The sport of motocross presents some of the most physically demanding obstacles a sport could offer a competitor. Between 30 minute motos in the middle of the summer heat to blind landing triples that give chills to your bones, each rider is tested beyond the average athlete. From neck braces to $600+ helmets, motocross racers do what they can to protect themselves from the unknown.
So what happens when a routine practice turns into a nightmare? Or when that new line choice causes a life changing injury? Over the last year or so, I have heard more and more about a young man who has had to face these questions head-on. Darius Glover, originally from Maryland, was the very first paraplegic motocross racer the world has ever seen. After a severe back injury, Darius was left paralyzed and told he should never get back on a bike. But although confined to a wheelchair, Darius proved everyone wrong and once again railed the ruts he was railing before his terrible accident.
We took some time with Darius to figure out what motivates, encourages and supports him to accomplish the impossible. Check out his interview and remember to follow him on Twitter, @Darius117!
What first got you into racing motocross?
My older brother used to ride which made me look up to him. My best friend had a PW 50, so I would go to his house and ride on his bike and once I finally got my own, me and him started going to the tracks and went to a race and never stopped racing from that point on.
Were your parents supportive from day one?
No, my parents were not supportive at first, but they knew that it made me happy, so as time went on they kinda just went with it.
You endured a life-changing injury when you were 15 years old. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, I was doing a double out of a corner and there was a turn after the jump that I kept blowing so I switched up my line and jumped it from the outside which was wet and I didn’t know it until I was already committed to jumping it. When I hit the wet spot I lost all my momentum and did not make the jump all the way, I hit the top of it and I went over the handle bars and the bike landed on my back causing me to break my back, have a hairline fracture in my neck, fractured my hip and bruised a few ribs.
What were your first thoughts when you heard the news of the reality of your condition?
A lot initially went through my head at first, but I had a long talk with my mother and the doctors and all I could think about was getting back on my dirt bike once my pain would go away, so I just told them that they did not know what they were talking about and that I would be back walking and riding in no time and I would prove them wrong.
Is there anything about that day you would change?
No. I sit back and think some times about what life would be like if I did not end up in a wheel chair. But I don’t think I would change anything because all the hardship that I went through and all the challenges that I go through and went through shaped me in to the person that I am today.
What made you get back on the bike?
The hospital let me go home for the day on a day pass but instead of going home I went to the track to see my friends and just see how it felt to be back at the track. When I got there, my best friend Daniel O’Brien put me on his bike and got on the back so that I could get the thrill of being on a bike. It felt amazing and I told him to let me do it on my own and see if I still had balance, so he held me up and as I got the momentum I could balance myself. I rode around the pit a few more times and when I got back to the hospital that night, all I could think about was figuring out a way for me to ride again, but actually ride on a track in a safe manor.
Now, years later, where do you sit in your motocross career? What are your current goals?
Now I am back racing full time and I have accomplished a lot as being the first paraplegic rider to get cleared by the AMA to race any national even that I want to. My goal this year is to make Loretta Lynn’s national and to win a national title as a paraplegic, which has never been done before.
Tell us a little about the set up you have bike wise, to make riding happen?
I have a cage around my legs which is there to make sure that I don’t hurt my legs if I fall over, I have a seat that has extra foam in it so that I don’t slide backwards off of the bike with a seat belt that straps me in to it, and I also have my back brake moved so that I can squeeze it with my hand since I can not move my legs and my legs are also strapped in. Right now I am not shifting I just leave my bikes in 3rd and sometimes 4th gear since I can not shift yet.
What has been the biggest struggle competing at the level you are as a paralyzed rider?
My biggest struggle was when the AMA would not let me race the Mini Olympics and the Loretta Lynn’s national when I had set that as my goal and had been working so hard to make it there. I had traveled so far and spent so much money to get there, but after I was turned away the first time I told myself they couldn’t do it twice and when they tried a second time, the news and my lawyers were getting involved and they didn’t want to take it that far. So now I am able to race as I got clearance as the first paraplegic to be able to do any able bodied event.
What advice can you give riders looking to make it in this sport?
To make it in this sport you just have to be dedicated and stay dedicated and also push as hard as you can and not let anyone shoot down your dreams because it gets hard. Even when you get injured and have time off, you just have to stay motivated if it is truly what makes you happy if it is really what you want to do. But more than anything, just have fun.
If we had to ask your friends to describe you in 3 words, what do you think they would say?
Inspirational, Dedicated, Positive
Out of all the places moto has taken you, what would you say is your favorite?
RedBud is my favorite Track but I love California as a place to just get away
If we took a peek into basket at the grocery store, what would we find?
I am always training so I eat pretty healthy. You would find a lot of fruit in my basket and things to cook with. I love to cook different meals and to try new things, so lots of random things that I use to cook different meals I guess. I love pasta though!
When you aren’t competing in moto, what are you doing?
When I’m not competing ,I’m training and in the gym a lot. I love to hang out with my friends and go fishing and swimming, travel to new places, and also working on new projects to take me further in life and my career, I just love to stay busy.
What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people with potential and they throw it away.
If you had a pick a motto to describe how you live your life, what would it be?
Train insane or remain the same and no matter how hard times get always work hard and press forward!
When you are at races, who are some of your favorite riders to watch?
James Stewart, Jace Owen , Shane McElrath, Cooper Web, Zach Bell, Jordan Smith… a lot of people/
Single, taken, tied down?
Single but still looking for her, haha.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
My proudest moment would have to be when I made it to X-Games in 2010 and when I won extremity games in 2012 and got the title as fastest paraplegic.
Any sponsors you would like to thank?
I would like to thank: One Industries, Oakley, Young and Reckless, Impulse graphics, Ponton graphics for my helmet paint jobs, Race Ready Fitness, Etnies Shoes, Alpinestars, Arai Helmets, FMF, Rekluse, KMC Wheels, MTF, UFO plastics, Moto Hose, Flo Plates, Chuck Bell
Huge thanks to Darius for answering our questions and giving us an insight into his life! Good luck to the rest of your racing season and hope to see you at THE RANCH!