If you spend enough time riding a motorcycle, you’re going to get hurt. It’s a mathematical certainty, like getting a speeding ticket or being charged extra for guacamole on your burrito. There is undeniable risk in climbing on a 240-pound machine with two wheels and 65 horsepower and hurtling yourself through space and time over all kinds of obstacles. As motocross riders, we accept those risks, and we know that sooner or later we’re going to have to reconcile with the consequences of crashing.
There are countless stories of pro motocrossers gutting out races while they were injured. Grant Langston popped his shoulder out at Southwick 2001 and still lined up and stayed in the 125 National Championship chase. In fact, if it weren’t for an exploded wheel at the Steel City finale, he would likely have pulled off the title. Langston was determined to win that year, and as his teammate, I watched him push through pain and continue to lead the points chase right up until the unimaginably bitter end. Two years later, GL finally got that title, but it came at the expense of his Red Bull KTM teammate Ryan Hughes, who raced with a broken leg in 2003—he just wrapped it up in duct tape (which was a fitting fix for Ryno).
I could write an entire feature about the races I lined up for while dealing with injuries. In 2007 I broke both bones in my left arm while handily leading the 250 Supermoto Championship. I had plates screwed into both bones to stabilize them, and with a two-week break in the schedule, I made the questionable decision to race the final two rounds with my arm in a brace. My doctor said the bones were stable with the plates, so it was just a matter of making sure the incision didn’t get infected and dealing with the unavoidable pain. I finished third and first in the last two rounds and just missed out on the title. I really was one of the very best at finishing second.