Between the Motos: Ryan Hughes

September 29, 2009 1:20pm
By J.P. O’Connell

After not competing at the top level of motocross for nearly 4 years Ryan Hughes signed on the dotted line with Moto Twisted 7 Honda to compete at the final round of the MX1 British Motocross Championship. After securing 9th and 13th for a 12th place overall finish at Cornwall’s Landrake Moto Parc, we tracked down Ryno to find him handing out his gear to a huge crowd of adoring new fans. 

Racer X: Ryan, I guess the first question is what brings you here to the UK?
Ryan Hughes: “Well it’s trying to promote what I’m doing now; you know the coaching, teaching, Rynoland, Ryno Organics, all that different stuff. You know America is of course the biggest market but if you add up all of the other countries it’s bigger than the U.S., so rather than just have an American audience I want a worldwide audience. This has been my idea to have kind of a world tour and promote what I’m doing, as well as letting people see that I can still ride and that I’m still about it, in order for me to open up a market for next year. I plan to come back to all of these countries again next year as well as, hopefully, getting people out to the U.S. – a 50/50 split would be good. As well as the motocross I have a range of organic foods that I’m trying to promote and hopefully get worldwide, you know I’m not trying to get it all done in one year, I realize that this is a four, five year deal.”

So there’s a lot more to Ryno than just motocross these days?
“Well right now it’s purely trying to break into the motocross training market over here [U.K.] because everybody knows me that way. Once the coaching and teaching gets under way then they find out that there’s just as much about me that’s nutrition and training as there is the technical part on the motorcycle, and they get to see I’m really well rounded in what it takes to be one of the top motocrossers.”

Whose idea was it for you to ride this round of the British Motocross Championship?
“It was my idea to come over here and do a race, I mean it’s one thing to come over and teach a school but it’s another to come and show some people that, hey he can still ride and has the potential and a little different technique as well as still being very fit at 37 years old. I have about 10 years on most of the people here, I still think I have the pace but maybe today wasn’t the day to shine, but that’s motocross, you know. Importantly I’m walking away on my own two feet and with a smile on my face, as well as giving some of my old fans the opportunity to see me ride and also, hopefully, having made some new ones.”

In the UK we only really got to watch you once the internet got up to speed in about 2002!
( Laughing) “I’ve been about a lot longer than the internet! My pro career started in ’88, so it’s now 21 years of pro racing and there’s not too many people in the world who can say that and still be top 10 in pretty much any race that they go to. I still feel I can go better than 10th but what happens at the weekends is in the hands of the racing gods and is out of your control. It is what it is, the first moto was in my control, we had some settings that we changed and didn’t go back to so I kind of shot myself in the ass with that one! The second moto I felt better but got clipped on the first lap and was dead last.”

After nearly 4 years of not racing motocross how did you feel out there?
“Well I finished 9th in the first moto but the bike was riding me and I just don’t have that killer instinct to put it on the edge when I need to.”

Did I just hear Ryno say he doesn’t have the “killer” instinct!
(Laughing) “Well… I guess not what people are used to. When I feel comfortable then I have that instinct, but when I’m not then it’s just not worth me putting it on the edge. If I had won this weekend then it’s not like I was going to sign a contract or anything, you know I’d have just gone back home to do the same s**t, and If I’d got last then I would have gone home and done the same s**t! I’m 37 and I’ve spent a long time on the couch injured and that takes some of the killer instinct away.”

Even without that killer instinct, in the second moto you came from last on lap 1 to fight right back to 13th at the finish.
“Yeah, we made some adjustments to the bike and I got a good start, I think I was in 4th, and someone ran into the back of me and took me down, that’s all it takes and I was in dead last. I started coming through and was kind of stuck in the style I’d been using in the first moto, then managed to start using the technique that I have developed and It started flowing real well. Unfortunately I had a little technical problem when my silencer started falling off, so that’s a couple of horsepower given up for sure, and on this track that’s a biggie. I’m not going to start making excuses, I’ve had better races and I’ve had worse, Like I say I had a good time and the main thing is that I’m walking away completely healthy... except I’m freakin’ tired!”

What did you think of the track, was it what you were expecting?
“This was a technical track man, I mean you’ve got to be on top of your game. Again people will always think that you’re making excuses but I’m just not used to these conditions, these are real European conditions, real hard top with big long muddy ruts and we don’t really have that in the States now, they bring in sand and sawdust… and of course it only rains for like 2 months of the year in California. After 4 years of not really riding at the top level of motocross it takes some getting used to.”

How much testing did you get to do before the weekend?
“Uh, I rode one day with no testing at all! I brought over my suspension from my practice bike, suspension that anybody can buy from Factory Connection, popped it into the bike and there you go. If I’d managed to get some testing done at a track similar to this then maybe I could have done a little better, but like I say, it is what it is.”

I’d heard some chat, did you feel like you came into this race with something of a target on your back?
“Of course, you know everybody wants to beat you, when I was younger and I raced RJ and Wardy and all those guys I wanted to beat them too. I could feel that I had a target on my back, when people got behind me they tried that extra bit harder, but that’s racing and good for them. If they didn’t have that in them then they need to put the bike on its stand and go home.”

What are your plans for 2010?
“For 2010 I want to come back to the couple of stops that I’ve made, I’ve also done a three year deal with Fox to headline their new Fox athletic line and we’re talking about doing a world tour where I stop off and do like a boot camp/training school including the physical, mental and technical skills of motocross, with Fox obviously promoting their athletic line as well as MX gear.

So that’s the plan for 2010 as well as keep progressing my philosophy that I have to the motocross community because I go about it a little bit different than a lot of people do. There are a lot of keys to unlocking the master lock to being one of the best riders and I believe that I have the experience and deepest level of knowledge after 21 years as a pro, it’s like having been at Harvard for 21 years!”

If you are interested in learning from a bona fide motocross legend or are interested in Ryan’s organic range please visit the following links.