MPG / DAILY BREAD / JANUARY 9, 2017
Words / Image / Lake Kilpatrick
Jerry Robin started off 2016 prepping for a season of GNCC racing, but the year immediately began to take him in another direction. The Minnesota native was training for the upcoming season and suffered an accident in which he hit a tree at high speed. He endured some pretty serious injuries that he thought would put him out of the majority of the racing season, but he was able to make his return to racing and qualify for Loretta’s through loads of hard work and physical therapy. He qualified to race down at the Ranch and won a title in the All Star class which opened up some doors in the professional ranks. Robin rode the last three outdoor nationals with the Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins Yamaha team. He impressed the team with his heart and determination as he rode through fitness issues and earned himself a ride for the 2017 season. We caught up with Jerry just before racing kicks off for the new year to chat about riding practically every different discipline on a dirt bike, getting arm pump surgery, and his plans for 2017.
First of all, looking back on the 2016 racing season, you had kind of a crazy year full of adversity.
Yeah, I was trying to make the switch to GNCC, I’ve always enjoyed woods racing. Thankfully enough a team out of Ohio (Bonzi Race Team) picked me up, and the week before - I think it was the week before the season opener - I ended up hitting a tree; I broke my vertebrae, three ribs, and I had a hematoma on my arm, but other than that I was fine. I mean, the back injury sucked...so after that I ended up quitting the team, ‘cause I thought I was gonna be out for the whole year. It was just really painful and there was a lot of physical therapy. I ended up going to my area qualifier, I was able to start like walking a lot better and riding kind of. So, I went to my area and rode around, like felt alright, and then I didn’t ride from my area to my regional. I qualified for Loretta’s and then a week later I got a fasciotomy done to my forearms (arm pump surgery) and then I got the stitches out about two weeks before Loretta’s. I rode about six days, somewhere around there, and then rode Loretta’s and ended up winning the title. It was a crazy year to say the least, at least the first half. Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins were interested in me going into Loretta’s and at Loretta’s they saw a lot of heart, like killin’ myself to get on the podium, haha. So, they picked me up and I did the last three rounds of outdoors and that’s how 2016 went.
You mentioned that right after your regional you ended up getting arm pump surgery on both of your forearms, drove to see your surgeon to get the stitches out, drove to South fo the Border to prep for Loretta’s, then drove to Tennessee. You were kind of all over the place…
So, my surgeon said that I had three months after surgery and then I could start lightened riding. About two days after surgery - I still had my cast on and stuff - I was riding around my yard just letting out the clutch and like feeling it out, trying to see if I could recover in time. I kinda did my own physical therapy; I was kinda stretchin’ out my arms and everything like that just to get like motion back in my arms, ‘cause I was so sore from surgery. Umm...so yeah, at the two week mark I was supposed to get my stitches out and I packed up all my stuff that I was going to SOB with. Then I drove to Rochester and got my stitches out, got in my truck and I drove to SOB; I didn’t even know if the surgery worked or not. I kinda went out on a limb, but it worked and it helped me out a lot.
With not riding all the time, even with the arm pump surgery, not having that on the bike fitness from missing time throughout the year, was it a weird feeling getting back on the bike after surgery? Did it take some time to adapt?
Yeah, it was. They go in and cut the fascia tissues off your muscles, so like they move around your muscles a lot. I was super sore....I mean I was still sore at Loretta’s, like I’d have to stretch my forearms a ton before I lined up. After Budd’s Creek it finally quit being sore, so uhhh...a month and a half I believe to finally get all the soreness out.
So, yeah. You mentioned that at Loretta’s you were struggling a little bit mid-moto with your fitness...
Haha, I was struggling after the second lap!
Haha! In that championship moto when we had the GoPro on you, you pushed through and made it happen with those results hinging on the title.
Yeah. I dunno why, but for the last year or so I’ve been really bad at starts for some reason. So, I got a really bad start that moto, I wanna say around last - that’s kind of what it looked like in the GoPro - I ended up passing for 4th around the end of the first lap, so I ended up passing about thirty plus dudes at least. I had to just put myself into the position to win the championship; I was so tired from the other motos and just all week, like just super drained. And uhh...I was just riding, trying to get through the moto, and my Dad put on the pit board ‘You need one more guy.’ So, I was like ‘Oh, okay.’ I sprinted the last two laps and I got him on the last lap, and was just like ‘Okay, hopefully that’s enough.’ And it was, so it all worked out.
Obviously everybody remembers when you showed up at Loretta’s in 2013 on a 1985 CR250, everybody loves to see a two-stroke out there racing. Did that kind of factor into your decision to ride a two-stroke at Loretta’s this past year?
No, not really. All last year I was working road construction and I ended up buying a brand new YZ250, ‘cause I was gonna race National Enduros and GNCC. So, I bought a two-stroke for that and then I ended up getting on that GNCC team, so my bike was brand new; I think I rode it like once. When I quit doin’ that after my back injury, when I got back on the bike I basically just had a brand new bike sitting there, and I was talking to my Dad saying “Man, maybe I should just race Loretta’s.” My Dad was just like “Do whatever you wanna do, it’s your show.” I dunno, like I was pretty much done racing, I went through a lot of like different decisions, it was hard. But, going into Loretta’s I was thinking I gotta get another championship and at least do a few pro races, and now I’m here!
Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins helped you out at Loretta’s and they also provided you with an awesome opportunity to race the last three rounds of the Pro Nationals, what was that experience like?
Ummm, it was pretty cool. At Unadilla I was kind of nervous, ‘cause I was just so out of shape. But, I ended up scoring points at Unadilla and Budds Creek. I had some good laps in qualifying and like second practice I had the second fastest lap for pretty much the whole practice, and I ended up 7th fastest at the end; I didn’t qualify there, ‘cause the first practice was faster. The second practice was gnarlier, the water like all soaked in and they re-dug it, and it was like a sponge; it was so soft and rutty. But, I definitely showed the speed to do it in the 450 class, but uhhh...fitness was always just like not there. I’d go ride around the whole moto for thirty plus two, and I would score points, but it was frustrating. But, it was definitely a good experience.
It’s kind of interesting that you started the year on a GNCC team, then rode amateurs and Loretta’s, then you raced Pro Nationals, now you’re going to race arenacross and supercross. You’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Yeah, I went back and forth like three times, its kinda gnarly. But, it was a fun year all in all.
So, do you feel like all the woods racing that you’ve done was good preparation for those rough, rutted outdoors at the end of the year?
Yeah, I feel like I’m a pretty technical rider just from growing up and racing woods so much. It definitely relays over, like racing gnarly GNCC style stuff to Pro Nationals. No matter what you do, it’s gonna be hard at a pro level. So, having that experience growing up in that gnarly, rooty, rutty stuff helped so much when I got to Unadilla.
Yeah, Unadilla was ridiculous...and Ironman.
Yeah. Plessinger, for example, always does good at that stuff and he has a GNCC background as well.
So, now that you’ve ridden both GNCCs and Pro Nationals, what sort of similarities and differences did you notice between the two?
Uhmmm...there’s similarities for sure. I guess kind of the longevity - obviously GNCCs are three hours - but thirty plus two when you’re sprinting feels like forever. There’s a lot of differences, too. GNCCs are pretty slow paced, there’s trees obviously. I dunno, riding woods transitions a lot on how to hit stuff properly, like at the right angle. Some people won’t even dare to go in the woods and I’m like ‘Dude, you learn so much.’
And now you’re moving into SX with the Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins team. You had sort of a trial with the team testing after the Baja Brawl…you mentioned to me that you hadn’t really hit supercross whoops on anything other than a pit bike before.
Yeah, believe it or not I haven’t even hit a set of whoops yet, like still and I’m going to race Cinci. Today (Jan. 12th) was my first day on supercross suspension. So like, the team just ended up getting money kind of late and just everything was kinda behind the eight ball, so we’re kind of struggling a little bit. But, I’m sure everything will smooth out here pretty soon.
So, you’re racing Cinci...what other rounds of arenacross are you looking at to get your road to supercross points?
Yeah, however many I have to do to get my supercross points. They (Blue Buffalo / Slater Skins) kinda gave me the option if I’m not feeling totally comfortable yet, they said I could just kinda back out and get ready for outdoors which they’re totally cool with. So, it’s nice havin’ that option, but I definitely wanna race Minneapolis supercross. I’m pretty motivated for that.
So, obviously you just got on the bike with supercross suspension, but how has it been adapting your riding style from woods, to motocross, to now supercross?
Ummm, it’s a little different. I’ve always kind of been like a calculated, smooth, kind of relaxed guy. I feel like I’m definitely gonna have to get a lot more aggressive and step it up. I mean, I’ve always been aggressive, but I’ve never really took anyone out or hit anybody, but I feel like I’m gonna have to, especially for arenacross...it’s gonna happen. So, I’m gonna have to learn to be a little bit more aggressive, that’s one thing I gotta focus on.
It’s a pretty cool deal for you to make your supercross debut in your home state, practically your hometown. Do you think that’s kind of going to be one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments that you look back on at the end of your career?
Yeah, I live like thirty minutes away. I wanna get my supercross points, like once I’m done with arenacross I’m gonna get out of it as soon as I can hopefully, and just focus on supercross. But umm...to have Minneapolis as my first pro supercross - as long as everything goes good - is gonna be like so awesome. I’m so excited to do it in front of my family and friends, so I’m really excited for that.
Thanks for your time, man. Who would you like to thank that’s helping you out?
SOBMX, Blue Buffalo, Slater Skins, Waynesburg Yamaha, Enzo, FMF, Defiance, Mika Metals, Vortex, Rekluse, Renn Fuels, Dunlop, Twin Air, ICW, Dubya, Excel, Ride Engineering, Lightspeed Carbon, Evans Coolant, Guts Racing, Spectro Oils, Acerbis, Matrix Concepts, Bristol Core, 180 Graphics, Keith Biddle, FXR, 100%, 6D, Gaerne, Hammer Nutrition, Delb Lifestyle, Tagger Designs, DVS, EVS