Name: Ryan Christensen
Born & Bred: Hamilton, New Zealand
Ice-breaker; describe yourself in three words
Creative, Determined, Busy
We’ve got a few bits to cover as we’ve not interviewed you before, but the big thing we wanna ask about first is the fact you and Calum raced Grinduro! How did that come about?
Canyon being the host sponsor of the event. Callum and I were able to secure our spots from having a background in off road and cyclo-cross. Callum is the current UK U23 National Series champion, and I was New Zealand's U23 champ. We both have a love for all things off-road, and it just so happened this opportunity came up and we both jumped at it! Who wouldn't want to race 80km of gravel and single tracks on Canyons double handlebar'd Grails.
It’s very rare for domestic pros to compete in races like this. What do you think of the recent trend of World Tour riders hitting up alternative gravel/bikepacking races? Is it something you’d like to do more of?
I like the idea that a team isn't just a road team and that's all they race. Having the opportunity to ride some of the toughest terrain and events brings a wider exposure to sponsors with public experience. There is a majority of public that loathe cyclists on the road, but really enjoy getting out in the woods and riding their mountain bikes. It brings the cycling community together and shows we all are humans that just want to enjoy riding our bikes. Grinduro has opened my eyes to gravel events, and I will be jumping at the opportunity again to race another one!
Back to the road… how do you feel your season has gone so far? The team is racking up wins on a weekly basis – the morale must be pretty high (especially having secured ToB quali so early).
My season hasn't gone too badly all be it a broken leg 6 weeks ago. I secured UCI points early on in January back home in New Zealand, and was just starting to come into form for these upcoming European races on the calendar. A forced break for 2 weeks for my leg to heal enough for myself to start riding on the trainer again, so that I can be back racing as soon as possible.
Morale in the team is definitely high, and that shows out on the road. We all are out for individual success but find success comes from winning races as a team. We all know our time will come when Tim will tap us on the shoulder and say, "we are riding for you today". We all bounce off each other and have a lot of good times on and off the bike which makes riding so much easier.
Did you have any big plans/targets coming into this season? Anything still remaining you’d be stoked to tick off?
The aim for this year was to podium in a few UCI 1.2 and find my feet in the UCI 1.1 with some top 10s.
There are a couple of goals I am wanting to achieve and they are selection for Tour of Britain squad, and also to podium in the Cyclocross national series in the UK. It'll be the first time in about 4 years I've had a winter, due to normally flying home and spending time with the family over UK's winter.
Taking it back a bit – what’s your story with riding? When did it all begin?
As a kid I've always been into sports. Soccer, hockey, motorcross, rugby. Cycling only came about when I was 15, as I was helping my older sister recover from a crash and we use to ride together to keep her motivated. I then I joined my High School's cycling team and Local Club. From there I never looked back.
First bike you owned?
Avanti Sprint. 650b wheels
Favourite bike you owned?
Canyon Aeroad by far. Lightweight and aerodynamic
Secret hobbies aside from pedalling? You’re a bit of an artist when it comes to shoes, right?
Yeah I enjoy keeping busy, whether it's with making carbon shoes to painting them with designs or making waxed chains for the team... anything bike related. (Ed: check out www.sonicwatts.nz)
If you wasn’t a pro racer, what would you be?
Most likely designing or building things. Whatever the material is, I love to learn and design things with it.
We like to end with a crash story… What was your biggest cycling accident/crash, and how much stuff did you break?
It would have to be about 3 years ago. I was out training and doing some openers before the next day's race. I was sprinting and a truck didn't see me, and pulled out of a driveway - I went straight into the cab door. Snapped my bike in half and broke both hands requiring surgery and plates, this also resulted in a compression fracture in my spine. I also managed to smash the passenger window with my head and still have the scars to show it!
Follow Ryan's progress this season at the below...
Check out the wheels Ryan has been riding all season on