After enduring what's been the biggest injury and story of the 2017 season (click here for those updates), Ken Roczen is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel and back at it. He recently got the full doctor’s approval to get on a bike and spin some laps toward eventually making a return to racing when ready.
We paid a visit to the Team Honda HRC rider's house earlier this week and joined him for his first laps back after his final surgery to his left arm, which was for the removal of the last remaining metal and screws. This is a huge update in the positive direction, and we sat down with him after his first day back to hear how it felt. Ken Roczen fans, rejoice!
*Disclaimer: Yes, we know you want more riding footage. Out of respect for his team's wishes, he was to ride without cameras for his first few laps back. We did sneak in one clip, though!
Want to hear more from Ken Roczen? Have a read through on this interview below that Team Honda HRC conducted with him last weekend at Budds Creek, just two days before he rode.
Interview courtesy of Team Honda HRC: Aug,. 19, 2017
The Roczen Rundown
Team Honda HRC was happy to have Kenny Roczen back in the pit at this weekend’s Budds Creek National, even though the still-recovering German wasn’t on a bike yet. When he badly injured his arm in a frightening crash at the Anaheim 2 Supercross seven months ago, Roczen faced a major setback and a long road back to action. Things have been picking up momentum lately, though, so we took the opportunity in Maryland to have Roczen fill us in on his progress.
It’s been a long time since your fans got to see you race. How are things going?
Overall things are going very well. My healing process has actually become quite a bit shorter than we originally thought. The only thing that’s not fully healed yet is my radial head [the end of the radius bone, where it meets the elbow]. It’s doing really good, but not to 100 percent yet. My wrist is fully healed, but I still have a little stiffness and pain, so we’re still cranking away on that. I got some of the hardware taken out about eight or nine days ago, so my incision is still healing from that, but I felt it was necessary to hopefully allow me to ride pain-free. Otherwise, I’m doing very well and happy with how things are coming along.
You’ve made big progress since even Hangtown. What has the recovery process been like over the past few months?
Yeah, things have improved quite a bit since the beginning of the summer. I basically moved a top-of-the-line physical therapist to my town in Florida. At first he was living with me, but we ended up getting him an apartment because he’ll be working with me over a six-month period. Basically, we do therapy twice a day almost every day and I’m working on it quite a bit myself, too. The next step is to start using these braces I have that I can put my elbow and wrist in that click degree by degree to work on extension. Those should help a lot.
Talk about getting released by the doctor and how it felt to get back on a bike that first day.
It was really out of the blue that my doctor said I could slowly start riding. We were so excited; I jumped on the phone and made a bunch of calls right away to let everyone know. I called Dan [Betley, Team Honda HRC manager], my mechanic Oscar [Wirdeman] and Beeker [Chris Onstott, with Fox] to start getting everything I needed to ride lined up. The first time back on the bike was kind of weird. It almost felt like I had never left, but at the same time I had been off the bike for a long time, so it was a really weird feeling. Within a few days, I started feeling pretty normal, which was nice.
During the weeks following your release, how much riding were you actually doing and how did everything feel?
I ended up riding two to three times a week and things started coming around really well. My wrist was still sore and bugging me a little bit, so I was breaking things up into four 15-minute sessions a day. It was good, especially for just coming back. Our turn track is super rough, so that came in play too. I could’ve probably done a 30-plus-two on our normal track because even though it’s rough, it’s a different type of rough than the turn track. I have even more extension in my elbow now than I did back then, so that should be better.
It seems like since day one of your injury, your mental strength and perseverance have never wavered. Has that attitude helped you overcome what could have been a career-ending injury?
I feel like I’ve always been one of the stronger people, mentally. I might’ve gotten that from my dad [laughs]. I don’t know, though; I was just born like this. Luckily, I still have my arm, but other than that, things like this aren’t going to faze me and nothing has changed since the crash. If I could line up on the gate right now, I’d still put in my head that I’m going to win and I’d fight for that. As soon as I’m back to riding 100 percent, I’m going to prepare myself and we’ll go back to racing and be shooting for the win.
What are some of your plans in the next few weeks?
I’m getting my stitches out on Wednesday from my last surgery, which will then allow us to start doing more scar-tissue work and some joint mobility. This will end up giving me a lot more range of motion. On top of that, I’ll be picking up those braces for my wrist and elbow, which will help me to keep extending them. We’re strengthening every single day, of course. Other than that, I’m going to Utah on Friday for about 12 days. I’m going to have a trials bike and CRF450R up there, so I’ll ride this week in Florida and I’ll definitely be riding up there, even if it’s just trails.
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