When someone says the name Donny Robinson, a bunch of different things come to my mind.Sure, super fast and skillful are near the top of the list, but if I had to name Donny’s most defining quality, it would be the kid’s heart--he’s got more than just about anyone I’ve ever seen, and it shows every time he rides. I finally got some questions together for Donny so I’m going to let him do the talking from here on out.

Yeah, this photo is from last year’s ABA Grands. DR might get a little buffer every year, but that mug never changes.  credit: Keith Mulligan

You spent the first year of your double-A career getting knocked around and recovering from injuries. How different has your second season been?
A few things have made my second year as a Pro so much better. First off, I’m riding smarter--not taking chances that I know won’t yield positive results. Second, I’m not riding mid-pack as much. Being stuck in between those guys is dangerous and it is much easier to get out in front and run your own race. I’m sitting #7 in AA and #2 in Pro Cruiser points, so I’m much happier than this time last year.

Would you say you’re still getting used to double-A or do you feel at home in the class now?
I am definitely more confident and at ease in the class compared to last year. It is all about getting out front and avoiding problems, but if you do get caught in traffic, make smart moves and stay calm.

What are your thoughts on the Olympics?
The Olympics are still five years away. I have many more goals that need to be reached before I start working towards winning the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong, I am really happy about hopefully having the chance to represent our country in such a prestigious event, but we still have a long time and we will have to see what happens.

Are they something you’re preparing for now?
I wouldn’t say I was preparing for the Olympics. I’m preparing myself now for my racing future and like I said, I have many more goals that need to be reached before I focus solely on the Olympics.

Do you see yourself racing more NBL in the future as a result?
I see myself racing more NBL in the future because I like the people. I miss everyone that I used to see when I rode for Powerlite. I made many friends that I don’t get to see now, plus the tracks are top notch. I don’t like being a one-sanction rider; I want to go out and compete with the guys in NBL also. Plus, I want to get Avent/FLY/FSA/Spy/Answer and ACS on the East coast more.

What are your opinions on how the two sanctions (ABA/NBL) differ?
There are the obvious differences, like the NBL pays a lot better Other than that, it seems like the ABA is more business and has more of a competitive atmosphere at the races. They are two different sanctions with different ideas on how things should run and it shows.

Donny showed up for this year’s X Games Downhill race and let everyone know he was down for the big stuff.  credit: Keith Mulligan

You had your first AA Pro win in Reno just a short while ago. Did you see it coming?
I hoped it was coming soon. I knew I was performing better in the class the past few races and was hoping my training was soon going to give me my first win. At Friday practice in Reno I knew that it was my best chance so far to get my first win. I had felt just the way I did in amateur, unusually confident and fast. I didn’t want to get all stressed and lose what I knew I had. Everything wt my way and I now have my first AA victory! I couldn’t have done it without all my favorite parts from Avent, FLY, FSA, Spy, Answer and ACS.

When you first turned Pro, did you see your first win coming sooner than it did, or was this pretty much right when you thought it would happen?
It came right when it should have. Things happen for a reason and it was just my time for the win to come.

Do you have a time table set for the goals you want to accomplish? Like, do you have “Donny Robinson wins first Pro title in 2003” etched somewhere?
Of course, who doesn’t? I’ve had goals my whole racing career and everybody said that I wouldn’t achieve any of them. So far I’ve achieved every one of them (minus Amateur #1, but that’s only because of rider count) and I’m not about to let anybody prove that I won’t succeed, either sponsor-wise or with race results. My next goal is #1 AA Pro. I know there is a lot of work involved with that, but I’ve gone through this much--no turning back now.

How important is goal-setting at the Pro level?
I won’t speak for anybody else, but for me, it’s my driving force. Setting goals that everybody thinks I won’t achieve is the only way I’ve made it this far.

You’re one of the few rookie Pros who kept racing Cruiser once they turned. How do you see the Pro Cruiser class? Is it easier than 20″?
The only way I could say it is easier, is that there are fewer people in the class. The top riders in cruiser are also the top riders in the AA class.

You’re up for the title in Pro Cruiser. Is that something you’re focused on, or is it just something that “could” happen with a good main finish at the Grands?
I will have to win the main to be able to win the title. Since I’m going there to win anyway…it is something that “could” happen. I’m focusing on winning, not winning the title. The title will come after I win.

