As a young and scrappy, by-the-bootstraps helmet company, we’ve looked on to larger companies’ ability to sponsor world-class athletes and teams with a little bit of heartfelt envy. And we’ve been looking forward to the day when we could take on such partnerships ourselves. This year, we’re finally feeling ready for this next great step.

In a new sponsorship and partnership with professional trials rider Ryan Leech we’re able to fruitfully combine our love of the sports world with our commitment to loving our brains (and everyone else’s!).

Ryan, 36, is a truly unique athlete, combining technical mastery and mindfulness. As a mountain bike trials rider, he’s been on the professional circuit for most of his life, performing his particular magic of focused and fantastic stunts with a bicycle. He’s also a yoga teacher and a coach for athletes.

What makes Ryan (pictured at center above, with Alex his videographer, on the left, and Flip our Brand Connector, on the right) such a great fit for working together with Nutcase, is that he is constantly exploring a balance between passion and possibility.

Ryan started biking as a young kid. From the start, he says, he was intrigued both by how he could get skilled at doing standard tricks and stunts, and also excited by the idea of trying things no one had tried before.

“What got me excited was what hadn’t been explored on a bicycle,” he says. “Early in my career I was able to perform some pretty incredible stunts by putting myself into dangerous circumstances.”

When you see a Ryan Leech stunt video, what’s first apparent is the great technical skill that he has developed from those ‘dangerous circumstances’ in stunt biking. Wow! Awesome! Cool!

After that, however, you start to notice the sweet calm and focus that is apparent in his riding. He’s practically one with the bicycle, as if it is truly an extension of his own body. That zone he gets into when riding, as he describes it, is a place where the muscle memory that his body has from practicing is coupled with an ongoing mental practice of trusting his own ability.

Check out these clips from Ryan’s recent trip to Portland and California:

That zone, he says, has developed in part from his yoga practice.

“You could say that earlier in my career I forced myself into that zone, and if I wasn’t in danger it wasn’t challenging,” he says. “It is through yoga and meditation, though, through my long term practice, that has enabled me to get into the zone without the danger aspect.”

Ryan says he doesn’t take as many physical risks now as he did earlier in his career, because he constantly progresses in his work by playing more of his mental edge.

Teaching others how to find that edge – that zone – has become important to him. For example, he recently created the “30-day wheelie challenge” program that is designed to allow adults to learn how to gain a great skill – wheelies – on a bicycle.

“Really there aren’t any true shortcuts,” he says. “What is really important for us all is to learn to get into a place of learning where there might be some real discomfort, exploring the mind-body connection at that discomfort junction, and learning to stay there and practice mindfulness. That’s where we really grow.”

In addition to wearing Nutcase helmets, Ryan is working with us on some great videos, including highlighting our new partnership with the Brain Injury Association of America. More on that soon!