Tyson Johnson had a fairly busy year back in 2019 during his last season racing in the A class, starting with a couple of wins in the 250 Futures class at various Supercross Futures rounds, including the series finale in Las Vegas. The Californian showed the speed to run towards the front of the field at various high profile races such as the JS7 Freestone Spring Championship and Mammoth, eventually building up to a solid overall finish inside the top ten in his final outing at the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Motocross Championship. The KTM rider was putting in some hard work in late 2019 to prep for a professional debut at the Hangtown Lucas Oil Pro Motocross opener, but an unfortunate injury as well as the coronavirus pandemic changed those plans. Johnson had complications with a wrist surgery at the beginning of this year and had to have it re-operated on, but he’s close to getting his cast off and anxious to return to his regular riding program. We got on the phone with Tyson to talk about how he’s been filling his time during the lockdown, training with Broc Tickle, and what he hopes to accomplish before the end of 2020.
Back in January, you had surgery on your wrist and there ended up being some complications where you had to have another operation. How's the recovery process been going with that?
Back in October, I was riding supercross out at Milestone and I went through the whoops on one of my last laps of the day and just kind of didn't fully commit, crashed and landed on it wrong. I got it checked out and they said nothing was wrong with it originally so I thought I just tweaked it a little bit. I rode on it for a little while until the end of December, I think it was, and I was thinking "Dude, something is still wrong. I have no strength, I can't hold on." I got it checked out sometime in December and one of the ligaments was fully torn. They told me you could go without it but you'll have zero strength and you can't hold onto anything, so for racing you gotta get it fixed. I got it fixed on January 16th and everything was good, got my cast off in four weeks, and then started to do therapy for like two months. There was just one day that it started hurting really bad again so I went and got it checked out a week after that and they told me what they did to hold it failed, so it tore again, so they had to go in and do it again. They did it a little bit different so it was stronger this time, so this time I was in a cast for eight weeks, not four, and I get it off next Wednesday (May 27th) actually. Then probably about another month of therapy and I'll get be able to get back on the bike hopefully.
What's the quarantine been like for you lately since you've been injured and not able to get your riding in?
It sucks with everything going on with no racing and stuff, but it kind of helps me in a way. It doesn't hurt me necessarily 'cause of the injury so it's kind of a good time to get everything fixed. I dunno, nothing has really stopped other than riding. I'm still training six days a week off the bike, cycling and in the gym and stuff. I'm just not riding really, but that's about it.
How have you been spending your downtime and free time lately?
I've been playing way too much Call of Duty. (laughs) Umm, Call of Duty and I go hang out with the girlfriend and do some things with her, go to the beach, and just chill with friends. That's about it honestly, I haven't been doin' that much.
It's a good thing that the cast isn't hindering your ability to play video games because that's been a quarantine staple for a lot of people.
Yeah, they put my thumb in a cast and I kind of cheated it and pulled it down just a bit so I could use a controller.
In terms of your off the bike program, are you doing the same stuff you'd normally be doing barring anything that would put strain on your wrist?
Yeah, I'm training with Broc Tickle now and I started with him sometime in January. Right now it's all good and we're cycling a lot 'cause there's like nothing else to do. I can't lift anything; I feel like I can but they don't want me to. Just a lot of cardio stuff in the gym, he tries to get me running but I'm not a fan of running. I'll cycle all day but no running.
How's it been switching up your program and working with Broc Tickle?
It's really good, I like Broc. I didn't know him before I started training with him, maybe I met him once. It was kind of like starting from the bottom in a way, but it was good. He brought me in on the first day like he would anybody else and he doesn't treat anybody differently. It's just like "Let's go and put in the work." He knows his stuff with training and if you're tired or something, he works with you. He doesn't try to overtrain and does what's right for you, so it's been working really well for my diet, vitamins, and everything I gotta take -- he helps me out with everything.
How'd you get linked up with him?
I had just parted ways with my trainer at the time and I was lookin' for somebody and I saw he was training a couple of other guys, so I called a mutual acquaintance of ours and asked if he was open to training some more guys so he gave me his number, I called him, and within a couple of hours I was at the gym with him I think. It's been going really well.
Considering you're getting ready to make the transition to the pros, were you paying more attention to the 250SX class than ever before at the beginning of this season? You must've been pretty bummed when it got canceled not having any racing to watch.
Yeah, it sucked. It was nice to be able to watch the races on the weekends and honestly kind of learn from them. I'd see people that I raced last year or that I've raced before and see how they're doing, so it gave me a good understanding of how I stack up with everybody. But I dunno, I feel for all the privateers and everything not gettin' paid right now and it's for sure a bummer sittin' on the couch and not being able to race.
When you're watching Supercross now, are you watching it as a competitor or are you still able to watch it as a fan?
Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily say I watch it as a fan. I'm a fan of certain dudes and things they do for sure, but there are also times where somebody is battling and I'm just like "Aww, you could've done this and done that better," but also when you're in that racing situation it's hard to think like that. But it's cool to watch and it's fun for sure.
You get hurt and have to watch the races from home for a couple of months and you're already turning into a Vital MX keyboard warrior. (laughs)
Yeah, I catch myself all the time and I'm like "No, don't say that." (laughs) But me and Jett (Lawrence) are good buddies and I always give him shit for little things he'll do.
Were you at any of the west coast rounds at the beginning of the season to watch him race?
I think the only one I went to was A1.
So you missed that crazy race at A2 where he almost pulled off the win...
Yeah, I did but I watched it. I was stoked for him when he was leading and stuff and I knew the little mistakes he was makin' were just nerves and everything. But I was bummed for him when he crashed. I think he was really bummed for sure, I talked to him after. Everyone was saying he should've just let off and went for 2nd, but it was like "No, why would I do that? I wanna win." I one hundred percent agree with him. It was a really good race.
Speaking of Supercross, what're your thoughts on the final seven rounds of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season being held in Salt Lake City and that whole situation?
I think it's gonna be really tough. I think it'll be okay for the first few weeks maybe, but racing two days a week I think is gonna be a lot. There's no practice 'cause there are no tracks unfortunately, but it's gonna be a lot. It doesn't sound like much, it's just Sunday and Wednesday but I think it's gonna be a lot of racing for three weeks. It's just gonna be go-go-go.
Obviously, it's kind of hard to plan when there are no plans in place. But what were your original plans for this year and what're you thinking of doing at this point?
Before the races even got canceled at all -- I don't think I even had my second surgery yet -- my plans were to heal up and hopefully try to make Hangtown. If I wasn't one hundred percent, I wasn't going to push it and show up and not one hundred percent. I was going to take my time to get myself ready and be there and race at full fitness. Not just for me, but for everybody behind me...I don't want to show up and race half-assed. That's still pretty much the plan. Whenever races start back up, whatever the schedule, I'm just going to get ready and whatever time it takes, whether I do five rounds or do two rounds, as long as I'm one hundred percent and good to go.