LOCK DOWN: RYDER ELLIS
Ryder Ellis has been no stranger to the top step of the podium throughout the last couple of seasons, most notably winning the 51cc (7-8) Loretta Lynn's National Championship in 2019 in convincing fashion with a trio of moto wins. His dominant performance earned him some attention from Team Green Kawasaki and he's been making steady improvements since joining the team, focusing full time throughout the 2020 season. Ellis raced a couple of Supercross Futures rounds at the beginning of the season and was gradually able to build himself up to a win in Oakland. The nine-year-old Californian kept his head down and worked hard in preparation for Spring A Ding Ding and it all paid off as he managed to grab his first title at an AMA Featured Event on the KX65, scoring solid results in his other classes as well. We caught up with Ryder right after he rolled out of bed to get an update on what he's been doing lately, sending big jumps, and when he's planning to get on the 85.
What have you been up to during the quarantine so far?
I've just been hanging out, fishing with the family. We've been doing some bike rides in the mountains, doing some exercise, and riding (my dirt bike). I've been going to bed a little bit later because of the quarantine.
Have you been missing watching the races on TV?
Yeah, I've been missing it a lot. It's awesome to watch it with my family. My uncles and aunties -- we bet on races whoever will win in both classes, so that's fun.
Are you more of an indoor kid or do you like to play outside?
When I don't go ride, I'll just make jumps for my mountain bike and jump on the trampoline. I'm not that much of a video game person. I'll play them but I only play them like once a day, maybe like thirty minutes. I'd just rather be outside.
Do you have any private tracks around that you're able to go ride?
Well, my buddies have tracks that I can go ride and then we go ride a few trails. There are a bunch of hill climbs that I can almost make, I get like halfway and I have to turn around. They're like straight up and down, but they're pretty fun.
How has this affected what you'd normally do on a day-to-day basis with your riding and training?
It changed it up a little bit. I can't go to the track, so I've just been riding around outdoors.
What tracks would you normally go ride at?
DT1 (MX Park) and Jett (Reynolds)’s place.
We've seen some videos on your social media and it seems like you do have some pretty cool private tracks to ride out there.
Yeah, all of them are pretty fun. The dirt up here is alright for riding, it's not the best, but that's what we have to do.
How was the racing season going for you before we went on a hiatus?
Well, I was actually doing pretty good. I got a few wins and my first win on the KX at a big amateur race. It's a super-fast bike, I'm loving it. The Supercross Futures went alright, I started to make some progress. I started out not so good and I got a little better and a little better, then I won the last race in Oakland. It's been really fun honestly, I've been loving being on Team Green.
You've been at Spring A Ding Ding the last few years and have always ended up on the podium with a fake mustache. What do you think about the event?
Yeah, the event is awesome. I love how Motoplayground puts it together and I love how they allow basically everything and how fun they are! The track is super good, I love the layout. I like the dirt, it gets deep and rough. I don't really like smooth and clean tracks, I like when it's rough.
There are some pretty big booters out there, too.
Yeah, I was hittin' those big jumps and then they started to get beat up so I couldn't. It was fun though.
Is it fun for you to be able to race on the same tracks as the pros in Supercross Futures?
Yeah, it's a great opportunity. I love it and I know a bunch of other people that think it's super good.
When you were on the 50, you were always the first rider to jump something big, talk a little bit about that mindset.
Yeah, when we walk the track I take a good amount of time on each jump and study it. I study basically everything on the track -- corners, hip jumps, whatever it is.
You're pretty good buddies with Ryder DiFrancesco, does he help you out with a little bit of advice at the races?
Yeah, they're really nice to me. Recently, Ryder had a birthday and we were there at Jett's. He's a nice boy, I'm happy to be his friend and his teammate. He helps me pick my gate sometimes and sometimes he'll just tell me what to do on the track and where I could be better.
You're at the stage where you're competing in the 65cc (7-9) class but you're also going against some older kids in the 65cc (7-11) class. Is that a nice challenge for you?
Yeah, I think I got 5th or 6th in that class at Spring A Ding Ding. It just pushes me and if I get pushed, I try harder and I try even more. That class is pretty challenging, but after somebody passes me I try to pass them back immediately, so it helps me go faster.
What's it mean to you to be a part of the Team Dunlop Elite program?
Yeah, Rob (Fox) is awesome! He's a super good manager and he's always nice to people. It's so great to be a part of a team with so many good riders and what makes Dunlop so great is they always have each other's backs no matter what. Every single rider is super nice to each other.
What do you think will happen with Loretta Lynn's this year?
I don't know. I hope we can do Loretta's, I like it and it's really fun! It's treated me well over the past few years.
What're your plans for the rest of the year when we're able to go back racing?
I just want to do as good as I can on my KX. After Loretta's, if that happens, we're going to go get on the 85 and do the older 65 classes. I'm really excited to get on the 85, I've been waiting for a long time just to ride it around. I've cruised around on Ryder D's at Jett's but that's it.