It’s hard not to admire the journey Kyle Keast has taken in Canadian Motocross, from his humble beginnings as a young racer in Ontario to one of the top professionals in the country. In 2012, Keast seemed to have everything he needed to take the next step and secure a top three plate, but at Round 2 of the Monster Energy Motocross Nationals in Kamloops, BC, disaster struck and a crash left Keast with a broken leg. With the 2013 season almost upon us, we called up Keast to see how his recovery went and if he is ready to race again.
Q: Hey Kyle, it has been a while since we have seen you. What have you been up to during this off season?
A: Well, nothing too exciting, that’s for sure. I’ve just been working a lot. I have three employees on a few different job sites so it’s pretty much a seven day a week deal right now. Right now I am down in St. Thomas working, so like I said I have been pretty focused on business.
Q: A year ago there was a lot of hype surrounding you and your program for the coming season. This year everything has been pretty quiet. Have you purposely been lying low?
A: Last year I kind of put work on the back burner and just focused on racing. Yamaha Canada and The Machine put together a great program for me and I didn’t want to let them down. I trained harder than ever and I felt ready to go. I had one set back when I broke my ankle before the season even started, but other than that I felt great heading into the 2012 season. This year feels different, for sure. I am excited to go racing again, but it won’t be my sole focus. I am lucky enough to have the same sponsors on board for 2013: Yamaha Canada, The Machine, Troy Lee Designs and Smith are all supporting me again and I am happy for that. But as of right now, I will only be doing the five Eastern rounds of the Nationals. I won’t be going out West.
Q: That should work out good for you as the Eastern tracks are your favorite anyway.
A: Yes, that it true. This summer will be even better with the Ste-Julie National moving to a sand track, all the East tracks are good now. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would still go out West if the funding was there, but at this stage in my career I just want to have fun and do what I want to do.
Q: How old are you right now?
A: I am 28 years old.
Q: For a lot of pro racers who have been at it for a long time, 28 seems to be the age when you take stock at what you have and you start thinking more about the future. A racer’s mind set seems to change a bit. Would you agree with that?
A: Yes, for sure. When you’re younger all you think about is racing and the positive things about the sport. As you get older you realize that there is a life outside of racing and your goals change a bit. I still love to ride and race, but I also love to make money. The two don’t seem to go hand in hand in Canada. I’d like to have a family, a nice house and I’d like to retire one day, so I have to start saving my money and doing what is best for my future.
Q: Do you think you will be one of those guys that we will still see at the track in ten years racing?
A: You will always see me at the track racing and having fun, I do love to ride dirt bikes. Don’t forget, I grew up looking up to you, Gauldy and Mesley. You guys still ride and have fun so I’d like to do the same when I am older.
Q: Heading into the Nationals last year you were ready to go. You got through the first round in Nanaimo (your least favourite track) in good shape. Then at round two in Kamloops, it all came crashing down. Can you take us through what happened?
A: Obviously getting through the first round meant a lot to me and it gave me a huge boost. Unfortunately I had a big crash while practicing that next week before Kamloops and broke some ribs. Heading into Kamloops I was really sore and I just wanted to get some points and stay in the hunt. However, during the second moto I took a bad line and got kicked over the bars pretty bad. The crash knocked me out and when I woke up my leg felt like it was not quite attached anymore. I knew right away that I had broken my femur and that my season was over.
Q: I think most of Canada was very disappointed when your season ended, everyone was cheering for you.
A: You know, when I was laying there on the ground, the first thing that went through my mind was how many people I just let down. My sponsors, my family and my mechanic, they all wanted me to do well and here I was crashing and putting myself out for the season. It was pretty devastating.
Q: How did the recovery go? Is everything alright now with the leg?
A: Oh yes, it healed up and everything is great. Obviously I have a lot of work ahead of me to get in shape for this year but I know what to do. Hopefully all of this snow melts soon and I can get some bikes and get riding. I am really looking forward to it.
Q: You had a new mechanic last year. How much did Ryan Lockhart help your program in 2012?
A: Ryan was a big help both on and off the bike. He’s been there with racing so he knew what was going on with that, and he is a really good mechanic so my bikes were awesome. I think where he helped me the most was with my riding technique. It really boosted my confidence to have him with me all the time giving me little hints about what I could improve on. We were definitely a good team and I wish we could’ve finished out the entire season.
Q: You have also been around for a long time. How do you feel about the sport of motocross right now in Canada?
A: That is a good question and with being injured for so long I have had a lot of time to think about things like that. I have mixed feelings about how things are right now in Canadian motocross. On one hand I think it has never been harder for people to go racing, whether it is the high gas prices, high bike costs or whatever, it just seems like it costs a lot of money to do it right now. Having said that, I don’t think racing in Canada has ever been more professional. We have big sponsors supporting our sport and a lot of people who care about it. Every rider is getting more media coverage than ever before. I think I am like most people, I would love to see less infighting and more working together by everyone, but it’s business and I get why everyone doesn’t want to work together. We’ll see what the next few years hold. This sport always seems to sort itself out because at the end of the day, people just love to do it.
Q: Well thanks for doing this Kyle, we can’t wait to see you back on the race track this summer. I would imagine that we’ll be seeing you at the Toronto Supercross in a few weeks.
A: Thank you for calling, I thought everyone had forgotten about me (laughs). Yes, I will be at Toronto cheering from the stands, I can’t wait!