RILYNN RICHARDS TOPS FLORIDA DIRT BIKE RACING LEADERBOARDS

Photos courtesy of Photoman386. See more race photos at facebook.com/photoman386.

The Florida Keys may not be the most hospitable environment for dirt bike racing, but that can’t stop these islands from producing a champ.

Enter Rilynn Richards, a 12-year-old marathon runner currently atop the state standings for the Florida Trail Riders’ 65cc girls class. The organization supports motorcycle and ATV racing for groups of all ages, offering dozens of races over multiple weekends during a season that runs from October through April.

Richards’ love of the sport was born in recent years and began when his father Jason, an FWC officer and rider himself, bought him a small electric dirt bike.

“At first I was like ‘no,’ but he ordered it for me anyway, so I started doing it around the neighborhood,” Rilynn said. “It really started with that and then we got a 50cc Yamaha motorbike and started going to Miami to ride a bit.”

A visit to Croom Motorcycle Area in central Florida, Jason’s former stomping grounds, quickly transformed Rilynn from hobbyist to racer at the age of 10.

“I just started riding there and then we found out there were races going on. I got second or third in the first race I did, and then it all went from there. We really started racing the following season.

Rilynn’s favorite racing format is known as the “hare scramble”, a three-lap race averaging between six and 10 miles per lap. Typical races are held for an hour and a half on tracks with varied terrain, including sections of fields, narrow wooded passages and motocross elements. Her relatives and friends usually only see her once every half hour as she walks through spectator areas or stops quickly to refuel, swap gear or splash water on herself. cold on hot days.

“Every time there’s a race, we pack up the RV, get in there and meet people from all over the state,” said Rilynn’s mother, Melissa, radiology manager at Fishermen’s Community Hospital. . “It was a great experience to be exposed to something other than what’s happening here in the Keys.”

Although the Keys’ corrosive salty environment and lack of trails prohibit Rilynn from training at home, her involvement in school sports keeps her in shape for grueling competitions. With eight of 10 races this season under her belt and first or second place finishes in most cases, she leads her class in total points for the season. It’s a place she has no intention of giving up, as long as she can withstand a late push from rival Alaina Faneuf. With two races remaining, Richards holds a 21-point lead over Faneuf, 336-315.

“I’m pretty competitive in dirt bike racing, so what I like is winning, obviously,” Rilynn said. “Every time it’s the same girl behind me, or she’s in front of me and I’m right behind her. She beat me in the last race by three seconds.

“We’re super proud, but every time she’s about to cross the finish line, my heart races,” Melissa said. “It’s still only a matter of seconds.”

When asked if she had any advice for other riders or anyone curious about the sport, Rilynn’s response was simple: “Do it. It’s a cool sport, and it’s great fun to hang out, make friends, and spend time with family.

About Frances R. Smith

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