Mike Lafferty returned from a badly injured foot to win the Loose Moose Enduro in Marquette, Michigan on June 15. It was surprising to see him back on bike by that round, let alone with the speed to win. Lafferty, going for his record ninth AMA Enduro title, was not able to compete in round 4 in Texas back on April 20 due to this injury. Sitting out that round had cost him the point lead, but after the recent win he is back, he is healthy, and he is going after the title.Mike was busy preparing for the Foggy Mountain Breakdown Enduro on July 20th in Blain, Pennsylvania, when we got him on the phone to get the story behind his most recent win.For two prior interviews with Mike to hear the extent of the injury he’s bouncing back from, check outwww.dirtrider.com/features/141_0804_ktm_mike_lafferty_interview/index.htmlandwww.dirtrider.com/features/141_0805_mike_lafferty_update/index.htmlDR: On May 25th you got all pins removed from your foot and began re-hab, correct?ML: We actually started doing as much re-hab as I could with the pins still in. I could ride the stationary bicycle, I could do some limited stuff. But for a day or two after they took the pins out it hurt pretty bad. I had seemed like I’d been making some good progress, and then ‘boom,’ it seemed like I couldn’t walk again. I took two days off, then it started feeling a little bit better.DR: Did the doctors expect it would be the painful when they took the pins out?ML: Yeah, he said it was going to be sore. The pins were four and a half inches long going down through my toe almost to my ankle. He told me it was going to be tough. All I could do was push forward. It seemed like every day it would get a little bit better, and then at about day five or six I was walking good, I felt good, I could put pressure on my foot, and I just started going to town.DR: How long after you got the pins removed were you back on a motorcycle?ML: I waited about 12 or 13 days. We got together with the guys from Pirie (Pirie Performance Products www.pirieperfprod.com) and they made a carbon fiber guard that goes over the top of my foot. Once I got that on there, that worked really well, and the Alpinestars I wear seemed to, regardless of where I stood – put pressure on the toes, stood up on the pegs – my foot didn’t bother me at all. There was hardly any pain. I was surprised.I think the biggest thing to feeling good was just being active up to that point. They say take some time off, but constant blood flow is important for helping bones heal. Since I’d kept working out and pushing, but the time I got on a bike, I was feeling good.I’m also in a really good mindset right now. It’s also been a big help to have a guy like Evan being around here all the time. He works on my bike here, so when I see him busting his butt, working on my bike, and I’m still in a cast, it gives me extra motivation. If he’s pumped to be doing what he’s doing, it gives me more motivation every day. I think a good mindset makes a huge impact on recovering from an injury.DR: You’re back on a bike, things are feeling surprisingly good, what were your goals going into the Michigan Enduro?ML: I was only riding a short time before I got there. We lined it up that once I started to ride I rode every day until that race. I think it was 18 days. Every day I’d get better and better and I never even thought about my foot. Of course I was skeptical if I was back up to par or not. I never practice as fast as I race. So I didn’t know up until the race how things were going to go but I knew in my mind it was going to take some time throughout the day, I didn’t know if it was going to be in the first section or the last, until I was going to get my speed back. But when I went to sleep Saturday night I had the best sleep ever because I was confident. I knew my foot was going to be good, it wasn’t going to hold me back.DR: Were there any close calls during the event where you hit your foot or felt some pain from something?ML: Oh yeah. I think it was the second section, I ended up hitting my foot. I got off track a little bit and I wacked my foot pretty good. It kicked my foot off the peg. It felt like I stubbed my toe pretty good, I was thinking ‘this isn’t good.’ My foot kinda went a little numb, I actually cracked the carbon fiber cover guard, but the pain went away. That guard was a life saver right there. I’m getting a new guard tomorrow because they had to fix it and put another layer on it.
DR: What does losing the points lead from the round you sat out do for your motivation to capture the championship?ML: It puts me in a pretty good position I think. Even though I am behind, we have a lot of rounds to go and you never know what could happen. I’m in a good frame of mind. I just went out there and tried to do the best I could. With me winning it was even more of an incentive, you know, like “I can do this.” I’m down 15 points. I’ve never been in this position, I’ve usually been ahead at least by half way. Now I’ve gotta play catch up and I’m motivated for it. It drives me a little more – I’m behind, but its still possible.DR: Of the remaining rounds which are you looking most forward to?ML: Definitely Pennsylvania. That’s my local race. It’s rocky, I love the terrain there. Ohio’s probably going to be really good, and Minnesota, too. Both Ohio and Minnesota are new. I’m not too sure about the ones out West, I’m not a fan of out West.DR: Anything you’d say to people thinking of coming out to an Enduro and racing?ML: If you’re looking for a good trail ride, a fun time on your bike with your buddies, it’s the best thing going. I think we have the best trails. They tell you where all the sections are, they tell you how long they are. It’s rider friendly. You basically just need a big tank and spark arrestor and you go. I think a lot of people are getting discouraged with hare scrambles because it’s often a beat up track and you’re paying a lot of money to ride for just two hours. Where here you pay about the same, maybe less, and you’re getting anywhere from a 70 to 80 mile trail ride. You get more bang for your buck, and that’s what a lot of people are looking for, not going out and if you have a bad lap you’re back of the pack. Enduro, they get you back on time. You’re out with your buddies, you stop, talk a little bit, then hit it again. You have section after section. They do cut-offs for the other (lower) classes. The NPG is into having the C riders finish within reason just like the A riders. It’s always a high priority to make sure the C riders have just as good of a time as the A riders. There’s usually cut off that gives the C riders anywhere from 50 to not more than 60 miles of trail. They won’t have sections they have to worry about getting through, they make ‘em C rider friendly, for sure. I think anyone who gives Enduros a chance will come back.DR: Any final thoughts on the championship chase for 2008?ML: If I don’t win this one I’m gonna win some more. Everyone’s been like ‘You gotta get this one,’ and thinking I’m gonna get a couple more. I’m not done yet. People are telling me I can hold on for one more year, I’m thinking I can hold on for longer than that.For more on this series and this exciting point chase, check out – www.nationalenduro.com.