Catching Up with…Bobby Kiniry | Life After Moto
By Billy Rainford
Last Friday was Week #7 for our Frid’Eh Update. #7 in 2016 is New York State’s Bobby Kiniry. We were unable to get in touch with the 9-5-er before the Update went live, but we wanted to be sure to talk with his as soon as was convenient for him. Unfortunately, Bobby fell hard in Sarnia, Ontario, while competing in the inaugural Canadian Arenacross Tour Championships. He sustained a serious injury to his hip and knee after soaring through the air 30 feet above the ground without his bike. Bobby has announced that he has retired from professional racing and we wanted to be sure to catch up with the popular rider who has been given unofficial ‘Honorary Canadian’ status.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Bobby. First, I guess I have to ask how difficult was the decision to retire from pro racing?
Bobby Kiniry: It was tough but it was easy at the same time. Ultimately, it’s a tough decision to end what has been your whole life since you were a kid of 4 years old. It’s tough to decide to really let it go and start going another direction in life, but at the same time, a lot of signs were pointing to retirement. I felt like I had some ducks in a row to race one more year. That was my intention, to race Arenacross this winter one more time and then race the summer in the Canadian Nationals. Everything was lining up to do that and I had some good results those first couple Arenacrosses that we had in Canada and I was looking forward to the winter.
I was picking up from a rocky summer – what I considered was a rocky summer – and felt like I was heading in a new direction for riding. I ended up having the worst injury of my career and some people assume the injury itself is what made me want to retire and it wasn’t. It was just such a set back in the year. I still wouldn’t be able to ride until about a month before the first round. I didn’t want to come into the season behind the 8 ball and only have a month of riding and bang my head against the wall all summer.
There was a lot of thinking and I said, “You know what? I think it’s time to pick up and move on with life.” I was going to race one more year and at that point I didn’t think it was going to be perfect. I think it would have been a struggle, coming in a little out of shape and a little behind on testing. We decided to hang it up a year earlier than I wanted. I’m content and happy with my decision.
[The injury] didn’t scare me. Some people think that the worst injury of my career scared me. No, it didn’t scare me at all. It’s part of racing. You get hurt and ride the next moto. It was just such a bad injury that it was going to take so much time to heal that it was going to be tough to even be ready to race and have it be worth my time. It’s my job and I have to bring home money, but if you’re not doing well enough you’re not bringing home money. Ultimately, that’s what it’s really about when you have a family.
OK, so last time we spoke you were just heading home from surgery. It’s been a few months now. How is everything with the actual injury recovering?
Um, it gets better every week. It’s not back to 100%. They said it was going to be about an 8 or a 10-month injury to where I felt fairly close to normal. It was such a bad injury that it’s going to be a nagging injury the rest of my life…the hip part of it. It feels better. I’ve been going back to the gym for my own personal gratification. You know, go lift some heavy weights and stay in shape. It makes you feel a lot better. I can kind of do light duty like jogging, like, if it’s raining I can jog out to my truck. Other than that, it’s still pretty tender the next day after I stand all day working. I just take some Advil and it’s good to go.
You mentioned a full day of work. What have you been doing?
I ended up getting a job right after I got hurt. Once I could walk again, I was ready to get a job and start moving on with life. For three months I worked at a circuit board manufacturing company that had government contracts for the military. I was making some pretty cool cameras and circuit boards for some pretty high end equipment, so that was interesting. It was something different. I had a buddy that ran the place and it’s a local place with a big government contract. He got me right in there but I’ve since picked up and moved on.
I’m working at a massive distribution centre now. I’ve been there for two weeks and I’m going on my third week next week.
So, are you a warehouse guy or what?
Ya, it’s a massive mile-long, 3/4 of a mile wide warehouse. Ya, I’m just working on moving freight around. It pays really good and it’s cool because it’s kind of manual labour and that’s more what I wanted to do. I didn’t really like sitting at a desk at the circuit board manufacturer. I like moving heavy things and standing on my feet for 10 hours. It’s a really hard place to get injured so I’m pretty happy with where I’m at for the time being.
We’ll see what the future brings. We’ve got some other plans and things brewing. We’ll see what happens.Is anyone at the place a moto fan? Does anyone know your history?
