Here’s Ryan’s Pulpmx Show interview transcribed for your pleasure
Here’s Ryan’s Pulpmx Show interview transcribed for your pleasure
Photos by James Lissimore
So you’re going to Europe. You’re going to race MXGP’s next year. What was the decision behind that? Can you take us through why you’ve decided to do this?
Ryan Villopoto: To be honest at the time I was over it, unhappy with the grind and the day in and the day out. For me basically I was like okay, I sat down and was like, well what do I want to do? At this point in time now I can call those shots and do what I want to do and do what’s best for me and my people and my family and things like that. So for me I just sat down and figured out what I wanted to do. This is something that I wanted to keep doing at this level. I came to realize that at the level that I’m going to do this I need to make a change. I was over it, it wasn’t fun anymore. The little fun that there is was gone completely. A lot of that has to do with the regiment that’s over here, the schedule.
The shitty part about our racing here in the States is you have Feld Entertainment on one side and then you have Lucas Oil (Mx Sports) on the other side. They take all winter off and the other guys take all summer off. And we-as media, as athletes, as mechanics, as truck drivers, everybody, we’re all stuck in the middle. It’s just one toilet bowl effect. We’re caught bouncing between both series. It lasts your whole career. Your whole media career you’ll be doing that unless something changes. And as for myself I wasn’t willing to do that anymore.
People see the champagne, the giant fake checks and the Monster girls, and they’ think it’s so awesome. They’re not there on a Wednesday afternoon when it’s 100 degrees in Florida and you’re doing two 40-minute motos. They’re not there. It’s a lot of work.
No, and that’s the thing that I’ve tried to put out there that nobody really knows. It’s hard for me to even explain it to Bobby (Nichols, his agent) sometimes. Like, bro, are you serious? This is what I just have to do. They don’t even see it sometimes. Those are people that are in the daily circle of what goes on.
And if you’re not having fun, that makes it even worse, right? You might as well be a professional motocross racer winning races or you can be a construction worker digging ditches. It’s not fun. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Was Rattray in your ear a lot?
No, to be honest nobody was on that decision. That’s a decision that had to be made by me. I guess I can get pushed into something or to do something like that but I have to let myself figure out what am I going to be able to do for another year and at least try to enjoy it.
Looks like your old team’s moved on great. They got a winner!
It’s shocking, let’s put it that way. Congrats to Davi. I was actually in Europe at the time so I didn’t watch it.
So we see you rode in France or wherever you were. You rode a little bit?
Yeah, just one day.
Obviously you’re still recovering from your surgery. Were you a little tentative? You didn’t look like you were putting around. You looked still pretty fast. How was it?
I felt all right. It was a little bit of a bummer that it was a sand track and you can’t ride around in sand half-assed, kind of got to go for it. It’s more risky riding around. I got released a little earlier than what was originally said I was going to be. Actually the guys on the team were a little nervous to let me ride. They actually brought me down to a doctor that does all the knees for the Barcelona soccer team, which is one of the biggest soccer teams in the world. So I actually went down there, they did like a 3D x-ray of my body, they did an MRI of my ankle and my knee. Their doctor said yeah, he’s good to go to start… In our world so-called training would be to start riding mellow and just get back out there.
Your knee isn’t ready for the grind of Supercross. Why not just race the 12 AMA Nationals and call it a career?
Because I was told that they would rather have me race Supercross than even bother racing outdoors. Either retire or race Supercross. That’s what they would rather have me do.
So Europe to you is a new challenge. Win or lose though, you’re done?
Yes, unless I just absolutely do backflips and enjoy it over there so much that… Yes, win or lose I’m done.
Villopoto’s the first defending American champion to head over to Europe and race the GP’s.
As a fan of the sport I can’t wait for you to race the GP’s and go up against Antonio Cairoli and DeSalle and all these guys on their turf, you, who I consider the best motocross in the world. I’m very excited. On the other hand, as a guy in the sport and kind of knows you, I think you’re nuts. You’re in a no-win situation. If you win, everyone’s going to go, of you won, you’re Ryan effing Villopoto. But if you lose they’re going to go, Oh, Antonio Cairoli is so good! You American riders suck balls! You’re in a no-win position.
I agree and I disagree. I agree that you’re going to have all the keyboard warriors out there saying this, that, and European riders are better, American riders are better, however it ends up being, but the bottom line is we’re honestly talking about apples and oranges when it comes to European racing and American racing. We do Supercross and it’s 17 rounds and we do 12 outdoors. They have one series and they have a pretty big chunk of time that they take off and have to themselves. The way of life and the way of training and the way of riding over there is different than what we have here. Sometimes there isn’t even an option to ride. I know some of the riders go from Qatar to Thailand. They don’t even ride. When was the last time you’ve talked to any one of us that lined up on the gate here in the States that said they haven’t rode three days this week and had a bicycle ride on Wednesday, fly Friday, race Saturday, fly back Sunday, and ride Monday?
