As Ryder McNabb gets ready to line up for his first ever pro national this weekend at Gopher Dunes, you’d think he’d be as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After all, a year ago he was racing the 85cc class and getting ready for Loretta Lynn’s and the Walton TransCan. A lot can change in a year and it certainly has for this young and talented rider from Manitoba. With his first pro national gate drop just a few days away, we caught up with Ryder to see how he was feeling.
MXP: Hey Ryder, I know you’re busy, thanks for taking my call.
RM: Yeah, no worries! How are you?
MXP: I’m doing well. How are things with you?
I’m doing good. We just finished our photo shoot a couple of days ago and tested our race bikes, so that is all done now. Today I’m going to work on some more starts and just keep preparing for the weekend.
MXP: I saw the photos of you and your teammates and as always the GDR Honda Team looks great. I would think that with the photo shoot over with and finally some time on your race bike, things are starting to feel real?
Definitely, it’s been such a long wait for the opening round and it’s hard to believe that it’s finally here. I’m just glad we’re having a series and I think it’s going to be fun to get out there and race with these guys.
MXP: Racing in your first pro race is always an exciting time for sure. We’ve been talking at some of the AMO events and you mentioned that the bike you’ve been riding was virtually stock. How did it feel to finally test out your race bike?
It was great, but it did take some getting used to. I’d been riding a stock bike for a few months and you just get used to it and how to ride it. When I got on my race bike last week I had to change up my riding style to suit the added power.
MXP: Was there one particular area where you noticed a large improvement?
I think it was just everything. The bike felt new which is always cool, obviously the power was great. If I had to pick one thing I’d say the added bottom end took the most to get used to.
MXP: That is always a big issue when going from a practice bike to a full race bike, especially with a 250F. It’s good to hear that you’re happy with your race bike though.
Everything is great! Now it’s time to line up and go racing.
MXP: How have you felt during the AMO races that you’ve been at?
I’ve been feeling really good so far and things have been progressing nicely. It definitely worked out good with AMO having races and being able to do more than just practice. To be able to get some gate drops in and battle with some fast riders has been great preparation for this coming weekend.
MXP: It’s hard to believe that a year ago you were racing an 85cc and now you’re getting ready to race your first pro national. How has the transition been so far?
So far it’s been good, I mean I haven’t really thought too much about it. When we signed on with the GDR Team we knew that we’d be racing a 250F so we just went with it. I actually felt pretty comfortable with the CRF250 from the first time I rode it. The bike doesn’t feel like a ‘big’ bike so the transition has been good. I think the hardest part has been racing against pro’s as oppose to amateur riders. Obviously, everyone is fast and they have a lot of experience so it’s not easy. My first few races have gone well and this weekend will be an even bigger challenge.
MXP: I think you’re coming into the opening round in a good spot, other than the pressure you put on yourself you really don’t have a lot of pressure on you. You can kind of just go out and race as hard as you can and see where you finish?
True, these next few races are definitely going to be a steep learning curve for me and there isn’t a lot of outside pressure on me. But I’m a racer and I want to do well and I expect to do well. The GDR Team and I have worked hard and hopefully things go well this weekend and for the rest of the series.
MXP: That was my next question. How has the team been. You guys appear to be a pretty close group?
Everything has been great so far. My family and I came out to Ontario a few months ago and since then Tanner, Dylan and I have been riding and training together. Also, Colton has been helping me a lot with my program so everything has been really good.
MXP: That’s great to hear. It’s nice to have some good quality teammates that you can not only train with, but also learn from. You mentioned Colton, it must be great to have a mentor like that to advise you?
Colton has been great and he’s been working with me and racing stuff and bike set-up. He obviously has a ton of experience and knowledge and I’m lucky to have him.
MXP: So what is the plan for the rest of the week?
Like I said, today I’m going to keep working on my starts and try to dial them in. Then for the rest of the week I’ll probably just do a little training and prepare for Saturday and Sunday. Three motos is going to be challenging and it’s supposed to be hot also, so that will make for a tough race.
MXP: Is it safe to say that you’re really excited for this weekend (laughs)?
Oh yeah! I can’t wait for Saturday.
MXP: Well between your teammates, your family, Derek Schuster and your mechanic Ryan Lockhart, I think you’re going to be well supported this weekend as you line-up for your first pro national.
I’m very fortunate to have a great team and some quality people in my corner. Now all I have to do is go racing and do the best I can!
MXP: Again, thanks for your time and good luck this weekend Ryder.
Thanks for calling Palms!