Ever since DR was little he’s been a jumper, and now that he’s raced the X Games Downhill track, you can bet pro sections like this are cake.  credit: Keith Mulligan

You’re one of the few double-A’s who is as good at marketing themselves as they are at riding. What made you shift your head towards the business aspect of it?
Being an awesome rider on the track is just one part of being a “Professional.” I’ve always tried to go above and beyond what I’m expected to do. Whether in teaching clinics or the way I carry myself, I always try and give people what they deserve. People (sponsors/fans) take a chance on me and it’s only my job and nature to give them more back than what they give. This in turn, will hopefully yield better opportunities in the future.

You’ve come out with your own pit area, you were the first to have a signature t-shirt, and you’re always down to do the autograph thing or hand out stickers. How much does all that have to do with being a top double-A and how much has to do with getting and keeping sponsors happy?
Like I said, there is much more to being a top AA “Professional” then results on the track. Sponsors expect you to sell their product and you can only do that successfully by promoting it and being personable! Being #1 on the track is important, but being #1 off the track is the most important TO ME. I am trying to not only sell product by being the best on the track, but by also going the extra mile off the track and giving them the publicity and good name that they deserve. I get ridiculed by other pros and sometimes sponsors for trying to promote the way I do, and, well…so be it, I’m the first one to do these things and I’m only trying to sell product.

Talk about some of the training you do. Are you still doing the same types of things you did as an amateur, or has the program changed? If so, how?
Everyone says that when you turn Pro you have to totally change the way you train. I was told you have to train like all the others to be successful. So, I tried their methods of training from the time I turned AA until Lancaster this year. I was mildly successful as I trained their way, but I feel much more confident when I train the way I did as an amateur and, so far, I’m benefiting more. Bottom line is that you have to find out what is comfortable for you and then run with it.

Are you one of those guys who watches everything they eat? Will you drink soda or is there a gallon jug of water with you at all times?
For over a year I did the “health” thing. I ate well all the time, with all the right foods and trained all the right ways. But as an amateur (oh how Mario Soto use to hate it), Shane Vincent and I would eat candy all the time. After Lancaster I changed my training habits and eating habits back to the days of amateur and I’ll tell ya…it is good to be back with my candy and ice cream!

What was the last thing you ate?
Ooohh, I went the store and spent my money on a pizza and chips and a Rocky Road candy bar and a Squirt; it was a great mid-evening snack.

I’ve noticed a speedometer on your bike at different times. Do you keep track of things like top speed, heart rates, and that type of stuff?
I use to more than I do now. I did the heart rate thing for a while and used the speedometer a lot with Briana Mack (I learned a lot from her dad, Jim). So now when I want to see if my training is working or need to try a new setup on my bike I know I can always go back and put to use what I learned when I was training with Briana and Jim. Plus, I’m riding products from Avent, FLY, FSA, Spy, Answer and ACS so I don’t need a speedometer to tell me I’m going fast.

Any idea what your body fat percentage is? Do you care?
Every day but Tuesday it is at 5.44352%; it’s more on Tuesdays because Saturn’s aurora gets misaligned because its axis point shifts dramatically from rapid vibration (Editor’s note: Donny has a way of throwing these random things in from time to time...). No, actually I don’t care. I judge how in shape I am by the way my bod looks in the mirror. Haha…giddy up. (Editor’s note #2: See what I mean).

The season’s starting to wind down; we’ve still got the Redline Cups and the Falls before the Grands. How important are top-three finishes right now?
Top three finishes are always important. I’m mad at myself that it is coming down to the last few nationals to get some points in--I should have gotten all my good finishes in a while ago; I don’t need the pressure. I’m just going to go out and ride like I have been and try and move up a bit and gain more confidence.

Do you pay a lot of attention to points?
“Focusing on your opponent undermines your ability to improve yourself.” Thanks to Andre Agassi for that one. It is true; if you worry about points and how everybody else is doing, you won’t improve yourself and perform at the level you know you can.

Say you finish top three in Pro Cruiser and top ten in Class. Are those results you’d be satisfied with? At what point are you truly disappointed with a Nat’l #2 on either bike?
To be truthful…no, I wouldn’t be satisfied. I would have been happy with those results last year but as many people know, I demand a lot of myself and I feel that I haven’t performed this whole season like I should. I still have a lot of work to do.