Well, Chad didn’t ride all week in ’08. There were a few times, but other than that I’m not sure.
But I’m just saying the way of life over here is completely different – the riding, the training, the sport itself is different. It’s hard to compare the two. As for who’s the outright better rider, well, in my mind and this is me, that the US riders are a better well-rounded rider because we do Supercross and Motocross. There’s a lot of Europeans that are great motocross riders and don’t come to the states for whatever reason and some of those reasons is because they can’t ride Supercross. So explain to me who’s a better well-rounded rider? That doesn’t mean who’s faster outdoors. We can’t even say that. They don’t have Supercross. We can’t even compare that part of the sport.
It’s going to be awesome. I’m pumped. I can’t wait because it’s going to be some really incredible racing. I know in talking to you, you’re not making any bull claims that you’re going to win and you’re the best rider and all that.
No, I’m going over there and I’m going to bring my wife and my US practice bike mechanic that is then going to over there kind of flip roles and he’s going to, I guess in a better term would be a glorified man-friend that’s going to do… There’s no gear guys, there’s no goggle guys, there’s no guys that hold your hat and your water bottle and this and that and do everything else. It’s a two-day event, Saturday and Sunday, so it’s like we had years ago. He’s going to be doing all that stuff and making sure that everything’s going smoothly there. So it’s going to be us three and three dogs up against everybody else.
Next year should be exciting for the MXGP class over there as RV tries to unseat Antonio Cairoli for the title.
You’re not coming back and forth; you’re over there to stay.
No, to be honest, how can you? It’s a big time change, six hours I think from Florida. The time change is huge and temperature difference… I think that would complicate things. As much as people say, but you might only be able to ride two days this week or maybe one day because of weather or whatever the case may be, but that’s a lot of flying. That’s a lot of headache, pain in the ass to get back to Florida or get back to the States and get that one extra day of riding.
When you’re at Lommel on a Wednesday and you’re wearing gardening gloves and a lumber jacket and it’s snowing, please text me and tell me how much fun you’re having and how awesome this is.
Yeah, make sure you text me DV’s number too, I’ll copy him on that too. I’ve seen what he says. “It’s going to be freezing in Lommel. How’s he going to ride in the winter? Snowing outside.” I’m like, well, I guess I’ll put my raincoat on and rubber gloves over my gloves.
I think the biggest question that I’ve heard that people feel that… obviously you’ve never been to most of those tracks over there but they’ve got plenty of time to ride and I know you’ll get it figured out. You’re going to be able to ride a lot, right?
Yeah. That’s one of the statements I’ve made is learning the tracks is not going to be my issue. Even some of the terrain, obviously it’s a crapshoot when it rains, which could be quite a few rounds over there, but as for the hard-pack or the rock, we’re there for that. We raced St. Jean, that was my last Motocross of Nations, and from what I’ve heard, I don’t know, but heard that that was one of probably the more shittier tracks that were on the circuit at the time. Maybe that’s not true, I don’t know. But I fared well there. So learning the track, getting used to the terrain, that I feel is not going to be my issue. Where my issue is going to come from is a stupid, small mistake like drinking the water or eating an ice cube or the wrong food or getting something small like that that ruins your weekend or causes major problems.
You still going to be working with Aldon Baker a little bit?
Yeah, we can clear that one up. Working with Aldon still. Obviously he’s not going to be based in Europe or even coming to every round. He lives here, he’s got a kid, he’s got a wife. That’s just not possible. But yes we are still working together program-wise and talk to him pretty much every day. So yes, everything’s still on there.
I think it’s going to be so great that the entire country can now get behind you. Because with you over there I think just everybody’s going to be pulling for you and rooting for you again. I don’t know how you feel about that or if that matters at all to you.
Basically yeah, even if you weren’t one of my fans through the years of me racing over here, or you were a fan and are not a fan, you became a fan of somebody else, whatever the case may be, it’s no longer who are you a fan of. Technically I’ll be one of the two US riders that are over there, myself and (Thomas) Covington. That will then become I’m a US rider and it becomes all of the US will be behind me. Not to say they will, but the majority of the people then will be a fan of mine to see what happens over there in Europe.
I’ve got to make it over there.
I need to see you there for six races.
For some reason there’s people online and people on Twitter like, can he ride for USA? Would he ride for USA again? Of course you would, right? If everything’s good?
