LAKEWOOD — It was supposed to be offseason training, a getaway from the Colorado winter. Littleton’s Tucker Saye was rounding the track on his 2013 Staman’s Motorsports Suzuki 450, chasing down the second-place rider as part of the five-race Texas Winter Series. It was the last moto of the day, and he was off to a good start.
He was chasing down the leaders when Saye was ejected over the front of his bike, wrecking his shoulder. The tough-as-nails 23-year-old didn’t think much of it and got back up to keep riding. He came across a jump in one corner and felt his shoulder give out. He knew that his day was done.
Thinking the injury was nothing more than a bruise, he called it a day and elected to let the shoulder heal on its own. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t. Five days passed before doctors looked at the injury, which was diagnosed as a broken collarbone. He was out for 10 weeks. Ten weeks of no riding, no training, and the 12-race 2013 Lucas Oil Motocross season on the horizon.
That has been the story of Saye’s relatively young professional career. The smooth-riding Saye, with a fluid style on the bike, has been nicked up more times than he probably cares to recall, but he keeps riding. He continues because of the thrill the motocross rider received last June when he made the first final of his career at Thunder Valley, his home course of all places. That 36th-place finish — 32nd in both of the 25-minute motos — is what makes him tick.
“Last year was probably the highlight of my career at this point,” Saye said. “Getting in last year was really awesome. It was cool to do it in my hometown for the first time and get to share it with my family and friends watching the event.”
It was the first of three finals he made in 2012, also getting into the final act at Red Bud in Buchanan, Mich., and Washougal in Washington. He was back at Thunder Valley on May 25 riding in the second race of this year’s series, just weeks after returning to the track.
The injury in Texas, while serious, wasn’t going to threaten his status for the 2013 season as long as he took care of himself.
“He knew he was going to be out for 10 weeks and when the doctors told him that they didn’t want him riding he gave it 10 weeks,” Saye’s father, Geri, said. “He took his time getting better. He tried to stay in shape as much as he could even without being on the bike. He was determined about it.”
That determination has shown itself time and again when it comes to Saye. He’s had his fair share of injuries from the stainless steel rod that was placed in his left elbow in 2009 to the broken femur he suffered two years ago. Yet, the 2008 graduate of the Collegiate Academy of Colorado continues to get back on the bike.
“It’s part of the game every time you throw your helmet on and get on the track. It’s something you have to expect,” fellow rider and Arvada resident Derek Anderson said. “Tucker’s definitely a very dedicated individual, very talented on the bike. He’s definitely a really good rider.”
Saye returned in early April giving him more than enough time to be ready for the season-opening race in Sacramento, Calif. He placed 40th in a field of 96 after qualifying, just missing the 36-rider cut for the finals by 0.23 seconds. But at least he was back. That wouldn’t have happened had the broken collarbone had happened much later than it did.
“(The) collarbone was pretty easy. I have had some major injuries that have hurt and have been hard to come back from with a lot of rehab. The shoulder wasn’t like that. It didn’t hinder. I just had to wait it out a little bit,” Saye said.
He bided his time by working on his physical conditioning, thanks to the help of sports performance coach Rob Imondi. Saye works on his strength training twice a week with a lot of cardio work. He said that, as much as anything else, is why physically he’s in better shape compared to last season.
He’s hopeful that condition, combined his with his own fighting spirit, will make 2013 a success.
“Our main goal is to be better than I was last year, have better results,” Saye said. “I’d really love to get up into the 20s in the finishes, try to make some points. At this point as long as I’m doing better than last year it’s progress and I’m happy.”
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.