Ya, so both places I’ve been now I’ve had about 10-12 people on my shift that all knew who I was and, of course, let everyone know so I ended up having to bring in a lot of posters and signing a bunch of autographs and jerseys for some people. It’s been kind of funny changing gears and talking with some people. It’s different. I feel awkward that people are going, “I watched you do this that and the other” and, “I watched you on TV.” It’s just kind of odd when you’re sitting there eating lunch with some people and they just want to talk about racing and I just kind of want to let it go, but you’ve got to sit there and entertain them (Laughs). It’s all fun.
Ya, it’s a strange transition to suddenly being that guy who used to race.
Ya, people go, “I hear you’re unbelievable on a dirt bike from so and so who said they are a huge fan of yours from TV and stuff!” Ya, I was. I was a good dirt bike racer (Laughs).
Hey, what about you mentioned you had an opportunity to do some training. Is that not something you ended up wanted to pursue?
No, I kind of decided that I didn’t really want to do that and keep the travel going and, for the time being, be around it. If I was going to be riding and training I may as well be racing too and that’s where I left that. It seemed real appealing. I had some higher end people, some real real good guys want me to go work with them. It would have been fun and I liked them, but it would have been really hard to let go of my racing career if I was still trying to be in shape and train someone and work on those same things with people. At least for the time being. Maybe in a year my mind will change but I though tit would be easier to let my racing career go if I stepped away for a bit, at least at that level.
Is there a motorcycle in your garage?
No, I’ve got no bikes. I’ve got a couple sets of gear just in case, but I don’t have a bike. My father-in-law, they buy new bikes every year, so maybe I’ll throw a leg over his on my track. I still have my track and I plan on training some local kids around here, just a riding school, not so much training, but do a riding school and hopefully get up to Motopark and maybe do some up there as well with the Canadian crowd. We’ll see. I don’t really plan on riding, at least for a little bit. Maybe by the end of the summer I’ll be itching, but we’ll see.
I was speaking with Iain (Hayden) and I’ve made a lot of friends up there. I’d like to keep in touch with them. I talk to Shawn Maffenbeier a couple times a week. He’s out west training right now in California. He’s putting in the time and he’s tossing around the idea of potentially coming back up here when the series comes back east and staying at my house again because, with my new schedule, I will be able to train with him a little bit, at least on a bicycle. I plan to at least keep myself in shape, so I’ll maybe work with him being that I wouldn’t have to leave and be out of town so much. We’ll see what happens. Time will tell.
It sounds to me like you’re heading toward the Vet Nationals at the Walton TransCan!
(Laughs) Maybe, but I don’t think I’m quite eligible yet. (Chris) Pomeroy might come protest me about something to keep me out of there.
How old are you now?
I’m 30 years old.
Oh, there’s a Vet class for you!
I know! (Laughs)
You’d be upsetting (Ryan) Lockhart.
Ya, him too. I was speaking with Iain (Hayden) and I’ve made a lot of friends up there. I’d like to keep in touch with them. I talk to Shawn Maffenbeier a couple times a week. He’s out west training right now in California. He’s putting in the time and he’s tossing around the idea of potentially coming back up here when the series comes back east and staying at my house again because, with my new schedule, I will be able to train with him a little bit, at least on a bicycle. I plan to at least keep myself in shape, so I’ll maybe work with him being that I wouldn’t have to leave and be out of town so much. We’ll see what happens. Time will tell.
You should just do what everyone else does and become a bicycle racer after moto.
Ya, I’ll take some lessons from (Tyler) Medaglia. He’s a little animal on those things. I would love to do that. That would be fun. I know it’s a big deal where I live, bicycle racing is. I’ve never done a race, so that would be a cool little avenue to go up. I appreciate you pointing that out to me. I’ll go auger myself down a hill in the woods!
So, if we were to look 5 years into your future, where do you see yourself and your family?
We’ve got 2 kids right now – we’ve got our hands full. We’ve tossed around the idea of another one, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for that. We’ll let life get a little more stable for the time being with the job and kind of get where I want to be. When the dust settles from racing, maybe I’ll end up back in it doing something. i don’t know. I kind of want to find out where my career is going to go. I have a couple different avenues around here with racing. I’d like to see if that’s going to be my best option to support my family and be happy, ultimately.
