RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki's Josh Hill has had a rough start to the season so far, as he struggled through the first two rounds, nursing a pinched nerve in his back. At the third round, things were beginning to look up for Hill when he won his semi and went on to finish eighth in the main. But then in Oakland this past weekend, he crashed in his heat race, breaking his collarbone and forcing himself to sit on the sidelines for the next few weeks. We caught up with him today just before he met with his doctor to schedule surgery.
You were picking up speed this season, getting in the groove, and then crashed this past weekend in Oakland. What happened?
Coming into the season, I felt the best that I've felt in years, but right before the first race, I had a little injury where I pinched a nerve in my back, which set me back a little bit. I just didn't feel like myself. Then at Anaheim II, I went out and did all right. I won my semi and got eighth in the main. I had a good week after that and felt really good heading into Oakland. Practice went well, I felt good, and then in the heat race, I was trying to make a move around Josh Grant. I ended up clipping a triple in the split section and plowing myself into the berm at the end of the section. I didn't really have a chance to check up, because I didn't think I was going to crash. I ended up breaking my collarbone in a weird little crash.
What's the extent of the break?
I don't really know. It's a broken collarbone, so it's the easiest bone to break. I'm going to get it plated and the doctor told me it should take about three weeks until I can start riding.
You've struggled with injuries a lot over the years. Does it get a little old and difficult to stay motivated?
It's been over a year since I've broken any bones; I really just pinched a nerve in my back the Monday before Anaheim I. Shit happens in this sport. The crash that I had at Oakland, I didn't even expect to go down. The berm was really tight on the inside of the split section and my bike just packed me into it. It's just one of those things. It really sucks, though, because I really thought that this year my health was coming around enough and it was going to be the year where I made it to all of the rounds. Unfortunately, I had a little mistake that cost me pretty big.
Talk about Anaheim II where you won the semi and finished eighth in the main.
I haven't really been impressed or happy with anything that I've done this season. Yeah, I won that semi and got eighth in the main, but I haven't even shown any of my potential that I feel I have right now. The way I rode during the off-season is nowhere near how I've been at the races. I thought this weekend was when I was going to start coming out of my shell and riding like I know how, and I was riding great, but I just caught an edge and went down. Yeah, I can get all bummed out, but I still have so much more in the tank that I can come back and battle for podiums and top-fives when I do get back on the bike. It's just going to be an annoying next couple of weeks where I can't ride my motorcycle.
When you do come back, what will make you happy at the end of the season?
I don't know. Hopefully I'll just have a big bonus check come to me in the mail that I'll be happy with. The beginning of this season was not at all what I was expecting—and I think it has been like that for a lot of people. It has just kind of been a weird season. With the new format, not making the first main, and coming into the season a little hurt didn't help me. I know I have the speed and that I'm just as good as anyone out there, I just have to get the mental side of things figured out. I need to get used to racing and putting it down during the night show. It's one of those things that I just haven't grasped since I've been back racing—having that fire when the gate drops. Once I can get a handle on that, I think I can be right up there with the guys, because I know I have the speed during the week.