“To come to my home race with all my family and friends there and wanting to do so well for them and myself, and for that to happen in practice, I was devastated to no end.” That’s JAB Motorsports’ Matt Lemoine, describing the agony of tearing his ACL last February at the Dallas Supercross and effectively ending his 2013 season. Lemoine’s inaugural 450SX campaign was starting to grow legs, with back-to-back career highs in the weeks leading up to the injury. After more than six months off the bike, Lemoine recently began his recovery process, and he’s hoping to be 100 percent for the 2014 season.
Racer X: You’ve been out since February with a torn ACL. You recently got back on the bike—how is everything feeling?
Matt Lemoine: Everything is great, man. It’s way better and further along than I thought it would be. I think I’ve ridden six times since I started back riding, and I don’t feel like I missed a beat. The first day everything felt like it was out of whack, but being off the motorcycle for six months, I guess that’s what you plan on happening. Besides my fitness, riding shape is a lot different than just working out. I’m definitely sore every day after I ride but feeling pretty awesome and getting ready for the 2014 season.
With knee injuries especially, it takes a while to be able to trust the strength in your knee again. Have you felt like you’re able to trust it so far?
I think it’s all mental, as far as sticking my leg out to lean the bike over, like my left-hand corners. It’s definitely strong enough, but it always kind of plays in the back of your head that you don’t know if it’s strong enough until you do it a couple of times and it feels fine. I think that’s something that comes with time. Each day I ride, it gets a little bit more confident. The first time I started, I was pretty much like a road racer—I would keep my foot on the peg and stick my knee out [laughs]. Now, every time I ride it gets better.
Matt Lemoine suffered a torn ACL in practice at Dallas Supercross ending his 2013 season.
Simon Cudby photo
Before the injury, you were really starting to gel in the 450 Class. How much momentum did that take away from you?
It really sucked. Not only to be just getting to where I was really starting to feel confident and feeling confident to where I could put in twenty strong laps without feeling tired, and riding and having fun and really just enjoying it. To come to my home race with all my family and friends there, and wanting to do so well for them and myself, and for that to happen in practice, I was devastated to no end. The good comes with the bad, so you just have to look forward and get past it and keep racing. Everything happens for a reason, and everything will play out.
Being a privateer, how much did this hurt you financially? Not only are you paying for surgery, you are missing out on paychecks.
I’m so lucky to have JAB Motorsports and Adam and Jackie Smith behind me 100 percent to keep me going financially and keep everything on track. But it sucks. Even right now, this time of the year there’s the Texas Pro Challenge, and River Valley has a cancer race and other races that I can do to make money. Everyone can race and make money, but to go make $5,000 in a weekend definitely helps out. It’s the same thing as getting laid off from a job that you’ve been at for twenty years—you just have to find a way to work around it.
Next season will we see you back in the 450 Class and with JAB?
Yeah, I will be with JAB Motorsports. Actually, I have been riding the 250F since I’ve been back riding, so not really sure what bike I’ll be riding yet. It’s to be determined. I’m just taking it day by day and we will see where it goes.
Do you have a preference between the 450 and 250?
I really like the 450 as far as you race longer, which becomes more of a strength deal instead of a short sprint. But I also really like the 250F, especially coming back just into riding. I think the 450F beats you up a little more than the 250. The main reason I’m riding the 250 right now is to get back into riding shape and make it easier on my body. If I have a good bike, I’m ready to ride the 250 Class. Definitely, bikes help a tremendous amount. We’re looking pretty strong for next year, so we’ll see where it goes.
Lemoine will return to JAB Motorsports in 2014.
Simon Cudby photo
To be away from racing for an extended period of time, it does take a while to get back into “race ready” and get that racer’s mentality back. Do you plan on racing anything prior to the season?
I actually get married next month, along with nine hundred other people this season—it seems like everyone is getting married this year! After that, for sure. There are some arenacrosses and stuff around here that I will probably do just to get back the mentality of being on the gate and racing against people rather than just doing motos practicing. You can practice thirty-minute motos all day, but when you start racing and someone is right on your butt or your chasing someone, it’s totally different.
Last year, JAB Motorsports had Gannon Audette and Vann Martin on the team as well. Does the team plan on adding another rider?
I’m not too sure about it. I haven’t even spoke to them about it. I worry about me. If they want to get somebody else, then awesome. As of right now I’m just riding and not worrying about anything to do with the team. Those guys have it all handled, and they give me a bike to ride, so I’m pumped on that.