National Championships. If only the rustic buildings
The three-day camp was well-structured. Carmichael
scheduled the adults to ride and train exclusively on the
first day. The second day was devoted to the minicycles.
On the third and final day, the groups were given a
split open practice session. Ricky doesn’t like the idea of
85cc riders and big bikes sharing the track at the same
time because of the variance in speed and skill. I agree
with his philosophy. Safety was a top priority at Camp
Carmichael. Unfortunately, nature intervened on the first
day and washed away the opportunity to ride. Ricky
decided to move the big bikes to the second day, where
they would share part of the track with the 85cc groms.
However, instead of wasting the first day, Ricky fielded
dozens of questions from the eager audience.
What would you ask a 15-time AMA Champion? I
suppose it depends on your interests. Given the racing
mentality at Camp Carmichael, most of the questions
focused on training and nutrition. Would you believe that
Ricky suffered from arm pump his entire career? How
about the fact that he rode just as hard during practice as when he raced, because otherwise “you’re just
doing junk laps.” Carmichael even talked about his slow
metabolism, at one point joking, “I couldn’t drive by a
McDonalds without my pants getting tighter.” From arm
pump to cardio (Ricky loves racquetball) to riding versus
training (he thinks riding is more important given the
option), RC didn’t hold back.
I sat in a far corner of the building during the Q&A
session, a fly on the wall so to speak. Of course, it was
hard not to be noticed when Ricky Carmichael looked in
my direction and called me out: “Hey, media guy, don’t
you have any questions? You’re awfully quiet over there.”
My face turned a deep shade of red. I hadn’t been called
out in front of a group since my high school science
teacher scolded me for chatting up the pretty girl in
class. In a panic, I blurted out a question about James
Stewart’s performance-enhancing drug ban. The crowd
leaned in as Ricky gave the question some thought.
Carmichael replied, “The rule is the rule. Everyone want-
ed drug testing implemented. It was implemented, and
there you go. What happened is what happened. One
thing I’ve learned about sports is that people’s memories
are very short.”
It’s not easy to put Ricky Carmichael on the spot, even
when he makes himself vulnerable. He’s a witty prank-
ster to his friends, amiable to strangers, and just as confi-
dent as when he won all those titles. Sure, his vernacular
would make an English teacher cringe, but that’s part
of his charm. At one point he looked at me and said,
“This is fun. I feel like there’s real friendmanship here.” I
howled in laughter, since friendmanship isn’t a word, but
somehow Carmichael made it work.
There are plenty of funny stories from my time at
Camp Carmichael. Ricky addressed his class after completing a drill and mentioned how it would be fun to
skip out on the remaining drills and play-ride instead.
He paused and then said, “Meannie wouldn’t like that,
though, would she? We better not, or else Meannie will
have my butt.” Ricky was referencing his sweet mom
Jeannie, who earned the “Meannie” nickname for cracking the whip on Ricky during his racing career. Those
in Carmichael’s close-knit circle of friends usually took
the brunt of his jokes, with J.H. Leale getting the lion’s
share. Poor guy.
Nine years removed from professional motocross
racing, Ricky is still busy with a myriad of projects.
He’s a race-team co-owner (RCH Racing), race promoter (Daytona Amateur Supercross), trainer (he’s
The house Ricky
stayed in when he
first started testing
at the farm.
The real GOAT’s goat.