Ken Roczen | The Thursday After

When I interviewed you a little while ago, you said you were going to A1 shooting for a win, but no matter if you got fifth or tenth, you'd be smiling like a mother f-er…

I know! That's the thing, when I came off the track I said, “Hey, remember when I said if I win or get third or fifth, it doesn't really matter to me?” Well, it did matter, I wanted to win! The reason I was angry, or more-so just bummed, was because mid-way through I had the speed and everything. I was catching those guys, but then at the same time I rode a little tight and I tried to shake it off and whatnot. Towards the end I just tried to keep it smart and I made one big mistake where I scrubbed and my boot hit the jump, so I almost crashed. Then I had a good run there going, but all-in-all once I caught Justin Barcia and those guys a little bit, I just kept it steady. I didn't want to do anything stupid because there is a lot of racing left and now that I think about it, fourth place is actually not too bad. We could've had a way worse night. Of course, I would have loved to have been on the podium. I think without that mistake I really had a shot at it, but it's all good, we've got a lot of races left.

Were there any butterflies leading up to that first gate drop?

Yeah, for sure. I think that's more though just lack of experience with starting with 20 riders. I kind of messed up both starts a little bit. I dumped the clutch, and actually, my first heat race start wasn't too bad, but I dumped the clutch and then it just gets really hairy back there. I was like 15th after the start or something like that. That obviously isn't ideal, and I think with a better start my night could have actually looked really good.

In the pre-race press conference, it seemed like every question was about your arm. Is the arm a non-issue now?

Yes and no. It doesn't bother me riding as much. When I think about where I came from – even when I started riding my first two months, it just wasn't there yet because I wasn't used to the lack of range of motion. I actually have a lot of stiffness pain in my wrist, for example. That's why I'm actually riding with a Mobius wrist brace. It supports it and just in case I crash, it would keep it a lot better. I don't really think about it that much when I'm out there anyway, so all-in-all it's really just me getting comfortable again and hitting my marks. It's not even me that makes my arm a big deal; it's the other people that hype it up. In the end, you're down there before the gate drops and there's everybody doing interviews about the crash and the arm, and it just constantly keeps being brought up even though I'm way done with it. It's been a year. Obviously, what can you expect? It's the first race, so it's normal. Sometimes, you think you're not thinking about it, but it kind of lingers. It's not really that it bothers me that much, but the other thing is you don't want to go out and just do something silly. It's just good to get the first one out of the way, that's the bottom line.

With a successful first round of the way, the confidence has to be even higher than it was before.

Yeah, because I think simply where I came from – I came from way back there – I fought my way up to fourth and then I saw that I caught up to Marvin [Musquin] midway through a little bit and Anderson and those guys. It's just a huge confidence booster knowing where I’m at. In the end, this is the top 22 guys in the world, so it kind of gives you a little bit of an idea of where you're at. It's kind of calming and it'll be solid going into next weekend's race.

Was there contact with your bars or another rider that I missed, that caused that visor to come off?

That was through roost actually, I just put my head down and I got dirt shoveled in my face. Other than that, the only time that I had almost crashed was when my foot caught the ground.  I was talking to my mechanic Oscar [Wirdeman] and we probably ran through every single scenario in the heat race and in the main that you could possibly go through! There was some bar-banging going on. Holy crap!

Yeah, I saw Cooper Webb get aggro with you in the heat!

I blew by him in the whoops and he got a little upset about it, but it's kind of good that it happened that way because like I said, it's the first race back and there was some bar-banging and we dealt with it. In the main event, I got a bad start and it's not where I want to be all of the time, but we got it out of the way. I definitely went through everything now.

Tell me about that butt patch.

Bleed for this. I read about Carmichael's Sea Biscuit patch back in the day. He had a butt patch that said, 'Sea Biscuit,' and obviously it was in reference to the racehorse that everybody thought was nothing, and then it became the greatest horse ever. Basically, it's just another movie title, 'Bleed for This,' is a movie where the guy comes back from a broken neck and they said he could never, ever fight. Instead, he came back to become basically the best and pulled it off. I actually met the guy, the original guy, at a Nascar race, before the 2017 season so it fit perfectly. Fox asked me for butt patch ideas and we came up with, 'Bleed for This,' and I don't think there could have been a better one for the first round.