By Ryan Stumpe, Sweat Life Executive Video Producer
I’ve put a lot of hours in, traveled through 8 states, drove 4000 miles, got a Town and Country stuck in a Utah canyon, bought a salon blowout for a 40-year-old man, gave a bike a shower in a Reno casino bathroom, learned how to change the flat tire of a backcountry bush plane, hid a 6-pack in a cattle guard, hitched a ride from a Humboldt county farmer, shipped 5 bikes across the country 6 times, watched a hotel clerk walk out on their boss, had a stare down with a cow, did it again, rode under moonlight 30 miles from anywhere, and experienced a new trail in every corner of the country. It’s 12 days in a schedule that has me away from home often (my calendar shows that I was in Brooklyn for just as many days between Labor Day and Christmas). I tend to never be fully unpacked before rearranging my bags for the next flight. I work as a Producer and Director on commercials and web content. I love it. And to top it off, sometimes I get to sprinkle that work with projects for the bike and ski industry, other things I really love.
"...but the magic of life can be unpredictable, and I’m standing by to experience this first-hand."
My life is about to change completely, at least that’s what everyone tells me. As I write, my wife and I are just weeks from the due date of our first child, a girl. Honestly, I’m aware it could happen at any moment. Friends of mine have experienced early labor, even children showing up 3 months premature. Thankfully all are healthy and happy, but the magic of life can be unpredictable, and I’m standing by to experience this first-hand. My wife has been her usual self throughout pregnancy, surprising me at every corner with her positive attitude, her cheerful spirit, and a pretty amazing glow. Of course I’m thankful every day. I assume it can’t be easy gaining an extra 1/4 of your body weight — that can’t be comfortable, right? It must be annoying having someone constantly kicking you in the ribs, from the inside. I’ve become aware that the smell of broccoli could induce nausea on Tuesday and be craved on Thursday. But she carries it all with grace, we did choose to have a child after all, and there is no point in being miserable about the process if you can help it.
But for everything that is happening inside of her, and for the small help I’ve been, building the crib, painting the nursery, experiencing birthing class and hospital visits, I’m mostly just a spectator to this point. I come home from these excursions and get to be a teammate, but mostly I’m riding the bench and offering support in the huddle. It’s something I’ve been able to spend a lot of time thinking about during all that driving, digging a van out of sand, waiting for a replacement bush plane inner tube, and having stare downs with cows 30 miles from anywhere.
"I’ve always wanted to be a father. Always."
I’ve always wanted to be a father. Always. My parents divorced when I was 5. Although my step-father is incredible, and I can attribute much of my practical skill set to his engineering mind and watching him tinker in our garage — I’ve classically been troubled with my own father raising a step-family on the other side of the country, and until very recently missed a connection with him I could find comfort in. So yeah, I’ve always wanted to be a father. Obviously it’s because I want to have a strong comfortable connection with my daughter, for one, so I know it is possible, and more importantly, because she and her mother deserve it from me. Additionally, it’s about time I get away with my sense of humor based almost entirely on dad jokes.
"Additionally, it’s about time I get away with my sense of humor based almost entirely on dad jokes."
So I thought about it. I thought how great it would be to have her out here with me, experiencing life though this wanderlust project. Having her by my side while we find new trails, explore new canyons, use logic to change a tire, and use physics to get vans un-stuck. She would learn so much! She would have so much fun! She would be so cool! She would find confidence out here. She would learn how to take care of herself. She would be ready to tackle anything life throws at her, and understand that if she wants to do something, she better want to have fun doing it!
But that’s not going to happen. Not for a few years at least. First she’s going to need her mother and I to make sure she is safe. We will need to teach her how to eat and make her feel comfortable so she can sleep. We’ll have to guide her through using the bathroom and deal with blowouts until she gets it down. She’ll learn words from us. She’ll learn to stand up, to walk, and soon after to run and jump… And soon after that, she’ll learn about falling. I’ll need to stop using her room as a place to leave my bags half packed. I’ll need to show her I’m there for her fully, whenever she needs me. These adventures aren't going to start when we go out on a bike ride together for the first time or when I hear her giggle in a plume of fresh powder, those are moments I can only hope for. This adventure begins with her. It won’t be her by my side, it will be me by her side. I get to experience everything for the first time with her. The adventure is hers now.
"I get to experience everything for the first time with her. The adventure is hers now."
I’ll still work, and have fun making sure I offer my best on any job — our family depends on my wife and I putting food on the table, keeping the roof overhead, and making sure the Netflix account doesn’t expire. However, producing “The Adventure Dispatch” may be the last time I’m more interested in following a group of cyclists to parts unknown, than finding a spot I can hold a signal long enough to FaceTime with my wife and daughter. If she grows up with half the wanderlust of this project, she’s in for a pretty great ride — and that’s the adventure I can’t wait to watch!
Note: Ryan Stumpe is the Co-Executive Producer of video content for The Sweat Life. Additionally he produces and shoots commercials for national and global markets, and with Director Warren Kommers has created a niche in the cycling world for films that capture the human spirit and its drive to push further. They recently produced a documentary series for Specialized Bicycle Components spotlighting the Adventure line of products. “The Adventure Dispatch” can be seen online this month.
Ryan Stumpe is a Director of Photography for Motion Pictures, Television, and Advertising, as well as the Creative Director and Principal Producer of AVERingenuity LLC, a design and specialty production company. He has led a smart and devoted crew through the storms of productions large and small for over 10 years. A product of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest, Ryan's work ethic runs deep and is only challenged by his sense of humor. Known for ideas that increase the efficiency of the way things get done, his talents behind the lens have generated a handful of awards, all of which he sends to his mother's house to be kept safely in the attic with the rest of his good memories. Ryan is internationally traveled and holds a current passport. He resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, Madalyn, and is an avid cyclist and telemark skier.