Three Questions With … Rick May, Senior Adviser To Interior Secretary

Former Racer Oversees Recreation On Public Lands

Rick May is a former Navy SEAL Captain who was appointed in 2017 to be the senior adviser to the U.S. Interior Secretary on matters of outdoor recreation.

He oversees recreational activities on public lands and waters, with the goal of creating access and finding new recreational opportunities.

May is an avid motorcyclist who rides on the street and track.

He agreed to share his background and ideas with AMA members.

American Motorcyclist: How long have you been riding?

Rick May: My first real exposure to motorcycles came when my dad bought a new Honda 90. I would ride on the back, and we would go riding, winter or summer, it made no difference.

My first bike, really a mini-bike, was made by a company called “Fox” and had a 3 horsepower Tecumseh lawn mower engine.

A Yamaha 90 Enduro came next, followed by a Yamaha AT1-MX.

I rode both motocross and TT. My dad would not let me flat track, although I did manage to sneak onto the half-mile track once.

I later took up road racing, mainly on open class machines: Ducati, Honda and Suzuki. I was a club racer, did well, winning overall first place in my division two years in a row. I was going to go for a hat trick, but I changed classes, down to middleweight twins.

I now ride mainly on the roads, but I am in the market for an adventure bike.

AM: What is your most memorable ride or race?

RM: Actually, there are two.

Daytona was absolutely crazy. I was racing at the club level, on a Ducati, and there were three of us side by side on the banking, on the last lap. I was the low man and thought by dropping down quickly to the bottom of the bank, I would have just enough to beat the other two guys down the straight.

I dropped down hard and made the mistake of running off the bank and onto the flat apron. The rear wheel came around and the tank slapper that followed was incredible and, honestly, scary.

I remember my coach, Mitch Mayes of desert racing fame, saying, “If you get into trouble, pin the throttle and keep it pinned.”

I did that, and the bike came back under control. And I beat both of those guys down the straight to the finish line!

My most memorable ride was a 16,000-mile ride I took from San Diego to Alaska, across Canada, down the eastern seaboard of the United States to the Deep South and back to San Diego. It was done solo and was very enjoyable.

AM: At the Interior Department, what policies will you address that affect responsible motorized outdoor recreation?

RM: First and foremost, to carry out what [I have been asked] to do, and that is to get more people out to enjoy our public lands and waterways. To do that, access to those lands is required.

I am working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to make sure that, as both motorcycling’s contribution to the recreation economy and the base of participants grows, there will be a place to enjoy motorsports.

Recreation is for everyone, and no one should be barred from the outdoors because of age, infirmity or disability.

It is my job to ensure there are places for them to ride dirt bikes, fish, go hiking or whatever else suits them.