Tune in to the Discovery Channel tonight, when Ryan Van Duzer (Boulder's "Out There Guy" endurance athlete and adventure journalist) gets dropped off at Angel Falls with a bunch of annoying people and has to help them find their way out in Out of the Wild: Venezuela.
Better yet, head up to the Lazy Dog in Boulder, 1346 Pearl Street, and watch it with Duzer and friends at 7 p.m. We caught up with him for a quick chat, but first check out this trailer:
Westword: Around these parts you're probably best known as the dude who rode one of those red New Belgium Brewing cruiser bikes across the country. You're no stranger to endurance sports and adventure travel, so I'm curious: What was different about this experience? Ryan Van Duzer: What was different about this one was starvation. Usually when I do these adventure marathons or bike rides, I eat thousands of calories a day so my body's well-fed. This adventure we did not do that. We pretty much lived off of handfuls of termites and bugs and rotten jungle fruit. We really weren't eating a whole lot of food. If we'd been well-fed this would have just been a fun backpacking trip.
WW: There's some level of artifice to these survival-type series on TV, and obviously you had access to some outs if things really went bad. What did you get out of the experience? RVD: Yeah, there were outs, but who wants to be the guy who takes them? It was the most amazing experience of my life, and this is coming from a guy who's done some pretty amazing things. We starved, we slept in mud, and when it rained we were cold and shivering. We had none of the comforts that you would normally have when you're out in the wild: No tents, to sleeping bags, no sleeping pads. We were completely at the mercy of Mother Nature. But it was interacting with the other people that made it interesting: A lot of my endurance stuff I do alone, so I only have to rely on me. This one was about working as a team. We all kind of set off each other's talents and used each other in other ways.
WW: Were there some people who you might not choose as travel partners on a future trip? RVD: Let's just say there were some conflicts, and it's going to make for pretty good TV. But you know, like, when you miss dinner, how cranky you get? Well, imagine missing dinner for ten days. So it was kind of understandable. People were just frustrated, everyone was having a difficult time and, of course, tempers flared.
WW: How did the opportunity to be on the show come about? RVD: Ironically, my mother -- who hates when I do these kinds of crazy adventures -- she's the one who sent me the link to the casting call. She saw it on the Sierra Trading Post site, you know, "Are you ready to test your mettle against the toughest?" and blah blah blah, something like that. I sent in an audition video, and a couple weeks later I was in L.A. for live auditions. The next thing I know I'm on a plane to Venezuela.
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WW: Why do they call you the "Out There Guy?" RVD: I started a local cable access TV show in Boulder on channel 54 called Out There, and I would just run around Boulder, do all sorts of fun outdoor adventure activities, and after a while people started to recognize me on the street, like "Hey, you're the Out There guy!" Then The Daily Camera started running my weekly series and the Out There Guy was born.
WW: Do you want to give a shout out for the Out of the Wild viewing party tonight in Boulder? RVD: I'm having a big party at the Lazy Dog on Pearl Street, and hopefully lots of people come because we're raising money for the President's Leadership Class at CU that I was a part of when I went there. We're gonna drink a bunch of beers, watch the show and make fun of me on TV.