The WTB crew met Daniel "Danimal" Riley at the first annual WTB Semper Fi Mountain Bike Skills Camp in 2016. We had no idea what to expect. We simply had simply been told that he could "hold his own", though that can mean many things. It only took one shuttle lap though for him to earn the nickname Danimal, as only an animal named Dan would have the grit to drop into the top "wall" of the ranch without laying on the brakes.
Throughout that week, I'd scope out lines and yell back up that trail that he should probably give them a look before committing. I wouldn't even have time to turn around or pick up my bike before I'd hear Danimal barreling down the trail. No reservations. No lingering uncertainty. No fear to follow. Sometimes he'd clear the lines with ease, sometimes he'd bash his way through it, sometimes he'd find himself pinned against a tree. Jason Moeschler even witnessed him drift and tumble over the edge of a cliff, yes...a cliff. Regardless of the outcome though, he always come out on top, ready to give it another go.
Riding isn't Danimal's only, or even primary, means of getting his adrenaline fix though. Surfing, paddleboarding and skiing all have a part in him getting out there. He's even lived in a converted van (which he built out himself...no big deal) for the past year in order to surf one day and wake up at a trailhead the next. We're thankful for the opportunity to get to know Danimal over the last couple years and look forward to his endless stoke in the future as well. We'll hand it over to Danimal to tell you a bit more about himself.
Photo credit: Abner Kingman
Home Shop and City:
The Kind, in Edwards, CO
Notable passions, feats of accomplishment, interests, goals, phobias and unusual experiences:
I am most proud of my service in the Marine Corps, especially by deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After my injuries there, sports and adventure became both my rehab and recovery. Basically if it will get my adrenaline going I've been doing it. Whether is was surfing the infamous Pipeline on the north shore of Hawaii, being the first adaptive whitewater Paddle-boarder to compete in the GoPro Mountain Games, or heli-skiing in Alaska. Finding adventure has been my life over the last few years.
Favorite WTB product:
Flow trail, Soquel Demonstration State Forest, Santa Cruz. This trail is as fun as you can possibly imagine. It's almost like it was designed for a handcycle, you can open up, rip it, and just go. (of course the climb is also a pretty good workout)
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
I was introduced to riding in Colorado with the Vail Veterans Program, honestly didn't know if I would enjoy it. But, had so much fun I had to get my own bike. After that, the ability to have fun with friends, stay in shape, get the adrenaline pumping, and mostly explore the world that was previously out of reach for me.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Tubeless. Everyone hates getting a flat. Trust me, it is worse on a handcycle.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Cell phone (mostly just for Instagram shots), a GU or two, and an extra pair of gloves.
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
Usually I'm the one that is doing the crazy things on a ride and other people are the witnesses. But, I was riding in Whistler a while back. Out by myself exploring and riding, it was nearing the end of great day. Came ripping around a corner, looked up, saw what was up ahead, and squeezed my brakes as hard as I could. I know its BC and its not completely unexpected. However the last thing I was anticipating was standing in the middle of the trail ahead of me -- a big old brown bear. At this point, I'm stopped but don't really have an option to go back up or around, so just have to sit there and wait for the bear to wander away. He wasn't in a hurry and didn't seem the slightest bit phased by me. Eventually he moved along, and continued along my ride (a little more observant of surroundings). My only disappointment...I didn't have my GoPro with me.
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
If you're not falling, you're not trying hard enough. Don't be afraid to crash, fail, or struggle. It will only make you better next time and, besides, the best stories always come from those experiences.
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
A cab in Victoria, BC. After spending a few days in the hospital quarantined with suspected swine flu. While on leave from Iraq. A day before, I was denied entry back into the US by Border Patrol. (It was a hell of a week).
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
Semper Fi Fund. Check them out. Help how you can. They have helped myself and numerous other veterans get back to life after injury with things like mountain biking.