Jason Weigandt did a very revealing podcast with a very open Ryan Dungey who explained a number of things about his career and why he retired.
Dungey admitted that he struggled with perspective in his career but was able to find a balance as he got older especially with the help of Aldon Baker Baker.
“I was the fittest guy but it didn’t matter how fit I was because I was so mentally not tough.” admitted Ryan. “In later years when I worked with Aldon he was a great mentor and a great friend and he really helped me with the mental strength and mental toughness. I felt that was the last bit. When I came in it was winning a race and championship and if anybody didn’t help I didn’t want anything to do with them. It was all about that, it was number one. Then in 2008, (losing supercross title to Lawrence) my world came crashing down on me. That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. it brought balance to my life, it opened my eyes.
“I realised racing didn’t belong first place in my life it was something I did not who I was, by the time I was older and mid-way through my career I realised the influence I could have on people and fans and later on in my career realise the position I was in, and being a leader and not just for the sport but my team and the team around me and how people were feeding off of me, Aldon really woke me up to that. It wasn’t about wining a race or a championship anymore there are bigger things in life. When I watch the sport it’s complete madness, everyone is freaking out because it’s all about the championship because there is nothing bigger that they are living for in your life.”
It was a similar view held by Justin Brayton in our interview who mentioned how his wife and children have allowed him to separate himself and his identity from just being a racer. “I think my identity is not in my results at the weekend, before you are scraping to get a rider and making money but also your identity is based on what results you get at the weekend and that’s a really tough life to live. Now, I have got a couple of tenths this year and I go home and my wife, daughter and son are there and we hang out and have fun, we have a great week no matter what because they don’t really care about results to be honest.”
Dungey also said the three weeks leading up to the Vegas supercross finale of last season was the toughest part of his career. “It was one of the hardest things I have ever faced in my life and go through, in the month after trying to recover mentally and physically from something like that I just wanted to sleep! I remember going to Seattle and thinking this would be the hardest three weeks of my life but don’t give up and be ready for it because it will be over in three weeks – and it was the hardest three weeks, especially the week leading up to Vegas, talk about mind games, ‘what f I get a flat tye, what if I had an engine problem?’ Things that you ever thought about, you start thinking about!”
Somewhat surprisingly dungey admitted Tomac’s early hit on him in an attempt to rattle the defending champ in the Vegas main actually kept him focused, “right away he went in tried to clean me out, that was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, it angered me so it kept me in the moment which was the best thing for me.”
Listen to the full interview here.