EASY RYDER: Oil City Teen Places Eighth in the World at FIM MiniGP Final in Spain
And, sometimes the trepidation.
Racing at such speeds around hairpin turns with other bikes sometimes mere inches away can be scary, even for an experienced rider.
Even for a 13-year-old boy from Oil City who has “Ryder” in his very name.
“The hardest part was probably mental,” Ryder said. “Just getting over being scared.”
Ryder broke his arm in 2020 in a crash. It hasn’t deterred him from chasing some big dreams in the sport.
Early in November, Ryder competed in the FIM MiniGP World Final in Valencia, Spain.
Just to get a chance to race there, Ryder had to dominate in a series of races, both locally and nationally.
He won two 160cc races in Pittsburgh. He also notched victories in MotoAmerica Superbikes races in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Seattle.
That allowed him to finish second in the United States in the MotoAmerica Mini Cup series. He was only four points behind the leader, Nathan Gouker of Lexington, N.C. That sent Ryder on to the MiniGP World Final.
In the final in Spain, Ryder raced against 32 other competitors from Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and North America, placing eighth overall.
“In my head, I was confident. I wanted to do a lot better,” Ryder said. “I didn’t think they were going to be as fast as they were. They showed me what’s up.”
It was a great experience for Ryder, who made the trip with his father, Casey Davis. They were in Spain for two weeks, which allowed Ryder to get a taste of what society is like in other countries.
It was quite an eye-opener.
“Probably all the different scenery,” Ryder said of one of the things he enjoyed the most about the trip. “We have stuff here that they don’t have over there and they have stuff over there that we don’t have. I saw only like one stop sign, maybe a few stoplights — they have roundabouts. They don’t have dryers. And the restaurants don’t open ‘till nine o’clock at night. Then, you have to eat a snack and then you get dinner at 11. You had to use Google translate to talk.”
(Ryder Davis and his father, Casey, chat before a recent race/submitted photo)
But on the track, the language is the same, and Ryder fit in quite nicely.
Racing is kind of in Ryder’s blood. His grandfather built his first bike out of spare parts from a junkyard and raced. He passed his love for motorcycles down to Casey, who then got the aptly named Ryder into the sport.
“He was born in the 50s and his first bike was built in a junkyard because his parents wouldn’t allow him to have a bike,” Casey said for his father. “He built it out of a lawnmower motor and stuff he could find out of a junkyard. Then he and my mom built a business in Oil City, a software company, that started in the 80s. He was always into bikes and he started doing a little regional club racing. He was pretty involved with clubs and I grew up around it. When I was old enough, I wanted to ride bikes.”
When Ryder was old enough, about four years ago, he was just as eager to jump on a bike.
But racing minis in the United States is difficult. It’s not nearly as popular as it is overseas.
When Casey was younger, there was no opportunity.
“Here it was unheard of,” Casey said.
Ryder took to racing quickly, even while battling some of the mental pitfalls that affect virtually everyone who climbs on a bike and races at such high speeds.
Ryder is by no means done. He’s just getting started.
“I want to get as far as I can go in MotoGP,” Ryder said.
He will also soon move on to bigger bikes with faster speeds — upward of 140 mph.
Ryder said it is hard to describe the feeling of going so fast on a bike during a race.
“It’s amazing. Amazing,” he said. “I just like sitting on any bike.”
(Ryder Davis, right, and his brother, Jacob, on the podium at a race in Pittsburgh/submitted photo)
Ryder also has other interests.
He takes boxing lessons. But not to fight. He uses it to stay in shape and keep his upper body strong for the rigors of racing.
“I’m not really a boxer,” he said. “I’m not gonna just start fighting and climb into a ring. I’m not one of those kids who’s just going to go outside and run. I like training. There’s something called arm pump and some people get it really bad. Some people don’t. One of my idols got it, and he had to have surgery.”
“Arm pump “ is a phenomenon that sometimes happens in motocross racing when the forearm fills with blood from prolonged racing, and the muscles are no longer able to function properly. It’s potentially serious.
Ryder uses boxing as a way to prevent arm pump.
He’s in it for the long haul.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Casey said. “I laid the foundation for him to build upon and he has taken the reins and shown his dedication to this sport on a daily basis. I’m confident the lessons he’s learning from this will carry him through anything life will throw at him.”
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