YOU’RE BACK ON THE BIKE – NOW A 2008 FLIGHT PRO XXL, AND HAVE BEEN DOING SPRINTS AND PRACTICE. HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
Bubba: Absolutely wonderful. Just to be able to walk, or better yet ride – feels GREAT. I’m already walking, riding and will be back on the track soon, I hope. I am a very happy person right now. So happy to be able to ride again.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD THE ENTIRE STORY, TELL US WHAT HAPPENED IN CHINA…
Bubba: The behind-the-scenes story is kind of funny. Right before time trials, me and Mike Day put up a $100 day bet. Mikey’s the King of Time Trials, but I wanted to beat him. On my first lap, out of the first turn, I overshot a jump. When that happened, I knew I’d have to hit the third straightaway perfect, so I stepped it up a little; took an extra crank or two out of turn two. I hit the third straightaway pretty fast and just got a little bit loose. Came up short and cased it a bit, which set me up for the next one and pitched me sideways. It all happened pretty fast.
MIKE REDMAN (WHO WAS ANNOUNCING THE CHINA EVENT) TOLD US THAT HE’S NEVER HEARD ANY RIDER SCREAM SO LOUD, IN AGONY…
Bubba: Right away, when I was hurt – I was scared. I looked at my foot and it was pretty much completely off my leg. So right away – I’m thinking; “I’m in a different country and my foot is off my leg” – topped with the pain. Altogether it was just awful.
YOU’D MENTIONED TO US THAT THE DOCTORS IN CHINA GAVE YOU THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO – AMPUTATION. WAS IT REALLY THAT BAD?!
Bubba: Oh yeah. I had a complete dislocation from the talus bone. The only thing holding my foot on was my ligaments and skin. I told them I’ll fly home to the U.S. with my foot off before they amputate. My foot was off for four and a half hours, so I was really out of it on pain medication - but my dad tells me it took 6 doctors and nurses to put my foot back in place.
BESIDES GOING NUTS, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING DURING THE HEALING PROCESS?
Bubba: Playing a lot of video games. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow-Six Vegas is my new game of choice. It’s replaced Gears of War. Been reading a lot of books. Just finished “Hood” and started a couple of others. I’m reading “The Wheel of Darkness” right now. I read “The Secret” again, and “Jonothan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” And then just hanging out with my dogs. I’ve been restricted to the house with my foot up, so I really couldn’t do much else.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WALKING & RIDING ON IT?
Bubba: Everything’s just come recently. About a week before the Fallnationals, I was given the Ok from the doctors. Was on the track for the first time. Went to the Falls, and it was about the sixth time on my bike. I’ve really just been able to get in to my training. Doing jump rope, squats and all that. I’ve been cleared by everybody.
HOW STOKED WERE YOU TO FINALLY GET TO RIDE AGAIN?
Bubba: So happy. I had the biggest smile on my face. Getting to ride on street was good, but the first time I was able to pick up the front end and manual down the street, that was the moment I was happiest.
SO YOU HAVEN’T LOST YOUR MANUALING SKILLS, THEN?
Bubba: Haven’t lost anything! No, sir. Don’t you worry.
HOW WAS ORLANDO?
Bubba: It was fun. Good to be back at a BMX race. We had a good clinic the day before the race, and after the races every day, we went to the Magic Kingdom and went to downtown Disney. Lots of kids coming by the Redline pits. Signed a whole lot of autographs.
DID YOU POSE WITH ANY DISNEY CHARACTERS – LIKE MICKEY MOUSE?
Bubba: No. I’m scared of Mickey – he’s a big ol’ mouse. (laughter) We had fun. My favorite thing was the Laugh Factory; part of the Monster’s Inc. section.
SO, WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE OR PLANS FOR FULL RECOVERY?
Bubba: Just get back on my training program. It all pends on when I can put full force, 100% pressure on my foot in a full sprint. What I do for a living is actually one of my best physical therapy exercises, so it works out good.
ABA GRANDS. THAT IS ALWAYS “YOUR RACE” – WILL YOU BE READY FOR IT IN ONE MONTH?
Bubba: OH YES. Ready as I can be. I am putting 120% in to my training. And you know how I am – the Grands and I always go well together. I have nothing to lose, so expect a really good show this year.
YOU JUST GOT THE PRODUCTION-MODEL 2008 FLIGHT BIKE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IT SO FAR?
Bubba: It looks so good. GREAT! The graphics that Evan (Moss, Redline art director) put together, it really looks sharp. Then if you slap some silver DXR cranks on that bike, it looks so good. Same bike for geometry; hasn’t changed at all – but looks more stylish. That bike has been winning races for a long time now.
