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The Gearzette


- February 02, 2024

Ryan Kelly and his wife Beth produce inspirational mountain biking videos for their popular YouTube channel, The Loam Ranger. This probably explains why they and their two kids, Casey and Tom, live in Canmore, Alberta, just outside Banff National Park, the mecca for mountain biking, skiing and other fun outdoor pursuits. ​

Ryan went to school for recording engineering and then spent eleven years as a photographer and videographer before joining full-time YouTube video production in 2019. He cringes slightly when calling himself a storyteller, but his 395,000 subscribers certainly don’t. Front Runner recently met Ryan to discuss his Land Rover Discovery 4 and mountain biking. ​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

You must love where you live…​

As a prairie kid, I feel incredibly fortunate to wake up in the mountains daily, where I feel most at home. Getting to tell stories based on these dramatic landscapes keeps me excited and energized.​

You used to car camp in your Nissan Pathfinder but now drive a LR4? Why the change in your car camper of choice?​

Old Patty (the Pathfinder) is still alive and kicking, but with over 215,000 miles on its odometer, it was time to start looking for a new long-haul adventure vehicle. The LR4 is quite the machine, with a perfect mix of luxury and off-road capability.​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

An LR4 is a capable 4x4; what other mods have you made to your Land Rover? ​

I’ve been very impressed with its on-road and off-road performance. After booking several shoots that would require us to drive up some severe and high-altitude access roads, we knew we needed to install tires and wheels that would be up to the task. So, we opted for the popular BF Goodrich KM3 tires on the strong Tuffant Kimberley wheels, plus a decent brake upgrade. We’ve also put in an X-Lifter EAS module, which allows us to choose the exact ride height we want and utilizes the LR4’s air suspension to automatically level the vehicle for car camping. Now, that’s cool. ​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

Have you done any off-roading severe trails in your LR4? ​

We get our fair share of severe and wheels-off-the-ground off-roading, just getting up to some of our favorite riding spots in BC. The Mt. Swansea shuttle road at the end of a busy season isn’t for the faint-hearted. ​

What advice would you give anyone kitting out their van, 4x4, SUV or regular car for mountain biking getaways?​

Having a setup that allows you to bring plenty of food and water is a must. Safe bike storage, accessible tools and a spot to put sweaty bike clothes after the ride, all make for an ideal biking trip.​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

You love to head off and ride MTB trails in different places. What does this do for you?​

I love to ride world-class trails and, even more so, to tell stories. Travelling to ride and film incredible places like Whistler, Peru, Sedona, Revelstoke, and Madeira is a dream come true.​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

Tell us about all the bits of Front Runner kit you have added to your LR4. ​

If nothing else, I want a vehicle setup that buys me time. The time to settle into a location and get to know it without having to book expensive hotels; the time to relax and not worry about complicated setup and take-down procedures; and - most importantly - the time that I can spend with my kids during last-minute camping trips, whenever we like.​

The Front Runner system we’ve installed helps make all this possible. The Slimline II Roof Rack opened the doors to various camping and storage possibilities. We use the roof-mounted Wolf Pack Pros for tools, spare parts and recovery gear. The 2.5m Easy Out awning with the Awning Arm shelters us wherever we want. We also have the Roof Top Tent and the practical and easy-to-access Under Rack Table kit. Sleeping, storage and utility. All covered.​

What’s your favorite bit of FR gear?​

The rack itself is incredible, of course, but if there’s one thing I point out and show off to friends and family every time, it’s the Under Rack Table. That kit is so smartly designed, and having a proper table always available has been the unexpected highlight of the whole system.​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

What are the three best MTB trails you’ve ever ridden?​

Boondocker (Revelstoke, BC): a steep, single-black tech trail with natural drops and perfect dirt almost everywhere. If you ride it confidently and quickly, it morphs into one of the best flow trails I’ve ever experienced.​

Farol (Madeira, Portugal): this one is about the views. There’s often a blanket of clouds below as you fly down this beautiful line of single track. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.​

Lebens Run (Canmore, Alberta): this fun, fast trail is how we typically end our lunch rides here in Canmore. I’m always looking for ways to cut a half-second off my time here and there, which keeps it exciting.​

You must’ve stayed in some special campsites. Which are your favorites? ​

MTN FUN Basecamp (Squamish BC): I can’t remember the exact campsite number, but the last one I stayed at sits at the base of a vast cliffside. Boulders are piled up along one side of the site, with a breeze flowing through them and back out again, creating a natural, air-conditioned flow of air that hits just right after a warm summer bike ride in the Alice Lake zone.​

Cedar Falls Camping Resort (Vernon, BC): When our kids were much younger, we used to do a lot of camping there. The campsite was so-so, but the memories of those times spent in the woods with the family will never be forgotten.​

© Loam_Ranger_MTB

Is there one place, route, trail, or race you’ve yet to ride and still want to do?​

There are so many! If I had to pick one area, I’d choose "Super Morzine”. It’s a French riding zone that’s supposed to have some wildly steep trails, which I’d love to see for myself.