It looks like he’s off and running again, about to capture another title in the AMA GEICO EnduroCross series. For Red Bull KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak, that’s nothing new. The Polish trials rider-turned-off-road racer has proven himself to be a dominant force at anything with the word “extreme” in it. But an injury earlier this year threatened to spoil Blazusiak’s 2010 EnduroCross season. After shattering his shoulder in a practice crash, and re-injuring it only weeks before the opening round in Las Vegas, Taddy came in to round one with a tender shoulder and limited practice time.
Nonetheless, the brilliant extreme enduro rider proved his mettle and came out on top at the EnduroCross opener, and despite dealing with a sore shoulder and a hectic international schedule of races and events in 2010, Blazusiak is looking forward to another great year.
We caught up with him in Las Vegas to talk about the start of his season, what he’s already accomplished this year and where he is at with the shoulder injury. Blazusiak also talked about the other championships and events he is planning on tackling this year and what could be in his future.
We’re at the EnduroCross season opener, but you’ve already had a pretty exciting year so far.
Actually when we finished the EnduroCross season last year in November, I went straight into our indoor season back home (the Indoor Enduro World Championship or IEWC) and been really busy. With that series we race all the way to the end of February, beginning of March, so I was out there all the time. I also raced a few World Enduros. I raced all the other extreme races like the hard enduros back home and here I am again. Oh yeah, and I won at Erzberg! (laughs)
You suffered a pretty serious shoulder injury in that time. Talk about that.
What happened was I was getting ready for World Enduros, for the first GP in Spain. I’ve been staying at my place and riding a lot in Spain and that was just the last week before the GP. I went out to test the suspension to get everything dialed in before the first race and it was that standard “one more lap” crash. I said, ‘It’s okay.’ and then went for one more lap and it happened. I hit a rock that was sticking up from a braking bump. I went over the bars, landed on my back and broke my shoulder, knocked myself out for a few minutes – it wasn’t too good. It was a pretty big crash.
After that I was trying to get myself healthy as fast as I could so I was flat out with my physical therapy, just trying to get back on the bike. I didn’t take any time off because I was straight off the injury into physical therapy. As soon as I got on the bike I was still riding in pain and my shoulder was weak so I was losing position in the pack.
I got a decent run in the World Enduro. I did the GP of Italy as a warm up before Erzberg and then Erzberg was amazing. I gave it everything. I was riding really good, but I think maybe I would have gone faster if I rode my bike more before that race. I would have had with more confidence, for sure. But yeah, it turned out really good. I won by, like, nine and a half minutes.
When was the crash and when did you get back on the bike?
I crashed at the end of April. So I was off the bike for six weeks – almost two months – and I got back just the week before Erzberg.
Did you have surgery?
No surgery. My doctor said this is the first time that he saw something like that. I broke my shoulder blade in four places and the (clavicle) had a crack in it. It wasn’t completely separated but the shoulder blade was. In the crash it all broke and when I went tumbling, it all went back into place. So that was pretty amazing. It was all completely broken, but in place. So when my doctor saw me he was like, “Dude, don’t even move! Stay where you are!” I was pretty lucky in that.
Were you worried at that time that the whole season had just got away from you?
For sure. My plan was to race the World Enduros and then go straight into my EnduroCross practice and I couldn’t really do it. I was off my EnduroCross track for a while because every time I hit a log or something it really hurt. But here we are. We’re at the first round and I hope to get this thing done and have more time to train.
Things didn’t go so well for you at the Red Bull Romaniacs; tell me about that.
Romaniacs is a different kind of race than I’m used to. It’s more about riding the right pace and looking at the GPS and not getting lost. It’s not a sprint, or not even a few hour off-road race. It’s more like a rally.
It was okay; I got third at the prologue and that was a pretty good point to start the race. Then I was riding the first day and I got lost at one point with my GPS. I couldn’t see anything in my GPS. It blacked out. So it took me, like, 15 minutes to get back on the track so I was 15 minutes down on the leaders. I tried to catch up and actually I was catching up pretty good. I don’t know exactly how much time but it was about 15 minutes in one and a half hours that I caught up, so I was on it. I was flat out. It was pretty good.
It was raining the whole day, so then in one place they had you drop off the road in the middle of the woods in the forest. I took that corner not really accelerating but just kinda touched the throttle and hit the brakes – locked the wheels but I was still accelerating. I was like, “Oh this is not good...”
There was a tree coming straight at me. I kinda jumped off the bike but when the bike hit the tree, I hit the tree with my bad shoulder. The bike went right and I went left. I picked the bike up, it was still okay, I started to ride and then it was just getting sore. I couldn’t really move it any more, so I took the day off and went back home. I was off the bike again for 10 days.
How much practice have you had coming into the opening round?
I had some practice but not as much as I would like to... I’m not trying to give excuses for myself.
So the shoulder isn’t 100% yet.
No, it hurts. Even now I hit a log or something and cringe.
And you won’t have much time to rest after this because KTM’s got a busy schedule for you.
Yeah. I always have a busy schedule. I’m flying back home and I have a few little events with the new bike back home then I’m back here for Oklahoma and I hope I’m going to get some time to ride my EnduroCross track and get better. I’m not saying I’m not riding good; it’s just to get my confidence level back to where it should be.
Last year you lived in the U.S. during the EnduroCross season, but you’re not doing that this year?
No, I’m not going to be living here this year. The plan is to fly back and forth because we got so many things going on back home that there’s not enough time to stay here. I hope it’s going to work out. I’ll try to stay here in between some of the rounds that have a week in between, but we’ll see.
This year it looks like the Indoor Enduro World Championship is starting earlier.
Yeah, it’s starting in October. So actually I’m going to start a new season back home while still riding here. So it’s going to be pretty busy. But it’s okay.
You’ve been dabbling a lot in World Enduros; is that something you’re eventually going to transition to?
Well, I don’t really know. I just enjoy racing different kinds of stuff. I did that one GNCC last year and I would love to do another this year but we’re not going to have the time. But it’s just cool to race other things and get better in some aspects of riding. For sure, next year I want to race more off-road races.