ARE YOU PRETTY STOKED WITH THE NEW SHIMANO SPONSORSHIP?
Bubba: Oh yeah – I’ve always prefered Shimano for brakes, and those cranks just look so good with the bike. When it comes to high quality stuff, you can’t beat Shimano. Every other brake, pedal and crank manufacturer wants to be better than Shimano. They are the leader for a reason … just like Redline, I suppose.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, YOU DID THE FIRST USA CYCLING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN MICHIGAN – THAT WAS A CRAZY MAIN. WHAT’D YOU THINK OF USAC’S FIRST BIG EVENT FOR A STARS & STRIPES JERSEY?
Bubba: I had a really good gate and first straight, and right before that first turn, we all got real loose. The track just ran out for me on the inside, and I was in the grass and had to bunnyhop some rocks to get back on the track. Re-entered the track like in 4th place, pedaled hard and made a move down the last straightaway to get the 2nd. That was a crazy main, for sure.
WITH THIS INJURY, MANY BMX BLOGGERS HAVE WRITTEN YOU OFF FOR THE OLYMPICS. TELL US IT’S NOT OVER …
Bubba: It’s definitely NOT over. I will be back for the Christmas Classic, and all I have to do is podium at 9 races. I have 11 races left and I will be going for the UCi title. I always race to win, and will be putting 100% plus in to it. I’m rested and will be ready to go. I am more pumped on BMX than I ever have been in my life.
SO IF ALL GOES AS PLANNED – WHAT GOES DOWN NEXT YEAR?
Bubba: You’re going to see my at the Olympics, representing the good ol’ U.S of A. The Olympics is huge for BMX and I want to be on that team.
FULL CONCENTRATION FOR OLYMPIC GLORY? OR WILL YOU BE DOING SOME ABA NATIONALS TO WARM UP FOR THE UCI’S?
Bubba: For me, BMX goes all year round, so ABA is something I will be doing for the rest of my life. There are right Pro races plus the Grands after the Olympics are over. Someday I hope to break my own record of 3 in a row. You can count on Bubba Harris being a part of the chase for the ABA cup every year.
SO YOU’VE GOT OHIO IN DECEMBER. CALIFORNIA IN JANUARY. FLORIDA IN MARCH. U.S. NATL CHAMPS AT THE END OF MARCH. AUSTRALIA IN APRIL. EUROPE IN MAY. WORLD CHAMPS IN CHINA, AT THE END OF MAY … AND A LAST-CHANCE OLYMPIC TEAM QUALIFIER IN JUNE. THEN THE BIG ONE.
Bubba: I’ll be smiling at every single one of them. Over the last three years, it’s been tough to keep up the pace. With this injury, it has really put things in to perspective of how lucky I am. I have all these things – my house, my car, my life, all thanks to BMX. I had a big flame inside me before, now it’s an inferno. When I get completely healed, I feel that there’s nobody who can stop me from winning.
WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU'LL DO IF YOU WIN THE OLYMPICS?
Bubba: …Go to DisneyWorld. Then train more and get ready for the ABA title chase.
2007 HAS DEFINITELY BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST YEAR IN PRO; WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?
Bubba: You’ve got to take the good with the bad. My mom used to tell me all the time that you can’t win them all. You can’t win every single race. Nobody’s perfect. So yes, I didn’t have my best year. But if I can’t get No.1, then you’d better believe I will be racing hard for the No.2 plate.
YET DESPITE ALL THINGS, YOU ARE STILL SITTING IN THE NO.4 SPOT OF ABA PRO POINTS…
Bubba: Yeah, I suppose there’s a whole lot of guys who would like to have a “bad year” like I am having – and be in the No.3 spot all year until last weekend.
ANYBODY YOU’D LIKE TO THANK, WHO HAS HELPED GET YOU THROUGH THIS INJURY?
Bubba: My dad and the U.S. Team, and USA Cycling – Mikey and Stumpy; who sent me gift cards for Barnes & Noble. My sponsors, of course - Redline for supporting me as well as they have. I have to just Thank God that I have sponsors who want me to come back 100% and don’t want me to come back too soon. Doc Blevins and my physical therapists. And of course, all of the calls, cards and e-mails from my fans – their support really means a lot.
FINAL WORD FOR ALL OF THE BUBBA HARRIS FANS OUT THERE?
Bubba: I am just keeping my head up. Thanks for support and I’ll be back with my elbows out real soon. See you guys in Tulsa.