If there was someone that probably nearly everyone is rooting for as a potential Comeback of the Year, it’d be Josh Hill. After a huge backflip-gone-wrong, and then complications on other body parts due to reactions from his surgeries, it’s been a long, tough year for Josh as he struggles to recover and get back on the track. When we talked to him this week, he’s been back on his Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki, and is working his way back up to speed. But better than that, he seems happy and pumped to be out there.
Vital MX: All right, Josh. Where have you been at and what have you been up to?
Josh Hill: For like the last year and a half I’ve just been trying to get better. Trying to do everything I can in rehab. I had to have a lot of surgeries. A little over three months ago I had to get my Achilles Tendon, the tendon below that clipped. They had to break all the ankle capsules in my ankle. They cut all the tendons in my toes. I had to rebuild my ankle because it was just paralyzed for so long that it kind of fused together. Luckily that surgery took and I’m able to move my ankle. I’m gaining feeling pretty much everywhere except for my toes are pretty much paralyzed still. But everything’s going good; I’m able to work out and just keep doing my stuff and try to make baby steps at getting back up there.
Watching you out on the track again it looks like you’re having fun again, and that didn’t always seem to be the case.
I’m having a blast. I’ve definitely had a lot of time to sit back and look at what I want to do with my life and it’s definitely riding dirt bikes; there’s nothing better than this. There have been times where I’ve taken it for granted and now all I want to do is keep getting better every day. It’s easy to have fun when you haven’t done anything for a year-and-a half.
What flipped that switch for you?
Things happen. I feel like everything happens for a reason. Basically I just have a whole new perspective on racing and what I like. Even the people I like watching ride have probably changed. The people I have respect for has probably changed, just because I’ve got a whole new outlook on everything. When you’re kind of caught up in things and you’re in the scene every day sometimes you need to take a step back and see how cool the things are that I was doing. There’s probably nothing better than racing a dirt bike. I probably was just taking it for granted.
Do you wish you could go back and redo some of that stuff from the past?
Oh, man, yeah. If I had a time machine that would be sweet. Maybe just pull a little bit harder on that one flip… Just do a bunch of things. Obviously, yeah, I wish I could change a lot of things but at the same time I’m only 22 years old. I love riding and this is what I love to do, so I think I’ve got plenty more years in me as long as I can keep making myself stronger without having any big injuries.
What do you have to work on between now and the start of the season?
I’ve got a laundry list of things I need to work on. More than anything right now it’s just keeping my physical therapy going, keeping working out, and not getting discouraged. I always used to be one of those guys who just wanted to go to the track and wanted to be the fastest guy out there. Now I kind of have to swallow my pride a little bit and just cut my teeth and go out here and try to get a little bit better every single time I ride the bike. I’m just definitely looking at it a lot differently than I used to. I’m looking at it as every single day I want to build and I want to get just a little bit better and get a little bit closer to my goal of being at the front of a Supercross race. I have a long ways to go but I’ve got two months and I’ve got the right attitude. I think I’m ready to just keep putting in the work. I think I can – maybe not at the very beginning of the season – be up there battling with those guys, but if I keep chipping away and just keep getting stronger hopefully mid-season I’ll be running up there with those guys.
What does it mean to you that a team like Carey and the Hart and Huntington crew have faith in you even as injured as you were and kind of as down as you were?
I can’t even thank those guys enough for stepping up. They came in when I was so down and out. I was barely walking and able to do anything when they came on board. So, for those guys to have faith in me and to keep that faith in me the whole time I’ve been hurt and just be positive… I definitely wouldn’t be in this situation I’m in right now if it wasn’t for those guys. I probably would have lost faith in myself because between Carey and Kenny Watson, everyone at the Dodge/Hart and Huntington team, between them and DC Shoes and Dragon, I would have been struggling in life. Those guys kept me afloat. They kept me going, and made it to where I could do everything I needed to do financially – have the surgeries I needed to have, have the training and physical therapy… They’ve just been a huge blessing.
Do you have to keep one eye in the rearview mirror now because you’ve got your brother Justin coming back there, too?
No, he’s already past me. It sounds funny but he’s already so good on a bike. He has already jumped stuff out here that I haven’t done yet, and I think most of the 250F guys haven’t done. He’s gnarly. When he comes in I think he’s going to be at the top of his class I believe. He’s an animal, too. His whole training outlook on everything…he’s an animal. He’s got the more Ricky Carmichael mentality; he just wants to do everything he can. Just a good old boy living up in the country.
Does that motivate you, too?
Oh, totally. I cut my hair to try to look like him. I’m doing everything trying to follow in his footsteps. (Laughs)