Ryan Christensen is a busy man. On the verge of heading over to Europe to begin his second season with Canyon dhb p/b Floor Homes, on a new venture at the head of Sonic Watts, coaching with Dylan Stewart at Training Wheels. He’s a man with plenty on his plate and we got to catch up with him as the European campaign draws near.
RC: First of all on the verge of the beginning of another European season with Canyon dhb, it’s been a summer very much focussed on New Zealand racing for you with Nationals, Gravel and Tar and New Zealand Cycle Classic. Where are you feeling your form is at as you get ready for the big trip over?
Ryan: I’m ready to head over and it’s nice to be going into a well set up team which I know and trust, so that definitely makes it easier. It has been a long season, but I’ve managed to fit in a lot more down time compared to previous years which I think has been good for me. I did the racing with hopes to do well but was also realistic and used them to complement my training rather than to peak for them so I will be able to race for the whole European season as that is my priority this year.
RC: How did you feel you progressed as a rider in your first year in the Canyon set up?
Ryan: It was a big learning curve jumping into an established team halfway through their season, as well as being the first foreigner to join the team. This made it hard joining the team as I didn’t know where I would fit in as well as what my role would be on the road. Looking back, I don’t think I needed those nerves, I managed to cement my place in the team and got along very well with all the boys. I think I proved myself early on by committing to whatever job I was asked to do, which after a couple of races was fortunate to be given a leadership role in a few UCI races which came as a big surprise! I then was picked for Tour of Britain and was our GC leader’s right hand man which I enjoyed for my first major race against the big World Tour teams, as there wasn’t any pressure on myself and I was able to enjoy the racing and get the feel of it all.
RC: Having spent so much of your career so far in the NRS set up with Oliver’s Real Food Racing, what changes did you observe of when it came to tackling the British Cycling calendar? Tell us a bit about the depth of racing and riders there, the style of racing with the Elite Series, Spring Cup Series and the Circuit Race Series and how – if at all – you had to change to fit.
Ryan: The first thing I noticed was how well all the teams were set up, there is substantially more money. I think that’s due to how close all the racing is and the amount of racing on offer. Sponsors get more out of cycling teams as teams are on the road every weekend plus our team runs a double program so the team is split up and some will stay and race in the UK while the others head over to Europe. The racing is aggressive and with narrow roads and cobbles it adds a new element which I thought suited me a lot more. You have to race from the front you can’t just sit at the back and wait for the finish.
I haven’t raced the circuit series as it was all finished before I signed for the team but was able to spectate at one of the last rounds and it was a great atmosphere. The villages that hold the events would bring everyone together and the streets were lined with people. The racing looked hard and fast and was just on from the gun. The courses are a lot tighter than any other crit courses I’ve seen which adds another element to the races.
RC: What do you hope to achieve in 2019 with Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes? What goals does the team have for this year?
Ryan: I am aiming for a win in a UCI 1.1 race and I know I can achieve it! As I feel it’s not far off, I have the power and with the strong team we have lined up for 2019, it’s just a matter of luck being with us. So hopefully it will definitely come easier as we have such a strong team this year so I want us to be the hammer and not the nail in races.
There are a few races and race series we are targeting as a team, these include the Holland Cup, a stage win at Yorkshire again plus Tour of Britain top 10 overall.
RC: Tell us about the journey you’ve been on with SonicWatts. Why did you start it and what’s it all about?
Ryan: SonicWatts started off thanks to a conversation with Taylor Gunman and Alex Richardson (now a team mate) on marginal gains, how to improve your cycling with the equipment you use and for a price that everyone can afford. I believe for a cyclist that has a budget and wants to spend it in the most effective way the equation that really matters is the ratio $/watts.
I have done a lot of research and have a come up with a waxed treatment that can save up to 6 watts at 250 watts with a process of optimally waxing a chain. It is very similar to the big brands like Ceramic speed but what I can offer is a service to Re-wax the chain and for only a fraction of the price.
In the table, it quite clearly shows what the most cost efficient purchase you can make to improve your cycling. Assuming you use your chain for just racing and use SonicWatts re-waxing service, you are getting a better value per watt than the likes of deep section carbon fibre wheels, aero handle bars ceramic pulley wheels and an aero bike.
On my website www.sonicwatts.store I explain it all on “Worth the Watts” page
RC: How do you envision balancing pursuit of a successful career as an athlete around the world and crafting a successful business?
Ryan: With cycling you have a lot of down time, there are a few things I have got going on and the only way that is possible is because I have the support of my team which allows me to do so. I am currently working towards a diploma to become an Architectural Draughtsman, I’m also working with TrainingWheels Coaching mentoring and coaching athletes under the guidance of Dylan Stewart and have now started up SonicWatts. I am not the kind of person who can just sit round and do nothing. I always have something on my mind and am always busy. However, as my family and friends can testify I don’t do things half-heartedly and always put 100 percent into everything I do. I enjoy being busy and am always striving to succeed. This is why I think I didn’t quit cycling as soon as I finished high school, I’m goal driven and once I achieve my goals I’m already making new ones in order to reach the top. The same goes with my businesses.
RC: Tell us about your race calendar coming up and where we can expect to see you.
Ryan: On the 21st I fly out of New Zealand to the UK where I have 2 weeks to organise my life over there and get over the jetlag. My calendar for the next month consists of a few European races and a couple of UK Premier Calendar Series races. The main ones I’m looking forward to and most excited to race are the Volta Limberg classic in Holland and Tro-Bro Leon in France, they’re both UCI 1.1 classics and will be televised on Sky TV.