Richmond refuses to remain grounded

Myles Richmond left with X Games Medical after a crash in Moto X Step Up at X Games LA 2012.

Freestyle motocross ace Myles Richmond has been out of competition since shattering his ankle a little more than a year ago. Richmond was in the thick of the record-setting X Games Los Angeles 2012 Step Up competition with Ronnie Renner and Matt Buyten but crashed and suffered significant injuries to his femur, tibia, fibula and, worst of all, talus.

Recovering from a broken talus, the weight-bearing bone that forms the ankle with the tibia and fibula, is a slow and painful process. It's still too soon to set a target date, but Richmond says he hopes to return to riding after being off his bike for the longest time in his career.

"I don't want to have to end my career on an injury like this. I want to end it on my terms, you know?" he says. "And I'd probably be kicking myself in the butt if I didn't have a positive attitude of being able to do one more event or whatever it is."

For now, the only time Richmond will be hearing wheels up is while he's logging hours flying around his hometown of Cherry Valley, Calif., working on getting his pilot's license. We talked to Richmond about his recovery and what he's been up to since his crash on June 29, 2012.

Courtesy of Myles Richmond

Making the most of his downtime caused by his foot injury, Myles Richmond earned his pilot's license in February. How's the foot healing up?
It's healing I guess. I had to get surgery in July of this year to get some of the hardware out. I can't ever get all the hardware out of my talus but on the fibula I had a plate and on the tibia I had a plate and screws, so [they] took those out and also in my left femur I had a couple screws taken out of my knee that were giving me a little trouble.

The ankle is still healing though, trying to go through some options on what we can do to heal it better. But, yeah, it's just taking forever to heal. And if I can get to a point where -- and I understand it'll probably hurt forever -- but if I can get to where it feels strong enough and not so much pain I'd be happy. But it's not quite there yet.

Do you have to have anymore surgeries?
Not as of right now. I'm still hoping I can get used to how it feels now and get it strong. I'm afraid right now that if I were to go get on a bike, I wouldn't be able to lay it down or if I dabbed my foot in a corner or even just mess up hitting a jump, not even a big one, coming up short or going long, it's going to hurt. If I have to look at other options for my foot, I'm pretty sure I'll have to have some more surgeries.

Have there been any complications with the healing process or was it just a significant injury that's taking a while to heal?
Yeah, I guess the talus bone is not a good bone to break in general because the bone doesn't get good blood flow and I basically shattered mine. Whenever I got it fixed they had to take some of the bone out because it was like sand and they weren't able to put it back together.

My doctor down in La Jolla, [Calif.,] did a good job of trying to save it and putting it back together so I have some movement. But I don't know, I've never had an injury like this and he said it could take up to a year to heal, which it's been now. Or it could take up to three to five years to get to the best it's going to be and that doesn't mean it's the best I want it to be. But at least it gets to the best it can be.

How much longer do you plan to be out for?
I don't know. The next plan of action I have is I'd really like to go test it out, get back on the bike. But I'm hoping in another month to just go trail ride around, put some gear on and see how it feels. I know it may not feel strong enough yet, but maybe it'll feel better in the boot.

I really just want to go twist the throttle a bit (laughs). Who knows?

What have you been doing to pass the time?
The first four months I couldn't really do anything. I was mainly getting rehab and then I decided what the hell, once I got up on crutches I went and got my pilot's license, started studying for that and training. I got that [license] in late February. Been flying around quite a bit, not a whole lot though, it's a pretty expensive hobby that's for sure.

And lately, been riding the mountain bike around quite a bit, trying to get my leg strong. Also getting into the gym, getting my body back into workout mode because before all I did was ride, I didn't go to the gym, I just rode and that kept me in good shape. But now since I can't ride I've got to do something. Just trying to get my body back at 100 percent so when my ankle is good to go, my body will be too.

Other than that, hanging with my family, they've really been a blessing to have around and keep me going.

Markus Paulsen/ESPN Images

Myles Richmond doesn't know when he'll ride again, but he isn't giving up on his FMX career yet.

Is the feeling of flying an airplane similar to the feeling you get when you fly through the air on your bike after hitting a jump?
Oh, of course, maybe not the physical feeling but the mental feeling is identical in my opinion. I remember the first time I did a solo, that's where the instructor hops out of the airplane and tells you to take off, fly around and then land, all by yourself. And I remember it was one of those things that you know you can do it, but you're nervous to do it.

I compare it to when you're going to hit a new jump that you know you can (do), but it's that first jump that always gets the nerves up a bit, where you're not sure the end result. Are you going to grease the landing or go long? Like when I did my first flip, I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but when I came around and landed it was the biggest reward. It gives you that adrenaline rush that we all look for.

How did your first solo attempt go?
Yeah, I'm still here talking to you (laughs). But, yeah, it went well, it's pretty basic. I took off and they call it staying in the pattern, come right back around and land. My instructor wanted me to do three of those, so I did, came back around and landed fine.

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