The last time we spoke to Ryan Sipes the champagne hadn't dried from his individual overall win at the International Six Days Enduro, the off-road equivalent to the Motocross of Nations. Though the United States team didn't fare too well, Sipes became the first American to accomplish the feat in 90 years of ISDE competitions.
Now he's soaking in another career high - 2015 AMA Athlete of the Year - an honor bestowed in January.
Sipes left the grueling full time tour of Supercross and Motocross in 2014 after 10 years and so far with just two seasons of off-road under his belt, it appears he's found an even better fit. He finished first three times in a decade of Supercross and in just two years of off-road he's won the biggest race in the world. What's more, he also won a round in the 2015 National Enduro Series.
Now, with the first year jitters gone and experience underneath him, Sipes sets his sights on a Grand National Cross Country Championship. He's yet to win a round but center podium is on the horizon. Last year he stepped on the box five times including three second-place finishes.
With the 2016 GNCC season just a few weeks away we got to talk to Sipes as he prepared for his third season in the series.
1. How is off season preparation going for your third GNCC season?
It's going great. I'm getting the new bikes dialed in and getting my fitness back. Looking forward to racing soon.
2. How does preparing for GNCC differ from preparing for Supercross?
The training is longer but less intense. We are training for three hour endurance races instead of 15 minute sprints, so it is quite a bit different.
3. I would assume a realistic goal now is a GNCC Championship. You can strategize in Supercross but can you in off-road? If so, how do you get to that Championship?
Of course you can strategize, but at the end of the day you have to finish closer to the front more times than everyone else. So my goal is to be at or near the front in every race, and to be consistent as possible.
4. You're not a seasoned veteran, yet, but you're also not new to off-road racing anymore. How has your mindset changed since that first season and how has your preparation changed?
The difference between then and now is that now I know what to expect and how to prepare for it, how to train, and how to set my bike up. I still have a lot to learn but I am way ahead of where I was my first year.
5. AMA Athlete of the Year Honors. Wow. When they called your name what went through your mind?
Thanks! It was definitely a great feeling to receive that award and have an off-road racer get that recognition. It is partly a fan-voted award, so I'm grateful that more people are paying attention to our ISDE efforts and recognizing that it is a huge, tough event. We need that support to make that next step and win as a team.
6. Where does the award rank in terms of your professional career?
It's right there at the top. It was great for my career and great for my sponsors.
7. You had a long, successful career in Supercross but in many respects you've already redefined yourself as an off-roader. Looking back, do you ever think maybe you should have started off-road from the start?
No. I had a great time in Supercross and accomplished some lifelong goals of mine, and made a great living for my family. And my successes in Supercross and Motocross gave me a chance to give off-road a try, so I'm grateful for it!
8. Now I know it's only the start of the third year in off-road but are you enjoying your off-road career more than Supercross and Motocross or am I asking you to tell me who your favorite child is?
Now that's a good one. I'm really enjoying off-road now because it's a new challenge, but I also enjoyed my time in Supercross and Motocross.
9. You also dabbled a little in the National Enduro Series and even won a round last year. Was that just for fun or does it help with on-going training for the GNCC series?
I use the National Enduro Series mainly for extra practice to stay sharp for my number one focus, the GNCC series. The races are fun but not as much my style as GNCC.
10. Do you plan on joining that series again this year?
Yes. I plan on doing a few here and there. Hopefully I can do well.
11. Will we see you in Motocross this summer?
Yes. I will do two races for sure, maybe three. Motocross is still fun and I'm still fairly competitive at it, so I'll do it as long as I can.
12. And finally, how about the ISDE. I'm sure you're more than wanted for the 2016 event. Do you expect to attend?
I hope so! For 2016, they have changed the rules so that there will only be four World Trophy riders on the team. If they want me to go I will be honored. I really want to win it as a team.
Check out our last profile of Ryan: