Recovery Report: Josh Hill

Recovery Report: Josh Hill

December 8, 2011 4:45pm
One rider that may have slipped away from your memory banks is Dodge/Sycuan Casino/Hart & Huntington Kawasaki’s Josh Hill. The “hill billy” is almost all the way back from a bad accident suffered in the summer of 2010 and looking to get back to where he once was a couple of years ago. Which, if you remember, was tied for the supercross points lead with James Stewart and Ryan Dungey early in the 2010 season. Hill struggled with injuries the rest of that season before he crashed hard and his career, and life, was put on hold indefinitely.

Looking to put the #75 up front again, I caught up to Josh to find out how his recovery was going.

Racer X: Josh, how’s the comeback going?
Josh Hill: It’s going pretty good, I’m back on the bike and feeling solid. Every day I ride I feel like I get better and better and I have some spots where I’m really improving and getting better. I’m excited for the season.

I’m also guessing that with your long layoff, the grind isn’t really a grind for you. How’s the recovery coming?
Not really, every time I’m on the bike I’m having fun and even if I’m a little sore or whatever to start the day, by the end I’m usually feeling pretty good. As far as my recovery, my ankle still has some progress to make, it was paralyzed for eight months. I don’t have the full range of motion with it right now. We got some work to do on it. I have a little bit of a drop-foot is what they call it. But that’s coming back and I can flex it up and down now. The range could be better for sure but we’re working on it. It only bothers me when shifting, I have to shift with my leg a little bit more and if I have to quick-shift, I have to think about it a bit. I have a little bit of numbness in my foot as well in some areas. Foot placement on the peg is important and I have to make sure I’m planted solid. I fixed that a lot with grip tape and thinking about it more.

A lot of people that watch me say they can’t even tell I was hurt. Every day it’s getting better and better and I’m getting ready to get back racing and fight for a top ten position.

Hill throwning down some laps at the recent DC Shoes Ride Day.
Photo: Ryne Swanberg // Vurbmoto

When we last saw you at your full speed, you were killing it out there. Can you get back to that level? And what’s it going to take to get there?
It’s hard to say because of where I’m at and how long I was off the bike. I don’t think I can run with the top five guys right now, maybe for a few laps, but I’m not ready to go there yet. It’s going to take a little bit longer to get there and be gnarly for twenty laps. I’ve got about ten laps in me right now but I’m going to keep working, keep my nose to the grindstone and each day I’ll get a few more laps in me and run with those guys. For me, for Anaheim 1, my goal is top ten and that’s a great starting point from where I was at.

Normally a guy in the full-race mode coming back from injury might be frustrated at where you’re at. But with you, your career was almost over. Does what you’ve been through make it more of "happy-you’re-just-out-there mode?"
A little bit of both honestly. I’m really excited to be back and be at the track, it’s a lot of fun and it’s new for me. I feel like a little kid again. But at the same time, I’m extremely critical of myself. I was battling for a championship at one point. So I’m not looking to come back and struggle at the back of the pack. I’m critical of myself and making sure that I’m getting better. I want to come back and do well, I don’t want to coast through the series and use the excuse I’m hurt. I want to be a threat when I come back at some point.

I think it’s cool that Hart & Huntington signed you to a two-year deal even though last year, they knew they weren’t going to get much out of you while you recovered.
Those guys have been great, everything is awesome with the guys. I couldn’t be happier with them and they’re all so cool. Everyone gets along, Kenny Watson is a great team manager and does a great job of making everyone happy and making sure we’re all good. It’s perfect for me, there’s a balance of working and also keeping it light. My mechanic Shawn Bell is the hardest working mechanic I’ve ever seen and he’s an all-around nice guy. Hopefully I can be back up there, I just have to keep working on getting stronger and stronger.

Hill is getting adjusted to the Kawasaki after years on a Yamaha.
Photo: Ryne Swanberg // Vurbmoto

How do you like the switch to Kawasaki?
I like the Kawasaki, it’s great. It’s a fun bike to ride right when I first got on it. There wasn’t much of a transition period for me. I haven’t changed much on the bike since they got it to me, some suspension changes and I fooled around with some brake stuff but that’s really it. It’s not that bad to be a privateer team like we are compared to the factory guys, or whatever we are. We’re not getting full-factory parts but I’m not sure that matters all that much.

Yeah, maybe a bit of pounds lighter on the bike and the transmission, that’s about all you’re missing.
Yeah, I’d like a transmission I guess. But that’s the only thing those guys have that I could use. I can get over that though. But hey, if we go out there and start riding good then the parts will come. We have to prove to everyone that we deserve the special parts and hopefully we will.

We had a guy who called into the Pulpmx Show asking about you the other night and he was a fan of yours. I asked him this question and he agreed with me. Does it not seem that in the Pacific Northwest, you’re either a Josh Hill “guy” or a Ryan Villopoto “guy?" You can’t be both, it’s like Lennon and McCartney!
(Laughs) Yeah I think you’re right. It’s kind of funny because I’m a Portland kid and Villopoto is a Seattle kid. We would meet up at the local races and battle hard. That’s where the sides come from. We came from different areas in the state and had different groups. I don’t want to say you can’t be both but people do have their sides. I think Ryan’s got more fans now though.

That is funny, I knew it was like that growing up and it’s funny to see it’s the same way now. I got to bring it home for my fans now!