Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne returned to the track this weekend after a lengthy recovery from a shoulder injury he sustained early in this summer’s 250 MX Nationals. Sitting out the summer was a bittersweet affair for the defending champion, as he was leading the championship chase when he was injured but was able to be home for the birth of his second child. We caught up with Zach after his second day on the booming FC450…his new ride for 2019 and beyond.

You’re finally back on the bike after recovering from a shoulder injury that knocked you out of action this summer. Shoulder injuries are the worst, aren’t they?

Yeah, they are. There are a lot more moving parts in there than you’d think until you actually hurt it. I ended up tearing my subscapularis tendon and my labrum completely, so it was a little more damage than they thought until the surgeon got in there. Dr. Kramer did a great job and I had the best care from the start. Things went well and I’m all cleared to ride so it’s just building up strength from here on out.

Did you have that sling that looks like an ice chest between your arm and stomach?

Oh yeah. That kind is the most cumbersome, awkward thing ever. I actually had two different ones: a different one for sleeping.

Did you know that your shoulder was messed up as soon as you crashed?

I knew that I had hurt it, but at the same time when you’re leading a championship you have to fight for every point possible. Every point counts and you don’t have time to get an x-ray right there in the first turn. So I got up and fought back through the pain as best I could. I got one point and that’s not much, but it meant a lot to me at the time. To get up, put my shoulder back into place and race back into a points-paying position was a big deal for me.

What were your thoughts about the way the season played out without you?

I mean, it sucked not being out there, but it was awesome with a lot of good racing in both of the classes. Down the home stretch, it got interesting with a couple of mudders thrown in there. When you’re leading the points a mud race is the last thing you want to have because anything can go wrong. Mud throws a whole new obstacle in the playing field. As a fan, it makes things extra fun though!

They say that everything happens for a reason, right? You were able to be home with your family at an important time…

Yeah for sure. We were blessed with a new baby this summer and obviously with racing it wasn’t a for sure thing that I would be able to be there. But I am a racer and I want to be there racing and that was no way to go out. Being able to be there for my wife and see my child born was the most important thing though.

You closed the door on one chapter of your career and opened the door to the next. Talk about that four-fatty!

Yeah so far so good. I have a two-year deal with the team to race the 450 in Supercross and Motocross. I am really excited for the opportunity: the 450 class is the pinnacle of the sport and it’s something I have worked my whole life to get to. I have a good bike and a good team…it’s pretty incredible.

Coming back from injury is one thing, but coming back on a big bike for the first time must be tough. Yesterday you tested me and said it felt like you had a corncob in your butt…

(Laughs) I was really sore after the first day! I was sore from not riding and really sore from riding a new bike I had never ridden before. And it was a 450… It has a lot more power and it is a lot more to handle. It was a big step. Yesterday was worse than today. But on day two at the end of the day I had to tell the guys I needed to stop. We made a lot of progress already though and it is really good. It’s an all-new bike and it’s so great. I obviously raced a 450 a few times in the off-season last year and spent time on one practicing so I wouldn’t be just crushing a 250 the whole time. The new style 450 is really good and a huge step in the right direction. Comfort-wise, it is gonna be really good and we still have time to make it better and better. And I still have a lot of time to improve before Anaheim!

When you get on an all-new bike like this, does the team give you a standard base setting or do you start with something that Jason Anderson likes?

I basically got straight on a factory bike with a base setting that is targeted for me. We obviously have different riding styles and stature. A lot of it is me knowing what I want to do when I feel X or I feel Y. With my 250 I had great settings that were easy to fine tune with one click here or there. I need to make little changes with the 450 to see what they will do. Learning a new chassis and powerband takes a few hours before you can determine what changes you want.

Will you alter your training regimen for the 450?

No, I don’t think so. Obviously, at Aldon Baker’s we have four really good guys. The main thing will be me getting up to speed and getting comfortable on the bike. I think I am in really good shape. This bike will take more muscle occasionally, but if you ride it correctly it will take less. I need to build my shoulder back up this off-season. As long as I keep building all winter I will be fine. I will be racing Paris and Geneva this off-season so hopefully, that will get me ready to do battle. There will be some really fast guys at both of those races so I will get a good guage of where I stand and where I need to improve, both in speed and fitness. The main thing will be to keep building!

Maybe Aldon will make you train on that Specialized Turbo Levo with a dead battery…

(Laughs) Half the time he makes us ride them with the power turned off anyway!