|I'm at that point where I'm realizing that my kids are my legacy. -Ronnie Renner|
Words like ‘veteran’ and ‘superstar’ are often thrown around when describing Ronnie Renner, and they should be; he set the world record for a step-up on a moto in 2007 when he hit the 35 feet 6 inch mark. And the following year he set another world record when he sent it 59 feet 2 inches off a quarterpipe. So when I sat down to interview him at Rampage this year I wasn’t expecting the topic of conversation to focus on parenting rather than his motocross career. But as Ronnie explained, “I’m at that point where I’m realizing my kids are my legacy.”
|It feels natural to be [at Red Bull Rampage], I have a lot of respect for these riders and what they are about. -Ronnie Renner|
Nate, at 14, is Ronnie’s oldest of four kids. He took up mountain biking four years ago and his freeride goals are what brought the family to Red Bull Rampage this year. “He likes moto too and says that it is his number two, but it messes him up on his mountain bike so he just parks it.” As a proud father, Ronnie isn’t too bothered that Nate isn’t following exactly in his footstep, “it all comes back to being a dad; I just want to help him reach his goals.”
|[Mountain biking] gave me a true sense of freedom. Now I feel I'm at the point where it is pure fun to me as I constantly try and progress. And it, honestly, has become what everyone calls 'a lifestyle' for me. -Nate Renner|
When you have access to a lot of extras, like passes to Red Bull Rampage, that someone like Ronnie does, parenting can really become a balancing act when it comes to doling out the ‘extra love’. Ronnie keeps things even by focusing on building a strong work ethic with his kids, and teaching them that “you’ve got to fight for your right to party.” In other words you have to work hard for success. “Nate has the skills, heart, and passion for [mountain biking],” and nothing has come to him for free. Nate has worked hard to lined up his own sponsors, including a spot riding for Fox Head. He also earned his attendance at Red Bull Rampage last year by working on Tyler McCaul’s line. Ronnie feels that the value of the experience was two-fold; it is important for Nate to understand that “jumps don’t build themselves” and also the importance of being on a team and getting along with your peers. You won’t get anywhere in an industry without making friends and contacts.
|You have to find your own identity and not blend in with everyone or be a sheep, but also you have to be able to send it on your bike too. -Ronnie Renner|
You also won’t get anywhere without perseverance, “I’m not very good at dirt jumping, the hard tail thing, kind of bites me every time I do it, but I’m getting there. I use that as an example for my kids, I’m not good at it, but I’m not going to quit it. Making it through a little rhythm section is almost as cool to me as winning the X-Games.”
Settling for one sport just isn’t his thing, “people are so die-hard for their sport and they get stuck in a rut.” He says that athletes can get too tied to the expectations of themselves and others and it can cause them to lose passion for what they are doing, “even if you aren’t the best in the world at something, it can still be fun.” His transition to other sports, of which there are many, was natural, “I’m not burned out on moto, but it’s at the point in my career where I don’t want to take the big gambles.” He adds, “part of my soul feels like I should have been [mountain biking] a long time ago.”
|I want to inspire poeple to get off their butt and not sit on the the couch, to not make excuses or say that they're old. -Ronnie Renner|
As the father of a freerider, he says, “the risk versus reward is so far out of balance for all these sports, but it’s understandable.” Mountain biking, like moto, is a passion sport and riders need to carefully pick their battles when it comes to preserving the longevity of their careers. “Sometimes it’s better to be in them all than win them all.” His advice to Nate when it comes to risk is that “[freeriding] may never be worth it financially, but it is definitely not going to be worth if you are injured and can’t ride.” This is strong advice from a man who has only broken one bone throughout his career.
|In contests you're only as good as your last contest and you can't live your life like that. -Ronnie Renner|
While Nate has his eyes set on Freeriding, Ronnie believes that the best riders are well rounded, the ones who can do it all. “Moto has been around long enough now that you can start with freeride, but as soon as you get to a big course or a big stage it is the racers who shine.” He encourages Nate to “just do it all, the cream rises to the top, and you’ll figure out what you are the best at.” And within that you need to find your own identity. “Freeriding is my main love because you are being creative and finding your own line. I don’t like the cookie cutter ‘do the same things as everyone else, I like to be original.”
While the priorities in Ronnie’s life may have shifted to focus more on fatherhood, he is still utilizing years’ worth of knowledge that has come from a competitive and illustrious moto career. As his legacy, his kids will benefit from the example that he continues to set.
|Rampage this year was on another level. It opened my eyes up a lot and inspired me to hopefully compete in the next couple of years. -Nate Renner|