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Heading into his sophomore season last year, Ryder McNabb was fit, confident, and excited to try and win his first 250 Pro Championship. During the opening five rounds, Ryder did everything he could to put himself in a solid position to win the 250 title. Not only did he win three motos but he also secured two overall victories as well as the red plates after five rounds of the series. Unfortunately, bad starts led to missed opportunities in the final three rounds, and that cost Ryder some valuable points. In the end, he would come just short of the 250MX Championship. However, as disappointing as last summer ended up being for Ryder, he did learn a lot and at just 16 years of age, his future is extremely bright. Ryder and his GDR Fox Honda Team are excited about the 2022 season and we caught up with this teen sensation as he was down in Florida training with his teammate Dylan Wright.
MXP: Hey Ryder, how are things going?
RM: Things are good. I just got back to our campground after a day of riding at Tyla Rattrey’s Training Facility.
I know you trained there last year and I wasn’t sure if you were going back. There are a few Canadian’s training there right now, correct?
Yes, there are a few there right now so it’s good to see some familiar faces down here.
You haven’t been down in Florida too long have you?
No, we actually just got down here a couple of weeks ago so this is really my first full week of riding and doing my normal program. We wanted to come down before Christmas but we were waiting for a part for our motorhome and our new Sprinter Van was built yet. Also, I didn’t have any bikes until recently so basically we had to wait until everything was ready.
We did a little story on your new Sprinter Van a few weeks back. It looks really good as the crew at Bristol Coachworks did an awesome job on it. How is it now that you have it at the track?
It’s great as it has everything that we need. Dylan and I have been taking it to the track every day and it works great.
I know you turned 16 back in September, do you have your full driver’s license yet?
No, I just have my learner’s so I think I have to wait six months before I get my full license. I don’t know, I just let Dylan do the driving.
Good idea! This is a little bit of a different schedule for you as you and your family usually spend the entire winter down south?
Yes, usually we head south in late October or November so this year was a lot different. I basically lived at Gopher Dunes for like two months waiting for everything to get done. I’m not really used to winter in Canada (laughs). But we’re here now and we’ll most likely be here until early May or when the weather improves back in Ontario.
So you mentioned that usually you spend all winter down south and then you come home and race all summer long. Do you even get bored or burnt out on training and riding?
That’s a good question and you’re probably not going to believe the answer but no I don’t get burnt out. I love riding and training and when I’m not doing either I don’t really know what to do with myself. I love to ride my dirt bike and that is kind of how I’ve always been. I hope I stay like that for the next ten years or so!
Yes, that is a pretty unique quality to have for sure. So, other than the riding and the fact that you haven’t been there that long, how is life in Florida?
Things are great down there as you wouldn’t even know that Covid is still going on. To go from living in Ontario and dealing with the restrictions and having to wear a mask everywhere to being in Florida is quite a change. I feel like how it is here is how it should be everywhere. For instance, at the campground we’re staying at there are a few people who are like 55 and older, some of them wear masks so they can protect themselves, but most people don’t. If you want to wear one then go for it, but don’t make everyone have to wear them. Anyway, it is what it is but it’s nice to get away from it and be down here.
I’ve spoken to several people who are either in Florida now or have been there in the past few months and they say the same thing. Anyway, let’s go back to last summer and the Triple Crown Series. Even though it was just your second season in the 250 Pro Class, you rode great, you showed a lot of maturity in your riding, and you almost won the championship. Not a bad sophomore season. Looking back, are you happy with how 2021 went?
Overall I think I was as we had a lot of ‘firsts’ during the summer. I won my first moto at Walton and then the following week I won my first overall. It would’ve been nice to win my first title but things didn’t work out that way.
Yes, you came out swinging at the opening round and won the first moto of the series. Then you won the following weekend at your team’s home track, Gopher Dunes. From there, you took the overall win at Sand Del Lee and had the red plates heading into Deschambault. What changed after SDL, did you make a few mistakes, or what it a case of the others riders just getting better as the series went on?
I don’t think it was the other riders getting better or anything. I mean, maybe Sanayei improved as the series went on but the rest of us were good right from the start. Piccolo, Tanner, Cannella, and I, all won motos in the opening few rounds so the pace was fast right from the start. For me, I just think I made some mistakes at Round 6 in Quebec and had two bad motos. I couldn’t get off of the gate in either moto and had to come from behind. I gave away a lot of points that day and if I hadn’t then I go into the final weekend at Walton with the points lead. As it turned out, three of us went into Walton with a chance to win the title and I just didn’t get it done. However, overall I’m happy with how last season went and I’ll try and do better this summer.
Obviously, you’re still so young when it comes to being a pro athlete, and as mature as you are as a rider, you ultimately still have a lot to learn. Once the sting of losing the title last season wore off were you able to reflect on some of the things you might have learned?
For sure, I was pretty bummed at first but I’m lucky enough to have some really good people around me and they definitely help me put everything into perspective. I know this year I’m going to be mentally and physically stronger so it should be a good season.
I know you had multiple moments last summer that we could classify as highlights. But is there one or two that stick out to you as really special?
Yes, that first moto win at the opening Walton round was special. In that moto, I started around tenth and just went to work on everyone. I got into the lead and from there I just checked out. It was one of those motos where everything just felt effortless. I remember coming off and telling Newf that I wasn’t tired and that I could’ve kept going. That moto as well as the opening moto at Gopher Dunes the following weekend. In that race I got a rare holeshot and then just rode my own race. I felt great in that race also.
You were definitely on fire in those motos. Your second moto win at SDL was also a good one. It was hot that day and all of the top 250 riders were riding well. So as you mentioned, the plan is to stay down south and train until the weather gets nicer in Ontario?
Yes, right now we’re just getting back into the swing of things. It’s cool having Dylan here as he’s coming off a great year also so I can learn a lot from him. We’re definitely going to miss having Tanner on the team as he’s such a great guy, but it will be a little less crowded under the tent (laughs).
Okay, final question Ryder. You’ve been in the pro class for two years now but this summer will be the first time that you have to travel across Canada and race out west as well as on the east coast. How excited are you to head west and race on some different tracks?
It’s going to be exciting for sure. It’s also going to be a little more challenging with the travel but it’s all part of being a pro.
Sorry, I have one more question. Will you be doing any racing before the opening round of the Triple Crown Series in Kamloops?
It looks as though I’ll be racing the RCSX next month in Daytona just so I can get some SX experience. Next year I’d like to race some Monster Energy Supercross so I need to figure SX out. Other than that, we’ll probably race some AMO races when we get back to Ontario but I’m not sure how many.
Well, this all sounds good Ryder. Thanks for taking some time after a busy training day to speak to us. Ride safe and enjoy being free in Florida!
Thanks Palms! I will try and thank you for reaching out.