While recently out in the Glamis dunes to film a segment on Andrew Short for SCOTT's second season of their "Vision" series, we caught eyes with Ricky Brabec's beautiful Monster Energy Honda HRC rally bike sitting near the edge of the parking lot. After snapping a few photos of the exotic machine, we cruised over to introduce ourselves to Ricky who was happy to sit down and chat about all things rally. Not familiar? Read on…
You're currently out in Glamis with Andrew Short, how has it been?
It's been good –we're out here testing and training, working on road books. I think my odometer has over 280 kilometers on it so it's kind of the final step before the Dakar Rally. I've just been out here with Andrew and Jimmy Lewis and we're trying to sharpen up our skills.
Andrew is a competitor, but training together can only help both of you right?
Yeah, we race against each other and are on completely separate teams. Actually, our teams are sort of enemies but Andrew and I don't really care what the teams think. We don't look at it like that, we're friends before racers. We're just out here bettering our navigation and working on different things. I don't mind training with guys from other teams, because we learn a lot from each other.
Behind you is your factory Honda HRC rally bike, and that thing is pretty insane. For someone who doesn't understand anything about rally, explain how much technology is in them.
Yeah, growing up I rode normal production bikes. Now I'm very fortunate and lucky to get on Monster Energy Honda HRC and ride one of these crazy exotic machines. They are 450's, they are heavy, and they're the furthest thing from a production bike. Everything about it is made one-off, and riding it in sand is sort of like riding a Sea-Doo on the water. They're fast, they're dangerous, and they're pretty mean!
Gnarly. This rally stuff seems hard to compare or relate to motocross just based on how fast you guys get going.
It's tough to compare it. The motocross and Supercross guys are gnarly, and what we do point-to-point racing across countries is gnarly. They're just different animals, you know? We ride the bike for 5, 10, 15 days –8 hour days. Racing Supercross or motocross it's obviously not so long but really high intensity and really aggressive. Baja racing is the same, it's really high intensity for the 1000, 24 hours, the 500, the 250…they are all different animals. I used to race Baja and won the Baja 1000 in 2014 and kind of never went back to that. The rally is definitely a different animal. You're out there going as fast as you can go, as fast as the bike can go, while reading a paper map on the front of your bike. There's no pre-running allowed. We're just out there by ourselves.
Give me a few gnarly things that people who don't follow rally racing might be surprised about.
Well, the fist thing is that the Dakar Rally is gnarly. It's really gnarly, and it's a race that takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. Second one is that we all work on our own bikes. I'm pretty capable of working on my own bike, and I'm out here wrenching on my own bike, prepping it. I also prep my bike at home too. So the marathon stage is a stage during the race where you have to keep your bike going for 16 hours, which is two days of racing, with no supplies. We don't have parts, or anything. Leaving at three in the morning can be pretty rough –especially when it's raining and 30 degrees out. Yeah, starting a 300km special when you're soaking wet is a rough one. Your boots are soaked and you have water squishing between your toes –that can suck too. [Laughs]
You guys are gnarly. I feel like you have to be prepped for war, like sleeping in a mud pit to condition you for this stuff. [Laughs]
[Laughs] I don't know about that, but of course it is tough. I don't really sleep in a mud hole to train but definitely it's hard and you have to be able to push and ride your bike for 8 hours a day for ten to 15 days straight. It's gnarly.
How about whipping a rally bike? I've seen some cool photos.
Yeah you can whip them, but the only thing about the rally bike is that the bars don't turn as sharp as a normal production bike. I rode my rally bike and raced my rally bike at Glen Helen and it's pretty good. To whip one, if the bike is empty, should be no problem. When they are full of gas it's probably not going to happen!
It sure looks cool.
They look big and heavy, but they aren't tanks. When the bike is full of fuel it is definitely hard to ride though.
Well good luck at Dakar! Hopefully our TWMX readers will follow you during the race.
Thanks man. I used to get TransWorld Motocross magazines since I was damn near a kid and would rip out the posters and hang them on my wall.
Yeah the chick side of course!