Monday Conversation:  Darryn Durham

Monday Conversation: Darryn Durham

December 9, 2013 10:20am
A year ago at this time, Darryn Durham was not preparing for Monster Energy Supercross. He couldn’t ride due to an Achilles injury that had struck down his off-season. In addition, Durham was still suffering from a previous shoulder injury and when he finally jumped into 250MX at Hangtown, he suffered yet another crash and injury which slowed him for a few rounds. He had a flash of brilliance at Budds Creek, where he led much of the second moto and finished third, but overall, it wasn’t a great year.

That brings us to a cool and sunny December day up in the hardscrabble hills of Corona, California. Team Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders have all come out in their new 2014 racing gear to pose, both on and off the bike, for Frank Hoppen’s cameras. It’s team photo shoot day and while Darryn Durham, black eye and all (we’ll get to that down below) awaits his turn to be model at the K2 Kawasaki test track, he walks over, takes a seat on the tailgate of a pickup truck and begins going through gears on the various subjects. A proven winner—Durham won the New Orleans Supercross in 2012the former AMA Horizon Award winner is looking to not only win races in 2014, but nail down his first AMA Championship as well.

Racer X: Alright Darryn, it’s December, and here we sit at the K2 track, which is located on the side of a very big, very steep hill in Corona, California. Just what’s going on?
Darryn Durham:
Yeah, I’m here for the photo shoot today and we’re getting to see all of our new stuff so it’s all pretty cool.

Have you been riding a lot heading into this?
Yeah, I’ve been riding a lot. Pretty much since the end of the outdoors I’ve been training and getting ready for supercross. I’ve been hard at it.

After two years of injuries, Darryn Durham is hoping for a healthy 2014 season.
Photo courtesy Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki

You’ve been plagued by injuries, especially by a shoulder injury, for almost two years. Are you all healed up now?
Yes. I’m a lot stronger than I was during the outdoors. I took advantage of the off-season this year and I’ve built myself back up. I’m looking forward to being healthy coming into this new year and putting in a good, solid full year.

You placed 14th in the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250MX National Championship, yet never really got back to 100 percent. How did you feel about the Nationals?
I did the outdoor series, but I missed a couple races. I had some good races and I led some races but I wasn’t that healthy. The summer was a struggle as far as getting through it all.

And you have not been behind a gate for a supercross for a while, huh?
Yeah, the last supercross I did was the New Orleans Supercross in 2012. I won that one and that was the last one I did!

Going back to the Nationals last summer, just what did you struggle with?
Well, right after I won the New Orleans race I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder and I got surgery on that. And then shortly after thatin the October of 2012I injured my Achilles tendon, so I had two gnarly injuries back-to-back and it just took a while to get built back up to 100 percent. That’s why I struggled a bit in the Nationals.

When you get into a pattern like you did with injuries and you’re trying to make it back, do you find yourself in sort of a window where it’s one thing after another? Did you feel that way?
Yeah, a little bit, but I just tried to keep positive. I went riding in the hills a bunch and had fun with my buddies and tried to keep positive and tried to keep having fun riding my dirt bike because that’s what I love to do and what I’ll always love to do. That’s what I was focused on: Trying to stay happy and be happy and get healthy.

Can Durham return to the winning form he showed in 2012?
Photo courtesy Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki

You’re racing at the highest level. Despite the fact that you are having fun riding in the hills with your brothers, you had to be watching the races on TV or on the web. Was that frustrating, watching the racing world go by without you?
Yeah, a little bit. I mean you kind of feel like you’re just sitting still while everyone else is moving forward. At the same time, you just have to take it for what it is. That’s life. You just have to get back up and keep going.

How is your 2014 race bike? How has the development gone?
We got the motorcycle a lot better this off-season. We’ve been testing a bunch and I really think it’s going to pay off this year. The bike is a lot better. I’m more fitI’ve been working with Johnny Louch at the Rockwell Gym. It’s been working out well for me. Like I said, I’m trying to build myself back up and I’m going to try and win more races this year.

Where have you been testing and riding? Here and all over Southern California?
Mostly here at the K2 track and we also have a Pro Circuit track at Glen Helen. I also try to make it out to Milestone and stuff and hit a different track once a week just to mix it up.

So you have testing here, but you also try to go out and ride by yourself to just bash out the laps?
Yeah, yeah, I try to get out somewhere else to ride. Even in the hills, I’ve been riding the hills a good bit. I went out with Twitch last weekend and the weekend before. I try to stay on the bike and keep it fun.

How is it riding the hills with those dudes?
Oh yeah, it’s awesome. I love free riding because everyone has their own unique style. Out there you can really pick it up because all the jumps are different and everyone has a jump they really like. It’s just good old fashioned riding and that’s what it’s all about.

You grew up in Pennsylvania, right?
Yes I did.

To come out here to Southern California and ride in these kind of hills, is it a whole different world?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. While growing up I always wanted to come out here and ride all those good spots like Beaumont. I grew up riding like slate dumps and crazy stuff like that. When I was little I’d go ride with my dad and “Mad” Mike Jones.

Durham is waiting to hear if he'll be riding the West or East Region in 2014.
Photo courtesy Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki

You knew Mad Mike as a kid, eh?
Oh yeah! I’ve known him since I was probably three or four years old. We used to go riding. I remember just being a little kid and eating dirt while Mike was jumping these cliffs and I was like, “Wow!” While growing up I thought that was the coolest thing. I loved it. Racing is obviously my passion and my job, but riding is a lot of fun.

You’ll have six teammates in 2014. That’s quite a team. I know you have to be politically correct, but seriously, do you guys all get along?
We really do all get along pretty good. There is a good team atmosphere and everybody has their own personality. Adam is the young one and everyone is kind of working together to achieve our goals this year.

I know Mitch doesn’t announce what regions you guys will ride until the day before, but do you have a preference of what region you will contest?
I don’t really have a preference, but I’ve never done West. Every year I’ve done East. I’d like to get a year of West under my belt. But I think I’ve got a good shot at winning the West region. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m ready to go.

Dumb question: Are you going for wins immediately?
Yeah, I think I’m going for wins. Obviously, there are times when you need to back it down, but I think if the opportunities are going to be there, I’m going to go for it–I’m going to try and win it.

Inquiring minds want to know: just where did you get that black eye?
Yeah, I had a get-off yesterday. That’s where I got this black eye. I had a little get-off in the whoops and I rung my bell pretty good and got a black eye, but I’m alright.