Josh, we’re less than a week out from Summer X ’17. Last year, I talked with you the day after the X Games in Austin and you were about to head to the airport to fly across the Atlantic to perform in Nitro Circus shows in Ireland and England. Just how much traveling and competing have you done throughout the past year?
Yeah, the travel has been unreal over the last three years, really. This last year I had surgery last August, so I had about six or seven months at home. Otherwise I would have been traveling or doing other events. In the 2015 and 2016 year, I had to add up all the days that I spent out of the country. I had spent 186 days out of the country, so it was more than half of the year out of the country, and that wasn’t even including a 13-week tour I did in Australia. It was a lot of travel. It was pretty draining, and when I did have that six months off, as bad as injuries are, and as much as surgeries suck, that was a really good time at home just to refresh and just have a bit of time off and do nothing for a bit.
What did you do with your time off?
Well, I had total reconstruction as well as tendon repair on my shoulder, so I had one day off where I just sat down at home with a little bit of pain. The rest of the time I just sat around in the shed. I hate sitting still and doing nothing and I’ve got a workshop at home that I’ve been building up and a new bike to set up, so I had just been playing with that. I was just keeping busy. There were a lot of things I had to get through, I was just trying to establish some simple things while I only had one arm.
When did you finally get back on the bike and back on the road?
There was Nitro Circus Japan which was in February. I started the New Zealand tour just to get some more strength, but early-to-mid February I went over to Japan and did the first four shows with Nitro and after that was pretty much three months of an Australian tour.
Something of a broad stroke question here, but during the past six months to a year, what’s your take on the evolution of the sport of Freestyle Motocross? A sport that is, well, constantly evolving, a year can be a long time. Where’s it all at right now?
That’s a tough one. I feel like the previous six months, things kind of jumped up quite a bit. It all kind of scared everyone and just kind of blew everyone away, and in the last six months, it’s been a lot of catchup. I know a lot of guys have been using their front flip ramp and trying to work on front flip tricks and front flip combos. A couple of guys have worked on double backflips over the last year. With the subject of progression, it’s hard to say where it is going. What people ARE learning, they’re holding back. They’re just not telling everyone because you don’t want to talk it up if you haven’t even landed it. There is a lot of catchup and a lot of catching up going on. I was the only one doing a double for years, and then all of a sudden, Jacko Strong had done one on the Quarterpipe. Levi [Sherwood] did his first in competition last weekend. There are bunch of different people doing tricks on the front flip ramp. It was a bit of a shock at the start, but pretty soon, pretty shortly after the new tricks come out, a lot people are already trying them. I feel like we’re in a stage of catchup at the moment. Everyone is just trying to learn all the new tricks that have come out.
The X Games are upon us and I know you’re a very big fan of them. Are they still, in your opinion, and as far as Freestyle Motocross is concerned, the most prestigious FMX competition in the world?
I feel it is. That last couple years have been a little tough, just because of the venue. It was always so dry and just so windy out there in Texas. That makes it tough when we’re doing some of the tricks that we’re doing these days, you have to be so fine and precise with everything. When there is a bit of breeze, or when something is not quite right, it sucks. It’s really risky when you’re doing these tricks in a windy or really slippery and dry environment. I feel like the venue was hindering the sport a little bit the last two years. It wasn’t a good environment. I feel like with the new venue, just because the fact that there will be no wind and no weather, that they’re can be no complaining. We can all basically go there with the best and expect to ride our best.
If I have it right, you’re signed-up to compete in Moto X Freestyle and Moto X Best Trick. Anything else?
No, that’s it. Just the Freestyle and the Best Trick.
I’m certain the X Games will have a very good Freestyle course for you guys to show the world what you can do. Are you looking forward to that part of it? I mean, I used to talk with Travis Pastrana about traditional FMX and he was always of the opinion that FMX wasn’t about just the jumps, but about stringing an entire run together.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s a complete run. We have a minute and half or two minutes, and if you do one trick and you stop and you fumble around and stuff, it can really ruin the run. Yes, there’s the tricks, but then there is the flow and the continuity between the jumps. So yeah, there is a lot more than just big tricks. Although, big tricks are bloody important these days.
Speaking of big tricks, how are you feeling about the Best Trick showdown come Minneapolis?
Well, it’s always dangerous when I get there, but like last year, I did have a new trick that I wanted to do, and I just didn’t. I didn’t feel good on that set-up. I’m just hoping this year I’ll get a last bit of practice before driving up there to the X Games. I’m hoping that if I feel comfortable, I can get there and hopefully land this new trick. It’s not massive or extreme, but it’s something that I have landed to land yet. Hopefully things are good and I can land that one.
In other words, you’ve got something up your sleeve that you’re going to pull out when the time comes, eh?