Catching Up: Where The Hell Is Riley Harris?
Riley Harris should be no stranger to Skate[Slate] readers, but the question isn’t always who the hell is he, but where the hell is he? Riley has been on the road, lurking local, working hard and getting it done working at Landyachtz and chasing the Skate and Explore dream. We hit him up to catch up and have a little interview to go along with his latest raw run from the Chute Lake Disaster 2 in Okanagan, British Columbia, which was back to back with the Apex mountain Challeng, a 2 for 1 banger weekend of racing.
*Cover photo thanks to Mack Wacey. Additional photos from Riley Harris, Jon Huey, and Landyachtz.com
Hey Riley! Thanks for taking some time to chat. We had a bunch of you on Skate[Slate] last year and a fair bit less this year. What’s good?
Life has been crazy! The moment I got home from Europe in July life was filled with numerous weddings, non-skateboarding adventure trips, and the day-to-day hustle. My brother got married in Ontario, and I took a trip through the Rockies (skating a few hills close to my heart along the way) to attend a wedding east of Calgary. Toured through interior BC north of Hope to visit a few bucketlist items (Seton and Joffre Lakes).
We know who the hell you are, but how the hell are you?
I would go as far as saying it was the best summer/ year of my life so far. I’ve taken more than a few weeks off for vacation to tour for longboarding and personal enjoyment. It’s amazing holding the position I do, and how flexible and normal my employers are about my time on the road. [Check out some highlights from Riley’s trip to Europe on the Landy blog here.]
You’re another year older and another dollar richer? Are you still working at Landyachtz?
Damn straight I’m still holding it down for Landyachtz! This place is an absolute delight to work. They really have the passion for skateboarding that all companies should. 100% skater owned and operated, we don’t have any corporate heads calling the shots here. My position actually took a shift after I returned from the Philippines in spring and I’ve found the zone I’m happy with. You can refer to me as the Marketing and Sales Liason, and I’m here to meet the needs of those departments. Hustling the team to events as Van Dad, coordinating sponsorships for events and University clubs, plus a whole slough of other random tasks that make up my forty hours a week.
What’s a typical day in the life of Riley look like?
Well if I’m not spending the day skating, You’ll likely find me waking up, riding my bike to work, with a sushi dinner date with my amazing girlfriend following, and then a few hours working out at the “Pain Cave” with Laine Jackart and Wolfgang Coleman. With the off-season kicking into gear I’m back on the weightlifting regime.
You tend to be a pretty competitive guy? What was the race season like for you this year? Did work life get in the way of skate life?
My results we’re fairly consistent with years previous, a podium here a podium there. Winning a race does take a large amount of skill and talent, but luck does play a part. Things can go wrong or right, and you can end up on top, or out in the first round. This year began strong in the Philippines and local Vancouver outlaw events, but for the remainder of the summer I remained in the Quarter and Semi-Finals across the board.
What are some of your favourite events from this year?
Sometimes it’s more than the event itself that makes it the favourite. Your crew, the weather, you name it. For me, My time in Europe at the Kozakov Challenge tops the list. It was my first time attending, so everything from experiencing the ridiculous party to learning a new gnarly track, made it the best in my heart. I loved travelling and hanging out with the #dasBenza crew from Switzerland. Two thumbs way up. Saving my cash to make it to that event again in 2017. Giants Head was second on the list. Our all-star crew was top notch. We did some skating and exploring, raced an outlaw, and did other amazing stuff prior to the already world class event. Good times!
Oh yes, the Giants Head Freeride. The pine cones onslaught piled on a plenty. Is it old yet? Are you over it or is it fun?
I’m actually a fan. It adds that little extra challenge to the race at the end of the event, and I see it as just that. I’m determined I’ll win it one day, just to show everyone up. This year once the mob took me out, I even joined in. I see what the hype is about, it’s pretty fun. I even find some portion of my true identity in the pine cones at Giants Head now. I feel they’ve helped me become who I am. Even thought of getting my first tattoo in the image of those infamous projectiles.
Are there events you missed this year and wish you could have made it to?
I missed the Sullivan Challenge this year, which I truly love. It would have been the year to defend my title as champion, and this year as it turns out, they plastered my ugly mug on the event tee. Bummed I never got my hands on one.
You just got back from Apex Mountain Challeng and Chute Lake, here in BC, were they outlaws?
Apex and Chute were infact fully legitimate events with permits, insurance, and the like. Super big props to Manu Dahumel and Daniel Holdsworth for keeping the race scene thriving in British Columbia, even late in the season.
The rain fell hard at the first event, Apex Mountain, but that didn’t lower my stoke levels one bit. The pavement was extremely rough, and the potholes were completely filled with water, it just added that extra sprinkle of gnar that made the track. It had it all, pothole mine fields, edge of grip sweepers, smooth and rough straight aways and distinct hairpin corners.
