip?
Okay, right, I might as well make this clear, I am a very keen and active runner, but I can not say the same about cycling. I have never done any Cycling challenges like this before and I have only been training properly for the last couple of months, but before that I have just cycled to work and back and the odd bike ride, I have got general fitness from the running and mental fitness so I hope that will carry me through, plus the first 8 days are pretty tame so I hope that I will train on the job. One thing is for sure I will do my very best to battle through.
It seems like a lot of pro/am skaters have recently gotten into cycling the last couple years, Cardiel, Mariano, Stranger, etc. Do you see any similarities between skating and biking that draws skaters to it?
Not sure if there are that many similarities but for one it is good for you if you are injured and getting back on the board as quick as possible and I think another thing that is good is there’s no denying that skating can be a stressful activity sometimes, with getting kicked of spots, bad weather not landing tricks, etc. So a good way of escaping that is jumping on the bike, there’s no one to bother you, you can go where ever you want it’s just you and the bike, amazing.
What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve done in the past? Did anything out of the ordinary happen during it? Any funny stories?
Running John o’Groats to Landsend (the length of UK) we did 30 miles a day for 30 days, the physical part was ok because what training I hadn’t done, I would train into it as I was doing it but coping with the injuries was a nightmare, every morning I didn’t know how I was going to run after stumbling about, walking a bit and then eventually running. Ideally you should have a massage every day, we did have one about 6 days in. It wasn’t too intense but the nurse said I needed to wax my legs to do the massage! I didn’t understand this but I agreed and after screaming and bleeding I realized it was a practical joke on my behalf that the nurse was in on. Haha, brilliant (not sure I thought that at the time though) and then we had another massage about 25 days in, we had built up so much knots and tension in our legs it was crazy! Matt Pritchard (Who’s from Dity Sanchez – UK Jackass style show) my friend who was doing the challenge with me had the massage first and he was screaming in agony and I was thinking he does all this crazy stuff to his body on the TV show that I would never do and wasn’t reacting as bad as how he was right then and I had to go next, great! HAHA
Watch: Jog On – 3rd and Final Teaser
When you’re doing the 100 Mile runs do you ever get to stop for a rest or go to the bathroom, or do you just piss yourself while running?
Haha, there are no toilets along the way just nature toilets I was drinking about a liter of water every 10 miles and amazingly I did not need a number 1 until about mile 75 and I didn’t need a number 2 at all thankfully. I didn’t rest at all, some people had a little sleep for 20 minutess at mile 50 but I didn’t like that idea, apart from stopping to refill my water bottles and grabbing a bit of food for 5 minutes every 10 miles I was off..
As far as traveling goes, have you done a lot of traveling outside the UK through skateboarding? As a skateboarder it seems wherever we go as long as there are other skaters, we’ve got immediate friends. Do you think traveling by bike to skateshops you’ll get the same sort of welcome and connection?
I have done my fair share yes, maybe would of liked to do a bit more but I am grateful for where I have been, basically all round Europe and Vancouver a few times and it easy meeting new friends where ever you go…… I have been thinking if I get the same reception going into the shops as a cyclist ?! But as they see my board with me and the brands that are backing me I reckon hopefully I will feel just like a skateboarder to them as you are right it does seem like we have immediate friends everywhere and that is something I feel I definitely need doing something like this.
What’s your biggest fear about the upcoming trip? Any nightmare stories you’ve heard about touring?
I do have quite a few fears like am I going to find a safe place to pitch my tent each night, running out of water, being in the wrong neighborhood, bears and rattle snakes etc. It doesn’t sound to good does it haha, but I feel it is good to be scared sometimes in your life, I’m also scared of life just passing me by and not doing the things I want to do so I just look it that way, and as for the going down the wrong neighborhood I feel filming and skating in the streets teaches you to be streetwise so I think I will have a feeling when something is not right. I have heard a few nightmare stories of trucks, but that is just another thing I am going to have to deal with all the precautions.
What board are you bringing with you to skate?
As light as possible! I think this maybe a first what I am trying to pull of, don’t know anyone else bringing a skateboard with them I hope it can take the extra weight, a Zip Zinger Nano board which is 7.25″ wide at its widest and small bullet trucks and the smallest softest wheels that I am yet to find.
Have you done much traveling in the US before for skating or otherwise, is there any skate spots or cities you’ve always wanted to go? If so why? What skating memory do you have that draws you there?
I have traveled a bit in New York and California in the past but not on specific skate trips I’ve had my board but mainly sight seeing and visiting famous skate spots which is something I love doing even if I am not skating it or filming there I try to imagine all the stuff that I have seen in the video’s growing up. When I was in San Francisco I was in a hostel and someone who wasn’t a skater who I met there who was on his own wanted to tag along with me for the day and I then went straight to hubba hideout and where EMB used to be with, I think he thought I was a bit weird haha, and he then did his own thing.
Top 5 US Spots you have to visit while you’re in the states?
I’d love to go to all the ditches spots in places like Arizona but unless I get someone to take me their that is not really going to happen. So thinking the more plaza style spots will be more realistic option and also great. So places like these..
1. Love park
2. Cherry park
3. Radio Korea
4. Flushing meadows
5. 3rd and Army