‘Stubborn’ Racer Chooses Pain Over Pills
It’s easy to be a role model in motocross when everything is going right, throwing that whip over the finish at the end of a 1-1 race day. However, as Ricky Carmichael used to say, championships are won on a racer’s bad days. RC may not compare to Plato as one of the world’s great philosophers, but he makes a good point: our reaction when things are tough is the true test of who we are and what we are capable of.
Over the past two years I have put in quite a few motos with fellow racer Chris Kinerk. Chris is the manager of The Ridge MX Park, a very quick +30 intermediate racer, and a huge enthusiast of the sport. I practice and race a lot at The Ridge and every time I am there I can’t help but notice Chris coaching riders through different sections, helping people figure out bike issues, and sometimes just high-fiving kids to keep them pumped on moto and for being a part of our sport.
On September 2, at the Top Gun Showdown at Washougal, a start went sour for Chris. After winning his first two motos he ended up getting run over by multiple riders in the first turn of his third moto. The crash left him with nine broken ribs (some in multiple places) and a collapsed lung. In an instant, he went from the highest of highs to an ambulance ride, but what came next is the truly gritty part.
It is normal for patients with severe injuries to receive strong narcotic painkillers to handle the pain. These painkillers are highly addictive and have taken a toll not just on society, but also on many riders at the highest levels of our sport. Injury leads to pain, pain leads to a prescription, and without careful management that prescription can lead to addiction.
Recovering from an injury like this without painkillers isn’t easy. But this is exactly what Chris chose to do. He has seen the hell that opiate addiction has wreaked on friends, and he believes that it simply isn’t worth the risk. As a track promoter he has also been an ardent supporter of the Live Purple organization (now known as Youth Brigade 7), which promotes fitness as a tool in substance-abuse prevention and recovery, and as a catalyst to healthier living.
“If anything I want to use this to show others, especially the youth, that you can say no, and there’s other ways to manage the pain without risking falling into an addiction.” And of course, as he pointed out in one of his social media posts the day after his crash, “I’m stubborn.”
About a week after the injury, I contacted Chris and he said that “as long as I don’t cough, sneeze, hiccup, or make any sudden movements it’s manageable. I was expecting pure hell, but it hasn’t been horrible.”
I know that we will see the 796 bike back on the track again, and he will be there without the worry of addiction. It’s typical to look to our professional riders as role models in this sport, but sometimes role models like Chris can be right there in plain view at our local track, helping us find the good lines and staying out of the rough.
You can help Chris Kinerk by going here and making a donation…