5 Minutes With... Ronnie Renner

Red Bull’s Ronnie Renner is going to try and one-up his Red Bull Experience from last year, when he hit the quarter pipe on the Santa Monica Pier. Tomorrow, he’ll be hitting the same ramp, but trying to go bigger, in Chicago, in what is called the Red Bull High Rise.

Racer X: Hey Ronnie, what’s going on?
Ronnie Renner: Nothing much, just getting ready for the latest Red Bull Experiment, and unfortunately it’s X Games next week so focusing on this is probably not going to amp up my performance. But I’ll go home and practice my butt off for three days once I get home. Right now, I’m feeling more in tune with the quarter pipe than I am with Step-Up and Best Whip, though, that’s for sure.

You have to figure out a way for them to include a quarter-pipe competition in the X Games!
Yeah, I know! Big Air on the quarter-pipe, how can we get that in the X Games.

Explain this latest stunt – I guess that’s the right word. You’re going back to the quarter pipe, so why?
It’s a quarter-pipe like you see with skateboards and bicycles, and you add that into motocross, and it’s a full-on, 180-degree, mega-ramp-style ramp, and I’m trying to go as high as I possibly can on it.

So the goal is to go a lot bigger than the last time you did it on the pier in Santa Monica?
I don’t know about a lot, but I realized really quick that the record that I set last year was legit. I gave it 110 percent. I am confident that I’ll break the record, but I don’t know by how much. It had better be by more than inches or I’ll be disappointed with myself. I want to beat it by a significant amount – five or 10 feet or something.

What made you want to do this again?
Well, when Red Bull approached me about ideas, I basically had the quarter pipe in mind to take it more to the masses. I’m not a super-innovative guy, I guess. It’s all about how you set yourself up, and I didn’t want to set myself up for something that I couldn’t handle. I felt like last year I did good, but I spent a majority of my practice time getting angles right and testing more than actually pushing to go high. Now that I got that out of the way, I feel like I can push going higher.

I saw the ramp out at the Red Bull Compound. Have you put in a lot of practice on it over the last year or so?
No, I haven’t touched it since last summer! That was the last time I actually jumped it. I came back in May and jumped it one more time. But the thing is, I’m not trying to be a braggart or anything, but when I jump it, I have to set it up a bit differently than when the other guys jump it. They put the two ramps really close and jump sort of sideways on it. I have to spread the gap out about 30 feet between the takeoff and the landing just to start jumping it high. If I did this all the time, dude, I would for sure splat myself because you have to be totally focused. I don’t do more than 10 or 15 jumps at night when I practice, because at those heights, it’s just flat-out scary.

  • Ronnie Renner and Chicago's Mayor Daley hang out by Renner's bike.
It’s almost like you could lull yourself into a false sense of security and wad yourself up...
Yeah, it’s comparable to the bigger tricks in freestyle – it’s just 110 percent focus and confidence.

Where is this actually going to be physically located in Chicago?
It’s called Butler Field, and it’s the north part of Grant Park right along the coast, and it butts right up against the city skyline.

We were talking about X Games coming up, and this is less than a week from the start. What are you thinking about going into X?
I have a half an evening with five jumps practicing whips, and zero at step-up. I’m going to do a crunch session, though, because I have three solid days when I get back and I should be able to crunch some riding into it. I’m nervous because I want to go there and do good, just like anybody else out there, it’s just that step-up’s a hard thing to practice anyways, and not having the time is going to make it even tougher. I’m not making excuses, but I’ve got to work my butt off when I get home.

There’s no real way to practice step-up because the jump is different every time...
Right. It’s a lot like the quarter-pipe, too: I can go and jump it fairly small and be safe, but it really comes down to crunch time when the pressure’s on and the crowd’s there and the contest is in full swing, and then you just have to commit to twisting the throttle when it doesn’t make sense to twist the throttle.

  • Renner and the mayor hang out in front of the Red Bull ramp in Chicago.
With Best Whip, you’re going to be facing off with freestyle guys like Miles Richmond, but you’ve also got James Stewart jumping in this year, and I hear Josh Grant will be on a YZ250 two-stroke. How do you expect that this is going to play out?
Dude, it’s going to be crazy! I never claimed to be the best whipper or anything like that, but I think I have one style of whip that, if the conditions are right, it stands out pretty good, but the way the format goes, if it’s anything like last year, I’m not all that fired up to rely on people text-messaging for who won. I would rather have a real judge – people who ride motorcycles and know how hard it is to whip. I’m not saying that would’ve made me win last year, but it would’ve been more legit to me. So I really look at it like it’s a good time to go out there and do your thing. I think freestyle needs stuff like that. I do want to win! Don’t get me wrong! But it’s also an hour and a half before the step-up competition, which makes it difficult because I’d rather win that than the Best Whip.

Richmond was pulling some cool whips where he was backward in the air, too...
That’s the thing about whips is that there are so many different styles, and when I first heard of the contest, I was going to give it the Renner Whip as good as I could, and then we got there and the format was a jam session where we keep going and going, so that wasn’t really working how I would like, and also the way the setup was, I usually carve the ramp, and they have the run back up the starting ramp going right beside where I normally carve the ramp, so I just couldn’t get comfortable. Miles has such good diversity on every whip, with the turn-down look-back, upside-down whips... And the same with Todd Potter, he can whip it a lot of different ways. That’s where it’s going to get really gnarly with James in the mix and Grant. They can throw that bike any way they want it. I’ve got mad respect for those guys. So I guess the way to put it is that if I get beat there isn’t anybody there that I’m going to be depressed to get beat by them. All of those guys are amazing. I’m going to throw mine the best I can.

Thanks a lot for your time, Ronnie.
No problem, Steve-O.