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Butler native Durham wants to put motocross injuries behind him

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Butler native Darryn Durham of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team competes at the GEICO High Point National on June 8 at Mt. Morris.
Butler native Darryn Durham of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team competes at the GEICO High Point National on June 8 at Mt. Morris.

When it comes to innate ability, there has never been any doubt about what Darryn Durham can do on a motorcycle.

For years, the Butler native has been slowly ascending the ranks to become one of the best 250cc riders on the Lucas Oil Motocross circuit.

Every time he seems poised to take that final step to become a title contender, however, fate seems to get in the way.

“It's a big mental challenge,” Durham said. “It bothers me a little, but I just have to stay focused on getting better every day.”

Durham, 24, just began his fifth season as a professional rider and competed last weekend at the High Point National at Mt. Morris in Greene County. He finished eighth on his Kawasaki in the first moto, was knocked out and finished 34th in the second and ended up 14th overall.

It may seem like a disappointing ending for Durham, but considering where he was a year ago, it's amazing he's even able to ride.

In May 2012, Durham crashed during a training run and dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum, an injury that required rotator cuff surgery and kept him out for most of the season before his year officially came to an end with an Achilles' tendon tear.

What followed was months of intense rehabilitation that included weightlifting, swimming, running and cross-training in order to get him back in racing shape. It has been a long road, but Durham's finally getting back to where he was physically in 2012.

Now, he not only has to overcome the mental aspect of climbing back on a bike following a crash, he has to do it so with the added pressure of being not only competitive, but with the hope of getting back onto the podium.

“I'm still trying to get the strength in my shoulder,” Durham said. “They say, with that type of injury, it takes something like a year to come all the way back, and I'm still working my way back up.”

Durham hasn't quite found the success he had last season when he won his first ever race in the Monster AMA Motocross in New Orleans. He's also not quite the same rider he was before the accident.

“I keep trying to build myself back up to 100 percent, and I think I have the speed and ability to get back up to where I was,” Durham said. “I'm just going to keep working hard until I get there.”

Crashes and injuries come with the territory, but Durham has been more snake-bitten than most riders. In addition to his shoulder and Achilles' problems from last season, he suffered a broken foot in the in the Supercross Lites East Series 2011. That injury ended his chances of contending for the season title even though he finished 10th in the AMA standings and had several wrecks in 2010 that cost him a few spots in the SLE as he finished 13th overall.

Still, every time he rides onto the course means another step further in his rehabilitation, and that he's inching closer to where he was prior to the wreck.

“I think I've gotten better each year and I've gained more experience,” Durham said. “I had a breakout year in 2012 ... but then I had a bad accident, and I'm just coming back now.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kbarnes@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.

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