“R-Dog”is one of the most radical and stylish mountain bike jumpers in the world. While most professional mountain bike riders come to fame through racing, R-Dog (also known as Ryan Howard is one of those riders who grew famous through his ability to jump his mountain bike, throwing insane whips, dumped 360s, and other impressive aerial stunts. In fact, he’s one of the best riders in the world when it comes to sending his mountain bike through the air, winning Crankworx Whip-Off contests in Europe and New Zealand with his skills.
Name: Ryan Howard
Birthdate: October 25, 1987
Birthplace: Aptos, California
Weight: 155 pounds
Shoe size: 8.5
Helmet size: Medium
Marital status: GF
Current home: Aptos, California
Car(s): 1987 Toyota pickup
Started racing or competing: 2002
Turned pro: 2010
Racing/riding specialty: Lifestyle
Favorite course or riding area in North America): Coast Gravity Park [B.C.]
Favorite course or riding area elsewhere: Queenstown, New Zealand
Favorite food: Burritos
Goals: Have the most fun always
Heroes: My friends
Favorite recording artist: Anything metal
Favorite movie: Joe Dirt
Favorite hobbies: Moto, surf, dig
Jobs held (other than racer): Shoe salesman
Most embarrassing moment: Too many to list. Can’t take life too seriously.
Always takes on a trip: Always take summer road trips
What you would be if you were not a bike rider: Trail builder
Frame: “Trek Session Park. Medium. 27.5-inch wheels. Carbon. Best DH bike for what I like to do.”
Shock: RockShox coil, 450 spring.
Fork: Boxxer. Two tokens, 98 psi.
Tires: Bontrager G5, 30 psi front and rear. 2.5 inches, front and rear.
Inner tubes or tubeless system: “Tubeless up front. Tube in the rear. As for the sealant, I just use the Bontrager stuff up front and a Bontrager tube out back. Reason being for slapping turns. I tend to lose sealant in the back when burping the tire and have ruined plenty of rides that way. Also carry a spare tube when I can. I don’t really race that often, so I don’t get too tech with the setup.”
Spokes: DT Swiss Competition, 2.0/1.8, black, with Alpina locking nipples.
Front hub: SRAM X0.
Rear hub: SRAM X0.
Brakes: “Codes. 203 rotors. Best brakes out there!”
Handlebars: “Truvativ Kyle Strait Signature. I try to run the same bars on all my bikes, just different lengths. Slope bike, 29 inches; trail bike at 30 inches; and downhill bike at 31 inches wide. The bigger the bike, the wider the bars!”
Grips: “Sensus. Only grips worth running.”
Shifters: SRAM X0 7-speed.
Rear derailleur: SRAM X0 7-speed.
Pedals: Deity T Mac.
Cranks: SRAM X0, 170mm.
Chainring: SRAM, 36-tooth.
Rear cassette: SRAM X0 7-speed.
Cables and housings: SRAM.
Headset: Cane Creek.
Bottom bracket: SRAM.
Extras: “Painted like a Dalmatian.”
Head angle: “No clue.”
Bottom bracket height: “No clue, but it’s perfect.”
Weight of complete bike: “35 pounds.”
Estimated value of bike: “Priceless.”
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Ryan: Aptos, California
MBA: What kind of work do your father and mother do?
Ryan: Shoe salesman and loan officer
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?
Ryan: With the neighborhood crew on a Ninja Turtle bike.
MBA: Did you race any other bikes before competing on mountain bikes?
Ryan: I raced BMX for a few years, maybe from age 9 to 12. Wasn’t that serious about racing; it was more about riding the track with my buddies. Did pretty well at a few local races but was more concerned with hitting all the jumps and trying to look good doing it!
MBA: When did you first start competing on mountain bikes?
Ryan: Sea Otter Classic, 2002. My mom signed me up for the XC race and DH. I was so nervous. I didn’t want to make my way to the start line at all for the cross-country race, [but] I did it; couple of slams and a pretty big day on the bike for being 13. I got through it. It was the last XC race I did, because all I cared about was downhill. Even though I probably did terribly, it was the most fun, which kept me coming back! I have never really been a great racer—too stoked on hitting the jumps on the tracks and not that good with fast line choices. I have huge respect for World Cup athletes, and all that goes into racing at such a high level!
MBA: What have been your best national and international results?
Ryan: Winning Whip-Offs at Crankworx Europe and New Zealand. I can’t recall the years I have won the Whip-Offs, but I know it has been three Rotorua titles and one at Les Gets. My goal was to win a Crankworx Whistler Whip-Off, but I think I’m past my prime for that one. So many sick young guns that are so good at getting sideways. Makes me really happy to see the future of whips on a mountain bike!
MBA: Where did you go to school?
Ryan: Aptos, California
MBA: Did you attend college?
Ryan: Half semester at junior college, then dropped out to ride.
MBA: What school was it?
Ryan: Cabrillo College. Didn’t take it too seriously, because all I wanted to do was ride!
MBA: Do you have any other career training?
Ryan: Trail building.
MBA: Did you earn any awards in sports or academics in school?
Ryan: Second place in the science fair in 6th grade.
MBA: What other sports do you do besides mountain biking?
Ryan: Moto, surf.
MBA: Have you competed in any of them?
Ryan: I’ve done one dirt bike race at Day in the Dirt. Got smoked [laughs]!
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.