Desert motorcycle racer gets snake bit in the desert 

Reiss Ritchison of Mt. Mesa waits to be airlifted to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital after getting bit by a baby rattlesnake.

Photos courtesy of Teri Ritchison. Story by Ray Conner

It was a close call in the desert for a local motorcycle racer.

Riding in the desert is dangerous enough, but when snakes are involved it makes for a harrowing experience. On May 25 Reiss Ritchison of Mt. Mesa was competing in the Dual Euro in Johnson Valley. She was competing in the District 37, AMA (American Motorcycle Association) race. 

Going through one of the loops Ritchison dropped her bike in some bushes. This began an experience she will likely never forget. When she went to retrieve her bike one of the handlebars was in the bush. She felt a poke to her finger. At first, she thought it was just a cactus needle poke. She said, “I was just shocked kind of. I didn’t think it was that serious because it didn’t hurt that bad when I got bit.” Then this snake, a baby rattler crawled their way out of the bush. Ritchison said, “When the snake came out, it wouldn’t leave. I had to kick it away a few times to be able to pick up my bike.”

Ritchison then got her bike up and if you asked her mom Teri Ritchison, “She nonchalantly came back to the finish saying she got bit.” It was then the local racer faced danger as she had to wait for the ambulance ride to take her to an Apple Valley hospital. While her mom was kind of freaking out, the younger Ritchison was sitting calmly with a smile on her face waiting for rescue. According to her mom, a special thanks for a calming presence went to Laci Olivas. Then a rough ride out of the desert to the hospital. Teri Ritchison said, “We took one hell of a rough ride out in an ambulance to a hospital in Apple Valley.”

Reiss Ritchison shows her snake bitten finger

At the hospital Reiss Ritchison was given her first dose of 10 vials of an anti-venom. Loma Linda was the next stop as they specialize in snake bites. This young lady would now go in a helicopter and airlifted to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. She would spend two days at the hospital and receive 50 more vials of anti-venom. 

Reiss Ritchison is fine and dandy and ready to strap in and ride again. She told her mom she wanted to race the following weekend. Teri Ritchison said, “At Loma Linda she received amazing and compassionate care.” 

Back home Reiss Ritchison continues to recover. When asked about the experience, she said, “Stuff that you think won’t happen, can and to be more cautious when outside in the summer. And, don’t put your hand in bushes in the desert.”

Another question was asked if this would deter her in any way from riding again. She answered with an emphatic, “NO!” But she also said, “And now it’s bad ass that I got bit by a rattlesnake.”

This is both a cautionary tale and one that she will be able to tell her kids and grandkids in years to come. It also is cautionary in that one never knows what lurks in bushes.