David Watson

CEO, Sombrio Age: 36

David Watson grew up on a mountain bike; today he’s sitting on a mountain of Sombrio sportswear; a brand that’s known to freeriders around the world.

“I don’t ride professionally anymore,” he said. “You can only huck yourself so many times.”

At an age when most kids hang out at the mall, Watson won the title of Mountain Bike World Champion and was a member of Canada’s National Cycling Team.

“I used to train all winter and surfed at Sombrio Beach in Victoria in the off-season. I could picture the area as a bike park instead of a surfing beach and dreamed of doing a clothing line one day.”

Before his head turned to business, Watson spent his time carving out an entirely new way of mountain biking that is now recognized as freeriding.

These days, Watson is known in the sports apparel world for performance wear designed specially for freeriders.

“I created the clothing because there was a void in the market. I used to break five bikes a year because they weren’t designed for freeriding. Clothes have to be specific too. They need to have Lycra and be more wearable on and off the bike.”

Watson literally made the first clothes himself. He surrounded himself with people in the industry, went to trade shows and learned the craft.

“I built up the product line one piece at a time.”

These days, Watson is reaching for new goals by taking the sport to kids in communities from Jordan to Costa Rica. •