If we let Donny write this caption, he’d probably say something aboutyou do. Are you still doing the same types of things you did as an amateur, or has the program changed? If so, how?
Everyone says that when you turn Pro you have to totally change the way you train. I was told you have to train like all the others to be successful. So, I tried their methods of training from the time I turned AA until Lancaster this year. I was mildly successful as I trained their way, but I feel much more confident when I train the way I did as an amateur and, so far, I’m benefiting more. Bottom line is that you have to find out what is comfortable for you and then run with it.

Are you one of those guys who watches everything they eat? Will you drink soda or is there a gallon jug of water with you at all times?
For over a year I did the “health” thing. I ate well all the time, with all the right foods and trained all the right ways. But as an amateur (oh how Mario Soto use to hate it), Shane Vincent and I would eat candy all the time. After Lancaster I changed my training habits and eating habits back to the days of amateur and I’ll tell ya…it is good to be back with my candy and ice cream!

What was the last thing you ate?
Ooohh, I went the store and spent my money on a pizza and chips and a Rocky Road candy bar and a Squirt; it was a great mid-evening snack.

I’ve noticed a speedometer on your bike at different times. Do you keep track of things like top speed, heart rates, and that type of stuff?
I use to more than I do now. I did the heart rate thing for a while and used the speedometer a lot with Briana Mack (I learned a lot from her dad, Jim). So now when I want to see if my training is working or need to try a new setup on my bike I know I can always go back and put to use what I learned when I was training with Briana and Jim. Plus, I’m riding products from Avent, FLY, FSA, Spy, Answer and ACS so I don’t need a speedometer to tell me I’m going fast.

Any idea what your body fat percentage is? Do you care?
Every day but Tuesday it is at 5.44352%; it’s more on Tuesdays because Saturn’s aurora gets misaligned because its axis point shifts dramatically from rapid vibration (Editor’s note: Donny has a way of throwing these random things in from time to time...). No, actually I don’t care. I judge how in shape I am by the way my bod looks in the mirror. Haha…giddy up. (Editor’s note #2: See what I mean).

The season’s starting to wind down; we’ve still got the Redline Cups and the Falls before the Grands. How important are top-three finishes right now?
Top three finishes are always important. I’m mad at myself that it is coming down to the last few nationals to get some points in--I should have gotten all my good finishes in a while ago; I don’t need the pressure. I’m just going to go out and ride like I have been and try and move up a bit and gain more confidence.

Do you pay a lot of attention to points?
“Focusing on your opponent undermines your ability to improve yourself.” Thanks to Andre Agassi for that one. It is true; if you worry about points and how everybody else is doing, you won’t improve yourself and perform at the level you know you can.

Say you finish top three in Pro Cruiser and top ten in Class. Are those results you’d be satisfied with? At what point are you truly disappointed with a Nat’l #2 on either bike?
To be truthful…no, I wouldn’t be satisfied. I would have been happy with those results last year but as many people know, I demand a lot of myself and I feel that I haven’t performed this whole season like I should. I still have a lot of work to do.

If we let Donny write this caption, he’d probably say something about his IRC tires gripping the turn to perfection while his Fly helmet cut through the wind... If there’s a better sponsor plugger than DR, we don’t know who it is.  credit: Keith Mulligan

Thanks?
I wish to thank my family, my wonderful sponsors: Terry, Craig, Ray and Jim at Fly, Gary and Will at Avent, Adidas, Doug at FSA, Phil and Ronny at Spy, Joey at Answer, Keith at ACS, Joe at IRC, John Kovachi, Todd and Kyle at EVS and Chad at Shimano, my girlfriend Tiffany, my fans and supporters, and Jesus Christ for blessing me with my life. I wish I had the space to thank everyone individually who has had an impact on my life…

bout his IRC tires gripping the turn to perfection while his Fly helmet cut through the wind... If there’s a better sponsor plugger than DR, we don’t know who it is.  credit: Keith Mulligan

Thanks?
I wish to thank my family, my wonderful sponsors: Terry, Craig, Ray and Jim at Fly, Gary and Will at Avent, Adidas, Doug at FSA, Phil and Ronny at Spy, Joey at Answer, Keith at ACS, Joe at IRC, John Kovachi, Todd and Kyle at EVS and Chad at Shimano, my girlfriend Tiffany, my fans and supporters, and Jesus Christ for blessing me with my life. I wish I had the space to thank everyone individually who has had an impact on my life…