RILYNN RICHARDS TOPS FLORIDA LEADERBOARD IN DIRT BIKE RACING – Florida Keys Weekly

The Florida Keys may not be the most hospitable environment for dirt bike racing, but that can’t stop these islands from producing a champion.
Enter Rilynn Richards, a 12-year-old Marathon rider currently atop the state leaderboard 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 for the sport was born in recent years and began when her father Jason, an FWC officer and rider himself, bought her a small electric dirt bike.
“At first, I was like, ‘no,’ but he ordered it for me anyway, so I started riding it around the neighborhood,” said Rilynn. “It really just started with that, and then we got a Yamaha 50cc bike and started to go to Miami to ride around a little bit.”
A visit to Croom Motorcycle Area in central Florida, Jason’s old stomping grounds, soon turned Rilynn from a hobbyist into a racer at the age of 10.
“I just started riding around there, and then we found out there were races that go on. I got second or third place in the first race I did, and then it just kind of went from there. We started really racing the next season.”
Rilynn’s preferred race format is known as a “hare scramble,” a three-lap race averaging between six and 10 miles per lap. Typical races run for an hour and a half over tracks with varied terrain, including sections of fields, narrow wooded passages and motocross features. Her parents and friends typically only see her once every half hour as she comes through spectator areas or takes a speedy pit stop for fuel, equipment swap-outs, or a dousing with cold water on hot days.
“Every time there’s a race, we pack up the camper, go up there and meet up with people from all over the state,” said Rilynn’s mother Melissa, a radiology manager at Fishermen’s Community Hospital. “It’s been a great experience to get exposed to something other than what happens here in the Keys.”
Though the Keys’ corrosive salty environment and lack of tracks prohibit Rilynn from practicing at home, her involvement with school sports keeps her in shape for the grueling contests. With eight of this season’s 10 races under her belt, and first- or second-place finishes in most, she leads her class in total points for the season. It’s a spot she has no plans to relinquish, as long as she can hold off a late surge from her rival Alaina Faneuf. With two races remaining, Richards holds a 21-point lead over Faneuf, 336-315.
“I’m pretty competitive about dirt bike racing, so what I like about it is winning, obviously,” said Rilynn. “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 is pounding,” said Melissa. “It’s always just a matter of seconds.”
Asked if she had advice to other female riders or those curious about the sport, Rilynn’s answer was simple: “Do it. It’s a cool sport, and it’s a lot of fun to get out there, make some friends and spend time with your family.”

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