Unless you’ve been actively checking Cole Seely’s social media feeds, you haven’t heard or seen a whole lot from the HRC Honda star recently. That’s because he had a big crash during supercross that left him with a broken pelvis and sacrum. He was even in a wheelchair for two months! He’s since traded that chair for a motorcycle seat, though, and was able to get back to riding last week. We caught up to him before the weekend to see how it’s been going.
Racer X: You got back on the bike recently. How’d it feel?
Cole Seely: It’s been good! It was a little weird at first. This is the longest I’ve ever been off the bike, so getting back out there, I thought I was going to feel like I forgot how to ride. But it actually came back pretty quickly. I’ve just been trying to take it easy and slow, which is hard. Being a professional racer, you just want to go out there and start crushing it right away. So I’ve just been trying to flow and let the blisters build back up on my hands, all that kind of stuff. I don’t feel any pain or tightness or anything, it’s just the normal muscles in my back and shoulders that are getting sore. Obviously you don’t really get those muscles firing unless you’re riding.
Where have you been riding?
I rode Milestone MX on Monday and Wednesday, and I think I’m going to go out to Pala [Fox Raceway] on Friday. Just the local tracks. I did Milestone on Monday because the team was already out there and I wanted to be around the team the first day I was back. On Wednesday, Milestone is kind of the track to go to. They have a pro day and rip it a little deeper and it’s a little longer. But I didn’t really care where I was going. I could have ridden the bike around the street in front of my house and I would have been stoked. The tracks are kind of baked right now with it being the end of summer, so I’m kind of doing the rain dance right now so I can go ride the hills.
It sounds like you just want to go have fun on the bike.
Yeah, for sure. I’m having a ton of fun. It’s cool. Usually when you’re coming back from injury, you’re rushing to try to get back for a certain race, but the season ends this weekend, so I’m really just on cruise control and taking my time to build myself up. I lost a lot physically, more than I thought I would. Just from being off the bike and being in a wheelchair for two months. You lose so much—flexibility, strength, there are so many aspects that day-to-day you don’t realize you have. Mentally I’m still there, though. I just got back on the bike and it really doesn’t feel like I was gone that long. I’m ready to get back to speed, but I have to keep telling myself to slow down, that it’s the first week back.
Did being away from it for so long give you any new perspective on anything?
I have perspective on everything! Normal everyday life, racing, a lot of different things. I’ve learned the most from this injury. I really took my time to disconnect from racing and figure out who I was as a person, and what I’m like when I’m not around racing and my normal routine. I took a ton of trips. I went over to Barcelona with [Adam] Cianciarulo, I took some trips with my girlfriend and some of my best friends, and really was just finding myself. I’m a normal person, but at the same time I’m not. I like doing normal stuff, but I’m so competitive. Just different from what a normal person is. Going over to MotoGP and seeing how those guys operate, the way their series is run, how they interact with the fans, I learned a lot from that. I’ve learned so much these past six months just being able to unplug. It’s been a crazy learning experience for me. But obviously the injury part of it sucked and having to go through all that stuff.
Yeah, if you want time off in this sport, you have to break yourself.
You said you learned a lot from going to Europe. Anything specific, or is it a long list?
It’s a long list, but I’d say one of the main things while being at the races is how much of a production they turn it into. It’s really cool. It’s drawn out in a way, but at the same time, it’s still just a weekend of racing. Those MotoGP guys, they’re celebrities. They can’t step outside of their truck without being swarmed by fans. It puts it in perspective just how talented those guys are. But here, we’re really talented too! But it’s different—our series are so small compared to theirs. It was really cool being able to meet those guys and hang out with the HRC crew. Marc Marquez’ team was really inviting and showed me around. I met a ton of the riders. It was a cool experience that really changed my outlook. I’ve never been to a MotoGP at all, so to go to one of the coolest, most iconic ones, it was really eye-opening.
I’m getting a little off topic here, but yeah, MotoGP is crazy huge. They’ve managed to grab mainstream attention, but how? Road racing is really cool to watch, but it’s definitely not more exciting than supercross.
I think Europeans in general, whether it’s motocross, MotoGP, rally racing, soccer, or whatever, those guys are celebrities. I don’t know what it is or why it doesn’t translate over here. I’m not saying I should be a celebrity or anything like that. It’s just crazy, those guys are like gods over there. And of course, they are amazing talents. It’s just different over here, I guess.
You think you’ll be ready for the Monster Energy Cup?
I don’t know what my plans are right now; we’re just playing it by ear. I definitely want to get some gate drops in before Anaheim 1 next year, but it all depends on how fast the whole process goes. I’d like to, but at the same time, I can’t push it. I have to take every injury seriously, but I really have to take this one seriously. A lot of people depend on me, including my sponsors. To have companies behind me like the ones I do, who have stuck behind me for so long, is amazing. Six months is a long time, especially in a motocross career, so to have all these people… It’s one thing to have brand loyalty as a rider, but to have rider loyalty as a brand is saying something huge. I’m stoked to be in the position I’m in.