5 Minutes with... Ryan Morais

“My shoulder just popped out and went right back in,” reflected Ryan Morais of hitting the dirt at the curtain-dropping Las Vegas Supercross last May. “I haven’t rode since the Vegas Supercross.” Three months on and having missed the first two-thirds of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki 250F rider is – contingent upon his doctor’s release – about to begin riding in preparation for the final two rounds of the world’s premier motocross series. Deeply disappointed at not being able to make a run at the red and black number plate this summer, the native of Turlock, California and third place finisher in the 2009 AMA West Region Supercross Championship has felt his spirits lift as of late, as, at the least, he will be able see where he stands amongst the 250 class fray at Southwick and Steel City.

  • Ryan Morais
Racer X: Hey Ryan, so were you out riding today?
I wish [laughter]. No, I was just doing physical therapy on my shoulder this morning and then I did some training with my trainer. Then it was off to the chiropractor and a massage. It was a full day.

Just healing up as fast as you can, huh?
Yep. I’ve just been training really hard and just going to therapy three or four times a week. I actually have a doctor’s appointment today to kind of find out where I’m at. I’m shooting to come back for Southwick and the last two Nationals – that’s my plan. I think I’ll have like two weeks or a week and a half on my bike if I get released when I’m hoping. I won’t have much bike time, but I think physically I’ll be ready.

Last week I ran into you at Pro Circuit. You were in front of Mitch’s porting bench and having a conversation with him. Were you just sort of checking in?
Yeah, I go down there once a week and just touch base and talk with the mechanics and Zach [White] and Mitch. I just go on in there and do my part. I’m still on the team and working hard and those guys give me everything I need still even though I’m not riding. I figure that’s the least I can do – is to come in there once a week and show my respect.

How has Mitch been with you since you’ve been on the “injured reserve” list?
He’s been awesome. He’s been 100% supportive. He’s been like, “Do what it takes to be right and don’t come back unless you’re ready.”

  • Sidelined all season so far, Ryan hopes he'll get to race the last two rounds.
Do you feel frustrated, dude? Do you feel like the world is going by without you? I mean you always seem to get hit by bad luck. You come off an excellent supercross season and end up injured right before the first National…
What you just said kind of describes my whole career. I get the ball rolling and then it’s just an up-and-down roller coaster. It keeps life interesting. It makes me appreciate it when I’m gone. I work hard and I appreciate every day that I have.

Have you been watching all the races on TV?
Yeah, I’ve watched the internet and I watch the races when they come on TV. I’ve been following it really close and pulling my hair out when I’m watching it on my computer [laughter].

So from what you have seen, if you were healthy, could you see yourself being right in the mix?
Yeah. During that break during the West Coast I was doing a lot of outdoor testing and I felt good. My endurance was awesome and my times were good and it’s the best I’ve ever felt. And my bike was just amazing. That thing is just ridiculous. I can’t thank those guys down there at Monster/Pro Circuit enough for my supercross season. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if they wouldn’t have given me the chance and all the support they have given me. I just wish I could have went outdoors and paid them back with good results there.

If you had to guess, could you have seen yourself running in the top five outdoors?
That was the goal that I set for myself: To be top five every weekend. I think realistically after watching it all, I think, “Man, if you’re top five every weekend, you’d be the most consistent guy out there.” I flew to RedBud and watched Jake [Weimer] go 2-4 and win the overall. If you can run that top eight or 10 every moto, you can win! I think, realistically, I could see myself in the top 10 every weekend. My goal was top five, but I think that if you can be a top 10 guy every weekend, you’re in the mix.

Well, in the West Region Supercross Series, you went 2-3-2-5-2-2-2-3. That’s impressive consistency…
That fifth place (at San Francisco) really hurt me in the points. Unfortunately,
That was my hometown race so I had a lot of hype going into that race and was really amped up. I think I might have put a little too much pressure on myself to go there and win and just got a bad start in the main event. That track was really easy to ride and hard to pass on and it was frustrating. Overall, though, I think my supercross series was beyond what I expected myself to do and I think a little bit beyond what the Pro Circuit guys kind of expected me to do. Probably not Mitch. I know Mitch knew what I could do. Man, I was so thankful. The whole series was so much fun. It makes racing so much more relaxed when you’re up there battling with those guys.

  • Morias is part of the
So Southwick on August 29 is the date you hope to be back at it?
Yeah, we’re looking at probably a couple more weeks so I can ride. I’m just itching to get back on my bike. I know my mechanic Paul [Perebijnos] just can’t wait right now. Although I know Paul is pretty busy right now. I know that he’s spinning wrenches for [Josh] Hansen for X Games, so he’s excited he has something going right now.

If you get on the bike and make it to the last two Nationals, what are you going to try and accomplish?
Right away, I’m going to practice my starts a lot before I go. I think starts are really, really important for outdoors considering how fast the top 10 guys are. It’s just like a freight train out there. I’ve been cycling a lot. I’ve been putting in 30 to 35 miles every day. I’ve been doing gym workouts. I’ve been doing everything I possibly can to make sure that when I come back I’m where I was when I left.

Have you been watching the Tour de France?
Every morning I’ve been getting up at 6 and watching the Tour, doing physical therapy, coming home and hopping on my bicycle.

It’s cool watching the Tour, isn’t it?
It’s been great. It gives me a little more motivation and gets me excited to get on my bike. Also, my trainer Darren Stockton has just been helping me through this whole deal. He’s been awesome.

  • Ryan sat on the fringes of victory several times this supercross season
Will you do any of the off-season races or is that sort of a “check with Mitch” kind of deal?
That’s so far beyond what I’m shooting for right now. I really don’t know. Obviously, I don’t have a deal for next year yet. So it all depends where I’m at. Hopefully I can stay with Mitch. The guy has just been awesome and that team is just amazing and I would love to stay with those guys and give them another great season like Jake and I did this year.

Okay my friend, anyone you want to give a shout out to?
I’d like to thank Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki. Everyone down there – Mitch and Zach. I’d like to thank Mike Fisher at Kawasaki and everyone for giving me the chance they gave me and for believing in me. Obviously, my wife. She’s a big part of my whole situation and she’s always there for me. I want to thank my family, friends and my trainer Darren for helping me turn around. I’d also like to thank the Z Gallerie and all of my sponsors and friends.

Oh, last question: How do you think Josh Hansen will do in the X Games?
I think Josh has the potential. I think he’s really turning it around. I just hope that he really takes full advantage with this opportunity that he got. Just like I did. If he does it right, it’s going to payoff big-time for him. If Josh can go there and get a medal, it’s going to help his career comeback around a lot. I’m pulling for that kid. We’ve been friends since we were 10 years-old. He used to live by me up north and his dad used to teach me when I was younger. Yeah, I’m definitely going to the X Games and rooting for Josh.