Ricky Brabec is a rider known for his ability and riding prowess that has taken him to the top of his respected fields. Brabec and his THR team, along with his KX450F prepared by one Bob Bell of Precision Concepts, has been on a winning tear as of late and no one looks to be slowing down either.
This month here at Dirt Hammers we had the opportunity to interview Ricky concerning his riding, why he rides, and all the ends and odds that makes him one of today’s rising stars. Poised, yet aggressive, Ricky is doing some of the best riding out there today, and we want to find out why.
Q: Ricky, first off, thank you for this opportunity to interview you for our readers. It really is an honor. As a refresher, when did you start riding and what got you on a bike to begin with?
A: What got me on a bike first was my dad, AKA Big Rick, when I was about 4 and from then I always rode a bike, but was more into the BMX deal until I was 14 years young. I stepped away from that and moved into the high desert “Oak Hills CA” and since then I was able to ride any day of the week from my garage, so then I decided to try a race. After the race I tried in 2008 I was hooked into the off road world!
Q: What was your first bike?
A: My first bike at age 4 was a PW50, and like most kids these days that seems to be the starter bike. I progressed and made my way up to a KX 65 and then eventually a KX 85. I was about 11 years old when I got my brand new YZ250F. It took me a year or so to get use to riding that big ’ol bike when I was just 11-12 years old, and from then it all started to click and started making my way up to the bigger bikes.
Q: What got you into racing? What made you take that path?
A: What got me into racing honestly, was a few neighbors that were on a District 37 “club” and invited me out there after watching me ride. They told me I’d have tons of fun and that I’d enjoy the layout of the course, so my first off road race was a Hare & Hound put on by the Jackrabbits (my current club). This path has always been a dream of mine ever since watching supercross and motocross. Once I did a desert race and knew the big names out there, and really watched those guys, I really, really looked up to them and so now that I’m actually competing with them it’s just a dream come true to me.
Q: Who were your heroes growing up? Who did you try to emulate?
A: Some of my heroes in supercross and motocross, and still are to this day, are Jeremy McGrath, The G.O.A.T himself RC, and Chad Reed. The off road side of things my local hero was Mikey Childress and Ty Davis, really looked up to Mikey growing up while racing the local district 37 races! Dave Pearson is another one who is now on my team for Baja and it’s such an honor to ride with him on the same team.
Q: Now, you race a few differing races and each with their own style and finesse, though differing in ways. Why is it that you race such races as the Best in the Desert (BITD), Baja, and also the Hare and Hound races?
A: I typically do all these series because they all have a different format/layout and I really like all of them because it’s nice to step away from the same series and kind of switch it up. Hare & Hounds are more single track and technical, BITD is a pretty fast pace race and lets you slide the bike around corners doing 75MPH and going as fast as that bike will go, Baja is oh man! Baja has EVERYTHING, like you name it and its there and always keeps you on the balls of your feet. Plus, the locals are cool and I enjoy talking with them and saying “Hi”. [laughs]
Q: These races you are taking by storm and winning far more often. What have you done in your training to bring yourself up to the next level?
A: My training routine is nothing special. I like to stick with riding my mountain bike and a few core exercises along with cardio. A lot of the consistency I think is from the confidence in yourself and believing. I do ride my dirt bike a lot because seat time is important as well.
Q: As of this interview, you have been doing great with SCORE and the NHHA. What is it like for you to do these often exhaustive races, and as of late in the same weekend?
A: I typically enjoy the long distance races because it really brings out the toughness and weaknesses of the riders. I think I do better in the longer races because I don’t let it mentally drain me.
Q: What training can you not forgot and slack off on, and what are some training tips you can give us?
A: I DO NOT go to the gym! [laughs] I cannot handle the gym. That is so boring to me so I do everything myself right out of my house! Training tips for you guys, endurance is key along with seat time. I do more endurance training then anything for times when I have a race two or more days in a row. This year I had a SCORE race on Saturday and then a NHHA on Sunday, and without my training I don’t think I could have physically been able to do that.
