Photos | Kimball/Antonovich
Just as Blake Baggett began to ramp up his prep for the upcoming Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/ Kawasaki rider suffered an untimely injury. During a practice session at Glen Helen Raceway, Baggett crashed and hit his face on the ground, with a rock smashing through the goggles and into his eye. The damage was immediate, with the excruciating pain and inability to see sparking fears that he may have gone blind. Weeks have passed since the crash and in that time Baggett has consulted a number of specialists, who have prescribed eye drops to somewhat expedite the healing. Because the eye is so complex, there is little that can be done to solve the problem and restore perfect vision. The inability to distinguish definition and extreme light sensitivity forced Baggett to the sidelines for a number of weeks, but with only days to go until the Glen Helen kickoff, Baggett has returned to the saddle. We spoke with him on Sunday, his second day back, and learned more about what the summer plan is for the title contender.
“The eye is a slow process, not like a bone where they can throw some screws or plates in and then be good to go in a few weeks. I'm just waiting it out. I've been to a few specialists and have drops that I use, and it's finally getting good enough that I started riding last Friday at Milestone, just to get my feet wet. But the outdoors is coming and it is time to crack down and get serious.”
“It's been about a month and a week, which isn't too bad off the bike. But when you come back, you have quite a few cobwebs to shake out when you get used to the speed of things and how you need to react.”
“I've been cycling and going to the gym. After going through the first two weeks, I was able to get back on my usual program and plug away. All that was missing was dirt bike riding and we are trying to make up for the lost time on that. It's a long season, so you don't have to come out swinging at round one, but I'd like to come out and win both motos if I can.”
Because of Baggett’s extreme sensitivity to light, he is required to wear these dark sunglasses when outside. A regimen of eye drops have helped the injury heal, but there is little else that can be done to speed up the process.
“I'll be at Glen Helen ready to fight for it. It's cool because it is really close and I have rented the track quite a bit; with the relationship I have with the owners, I can come out here and prep it often. I haven't done it yet this year, with Supercross and now my eye, but after the National is gone I'll be here quite often. It'd be nice to get a win because it is close to home, just 15 minutes away.”
“My wrist is pretty good; it's 90-percent. It'll never get back to 100-percent, so this is as good as it is going to get. But it's not really an issue anymore. I have it figured out with wrist braces and a shorter throttle tube that will make it easier and keep my elbow from getting low in corners. It's not an issue anymore, it's not sore when I ride, and I have moved past it. We have all these obstacles and it's all about how fast you hop over them, and the latest one happens to be my eye. We are going to do what I can to heal up and be ready for round one to fight.”
“I've had a little time off so I am fresh, but I have bicycled and things like that. I see myself as a title contender. I won in 2012 and last year I felt like I was close, had a lot of speed and things going for me, but it didn't go my way. The wrist injury held me back and I broke it again halfway through the year. I re-fractured the two bones and the one that they sewed back together, I ripped the pins out of and broke it again. I rode the last half of the Nationals with it broken, when I got a win [laughs]. It is what it is, you have to overcome things and the biggest thing is that I overcome things as fast as I can.”
“I haven't signed anything yet. I got injured when I took a rock to the face and our only focus now is to get back on the bike, get ready to go and put some Nationals under my belt. I am eligible to ride 250s again, but I do have the option to ride 450 if I want. But there has literally been zero thought about that or where I am going next year. I haven't talked to Mitch to see what he has, so I'm doing my job the best I can and will worry about that when the silly season comes about.”