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Nanaimo man turns home into mountain biking paradise

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NANAIMO, B.C. -

To appreciate how Reece Wallace ended up riding his bike off the roof of his three-storey house — and what happened after — we need to go back to when he was a boy.

“I was a cautious daredevil,” Reece smiles, recalling how he regularly cycled around the neighbourhood, riding down long flights of stairs and jumping over high curbs. “I was pushing myself, but then trying not to kill myself.”

While the boy wanted to be either a biker or a pilot when he grew up, he definitely dreamed of having an expansive playground in his backyard.

“My mom always said, ‘If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen,’” Reece says.

So Reece started working a series of jobs at fast-food restaurants to save money to achieve his goals.

Over the next decade, he earned his pilot's licence and became a professional free-ride mountain biker. Then Reece focused on finding thing perfect property.

“I was like this soil feels awesome,” Reece recalls picking up a handful of dirt on a rural lot with a steep slope surrounded by forest. “I can make some good jumps out of this.”

Reece spent his life savings, followed by more than six months of clearing the land of dozens of dilapidated buildings filled with garbage.

“I wouldn’t do it again,” Reece laughs. “It’s a nightmare renovating.”

A nightmare followed by Reece doodling designs to realize his dream home.

“I’d draw things just as I would as a little kid,” Reece says, sketching images of ramps protruding from the house and jumps surrounding it.

Then Reece carved up his backyard with heavy equipment and constructed gigantic wooden ramps, turning his paper plans into five acres of limitless possibilities.

Now he’s planning to invite his fellow professionals and cycling enthusiasts to try out his tracks this summer at the Reece Wallace Invitational.

“I see my house as a blank canvas,” Reece says, before showing video of the feats he’s accomplished on his property. “I really can create or do whatever I like."

So if Reece imagines racing through his living room and dropping off his back deck, he goes for it.

“Why not do something different?” Reece says. “Have fun with it and be creative.”

Why not focus all your innate talent and years of training on riding off your roof?

“I was shaking in my boots up there,” Reece says before showing video of him riding off his three-storey home and landing safely. “Every part of your body is just focused on doing it and doing it correct.”

And then — when Reece wondered, ‘What’s next?’ — he noticed the tree beside his house was dying. He decided to lop off the top, use the wood to build a bridge from his roof to the tall stump, and jump off that.

“There‘s an adrenaline rush,” Reece says of landing the jump perfectly. “But there’s also a big sense of relief — oh I didn’t die!"

Which is followed by countless moments of gratitude every day, Reece says, for the advice his mom gave to her bike-riding boy about realizing his dreams.

“That’s sustained me with all the decisions I’ve made in my life,” Reece says. “Follow what you love, work hard at it, and everything will fall into place.”

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