Catching Up with…Ryan Lockhart
By Billy Rainford
#47 Ryan Lockhart has always been one of the most generous Pro riders with his time; whenever we need something, he is quick to help us out. With that in mind, when we had to miss his edition of the Frid’Eh Update a couple weeks ago because we were at the Mini O’s, we knew we had to catch up with him before the end of the year.
Ryan, like always, agreed to answer a bunch of questions for Week #52 – the final week of the year. On this Christmas Day, here’s an interview with one of the most popular Pro riders to ever throw a leg over a bike in Canada.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Ryan. Of all the weeks to skip the Frid’Eh Update, we missed #47 while we were down at the Mini O’s. Let’s get people caught up with what’s going on in your life. How did you 2015 National races go?
Hey, Billy. Thanks for giving me a little love since I thought you skipped over me on purpose (Laughs). How did the Nationals go? Well, it was nothing spectacular, that’s for sure, but the three rounds that I did had some highs, for sure. I actually surprised myself in 2014 with my results for the little amount of effort that I put in, so I thought to myself, “if I just train a little harder I will be in the top 10.” Well, I was way wrong!
Kamloops moto 1 I had a great start and put myself in great position, but coming into turn 2 someone crashed and collected me with them. I came all the way from last to 11th at the end. I was pumped. I charged hard and had good speed. The problem, though, I was so finished after the first moto, it was so hot that day and track was rough that in the 2nd moto it was all I could do not to pull off.
Nanaimo was just whatever. Usually, on lap one with a mid-pack start with the most painful roost hitting me, I ask myself what I’m doing. I have been asking myself that same question since 2000. Then, in Calgary, I just felt uncomfortable and sketchy, so I decided that I would call it a day and that would be my last Pro National. I wasn’t doing it for results anymore – I was doing it to prove that at 31, and working, I could still be competitive, and to me, putting myself through that just isn’t worth it anymore.
Was there ever a chance you were going to head east?
There was ZERO chance of heading East.
I know doing the whole series is out of the question for you with work and all, but do you think you could have been a top 10 rider in the end?
I think there was a real good chance of me being a top 10 guy if I did the whole series that last two years. It was tempting, but then reality takes over and I need to realize those days are over. I have been there and done that. Would I like to go back 10 years and change how I did it? Yes, I believe I’m better on the bike now than I ever was.
What do you think of the level of competition these days?
Competition is really high. I mean, let’s face it, there is no such thing as slow guys anymore. The bikes are so much better than they used to be and fairly easy to ride, in my option. There are more and more training facilities that are affordable for people to go to. I always look back and wonder how or if a place like a GPF or MTF would have changed or helped my career when I was 15-20 years of age. I like how those places have structure etc.. It’s good for the youth in this sport.
Back when you were younger, what was your experience south of the border at AMA Nationals and Supercros?
I didn’t do a lot of nationals. The only one I did was Steel City in 2005 in the little bike class. I went 29-24 or something that day. Supercross, on the other hand, I did a lot of. In 2006, I did almost the whole series in the 450 class with the help of Rick Sheren. What an experience. I also did a lot of AX south of the border.
What was your best race down south and what happened?
Probably the first round I went to in ’06. I skipped A1 since I was doing an arenacross or something that weekend. I kid you not, I pretty much went to Phoenix with maybe 1-2 days of SX riding on pretty much a stock RMZ450 and terrible suspension. We had to race during the day to qualify for the night show. I pulled the holeshot and got 2nd in my day quli and made it to the night show – that was a big deal for me.
Another one was either St Louis or Indy. I was in a transfer position in my semi for the main and on the last lap a guy that I was lapping crossed over through a rhythm and I went down. It sucked but was a good ride for me. I didn’t make the main. Also in ’06, I pulled the holeshot in the night show qualifier and got so scared that I cut from one side of the track to the other and cleaned Chad Reed out and dragged his bike for about 50 feet before I realized what happened. Oops.
Looking back over your career, do you have any advice for young riders who are hoping to go Pro in the future and be successful?
