A major shift in the schedule, and a significant rule change to the competition are just some of the storylines that highlight the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series. This season, the championship will begin late October, with four events taking place prior to the New Year, before coming to a close in late February. Additionally, the series returns to solely showcasing 250F’s in both the AMA Arenacross and AMA Arenacross Lites classes, following a couple years of 450cc competition in the premier division.

These changes will have their own effect on the entire field of competitors set to wage battle for the 2012 title, but there won’t be a greater focus on one single rider than defending champion Tyler Bowers. Following a heartbreaking end to the 2010 season in which Bowers suffered two broken legs while dominating the series, the Kentucky native returned for some unfinished business in 2011, and took arenacross by storm, bouncing back to claim the title he lost just one year prior. Now, Bowers is ready to defend his crown, and feels more prepared than ever to do so.

Arenacross: What have you been up to this offseason in preparation for the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series?

Tyler Bowers: This whole summer I didn’t really take a break, maybe just four or five weeks after supercross was over. I tried to hang out and just be normal with fishing and stuff like that, then I got into riding again. I’ve been riding and training to make sure I stay fit. I was going to do RedBud and a couple of the (motocross) nationals, but things didn’t end up coming together. I rode hard all summer, focusing on Steel City, and then coming into the race, I was trying to finalize some things and didn’t end up going. This whole summer, I’ve been training real hard for this upcoming season. I think I’ll be more ready than ever because I actually put in a whole summer’s worth of training instead of trying to rehab two legs, when I couldn’t train all year. I’m pretty excited about this next season coming up. I’m healthy, and as good as I can be.

What are your thoughts on the new Arenacross schedule, which now starts in October instead of January, and the rule changes that have been implemented for 2012?

I think it will be fun and exciting, and it’ll add to the challenge if we end up getting some guys from supercross to join us since their season starts in early January. Also, where the season ends now, it ends early enough to where guys can go and run the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites class. I really like the way it plays out. As for the rule changes, making the move back down to 250F’s means I have to lighten up a bit, but that’s not a problem for me, just a little extra work on my part. I’m just really excited about the series this year. I’ll have a good bike under me, I’m healthy, and just ready to go.

What did winning the title mean to you last year coming off two broken legs that happened while you were leading the championship the year before?

It’s crazy. It meant so much to me. I came from this time last year, splitting wood just to make ends meet and selling it throughout the whole town. I worked hard, and went out to California with basically nothing in my name and started riding and training hard, the way I needed to with more drive behind me than ever. And things just came together. I had about a month of riding in before the season, and about two months of training before that. I had only really been walking about two-and-a-half months. It was a lot of hard work, and I had to cram it together pretty hard. A lot of pain, a lot of sweat, and a lot of laps out on the track; it was great to pull it off and be healthy throughout the whole year. We had some good races while we were at it. It’s a blessing to me, and I’m coming into this year thankful for what I accomplished, looking to do it again.

What are your thoughts on the competition coming into the season?

I think it’s going to be a challenge just like any other year. A lot of people bring more to the table every weekend, and every year, someone different decides to step up. I believe (Jeff) Gibson is of course going to be a challenge, Chad Johnson, Josh Ames, and Josh Demuth is coming back. So, I think it should be an exciting year. There could be a couple wild cards thrown in there, and we’ll see how stuff plays out. I’m confident in myself this year, especially since I had so much time to work and prepare compared to last year. I’m not behind at all this year. I’m more prepared than I ever have been. I’m just really excited to get the year started.

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