Yeah, for sure. That’s if I’m invited again, that’s actually going to be the real question. Will I ride again is not the question; will I be invited will be the actual big question.
If they skipped over you because of say abandoning the US that would be really… There’s no way that will happen. It is a bit political though. Let’s get into that without getting you into too much trouble or us either. Has there been some people pissed at you? This decision has probably pissed some people off?
Yeah, for sure. Nobody that I really care about. Everybody that is on my side is all for it. Obviously there’s going to be people bummed out. There’s going to be true fans of mine that are bummed to not see me race here in the States anymore.
Your whole life people have told you where you got to be, where you got to go, what you got to do, blah blah blah. You’ve been financially rewarded from all this by your success and your hard work so it’s not all bad things but your whole life you’ve had to do this and if you’re not having fun racing and you want to go to Europe to have fun again, God bless you. Make the right move for yourself and your family, like you said. Have some fun.
Not to say that I’m just going to go over there and that’s going to be the everything. I think for me it is going to be funner than doing another year here. It is going to be something completely different. I will enjoy it because everything is new. I’ll be going to one place for three days and once that three days is over I’m never going back at this point in time.
“I don’t know why you think I’m crazy. I have nothing to gain here.”
Tyla Rattray is going to be your teammate. That’s cool too. You’ve got to be pumped on that.
Yeah, that will be cool. I think that will help out in some areas and just be good to have somebody on the team that one that I’m friends with but also two that’s done it before. So just have somebody that I’m racing with that I know I can count on.
One of the things we talked about before was your bike. There’s no production rule over there. Full works bikes, frame, swing arm, they can all be different, suspension, whatever. This could be a really cool chance for you to play with some settings and maybe find even a better bike.
I think Kawasaki’s a fairly conservative company when it comes to that because every GP that I’ve ever been to the Kawi’s are always pretty close to what we ride in the States. Other than I think carbon fiber sub-frame.
We’re talking Ryan Villopoto – there could be some new frames coming down the line.
At this point nothing that I have heard of, let’s put it that way. I have no idea. And for me, I just would like to race something that I know I can win on, that I’m comfortable on and something that I’m familiar with.
The 2015 Supercross title that you’re leaving behind, Kenny Roczen looking good. Would he be your pick or what do you think of the guys you’re leaving behind?
If I was betting, obviously Kenny’s going to be really good. He is on a new team. If I had to go there and put money down right now I would have a hard time betting against Dungey. Obviously everybody here knows that outright speed, that’s not Dungey, but he’s there every weekend. Consistency is what wins championships most of the time. You obviously have to have really good weekends and win races but consistency always keeps you there right in that title chase. With Kenny going to a new team, who knows? It’s a new bike. But obviously going off of last year Kenny was really strong. It’s a tough decision, but if I was betting money on it I would have to probably go with Dungey.
We had Cianciarulo on earlier. He wanted to know if it would be okay if he took permanent number 2 if he gets one, if he’s lucky enough to win a title. How do you feel about that?
I’m probably not getting mine retired, will I? I’m not in the good book right now.
You’re going to be number 2 in the GPs though?
Yes, I’ll be number 2 in the GPs. But who runs number 2? Nobody.
Did YouthStream contact you early on in this deal?
When I was over there Parts Unlimited we had lunch with them but it was nothing to be honest, talking to him. It’s always been one of his dreams to have a major American rider. He’s told me that. So for me to tell him, hey, this is what we’re kind of thinking, he’s obviously all for it. He runs a great program over there for the whole racing atmosphere. Everything goes off with no hitch in the result. It’s a pretty cool program from what I can see. It does remind me of when we used to race, when we had Saturday and Sunday. Obviously it went to just one day. I’m a fan of the one day but I’m also kind of a fan of the two-day. People are there camping out. It has a better atmosphere. It’s not so bang, bang, bang and then you fly out.
What do you think of the new Atlas Brace that you just rode with? How’s that?
That was the first time that I got to ride with the new one. Really impressed with the new brace, super light. I wore the previous model and I thought that one was light, but then feeling this one I was surprised. The one that I have is not the top of the line just yet. Still waiting on that one. And it’s lighter than the top of the line was last year. Great, great piece of product. For me the way I look at it, I know a lot of guys and people have gone away from wearing neck braces, for me I believe that it’s that one chance, that 1% that it helps in a crash, that’s good enough for me. That’s the way I believe in it.
And they’re going to Glen Helen for the final one?
Yeah, that will be my last US race.
I still think you’re crazy, but I admire it. It’s awesome and I’m pumped but I think you’re crazy.
I don’t know why you think I’m crazy. I have nothing to gain here.