Meet Jonah Geistler -- the lanky, affable midwesterner hangs his hat in Illinois, but he also spends time traveling back and forth between Dade City, Florida to train at the renowned Red Dog Academy with Tim Ferry as well as current top professionals such as Martin Davalos and Trey Canard. Geistler’s very easy to pick out on track; hunched over with his knees and elbows spilling off of the motorcycle. Nonetheless, he showed some solid speed throughout spring nationals, most notably conquering the inclement Florida weather in order to earn a twelfth place overall in the 125 (12+) class. He’s is one of the only big bike riders on the Rides Unlimited KTM team, contesting the 125 B/C, Schoolboy, and B classes on his 125 and 250 over the course of the last year or so. Geistler has recently made the decision to hop onto the 250 full time following spring nationals -- a welcome change that will allow him to place more focus on the bigger bike. The Illinois native’s lengthy frame provides him with a very unique riding style, but it also poses a bit of a challenge on the 125cc machine as he continues to grow in size. The move seemed to pay off as he was able to put in a couple of solid podium finishes ahead of some super speedy competition this past weekend at The Greatest Qualifier Ever in Ponca City, Oklahoma. We caught up with Jonah to catch up with the haps from this past weekend in Oklahoma, how he’s feeling on the 250 full time, and what he’s got lined up for the rest of the season.
So, you’re on your way to South Carolina to do some riding and you’ve got some Easter festivities going on, talk about what you’ve got coming up this weekend.
Yeah, we’re on our way to Daxton Bennick’s house and we left a little earlier. We’ve been trying to set this up for quite a long time now, so we’re gonna go ride there for a couple of days. I heard Jacob Hayes is gonna be out there and then me, Dax, my brother, and I think Luke Neese is gonna be out there, too. And then my Grandparent’s live up in the mountains in South Carolina, so we’re gonna go visit them for Easter and stay a few days.
Have you been out to Bennick’s place before?
No, we met them last year sometime and him and my Dad have just been talkin’. I didn’t know really know of ‘em before, but they ended up sayin’ “Hey, you should come ride at our house sometime,” and we decided now would be the best time since we’re heading out that way. I haven’t been there yet, but it should be good.
Talk a little bit about your training program. You spend a lot of time down in Florida training at the Red Dog Academy, but you live in Illinois, and kind of spend a lot of time traveling around.
During the winter I usually go down to Timmy Ferry’s -- the Red Dog Academy -- and train with Jalek Swoll, Andy Dinicol, Trey Canard’s usually out there, and Martin Davalos. It’s always a good time riding with those guys and riding different tracks around Timmy’s house down there in Dade City, and just gettin’ to know everybody down there. Just recently after spring nationals, I went to Robbie Reynard’s and uh...I was down there riding with Jesse Flock, Lance (Kobusch) goes there quite a bit, and Austin Forkner; it’s just cool being around those guys.
Has it helped your riding to be able to see what the pros are doing during the week, pick some stuff up from them, and just ride with them in general?
Yeah, it’s cool just being around them and just watching kinda what they do on and off the bike. It’s cool being able to watch Trey when there’s not a huge crowd around like at a SX or a big pro national. It’s definitely cool being around those guys, learnin’, and pickin’ the little stuff out and applying it to my riding.
With all that traveling you do, I’ve gotta ask — what’s your favorite gas station snack?
Uhhhh, I wanna say....a lot of them have the cinnamon rolls -- probably a cinnabon.
The Greatest Qualifier Ever just wrapped up this past weekend at Ponca City, how’d everything go there for you this past weekend?
It was a really good time. The qualifier was great, the track was amazing; it was one of the best conditions I’ve ever ridden and the ruts were super gnarly. I mean, there’s not a whole lot to it other than it was the greatest qualifier ever.
You had some struggles during the week kind of leading up to the race, could you elaborate on that?
Yeah, we had some suspension stuff that we were taking care of down at Robbie Reynard’s and we were ridin’ at a couple different tracks, and I ended up crashing a couple different times. I kinda hurt my hand a little bit, but I iced it up and got ready for the weekend. I went out and felt great, and just tried to stay focused and ride the best I could.
Your little brother Lucas managed to grab the win in the World National Pit Bike Championships at Ponca also, how pumped was he on that?
Oh yeah, he was excited; he was yellin’, and screamin, and crowd surfin’. He was all about it!
So, spring nats just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago — how do you feel about how things went looking back on ‘em?
They were good. I wish I could’ve done a little better and worked on some stuff before to be a little bit more prepared for ‘em. But uh...I didn’t do the best, but I can take a lot from it and move on now that they’re past.
You showed some solid top ten speed at Daytona and fought right around there in a lot of your motos, were you happy with your speed there?
Yeah, it rained quite a bit at Daytona and it was pretty muddy, and usually for me being a taller rider, I can put my legs down and skate through all the water. I’m pretty good in the mud and in the rutted sections when it gets a little softer, so I went to the line when it was pouring down rain with a smile on my face just knowing that I could go out there and beat these guys, ‘cause my confidence was a little higher than theirs was. I felt really good and I ended up gettin’ a fourth in one of the races and battlin’ with my training partner, Jalek (Swoll), but I could definitely take a lot of stuff from it, and it was a good learning experience. Now that I’m off of 125s and only on 250s, I think it’ll be better for me.
How’s the transition been to be able to focus only on one bike?
It’s been a good change -- being a little heavier and a little bigger, I was kind of lugging the 125 around. Being up on a bigger, more powerful bike is nice and there were a lot of classes that I was runnin’ at Daytona and Freestone, and stuff like that. So movin’ onto the 250, I’m gonna do all the B classes and hopefully those are good.
Did you get a chance to hang out and watch the SX on Saturday night? I know you guys went out and did some last minute testing on Saturday afternoon.
Yeah, we went out to Pax and then came back and got ready to watch the race. It was a really good race, I’ve always been a big fan of Tomac, so havin’ him win was pretty cool.
What’s the dynamic like with the Rides Unlimited team having your Dad running things and your brother on the team as well?
Yeah, it’s been really cool and there’s been a lot of good kids, fast kids that have been on it. It’s cool seein’ like Nate Thrasher being on our team and movin’ onto the Team Green stuff, and then Kaeden Amerine’s still on the team and he’s killin’ it, and then we just picked Kaed Kniffing from California and he’s been going really fast.
What’s it like having Kyle Regal around helpin’ out?
It’s super cool. It’s just nice comin’ off of the track and being able to go up to somebody and talk to them -- just about different lines and kinda what he sees. He always comes up to me after practice and stuff to ask me how it was. It’s nice to have someone with that background on the team.
What’re your plans for the rest of the year as far as races you’ll be attending and what you’ve got going on?
We’re gonna finish up a couple of the qualifiers here in Illinois like Sunset Ridge and I think there’s a few more. Then we’re gonna go off to the regionals and hopefully make it through, then hit Loretta’s, Baja Brawl, can’t forget about Ponca, and then Mini-O’s. After that I’m gonna try to head back down to Timmy’s.
Ponca’s gonna be really good this year, I’m super pumped for it!
Oh yeah, there’s a great track crew runnin’ it and the track this past weekend was probably one of the most fun I’ve ridden ever in my life; it was awesome!
Who would you like to thank for helping you out this year?
Rides Unlimited Racing, Seven, Renthal, Ethika, Bell Helmets, Motoplayground, Gaerne, Dunlop, Scott, FMF, Tamer, Bel Ray, Moto Seat, Never Summer, EBR, Motion Pro, DT1, VP Fuel, Matrix, Nihilo Concepts
/ Words /Images / Lake Kilpatrick
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