It’s a common misconception in our society to define athletes by their chosen profession, but oftentimes there’s a lot more brewing beneath the surface; a deeper level to be uncovered that reveals their true identity. Trevor Hooten is undoubtedly a badass on two wheels -- the nineteen year old Californian has qualified for Loretta Lynn’s on multiple occasions, recorded top ten finishes at a multitude of major nationals across the United States, and possesses some incredible control of his motorcycle as seen in the multiple free riding videos he puts out on his Instagram. Not only is he the star of the show, but Hooten is also responsible for creating most of the videos himself. Between all of the time that he spends at the track, on the bike, or in the gym -- Hooten also attends college in order to gain a better understanding of business which helps him negotiate with sponsors, he works in order to fund his racing career, and he spends his time building tracks to keep his creative mind flowing. Unfortunately, he had to put most of that on hold after a nasty crash in the summer of 2016 that he sustained while preparing for Loretta Lynn’s, forcing him to spend some time on the couch, and the rest of the year off the bike. He made his return to racing at the beginning of the new year, but he he didn’t really test himself against national level competition until a couple of weeks ago at the California Classic where he was able to clinch the overall in the College Boy class, and also show some solid speed in one of his first outings as an A class competitor. We caught up with Trevor to talk about his injury last summer and the involved recovery process, constantly producing instabangers, and how free riding has helped him on the race track.
I gotta start off by asking about the video you just posted on Instagram cruising’ to 7-Eleven -- wheel tapping the truck, pulling a wheelie down the street, sipping the slurpee on your bike -- how much time went into making that?
Really....my friend Conor rolled up and we were thinkin’ about going to Temecula to ride some hills, and I have a black ramp, so we just pulled it out and hit the truck like maybe three times. And then everything from 7-Eleven was one try -- like it was literally just the whole 7-Eleven trip. We cruised to 7-Eleven and then everything inside was exactly how it would be like any other day, and then cruisin’ home I just popped a wheelie with the fricken slurpee, and tried sippin’ on it, haha! It’s kinda sketchy ‘cause there’s cops in my neighborhood, but they usually don’t care ‘cause I live in the hood, so dirt bikes are a minimal worry.
Is that a common thing to have dirt bikes riding around in your neighborhood?
No, not at all, haha! I’ve got like three or four people on my street that ride dirt bikes just for fun, but they don’t really ride on my street. I just started doing it like maybe six months ago and it’s just kinda fun to cruise down my street and see what I can do -- just from curb to curb or whatever.
Yeah, it’s gotta be a good way to keep your skills sharp on the bike and practice some technical stuff as well.
Exactly, and you’ve got a smile on your face the whole time!
Do you own that truck and did you have any close calls wheel tapping it?
Haha, nah! That was Buttery Films’ truck and it’s completely ragged, so he doesn’t care about it. I just jumped over it once, wheel tapped it another time, but it was sloppy, so I did it one more time, and then we were off to 7/11.
What’s your go to 7/11 snack?
A Snickers bar.
Onto racing… the Cal Classic just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and you ended up coming away with the title in the College Boy class and you showed some good speed in the A class — how’d the racing go for you there?
The week started off good. My first moto was in College Boy and I only had one moto that day, and I won, so it was kinda good to just go out the first moto and win, and kinda have the pressure off for the day. Next day I had pro motos, so it was pretty gnarly and there were like ten factory kids. It was a little bit hard for me, but I got a second place start and ran up front for a few laps, and then I ended up getting passed a few times. Then I had a stupid little crash, but the first two pro motos were a little tough for me, and I just went out and tried to see where I was at -- that’s what I wanted to use that race for in general. I didn’t want to push it too hard and just be right back sittin’ on the couch. I saw where I was at in the pro class and I just need to work on longer sprints, ‘cause that’s what they’re doin’, they don’t stop goin’ fast. I can go fast for a little, but I need to learn how to maintain it. I just gotta get my mind used to that.
Did it take some time to adjust to that pace coming back from injury and hopping straight into the A class?
Yeah. Honestly, I’m not even close to where I need to be. I saw where I was at and it’s maybe like top ten or so -- it just depends. I just really needed that race to look and see where I was at, see how hard I need to work, and see what I need to do during the week. I’m gonna start doing like twenty-five minute motos and at ten minutes, sprint for five laps, and then go another five minutes, and then sprint five more laps. So, I’ll be able to go the length and be able to sprint in the middle of it without any issue.
You had an injury last year practicing at Daxton Bennick’s house, could you talk a little bit about what happened, the extent of your injuries, and your recovery?
I was doin’ a twenty minute moto and at the end I was cruisin’ -- I’d hit a jump or two around a couple of sections, then I’d corner quick, and then chill. I came around a corner and came through some long rollers that were really fast, and on the last roller the rod in my rear shock -- the threads off the top sheared, so my shock just blew out -- it sent me over the bars into a double and I punctured both my lungs, collapsed one, and then broke my tib/fib. It was hot and humid, so it was not cool for the first like twenty-five minutes; it was just hell. So, they said the leg would take about two and a half months if I did all the therapy quick, but my lungs were a huge healing process, too. So, if anyone breaks their tib/fib -- the next few days they’re gonna be doing physical therapy ‘cause the rod in there is enough to hold you up, but I couldn’t move ‘cause I had a chest tube in. The first two weeks is a long healing process for your bones, so I missed that process and basically I had planned to be out four months, but it ended up being a full six months until I was back on the bike, and actually able to go practice at a local track or whatever.
