It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Jeremy Martin on a dirt bike, and there’s still quite a bit of time left before we’ll see him saddle back up. A burst fracture to his vertebrae, suffered at the 2018 Muddy Creek National, proved a difficult heal, and Martin’s been off the bike ever since. He underwent a second surgery and January and will miss all of 2019. Back in November, we got Jeremy's take on this situation in this podcast.
Of course, like any champion, Martin has refused to buckle and is currently working toward returning to the same form that earned him a pair of 250 Class National Championships.
We recently gave him a ring to find out how his recovery is coming, and what he’s been doing to pass the time.
Racer X: There hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of Jeremy Martin news lately. What have you been up to?
Jeremy Martin: I’ve just been living a normal life up here in Minnesota. I had to get operated on again on January 9 to get it done right so it could heal right, so I’ll be 100 percent in the future moving forward. Once I was good enough to fly home, I flew home to Minnesota and I’ve been working a part-time job at a friend’s shop.
Yeah, I got a job. A buddy of mine owns a shop called Vaith’s Sled and Cycle and I’ve been working there. I’m so bored and I can’t train or do anything. I’m in this limbo stage, so I got a job to keep myself and my mind busy.
So what’s a typical day in the life of Jeremy Martin?
First thing, I get to work and clock in. I’m in inventory and shipping, and I do other stuff too, like scrubbing toilets and vacuuming floors. Whatever needs to be done I’m there to help and do whatever I can.
Jeremy, you’re a two-time National Champion. You know this, right?
Yeah, I’m a two-time National Champion but I’ve never had a real job and I wanted to know what it was like. I’m tired of sitting at home. I’ve been hurt for eight months, this is the longest I’ve ever been hurt in my life. I’m a motivated dude so I just asked for a job. [Laughs]
Real jobs suck, don’t they?
Yeah, I have a whole new appreciation for riding a motorcycle. I wouldn’t really consider that work, to a degree.
Okay, fair point, but on the flipside I don’t think people who don’t know what goes into being pro know how much work it actually is either.
It does take a lot to be a professional racer, but let’s be honest, it’s pretty fun and it’s definitely one heck of an adrenaline rush compared to going to work and opening up boxes, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming the showroom floor. It’s exciting to ride your dirt bike, and it’s really motivating to see progress within yourself.
So when people come into the store and see you running a vacuum do they do double-takes?
Yeah, I get some double-takes for sure. [Laughs]
Let’s talk about your recovery. What stage are you in on that?
I feel the best I’ve felt in the last eight months since the whole thing happened. It’s finally fusing together right, the vertebrae, and I just got released to start stationary spinning at a really low heart rate to start building the base back up. I’m really weak, I’m soft from no training and sitting on the couch.
And from scrubbing toilets. So what are we looking at in terms of a return to racing?
I’ll get a checkup at the end of May, and if everything goes really well I can start bending and twisting. I’ll be back at 100 percent in 2020 when I line up for supercross.
So definitely no motocross this year?
No, unfortunately not. The back is not to be taken lightly. I’ll come back 100 percent so I can win races and be a dominant figure again.
That makes sense. There’s no point in coming back half a year early if it’s going to ruin the next ten years.
For sure. The back isn’t like an arm or a leg, although those aren’t to be taken lightly either. This is literally your spine, and you’ve got to be strong and fit. That’s a key part of your body!
So with being off the bike for so long, some guys view it as a disadvantage but some guys like the opportunity to come back fresh and ready. What’s your take on it?
So I’ve been hurt for eight months. I haven’t touched a dirt bike in eight months. The longest I’ve ever been hurt before that was six months when I was a kid on a 65. It’ll be a year, or more, before I ride. I’m really motivated. I’ve watched every single race this year and the guys are going well, but I believe I can win. I’m not going to come back, especially after a back injury like this, to be a gate-filler, or to be a podium guy even. If I’m going to put in the effort and take the risk, I’m coming to win and to be a dominant figure.
You talked a little bit about gaining insight by having a regular job. Has being away from racing helped you see anything else?
Being gone from racing every weekend and being heavily involved in the situation, I think my perspective has changed on some of the stuff I might have sweated before. When it comes to training, or the mindset of things, I think it’s definitely changed. I’ve learned a lot from being hurt. In racing, especially supercross, it was like, “You gotta be the fastest guy.” That’s not necessarily the case. I think you have to be dang close to being the fastest guy, but you’ve got to put yourself in a good position. You have to be a good starter and you can’t make the mistakes. It’s not always the fastest guy who wins. It’s about being able to really allow yourself to be in the best situation possible, and make the best out of a 17 round supercross series if you’re a 450 guy.
What’s your take on this season so far?
It’s been really fun to watch. The 450 guys were mixing it up, the points lead was changing, and that was really exciting. The 250 Class has been good too. There have been a lot of mistakes on the East Coast with the top guys. Adam Cianciarulo has really hit his stride this year too, and I think he’s done a really good job of putting himself in good situations and focusing on himself. The racing looks good and I miss it.
We flew through those questions. I don’t have anything else to ask you!
Yeah, well, it should be an okay interview, right?
I could delete everything after we talked about your job and it would still be great. Everyone is going to think you’re joking about that.
I’ve been so bored, and it’s tough to watch the races. Those guys are good, but look at [Cooper] Webb. He’s fast, but he’s not like Eli [Tomac] when he’s on. When Eli’s on, he’s like, next level, right? But Cooper has put himself in such a good position. He’s such a good, crafty racer. He gets good starts and he’s away from the carnage. And he’s fast! He’s doing good.
Yeah, even when he doesn’t win there’s very little damage done.
Exactly. It’s hard to beat a guy like that. That’s why The Dunge [Ryan Dungey] was so hard to beat, and why he was so successful.