Privateer Profile: Solitaire

August 2, 2007 9:12am

My mind is a constant jumble of things I want to do, things I have to do, and things I should do. There are things I have to do, like paying bills, booking plane tickets, and writing paychecks. The things I want to do would include extracurricular activities such as a round of golf with my buddies or a date with my gorgeous wife. But the things I should do are the ones that keep me up at night.
Elementary school would have been the perfect time to start a career. My days were filled with things like spelling tests, recess, and riding bikes in my front yard. I’m sure back then I could have worked in some quality time planning my future endeavors, but I was too busy being a kid.

Middle school consisted mainly of trying not to get in fights with Albuquerque’s hardcore gangsters (like Ivan Tedesco) who ran my school the way Tony Soprano runs New Jersey.

Team Solitaire's Ryan Clark

photo: Simon Cudby

High school was when things started to get a little more hectic for me. Between schoolwork and travel for racing, there wasn’t too much time left for prom, homecoming, or even school sports. But even with all that I thought was going on in my world, I was free to dream as big as I could and then go out and chase it. It was right about this time that I figured out exactly which dream I wanted to chase. But without much guidance, I was making mistake after mistake and taking the roughest line both on and off the track. I didn’t have a riding coach, a trainer, or a whole lot of money in the bank. What I did have was a 1990 Ford F-150 and a map, so I started driving.

I think the ultimate irony in life is that by the time you have gained the knowledge you need to really understand something and the financial stability to pursue it, you rarely have the time left to realize it. This isn’t true in all facets of life, but it certainly holds water when it comes to things like professional sports. It seems that, at least in motocross, the riders who are currently the most successful—Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart—really didn’t have very many career options. Their parents pushed them very hard from an early age and, at least in their cases, they became accomplished motorcycle racers. My parents, on the other hand, really didn’t want me to do this for a living and gave me a million other options before I settled on this as a career. So while I was busy being a kid, James and Ricky were being trained like Ivan Drago. By the time I had gained the knowledge and experience that led me to the decision that I wanted to become a professional, I was already a good lap down.

Now I’m 29, and I have a family of my own. I believe that I possess the knowledge needed to become a champion, although only time will tell if I am able to do it myself or if I will have to pass it on to the next generation though my race team. When I look back at my childhood and adolescence, it was the best time of my life. I learned things on my own and made so many mistakes on my path to success. I believe that I am successful not because I have a lot of money or have won a thousand races, but because I am happy and content in my life. Starting at a disadvantage is not an excuse for failure, but rather a catalyst for hard work. Better late than never, so the saying goes. 

There are a billion paths you could follow in life, each one leading you to a different place. Do the things you have to do because you can never turn your back on your responsibilities. Do the things you want to do because those are the ones that make you appreciate life; they are rewards for your hard work. And lastly, do the things you should do. Those are the ones that keep you dreaming and, more importantly, keep you young at heart.