Have you looked into repping some sort of moto brand or anything like that in the industry?
Ya, I looked at repping and I had some people talk to me about it. Ya know, I don’t know if I want to do that. I don’t know. We’ll see. I said I did and then when it came around to it I didn’t really and now I might want to do that…I don’t know. I’ll let the dust settle a little bit. It’s still fresh. I’m still trying to figure out what I really want to do.
I won’t keep you much longer, but I’ve got to ask you one sentimental question: What are you going to miss the most?
Everything. The whole thing with racing…going to the line with the butterflies, performing with your friends in front of fans. I feel like I had a great fan base in Canada…anywhere I race. Ya know, whether it was Europe, Canada, the U.S. I felt like I had a really big fan base. For not being the one that wins every week or was on the podium every week in the U.S. I felt like I had a really strong, big fan base. I’m going to miss that and interacting with people. It was a lot of fun.
A lot of what I’m going to be missing with racing is just the mental toughness to push yourself through a really tough moto at Gopher Dunes when you’re so tired that you just have to sit down… you want to sit down but you can’t let yourself. The mental toughness and pushing yourself to those limits are what I’m going to miss the most. And the sights and sounds of the racing from the smell of everything so I’m going to miss it all. Everything about the sport that I love and made my life is a tough thing to walk away from.
I can’t thank you and everyone else that ended up keeping me a fan base and keeping people aware of what I was doing. I’m going to miss seeing all the faces and interacting with everyone.
[Those tough motos at Gopher Dunes] I loved it! That place was brutal. Some people dread that race and I loved it and hated it at the same time. That was my favourite part of racing was pushing yourself to those limits and just being so tired and not letting yourself drop lap times. That was my favourite part of racing, just pushing yourself and succeeding when you were doing it and meeting your goals. I will miss that and you’ll never be able to replace that with anything in life. Ever. At least I got an opportunity to experience that and I’ll miss it. But life changes and I’ve got kids and stuff and I can put all my energy to that and see what happens.
OK, I lied, one more question. When most people see you, they see photos of you smiling and being nice, but you’re actually probably one of the most intense guys at the races. Do you think that is the one thing most maybe don’t know about you or is there something else people don’t know about you?
No, that’s probably it. I think you guys were always able to portray me in my happy space but behind the scenes I was a pretty intense, pretty motivated person and I just wanted to succeed and there was a lot that goes into that. I don’t think people realize that, no matter who you are, whether you’re Colton (Facciotti), Brett (Metcalfe), or Matt (Goerke), or whoever…Tyler (Medaglia), you’re very focused and it doesn’t show as much in front of a crowd but in staging and in your truck and in your preparation I felt like I had to go above and beyond to outdo everyone. A lot of people saw that and it shows in your hard work. I put a lot of hard work in and I was determined to succeed at what I was doing.
But I was very intense behind the scenes. I wanted things the way I needed them to be and I had a great crowd around me my whole career up in Canada. They understood when I was mad and frustrated and they worked with me to fix them. I think that’s one thing people don’t see. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, there are some hard days and adversity. Another thing I’m going to miss is pushing through that and the intensity. That was part of the fun of it.
Well, that was great to catch up with you, Bobby. I’m sure the sport will miss you as much or more than you’ll miss it. Before we let you go, who would you like to thank?
I’ve got a lot of people I’d like to thank. Obviously, all you guys for giving me the opportunity to even have a fan base. All the fans. A lot of the fun of racing was having people, after a bad day of racing, come up and go, “You’re my favourite rider…I loved it when you did this this or this!” Thanks to everyone that ever cheered for me. Billy Whitley and André Laurin, Adam ‘Stu’ Robinson, Iain and Drew from out west…everyone. I had a lot of fun racing with everyone. It was a good stretch and I’m happy I got to experience it with everyone. Thanks to everyone for even giving me an opportunity to be up there.
Have you been watching Supercross?
Uh, no. I made the mistake of watching a heat race and I was miserable for about a week after. I try to avoid watching it. Maybe next year I’ll be able to do it but it’s still tough on me because I still feel like I could hop on a bike literally today and go make a 450 main. It’s hard to watch some of the people still having success and I still should be racing…this is dumb, what am I doing?! So, I’m not watching it just yet.