A journey from Golden to the Swiss Alps

Riley Suhan is heading off to the 2011 Worlds in Champery.

Riley Suhan of Golden

Riley Suhan of Golden

A local star has become a national star. Riley Suhan of Golden B.C. recently qualified for the national team for downhill biking and is on his way to the world championships in Switzerland.

The 2011 Worlds will be hosted by Champery, a Village in the Swiss Mountains. The event brings out the best competitors from every corner of the world to one destination to truly see who is number one.

“I started racing when I was nine. I raced the Psychosis from 5K.  We lied about my age because you had to be thirteen. They finally caught on when I was eleven but they just let me keep doing it because I had already done it for two years,” Suhan said.

Suhan, who was born and raised in Golden, explained that his cousin Ryan and Uncle Ken were the reason he began racing in the first place.

“We have always biked around town and we just started riding Mount 7 on our bikes, then we got better bikes and started doing the Toonie Races. There were a few of us that were biking together back then: Ryan Anderson, Steve Pawlitsky, Dean Glueckler and Mike Oddy, we all rode together and started going to some bigger races.”

Suhan has been involved in “bigger races” for years now and has even previously raced at Worlds before. Last year, at the age of 16, Suhan competed in Quebec where Worlds were being hosted.

“Last year I didn’t make podium a lot. I felt like I wasn’t having a good year. But I did good in the race that allowed me to qualify for the national team and go to Worlds. This year I have only missed podium once. I got second at Canada Cup and I got second at Nationals in Panorama too. Last year was good for me to experience races like Nationals and Worlds and it has given me confidence for this year. I mean, last year I went to Quebec and I thought that was crazy. Now I’m going to Switzerland!”

Last year at Worlds, Suhan’s race didn’t go as expected.

“It was a great experience but the racing didn’t go too well. I pushed myself too hard and crashed once then crashed again.”

Even with those crashes, the recent high school graduate was still able to beat almost half the competition.

“I learned that I needed to just calm down. A race is a race right? I just need to do my own thing and not get caught up in everything going on around me and the pros being there and all that.”

With this strategy in mind and Suhan’s racing background, an impressive time is sure to come at the worlds. The biker also explained that growing up and racing the mountain ranges in his backyard has been great practice for Switzerland, where the course is known for being very steep.

“Dead Dog, on the top of Mount 7, is the steepest trail I have ever rode or ever heard of and I have been told that Switzerland shouldn’t be any steeper than that.”

After a quick look down Dead Dog, it was clear to see that being able to ride difficult terrain like that would be an asset in any bike competition. But terrain never seems much of an issue for the Junior racer.

Suhan is ranked number two in Canada for his division although his racing has proved he is ready for the pros.

“I have always been in the top of my category and as I got older it got harder. People started training more, so I started training more. Racing has always come kind of naturally to me. At nationals this year, my time was in the top 10 of pros. I’m not in that category, but if you stuck my time in their category I would be in the top 10.”

Being one of the fastest racers in Canada has not left Suhan unnoticed. He is sponsored by Smith Optical, Cycling BC, Devinci, Darkside and Derailed.

“My parents have also been really supportive of me. They have always been there for me and my biking and drove me up the mountain and let me keep going and believed in me. That really means a lot. They are coming to Switzerland with me and I’m pretty excited. I think they are too.”

Suhan would also like to thank everyone else who has supported him throughout his biking career.

He looks forward to representing Golden and Canada at Worlds on August 29 to September 4.