One year ago, Ken Roczen was on top of the world. The Team Honda HRC rider showed up for the AMA Supercross season opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, dressed to impress in a business suit. He backed up that confidence with an impressive start, winning back-to-back races in Anaheim and San Diego. He appeared invincible, until Anaheim 2, where he was catapulted into the dirt and badly injured his left arm.
Eleven surgeries and 11 months later, Roczen is ready to line up again. And once again, the 23-year-old German showed up at Anaheim dressed to impress in a suit but with a different perspective for 2018.
“I’m really just super lucky and happy to be sitting here with these guys and able to line up at the gate again,” Roczen said. “I think it’s really tough to come back after a full year away from racing and expect to win. I want to be smart about it. I want to get some race time under my belt.
“I’m always going to ride hard and ride fast—shoot for the win if I have the chance—but first, second, third, or fifth doesn’t matter to me as much. It’s a long season. I’m doing what I love. I’m going to have fun and stay out of trouble. Put focus into it, each and every lap, every turn I hit.”
While one of the sport’s brightest stars was welcomed back with open arms, the media wanted to know about Roczen’s physical conditioning and if he had any limitations.
“Anything can break again,” he said. “But if it was fragile and I could barely do a push-up or put any weight on it, I wouldn’t be sitting here. It’s never going to be the same, but it’s definitely good enough to do push-ups, race dirt bikes, and, in my eyes, have good strength to handle a bike.”
Sometimes the odds are not in your favor and that’s fine. Life is not always planned out and sometimes there are surprises. There are people that doubt me and there are people that believe in me and most people get waayyyy too excited when it comes to the first race of the year. Lol. I want to be smart and in it for the long run. We have seen riders do bad at the first race and win the championship and we have seen riders win Anaheim and win the championship. Anything is possible and i am going to take it Race by race! I am so incredibly excited to just finally get behind the gate again 🙌🏽 let’s have some fun!
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Roczen credited his team, doctor, and physical therapists, but also said to return from an injury of that nature—one that not only threatened his career but the arm itself—required a positive mindset.
“Sometimes the odds are not in your favor,” Roczen admitted. “But I think if you try—mentally and physically—hard work gets rewarded with success. I wanted to cross everything off the list I’ve done to give it a shot. There wasn’t really ever any doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to come back. I worked toward it and here I am about to line up again.”