Practice with a purpose is what I wish I did more of when I was younger. I thought for many years that I was doing all the right things and putting in the work. Well, I wasn’t even close. I probably rode 100+ Canadian nationals and I can say now that I was never prepared like I should have been giving the opportunities that I had. So kids, when you go to the track to ride and train, have a plan and set your goals where they are realistic to meet. Reaching goals feels good and builds confidence.
You retired from Pro racing a few years ago. It didn’t really stick. What keeps you coming back?
Well, that day that I said I was done from Pro racing was a dark time for me. In the winter of 2009, I destroyed my knee training in Cali and everything that followed was a nightmare. I was 26 and was really struggling with what was going to be my next move in life. I had no money, no job and all I really knew what to do was race. My knee was in such bad shape for years and never really healed. And after a few years off the bike, I tried to jump back into it. Not being in shape, I was trying too hard and my knee was still so sore and infected. It just wasn’t fun anymore so I quit. Well, that only lasted for a few months and I got my knee fixed right and things in my personal life started to get better. I landed the job my Matrix and Atlas, I was making some money, and was back racing with no pressure at all. It’s really crazy how your mind set can affect everything you do in your life.
You still have the speed to compete indoors, too. How did the 2015 Future West Arenacross Series go for you?
Arenacross was really good for me this year. I rode a lot leading up to arenacross and was feeling good. To be honest, my mind was in other places since my son was expected to be born right in the middle of the series and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to make it to all the rounds. 6 podiums, 3 dash for cash wins exceeded my expectations. I finished 2nd in Open and 4th in Lights and, man, that feels good to still be able to compete with the kids out there.
And now you’re a father? How has this changed your life?
What an awesome feeling to be a dad! It really gives life a whole new meaning. Time is hard to come by, which is a struggle sometimes, but it’s all worth it. I can’t wait for him to be old enough for him and dad to go to the track together and spend time together. If he has no interest in riding or racing I will be fine with that but if he does I will be all in and provide him with the tools to be successful, just like my parents did.
It’s Christmas. What are you up to? What did you ask for?
I have some time off from work which will be nice to spend some time at home with Randi and Meston. I probably should wash my bikes from the last arenacross as well (Laughs). I asked for a PS4 since I can’t wait for the new MXGP Game to come out in March.
We’re getting very close to the start of the 2016 SX season. Who is your pick for top 5 in the SX class?
Eli Tomac, Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen, Trey Canard, and Cole Seely.
Let’s talk about your 9-5. Can you tell us what your job entails?
I work for both Matrix and Atlas. We are one company but with separate identities. My fancy title is ‘Brand Manager.’ I take care of a lot of the dealer sales in Canada, along with two other ex-racers. Marco Dubé and Doug Dehaan are independent sales reps for us as well. I also look after rider support, event support etc. for Canada.
On the Atlas side of things, I also take care of some or our U.S. Amateurs and Pros. Working here is awesome since my boss is my best friend, Brad Mclean, and Brady Sheren being a great friend as well. The whole program works well for me here since I can still tie a lot of my racing into my job. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that.
What are your racing plans for 2016?
2016 will be similar to last year, minus the Pro nationals. I will do lots of local stuff along with the Western Amateur National and Walton. I will do arenacross again as well. I really want to start hitting some vet races in the U.S., once I get a little older but for now I will just focus on the races that are a little closer to home.
Walton TransCan predictions for yourself?
I really look forward to Walton every year. I enjoy the challenge of getting ready and showing up and feeling confident. It’s vet racing but each year the competition gets better. A lot of people poke fun at me, saying I take it too seriously but I love the feeling of winning there and being confident. I hope I can add some more Walton titles.
OK, Ryan. We really apologize for missing your Update this year. What else would you like to say here while you have all of our undivided attention?
Well, I thank you guys for doing this with me and I look forward to seeing everyone in 2016. Merry Christmas and Happy New year.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Happy Holidays and who would you like to thank?
Maple Ridge Motorsports, Kawasaki Canada, Atlas, Matrix, 100%, Next, Mobius, Fox, Shift, MB1 Suspension, Reklus, Mongoose Machine, Dunlop, FMF, Troy Smith, Jay Moore, Chris Buckrell, and big thanks to my fiancé Randi and my parents.