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So, do you REALLY want to be a professional motorcycle rider?

Published January 25th, 2000






So, do you REALLY want to be a professional motorcycle rider? - Photo 1 of 12

Dr. Jose Borrero & Dr. Margarita Borrero.


Riding motorcycles is fun. But it can also be dangerous. If you do it long enough, chances are you’ll get hurt. Just ask any of today’s top riders! ALL of them have had injuries at one time or another.



This article shows photos from a surgical procedure: WARNING: Some of these pictures are VERY GRAPHIC! Viewer discretion is advised.



The most common injuries in motocross happen to the knee, ankle, collarbone, and wrist. The photos below show part of what Rick Johnson went thru with a wrist injury. You might think ‘Oh, a simple wrist injury’. But this type of injury can ruin a career as it did for Rick.



The surgery shown was a five hour procedure done in 1991. It involved taking bone from the hip, along with metal parts, and inserted into the wrist. The ‘dead’ wrist bone came out like wet tissue paper. The photos were taken by John Fritz.



Rick’s injury happened at the first national in 1989. It was at Gainesville Florida. In practice, Rick rolled over a double jump to try and stay low and keep up his speed. Danny Storbeck hit it fast and doubled it, and then landed on the back of Rick’s arm. That pushed Rick’s arm underneath the handlebar, breaking the wrist in several places, and dislocating several bones.



The first surgery was done that night in Gainesville. The doctor did a great job of putting Rick’s wrist back together. But Rick had a strong desire to get back on the bike as soon as possible to salvage the season, and try to please his factory, sponsors, friends, fans, and family.



Rick made a mistake. He came back too soon. He did win some races that year, but it wasn’t his ‘normal’ season. The next year he came back expecting to be 100%. He was taking anti-inflamatories to try and keep his hand in shape, along with seeing doctors all over – San Diego, Wyoming, Colorado, Los Angeles, and more. Every doctor said the same thing – ‘Your wrist is junk. You need to stop racing.’ And they all recommended the surgery that’s shown here that fuses the wrist together.



Rick continued to ride and race. But he had problems with pain, swelling, and not having the ability to control what his hand did. The final straw was at the San Diego supercross in 1991. Rick lost grip with his throttle hand, and shot off the track. He decided he had done all he could to improve that wrist. It was time to retire from professional racing.



Rick hooked up with Dr. Jose Borrero. Dr. Borrero is one of the top wrist surgeons in the world. He looked at Rick’s wrist and felt the area. He knew that the wrist had already started ‘non-union’. Non-union is when the bone is trying to heal, but it never calcifies and gets hard. The bone continues to stay soft. It’s a painful condition, and the area has no stability.



After retiring from racing, Rick didn’t ride for a few years. He did do motocross schools with Yamaha, but he didn’t ride at all. He struggled mentally with not being able to enjoy something that had brought him so much joy every day of his life. The emotional pain was now much harder than the physical pain. Many people think motorcycling is just a young person’s sport, and you’ll eventually grow out of it. But the emotional difficulty of being one of the sports top riders, and then suddenly having to stop is tough.



Fast forward a few years now …. Rick still loves motorcycles and enjoys riding today! He’s got quite a few bikes …. Honda CR 125′s, Honda CR 250′s, a Yamaha YZF, and a couple of Harleys. He doesn’t have the mobility in the wrist area, but he can ride pain free, and loves it.



Rick credits Jim Autio with his ability to ride and enjoy motorcycles today. Jim is the founder of BIONX. It’s a nutritional supplement that helps the body in many ways, including tissue repair. Check out BIONX by clicking here. If you ever purchase any of their products, reference code 1008 or Supercross.com Many top riders, Olympic athletes, cyclists, and triathletes use and endorse the product. (We’ll have more on BIONX in the future.)



Would Rick Johnson change anything that happened to him? Absolutely not! Professional motorcycle racing has provided him with so many things in life that he cherishes. Friendships, life experiences, feelings of success, and failure, and much more.



Motorcycles are fun. But use good judgment in what you do. Injury can happen.












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Power tools are not used only in the garage. Here they are taking bone from Rick’s hip to place in his wrist.



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Close up of the hip area.



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Putting the bone from the hip into the wrist.



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Completion of the wrist.



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Waking up, but still out of it.
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Another shot of the hip area.



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Inside of Rick’s wrist. Nice!



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Closing up the wrist with staple gun.



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Five hours later, the surgery is over.



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Rick riding his CR 125 at Lake Perris Motocross Park in late 1999.



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Rick and Jeremy McGrath at Lake Perris Motocross Park in late 1999. Jeremy broke a bone in his wrist in 1998.



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