Racer X: This is like déjà vu. Last year, you were injured, then came back in the nationals and then started putting it on the box a lot. Now you’re doing it again. Michael Byrne: To have injuries all the time, it’s hard on your confidence. It’s hard to have to dig yourself out of that hole every time. I don’t know, I think after doing that a couple times, you really appreciate racing and you love doing it, and your passion grows even stronger for it because you know what it’s like to have to sit there and watch. I think, for me, it has kind of made me into a better rider, really. Maybe I needed it. It would’ve been nice to just have it last year and then be done with it, but it’s also nice and rewarding to come back and be strong and healthy. The team works really hard, too, so it’s good to reward them.
Plus, it takes a lot longer to heal when you’re 70 or whatever... How old are you again?
[Laughs] Yeah, I just turned 30 this year, so I’m definitely not a young pup, that’s for sure. I wasn’t born in the ‘80s or the ‘90s. It does make it harder to heal up, too. I have good doctors, though, and they steer me in the right direction, and we get it done. There’s still some fight left in me, and I’m still not the oldest guy out there yet.
Not until Timmy Ferry and Kevin Windham retire, at least.
Yeah, I’ve got to wait for K-Dub and Red Dog to hang up the boots, and then I might be the old dog out there.
Obviously, you’re going to be back on your country’s Motocross des Nations team again this year. I asked Reed earlier, but what is it about your team where you take such good riders and something bad always happens?
Man, I don’t know. I think sometimes that’s just the Motocross des Nations because you see so many good, strong teams have things that you would never think of going wrong go wrong in that one day, whether it’s a bike problem or you get caught up with somebody... It’s so cutthroat. Every single minute on the track counts. We just haven’t been putting ourselves in the right positions, you know? I felt like we had a good shot at Budds Creek, but then Andrew [McFarlane] only made it 50 feet off the gate before he got run over and that was it! We were done! And it wasn’t even his fault. Things like that are pretty heartbreaking when you’re there for your country and you can’t get it done.
Chad was saying you guys have only finished as high as fourth as a country...
Considering you’re sending riders like Chad Reed, Michael Byrne, Andrew McFarlane and Brett Metcalfe, that’s kind of ridiculous.
Yeah, and it’s very frustrating for us, and we’re kind of over it. It’s disappointing. I think this year, this is it. It’s all or nothing. Chad’s healthy, I’m healthy, and Chad’s racing nationals, too. Last year, he just tried to ride...
And he hadn’t really raced the Suzuki nearly at all, either.
Exactly, so that was tough for him and we were both bummed. I think this year hopefully it’ll be a different story. Hopefully we’ll be more prepared, more ready, and hopefully the track suits us and we can go from there. Last year we got sixth but we rode like crap. We’ve had a few sixths, but we’ve never beaten that fourth-place yet. The few guys who were on that team back at home never let us forget that, so we’ve got to turn that around.
The other thing about the Motocross des Nations is that you guys are always taking parts to build bikes there, plus the time changes and cultural changes, how difficult is it?
It is difficult because you have to deal with jet lag, and then you’ve got to get there and hope your bike’s good. You don’t know the track or the surface, either. But hopefully no one has ridden this track, so I hope that works out. I felt like bringing your own bike was a huge advantage at Budds Creek, and Chad and I both rode really well. I was running second when my radiator hose somehow came off with the sleeve that goes into the cylinder still attached. My bike blew up with two laps to go. You’ve got this year and then next year here in Colorado.
Chad wouldn’t tell me what it is, so can you tell me what you and Chad have planned in case you win or podium or something this year.
I can’t tell you that. I don’t want to jinx us. We have enough bad luck as it is, so just by telling you, I don’t want any bad luck coming our way!