Local BMXer returns from European competition

Published on Thu, Feb 26, 2004 by R. Schwarz Kopf

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Local BMXer returns from European competition

By R. Schwarz Kopf

As the Blaine Extreme Sports Club (BESC) prepares for the construction of the Blaine skate park, its president is fresh with memories of a professional BMX biking competition in Europe.

Andrew Ryser, president of the BESC, is a professional BMX racer making his mark in the region, and has been featured in various BMX magazines across Europe, Canada and the U.S. The 23-year-old Blaine man, who began riding in his pre-teen years, recently returned from a seven-week adventure in Europe, visiting England, Spain and Portugal, and competing with other professional BMX riders.

The two-day competition called the Backyard Jam was held in Derby, England with more than 85 riders registered to compete � 20 of them were from the U.S. and Canada. Ryser placed about 30th, and is happy with the experience and his placement. �I don�t do this always thinking I am going to win,� he said.

Much of the time during those seven weeks was spent traveling, Ryser said, although many of those around him were racers in the professional riding world or interested in it. �You have to go to Portugal if you�ve never been there,� he says. �It was a lot of fun. I had a great time and met a lot of people.�

Ryser had made no travel plans for the trip, opting to travel spontaneously and stay with various friends and their families he met along the way. �I met these people and they just took me in. They didn�t know me, but they totally took care of me,� he said, adding he was regarded as a true guest, and not allowed to help with chores or pay for his housing or meals.

While overseas, Ryser was able to visit and stay with Ruben Alacantara, a world-renowned rider � something he never expected. Another time, Ryser and other pro BMXers slept on ramps at an indoor skate park in Europe when they found nowhere else to stay. �It�s pure hospitality over there,� he said. �Much different from here.�

Broken bones, dreams
�Oh, I have broken a lot of things. My right ankle, left wrist, arm, jaw, and I punctured my lung. My collarbone was the most uncomfortable,� Ryser says, when asked about his riding accidents. �Getting hurt is just part of the game. I�ve had 15 concussions, maybe more.�

One time, Ryser had his arms in a cast after an accident, but was so intent on continuing riding that he asked his parents and doctor to have his arms casted to his bike�s handlebars. His parents agreed, and the doctors okayed it, so for several months Ryser rode his bike, with casts as part of the equipment.

He began riding with friends when he was 11, wheeling around Blaine with a bunch of his friends each day. �Two years after we started riding, there were a lot more riders (locally),� he said.

At his own home, Ryser�s father allowed him and his friends to construct ramps to practice on, and over time �it turned into a mammoth structure of ramps,� he said. �My parents were always supportive of me. Towards the end of high school I was doing demonstrations all over the state and lower B.C. and we did campaigns like �Say No to Drugs.�� Over time, Ryser competed in events across the U.S. and Canada, including the Metro Jam held in Vancouver and will compete next month in Bend, Oregon. �There�s not much pressure,� he said about those events. �More of a fun time.�

Skate park, work
Ryser, who says he likes to migrate during the winter months, is excited about the spring construction of the Blaine skate park. �This gives all the kids in the community a place to go,� he said, adding it would benefit the community. Having this skate park in town, right behind the police station, provides a safe and fun area for the community youth to practice and play in.

As Ryser continues to play and compete, though, he says he is looking for one much needed thing: a good job. �Anybody have work for me?� he says. Among his many qualifications: He�s a Scorpio with a sense of humor and has a background in construction and of course, BMX riding.