The Chute Lake Disaster was an entirely different story. The sun was shining all day, and Daniel Holdsworth was sure to make full advantage. When all said and done, I think after the finals, we had done close to 15 runs of the track. Nice smooth pavement and two high speed hairpins and I raced my way into the finals this year. Stoked to finish the summer with another podium, it felt good. The footage is currently transferring to you as we speak, be sure to post it for me!
Why do you think BC has such a thriving race?
Racing as we know it now was born and evolved from passionate skaters in BC more than 15 years ago. We have our roots here and we’ll always cherish that fact. After the podium at Chute Lake, Bricin ‘Striker’ Lyons asked Mike Bridge of the Yardwaste Freeride, Manu Dahumel of Apex, and Daniel Holdsworth of Chute Lake to all step up, so he could present to us the new generation of event organizers in BC. It was a special moment. It really made me wish I was up there. Who knows, maybe I’ll cook something up for 2017 and join the party. It’s the dedicated people that make all the difference. Striker leads by example.
What other communities have you been to that you think are killing it?
On a different part of the continent entirely, I want to mention the scene in Texas. They have the ultimate stoke, and with individuals and team riders for organizations like Greg Noble and the NoBull Skaters, they have something truly awesome. Hopefully the Bayou Battle is even bigger and better than last year.
We recently did a Worth The Money segment with you. Everyone seems to be talking about the Triple Beam, are you riding one? What’s your go to setup look like on race day vs freeriding?
I actually do not ride the Triple Beam, I’m a fan of the Wolfshark Mini. I love giving my support to my close friend Wolf, plus the Triple Beam is just a touch too long and wide for my liking. I never jumped on the tall bushing bandwagon, so I’m still rocking Bear Precision Grizzlies from a few years ago, and 76a Biggie Hawgs on race day. Freeriding? Adam Yates Dawg Hawgs 100%. All Worth The Money too.
What’s coming up for you this fall / winter? Going to the Maryhill Fall Freeride? Any other skate adventures planned?
I will be missing the Spring Freeride unfortunately, which is a bummer. With the Texas skaters in mind, I heard a big crew of them are going, and I’m sad I won’t get to see them! As far as big adventure plans, I’m trying to get out to the United Arab Emirates for the Downhill Challenge this December. I’d skate and explore around Abu Dhabi and Dubai most likely.
Dubai looks like an incredible place to visit. I’m not sure there is anything like it. What are some of the top travel destinations you’ve enjoyed most when you’re off your skateboard?
The architecture in Prague was pretty mind blowing, and the natural waterfalls and back country scenery in the Philippines was spectacular. I highly recommend taking a motorcycle off the beaten path and through the mountains of Cebu. Found some rad caves and epic sights.
You started riding Daddies Board Shop this year. What is that relationship like? Are they supporting your skating?
Daddies Board Shop, oh man, where do I even begin? I guess with my friendship with Eric Hoang, and the realization that the Daddies team was missing a member from Landyachtz. Daddies and Landyachtz have been in long-standing business from the inception of the shop and now they are one of Landyachtz’s key accounts, and alongside Eric with Daddies, we’re working together to get more beautiful Landyachtz boards into the hands of those that want them. Daddies is truly helping me realize my dreams as an athlete, I can’t thank them enough.
Eric Hoang has been skate rat, just doing it right and killing it with kindness for a long time in the North West. A genuinely stoked dude. You’ve both taken the path of working with brands close to home and developing not just yourself in skateboarding, but working in the industry. What advice could you give someone looking to skate and work in skateboarding?
My advice is that of anyone enduring a job hunt. I found the key to my success in joining Landyachtz was networking. I did have some relevant experience, but having known and made friends with the Landyachtz team and knowing Tom, the owner, on a personal level, really helped me. A strong resume could be the way in, but I believe personally knowing an employee, or even better management of the organization goes much farther. The personal testimonial of a prospective employee from a current and trusted member of the team can do much more than a 4.0GPA. If you live far away, move closer, make friends, and see what opportunities you can take advantage of.
We’ve touched on it before, but you have your own personal branding. You have embraced haters with “Who Hell is Riley Harris?” and “Don’t Bash the Hustle”. What advice do you have to skaters who want to develop their own brands and stand out?
Be yourself, skate hard, try to win, make videos, post photos, spread the stoke, and be creative.
Will there be any new stickers coming for 2017?
I’m getting a touch low, I think I’ll create another batch of something. Not sure exactly what yet though.
Thanks for the interview Riley. Anything we missed? Shout outs?
I need to send some love to the sponsors please. I appreciate what they do for me and stand behind them:
daddiesboardshop.com // landyachtz.com // beartrucks.com // hawgswheels.com // Lokton Griptape // Hillside Gear // Team NoBull Longboarders
Oh and of course, Don’t Bash the Hustle!