Q: What advice can you give both racers and weekend warriors concerning staying in shape and in top form for riding, outside of regular training and fitness?
A: Being active, I can’t tell people enough that just to stay in “ok” shape doesn’t require you to spend all kinds of money to buy the workout machines and all that. If you just move around and not sit down I think you’ll be alright. I can’t sit down much longer than an hour. I always have to be moving. A simple walk with the dogs or a quick pedal around the block would be great.
Q: Your team, THR, what can you tell us about them and how you became affiliated with them?
A: Yea, you know, THR is a great team along with the awesome people and sponsors they have supporting our habits. I became affiliated with them from Mikey Childress back in 2011 when he asked me to ride a BITD race with them, and up until this year I was kind of a “B” team for them with my buddy Ty Renshaw who now works at Precision Concepts “the best suspension & motor build guys around”.
Q: Your bike, a KX450F. What is it that you can share with us about the modifications and changes made from the dealer model we buy?
A: You know, there’s not much difference other than I guess the “desert” accessories you can buy over the counter, tank, bars, hand guards, 18’ rear wheel, gearing and a stabilizer. You can also get the bike re-mapped, which is kind of like an ignition curve. Our Baja race bike has FE motor upgrades, but not much because we want a bike that’s fast, but also reliable.
Q: What piece of gear can you not go without for both yourself and your bike?
A: Just a piece of gear?!?! [laughs] Oh man, I feel naked if I’m missing a single thing, but I always need my helmet and knee braces by EVS. For my bike, I need the suspension dialed in by Precision Concepts, because nothing makes you feel better then trusting your bike going across the desert or off jumps. Always need you suspension dialed to feel safe.
Q: What is your favorite place to ride, track, trail, or both?
A: I have many places to ride that I really enjoy. For the tracks it’s gotta be Glen Helen on any day. Trails, we have a place by my house in Oak Hills we call it “Milpas” and when it rains it is so epic, all in the huge rocks and trees kind of up towards Big Bear.
Q: Biggest milestone or achievement so far?
A: Man, my biggest achievements was winning a Hare & Hound, San Felipe 250 and the Baja 500! Those were dreams come true and none of them came easy, so I believe my training has been paying off.
Q: Moving a little back to racing and your career, besides the busy year still ahead, what can we look forward to from you in the future?
A: Looking into the future from my side, I’m not going to stop racing for a while. I’m going to do this while I can and it’s all a dream come true so I’d like to continue this.
Q: Main goals? What are they?
A: I have had a goal and a dream since I was a child and that was to ride for a factory team. Ever since I started in the desert racing scene I’ve wanted to get that 1x plate and win the Baja 1000 so bad. When I retire from racing and have a family I’d like to own my dad’s business, which is “Hemingway Sheet Metal”
Q: Tell us about your sponsors, please.
A: I’ve been with ONealMX for a long time and they take great care of me and by the way, that gear is so comfortable. Precision Concepts have been helping me for a few years now and I can trust them with everything. They are some great people and the Bell family is awesome. THR another good sponsor along with SIDI, FMF, Monster Energy, A’ME grips “(haven’t had one blister using them). My family’s support is always there, ZLT graphics (make the sickest stuff!) give them a call.
Q: Lastly, what can we find Ricky doing when not on a dirt bike? What are your hobbies?
A: When I’m not on a dirt bike I’m usually prepping mine to ride again [laughs], but for real I do that! [laughs] I have been getting into spear fishing, always like a good mountain bike stroll, racing with my dad in his Class 1 car, camping, and just hanging out BBQing. I’m always all over the place doing new things.
Ricky, again, thank you for this opportunity and for the candid talk. It has truly been an honor and highly enjoyable getting to talk with you about your life and career. We at Dirt Hammers thank you on behalf of our readers and fans of yours. Good luck in the future and we will continue to watch your career as it will surely only get better and better.
And, there you have it folks. Ricky Brabec, a rider to watch in the upcoming seasons, and truly a rider to simply watch race. Great person on and off the track or course. Until next time, stay dirty my friends.
-The Hammer Crew