(Editor’s note: We set down a list of questions for Ricky to answer, and below are his comments. We asked him about what he likes to be called, his mechanic Chad Watts, marriage, training, riders he looks up to, fans, injuries, activities outside of racing, and why he uses the #4.)
Well, somehow thru racing I picked up the nick-name RC, and that has pretty much stuck with me. My long-time friends call me both RC and Ricky. I won’t go into what my Dad calls me!
Chad Watts is my mechanic. I’ve known Chad since I rode 60’s. We met back when he worked with Bobby Barr Racing. Later on, he worked with Ryan Hughes. I’d see him at a lot of races, including Loretta Lynn’s. A long time ago, there was a big mud race at Loretta’s, and Chad created this goofy looking cone thing that he wrote my number on and attached to me. There was a photo of that in Cycle News with me pulling the holeshot, and this big ol’ cone with my number on top of my head. It was really funny.
Chad’s been a big part of my success due to the understanding we have, and how we prepare our bikes. Chad always knows what I’m trying to explain to him, whether it’s about suspension or motor or whatever. And he is always able to set up the bikes how I like them.
As a lot of you might know, I’m recently married to my long-time girlfriend Ursula. Does it make any difference being single or married? I think not. Ursula is a very special woman.
She doesn’t go to the races and sit by me all the time and hand me my water or walk the track with me. She comes to a lot of the races, and she knows when I have a job to do.
She has her own interests too. At home we have horses and dogs, and she has interest in that. I guess since we’ve been together so long during my career, it doesn’t really make any difference being single or married.
One of the questions was about my physical preparations. Well, let’s put it this way – IF I TOLD YOU I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU! ; )
Now, on to mental prep. For me, I try to have a good time and be in a good frame of mind at the races. I work so hard at home during the week, practicing and training, that I feel confident when the weekend comes around and it’s time for racing. I know that I’m as totally prepared as I can be when I get to the race.
When I was a little kid, I looked up to a lot of the top riders. And now, I know that a lot of little kids look up to me. I get tons of fan mail, and lots of it is from kids. I try hard to answer as many as I can, usually while I’m at my parent’s house. The coolest thing is seeing all the drawings that kids send – they put all the logos in the right place! And they obviously put a lot of thought into it, and that’s great. I try very hard at the races to do whatever I can for as many kids as possible.
Who were some of those riders I admired when I was younger? Jeff Ward, because he rode Kawasaki his entire pro career, and that’s what I grew up on. I saw Jeff at the Tampa supercross in person, and that was great to see. I liked Brian Swink because he lived and practiced in Tallahassee, and he was just naturally a bad @#$ on the bike ; ) We practiced together a lot when we were on 80’s, and he always knocked me down and laughed at me. Ronnie Tichenor is another rider I liked – I got my first three-wheeler from his dad’s shop. We started going to the bigger races in Gainesville and Tampa together, and he was always kicking butt.
|RC and Ursula|
Our sport can be tough, and injuries can be a part of it. I’ve been pretty lucky as far as bad injuries go. It’s something I try not to focus on too much. If you start worrying about getting hurt when you are riding, you loose your focus.
In dealing with some of my past injuries, I’ve developed a great relationship here in my hometown with both Dr. Berg (Orthopedist) and Dr. Snyder (ER Doc). They’ve both helped me tremendously with mental support as well as patching me back up. They know what my routine is here at home, so they always give me the right instructions for a quick recovery. They know I’ll follow their instructions so I won’t have problems for myself later.
Racing is a big part of my life. But outside of racing, I look up to people like Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, and others that have been successful for long periods of time.
In racing, I set goals for myself. I try to be as prepared as possible each season, and see what it brings. I’ve already had a lot of good years.
Some goals I’ve accomplished that I’m proud of: winning two supercross titles back to back while Jeremy was racing – that had never been done before. Having a ‘perfect’ season outdoors in ’02 – that hadn’t been done before either. I certainly never thought it would go that far.
|Chad Watts gets a ride|
When I’m done racing, I’ll probably stay here in the Tallahassee area. I like it, I grew up here, and we want our kids to be raised here. There’s plenty of room for us to ride motorcycles, horses, and do some hunting.
I know a lot of people only see us at the track. But the time during the week is important too. Not only for practicing and training, but taking care of other things such as the media and sponsors.
Up until last year, my parents handled a lot of that for me. We recently hired SportsLink out of Orlando Florida, and now they do all my contracts and work with sponsors. They are working out great.
My mom still does a lot of book work, and sets up interviews, and stuff like that. Between SportsLink and my parents, they keep me up-to-date on everything that’s going on. If we need to make a ‘group’ decision, I’ll give my input. But this set-up frees up more of my time to focus on racing.
Lots of people have asked me ‘Hey RC, why do you run the #4 plate instead of the #1?’ Well, when I got my first three-wheeler, my uncle was racing stock cars, and his number was #4. I didn’t know any other people or anything else about racing, so I wanted to be the same number as him. I like the #4, so I’m still using it!
With the little free time I have for myself, I like to wake board, play golf, and sit by the pool with friends, family, and our dogs in the summer. In the winter there is even less free time, but I like to hunt when I can.
My dad and I belong to a local hunting club, along with his boss and son. We all go out and have a good time. Even Ursula likes to go and sit in the hunting ‘stand’ with me. Heck, she can outshoot me in Skeet!
Lots of kids ask me how to become a professional rider. There isn’t any one correct answer, but I can tell you racing at the professional level takes all your time if you are going to be good at it. And you miss out on all the stuff your friends are doing, and the fun that goes with it. You can’t hang with your friends all the time if you are a professional. You need to stay home, and take care of business – lots of training and practice – for years and years.
For life in general, I tell kids that if you are responsible, and have pride in what you do, you’ll make good decisions no matter what you do.