Last year was your first year transitioning from the Amateur to the Pro ranks. What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge from transitioning from amateur to the pro ranks was going through the Road2Supercross program in the Amsoil Arenacross series. The entire field is extremely competitive and the tracks were a lot more challenging than an actual Supercross track in my opinion: the whoops are bigger, the track is narrower, and there’s 16 guys bar banging for position the whole time on a track where lap times are only 20 seconds. I remember being at round 1 in Cincinnati and there were nearly 80 guys in each class trying to make the 30 man night show, and only half a second was the difference between qualifying 20th or qualifying 65th.. However, I was successfully able to get my Pro Supercross license where a lot of my peers were unsuccessful. I definitely underestimated how challenging Arenacross was going to be.
Most riders don’t just dive straight into the 450 class, how did you make that decision?
We chose to ride the 450 our first year just because I’m such a tall rider, and with height comes weight. I’m 6 foot 3 inches and weigh about 190lbs with all of my gear on comparatively to the average pro rider, which is about 140lbs. We could drop a couple extra thousands of dollars into a modified 250f motor and we would still be out motored, and the bike wouldn’t last long since it was modified. A stock 450 is already pretty fast, and I’m able to be pretty competitive on it without dropping a couple extra grand. Dependability was also a key factor in our decision, it can last all season without giving out in the middle of a moto. So it was just the most effective and efficient route for our money. So far our strategy has been successful.
How cool is it to see yourself ripping on TV with the big names? What goes through your head when you line up at the gate with them?
It’s so surreal I can’t even explain. It’s kind of funny because I’m still a fan at heart just like everybody who watches on tv at home. I have my favorite rider that I want to win the championship just like everybody else does. But when I line up on the gate with them, my whole mindset changes. I’ve earned my spot on that gate, which means I have every right to send it into that first turn and bang bars with the best in the world. Which is exactly what happened in the second moto at Spring Creek when I pulled a top 5 start. I don’t back down to any of them. I fight for every position no matter who I’m up against.
You ended the outdoor season with a pretty bad crash at Ironman…can you take us through what happened?
It was the 2nd moto at Ironman. I had a really bad first moto, so I was really hungry for redemption to do good in the 2nd moto. I was within the top 25 and I was working on passing another rider, and we were coming up to the big Godzilla jump. I was making ground on the guy in front of me, but I was eating a lot of roost going up the face of the jump. I got a little distracted from the roost andI hit a kicker in the face which completely threw my back end sideways. I tried to ride it out, but when I landed it was just nothing I could do. The bike whiplashed and completely ejected me to the bottom of the landing. It was the hardest impact that I’ve experienced. It took me about 5 minutes before I was able to focus and regroup. I had to start my bike with my broken foot but I was able to get back to my van under my own power.
I know you ended up breaking your leg, did you sustain any other injuries? How are they healing up?
Yes I completely shattered my right foot which had to have surgery. I also broke my left elbow, but it wasn’t as severe. When I first realized that I had crashed, I did a mental checklist in my head to see what’s hurt and the severity of pain. I instantly knew my foot was destroyed. Both of my elbows had that tingling funny bone pain; both of my arms were completely numb with excruciating pain. My whole body was pretty banged up. It’s not fun having to use crutches with a broken elbow by the way haha. My elbow is completely healed but I’m not cleared to walk on my foot till December, which is longer recovery time than I expected, but I’ll be back for east coast supercross!
The pro tracks have some huge jumps…what went through your head before launching the Godzilla Jump at Ironman the first time? What is your favorite outdoor track and why?
Godzilla is definitely the most intimidating jump I’ve ever seen. It was like walking into an amusement park and seeing that giant roller coaster for the first time and getting that awful nervous feeling in your gut from just looking at it. But once I jumped it and figured out the speed, it wasn’t too bad. Just watch out for holes in the face haha. Unadilla was by far my favorite track. The way it flows in and out of the valleys, it was the best flowing track I’ve experienced. Sky Shot was too much fun, just floating out of the sky.
What is your favorite tire combo?
I really enjoy the Dunlop mx3s on the front and back tire. It’s just a really solid, predictable combination for almost all of the tracks.
Let’s shift to training, What does your weekly fitness regimen look like? How do you build the endurance to race a 35 minute moto at full speed?
I work full time with my dad with his tree business. Running chainsaws and busting my buttt dragging trees into chippers in the Tennessee humidity gets me accustomed to the heat for sure. After a full day of work, I then do two 35 minutes moto on my private track behind our house. Then I do all of my own cardio and strength training in my driveway, all by myself. I basically just kill myself with core, leg, and arm exercises. I do a variety of exercises for 20 minutes straight as fast as I can, as hard as I can for as long as I can without stopping. I would say it’s pretty similar to CrossFit exercises. Intensity is very important. I usually do that twice. Then I do it all again the next day.
Do you have a strict diet? How do you stay on track when traveling to the races?
I have a regimen that I like to follow, but honestly it’s nothing compared to what the top guys of the sport do. I just stay away from the really really bad stuff like greasy food and carbonation. I’m very strict and good about what I drink, but food I would say there is a grey area just from being on the road the whole time. I just try to choose the healthiest option from whatever is on the menu. I could definitely improve in that area for sure haha.
I saw on your Facebook that you have been doing some MX coaching, what is the best piece of advice you would give to an amateur rider trying to improve their lap times?
I would say to not get caught up on the mistakes you might make in a moto. I see way too many riders mid moto shaking their head, slowing down for a whole section, or just getting discouraged from making little mistakes. I tell my riders to make their mistakes great. If you stay committed with intensity on the gas and don’t let a little mistake get to your head, no one even tell you made a mistake. Just keep charging, pushing, and fighting!