Did you spend those first two weeks in the hospital back east and how’d you end up getting back to California?
The ambulance came and they didn’t wanna take me to a hospital close by, so a helicopter came. They flew me to a trauma center in Tennessee and yeah...I spent fourteen days in there. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think, but there were a couple times where it was really stressful; just almost lost it, y’know -- like dealing with nurses, having to be on pain meds messes with your mood and stuff. But, after that I was out and a friend of mine from North Carolina was nice enough to drive me all the way back to California. It took like thirty of forty hours or something, haha!
Is your leg back to one hundred percent now?
Not at all, honestly. It gives me trouble -- like right now I’m at my grandma’s house riding and I can tell you that I feel the screw touching the side of my boot. Whenever I overshoot something, or case something, if I bend my ankle too much it fires up the whole thing -- it feels like a new broken ankle for a couple of minutes. It’s probably about eighty-five percent and I just work to keep it flexible in the gym, and that’s about all I can do really -- just keep workin’ it, keep it busy, and that’s really the only time that it stays feeling good is when I’m movin’ around. If I sit still too much then it stiffens up. At first I had issues with my toe wanting to point out when I’m riding, ‘cause I have less feeling in my foot so it just wants to do what it wants. But, I just got used to makin’ a habit to force my foot in and make sure it stays there -- that just came with practice over the past couple months. It was tough at first, but I just got used to it.
What did you to do pass the time when you were laid up?
It was tough...like I couldn’t really do anything. I worked a lot (before the crash), swingin’ shovels mid-week to go ride, and I couldn’t work, had no money; it was tough. After a couple of weeks of being home, once my lungs felt better I would just crutch it out no matter where I was at -- I’d go to the beach, go do whatever just to ease my mind ‘cause sitting inside is just nuts. It was tough and it was just a long waiting process. But, honestly it helped ‘cause that was my first big injury -- just knowing that I could go through something like that helps me now mentally. On the gate or whatever, I know that I’m prepared, and I feel like I can stay more calm now.
Are you gonna head back east to Bennick’s place this year before Loretta’s to get used to the humidity and everything?
I want to definitely. Bennick’s looked rad -- there’s several tracks, trampoline, pool, cool facility, and I think it would be totally badass to go to that place again.
It seems like you do a lot of free riding out in the hills, the dunes, or just around your neighborhood. How does that sort of riding translate to racing?
It’s surprising. It was hard to go out to the track after being injured and put motos in, because you’re doing so much movement with your legs. Then I went out to Ocotillo and was just hitting super technical jumps, and coincidentally Twitch and all those free ride dudes, like Tyler Bereman, and that whole group were out there. I was able to hit some pretty decent sized jumps just because I was able to see how fast they would go. After coming back from that stuff -- you’re not caring about speed, you’re looking at what you’re coming up to and then you’re just seeing point A to point B. So, from freeriding you need to aim from point A to point B and on the track if you don’t know that, it’s hard. Now I’m really creative on the track and I draw lines going from point A to point B -- like if there’s a big bump and I see it, then I’ll jump from that big bump straight into the first part of the rut, and I never used to do that. Ever since I’ve been free riding more, I have a more creative mind on the track, and I have more fun.
What’s your training program like on and off the bike? It seems like a big part of what you do is keeping things fun.
I spent quite a bit of time in the gym at 24 Hour Fitness; I just got a membership there and I try to spend everyday that I’m not riding in the gym. If I’m sore, then I just say “screw it” and go to the gym anyways -- like stretch out, run ten minutes, sit in the sauna, and then stretch again -- being flexible means when you hit the ground, or do anything on the bike, you can take a bigger impact. Other than that, I’ll be working on my cardio, core strength, and legs...I really use my legs, hips, and core a lot on the bike as opposed to my upper body. I feel like when I’m riding the smoothest and flowin’, that’s what I’m using the most. Since I have long legs it’s not easy on the bike being tall, but when you have strength in those areas, it benefits you more than being short sometimes.
What sort of stuff do you like to do to pass the time when you’re not riding your bike or training?
I skateboard a lot. I built a track with a tractor at my grandma’s house and I’m there right now. I just try to do creative stuff with my time; whether it’s building, I draw, make videos -- I make most of the videos on my Instagram, probably ninety-nine percent of them. I like learning about marketing and I go to college as well, so that takes up a little bit of my time during the week, but it’s good. I learn stuff about business and working with people, so it helps me out with racing ‘cause I have to talk to all of my sponsors, it’s not one hundred percent my parents. I have to deal with every single person, so I needed to find a way to communicate better and that’s helped.
What’re your expectations for yourself for the rest of the year at the races you’ll be attending?
Right now I’m trying to get a two-stroke so I can race at Mammoth -- I’ll race A class, the two-stroke class, and maybe College Boy again. After that I’ll be going to my regional, hopefully I’ll make it to Loretta’s. No matter what, I think I’ll make it to Loretta’s in at least one class, but obviously the goal is to make every class you qualify in, but it’s hard. With it being my first year of A -- I really wanna have fun with it, stay on my bike no matter what, and don’t get over my head and get hurt, and do a lot of free riding or whatever to keep it fun in the middle of the motos and stuff, ‘cause that’s important!
Who would you like to shout out for the support?
Kevin McAllister, Thousand Oaks, Yamaha, Lainer Suspension, Hemlock Hat Co, 6D Helmets, FMF, Mika Metals, DT1 Filters, Spy, ANSR, Avid MX Graphics, NCY, FIC Smog
/ Words / Lake Kilpatrick
/ Images / Jessica TenHagen
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