The Miracle Man – Justin Bogle
By Donn Maeda
Photos by Jeff Kardas
Only a few weeks before the Anaheim 1 season opener, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle suffered a horrifying crash that saw him fly through the air, without his bike. Captain 891 had scrubbed a triple at the team’s test track too hard, and he was sent flying over the bars and back to Earth. The impact was sickening, and he suffered multiple broken vertebrae in his back, as well as a broken shoulder blade. Somehow, the likable rider from Oklahoma was able to recover quickly, get back into race shape, and make the Eastern Region 250 Supercross Series kickoff in Dallas. Making his recovery even more amazing, is the fact that he’s been a regular site on the podium, and enjoying his best finishes ever.
You had a gnaly injury in the off-season that laid you up and left you a question mark for any Supercross at all. But here you are, having the best Supercross results of your young career. How would you say the season is going for you?
It's going good! Obviously I had the big injuries in December and that was scary. I don't like to harp on and on about it and make it a big deal because everyone has their own set of circumstances. It's been tough, but I've been working hard with my trainer Ryan Federow. That's the main reason I am able to be back so soon and having a good season...my trainer and being in great shape. I am definitely happy with my finishes and glad to be back racing East Coast, but I am still hungry though. I am not taking anything for granted, but I want more.
Was being in the best shape of your life at the time of injury a big factor when it came to recovery?
There is no doubt in my mind that it was. I didn't sit around eating pain pills or feeling sorry for myself. I stayed focused and worked towards recovery. Right before my injury, that was the best I have ever felt, my whole life. My fitness, my state of mind, the way I was riding…everything was the best. I was looking forward to Anaheim 1 and the West Coast SX. But, sometime you get redirected on your GPS and you just have to make most of it. Seriously, I've gotta give a lot of it up to Ryan, as he is the biggest part of my program. I also have to thank Doc G (Dr. H. Rey Gubernick) for all of his help putting me back together and helping me make the best recovery possible. He is instrumental.
You broke vertebrae. That's nothing to take lightly!
Yeah. I had fractures in L1 - L5 and a compression fracture to my T3. I also broke my scapula…my shoulder blade.
But you required no surgery.
No. The scapula was a clean break and it healed up well, all on it's own. It's not like they can brace or cast your shoulder blade. Nothing is ever 100% for sure, but I feel good enough to make stuff happen. I am very lucky on that. It was a really dirty crash from what I hear. I don't remember it...I fell out of the sky and what not. I scrubbed a little too hard on a triple at the GEICO Honda track at Milestone. The dirt was soft and I dragged a peg and was ejected. I cleared the triple and landed in the next rhythm section, but the bike didn't even clear the double of the triple. I decided to see if I could fly, I guess, and I can. (Laughs)
Injury after injury can take a toll. Were you at a low point, mentally?
Last year was tough because I just got everything rolling again and was starting to feel good working with Ryan. Then I got hurt and that was a bummer having to miss all of Supercross, because it is by far my favorite thing. This year I was feeling so good and was in such a good mindset, that I stayed positive. I thought, "Okay, this sucks, but I have to make most of it." I figured that I would see what I could do for outdoors, or maybe the last SX of East. As it turns out, I was able to make the start of East Coast.
The words, "broken back" strike fear into all riders. Was it scary?
Oh for sure. It was definitely a scary moment. I remember waking up and thinking, "Oh, this isn't good." I definitely didn't feel good but I could move everything and I knew that at the end of the day, I would be ok. It was the gnarliest injury I have ever had and the gnarliest situation ever. It was scary, but only for a little bit. I had a back and neck brace on and there was not a whole lot I could do. I went to Oklahoma for a few weeks until right before I started riding again at the end of January. Did stationary bike rides and stuff that was easy on my bake. Once I was cleared for action, though, I was back to the grind with Ryan.
Was there a lot of pain?
I was just banged up in general. It was pretty painful for a few weeks. I spent the whole time in a recliner in my apartment in Corona. It was tough. I have to really thank my dad. He came out as soon as he heard about it. He took a couple weeks off and literally waited on me hand and foot. We had each other to joke around and keep the mood light. While I was hurt I discovered the show "Parks and Recreation." I have literally seen every episode now. Pretty amazing
Like I said it's a blessing that I am even able to ride and race at this point. I am grateful. I am gaining confidence and comfort every weekend. Last weekend in Indy was first time I felt like myself. Last weekend was good for me because I was able to come through and make stuff happen, even after a bad start. Just racing right now is cool, because I thought I was going to have to miss it all again. It wasn't easy for sure, but with the group of people I have around me it has been possible. I want it. More than I can even explain.