Miller battling injury, focused on driving well in Millville in front of hometown crowd – Reuters Sports News

MILLVILLE — Henry Miller had the best day of his professional motocross career the last time he raced at his home track, Spring Creek MX Park.

It was three years ago.

Since then, luck has not been on the side of the 25-year-old, sixth-year pro from Rochester.

After placing ninth overall — including a career-best fifth in the first race of the day — in the 450 class at the AMA Pro National races at Spring Creek in 2019, injuries prevented Miller from ride on a track where he’s spun hundreds of laps, a track he says “I could almost ride with my eyes closed.”

Miller fully intends to be back on his home track on Saturday when the AMA Championship Series makes its annual stop in Southeast Minnesota for Round 7 of its 12-round National Championship Series.

For a third consecutive summer, he won’t be 100% on race day, but he at least intends to be on track this time.

Henry Miller

“(The injury) was finally just starting to improve and feel stable,” Miller said earlier in the week. “I can definitely ride. It doesn’t worry me. It’s just, what percentage can I ride?

Miller has had physical therapy at least once a day this week after aggravating a shoulder injury – a torn rotator cuff – he suffered during the supercross season this spring. It was an injury that kept him out of the first two rounds of the motocross season, and one he battled through the next three rounds, finishing 15th on June 11 in Lakewood, Colorado; 17th at High Point in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania; and 17th at RedBud in Buchanan, Michigan on July 2.

But, during a practice session last Saturday on an ultra-sandy track in Southwick, Mass., Miller fell in a corner and his shoulder took the brunt of the impact.

“There were berms built around the trail when they groomed it and I relied on one of them, hoping it would still be there when I came,” Miller said. “I jumped into the corner and part of the berm was gone. My front tire had nothing to push on when I landed so my shoulder took the full impact. It drove straight into the part of the berm that was still there.

Miller tried his best, but he said in his sixth year as a pro he learned when he can fend off an injury and when he shouldn’t.

“I went through the rest of the practice to see if it would relax,” he said. “Alpine Stars (medical team on site) recorded it and I tried to try again but I crashed again on the second practice session and had to call it a day .

“Sometimes all you need to know is when to throw in the towel for the day.”

Miller said Monday he will focus this week on shoulder rehabilitation and will not get back on his bike to test his pain threshold until Saturday morning workouts at Spring Creek.

“I’m going to try, no matter how I feel,” Miller said of riding in front of friends and family at the track where he grew up racing. “I’ll wait until Saturday to get on the bike. I know how to ride, I won’t forget that in a week, so I’m going to give (to the shoulder) as much time as possible.

Miller is a privateer – he’s not backed by a factory team and has to pay for his trip, bikes and mechanic out of his own pocket – but he’s traditionally raced well at Spring Creek and has always been one of top privateers in the National Championship Series. Although he has only raced in half of this season’s events, Miller sits 21st in the 450 class standings which begin this weekend.

In his three pro starts at Spring Creek in the 450 class, Miller placed 12th, 11th and ninth overall and has three top 10 finishes in moto. He doesn’t like the entry next to his name in the last two years at Spring Creek: Didn’t start – injury.

Rochester native Henry Miller (81) takes the lead from the start in a 450 class bike during the Spring Creek Nationals on Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Spring Creek MX Park near Millville.

Post Bulletin File Photo

“Unfortunately I’ve had a series of injuries over the past few years,” Miller said. “It’s difficult to manage. It really sucks to see everyone there and you can’t be. You have to sit and wait for your body to heal.

“You have to take it as it comes, let your body heal and get back to work. …For me, riding a mountain bike is like riding a bicycle. You come back to it and you know what you are doing.

Regardless of his shoulder percentage when he hits the track today, Miller said it was a relief to race at home, with many familiar faces among the 20,000 fans who will converge on Spring Creek on Saturday.

“I grew up racing there,” he said. “I know the dirt well, the track… I think in some places it’s a big part. The dirt is different and the way your bike handles is different. And I’m just confident there. I feel like I can ride the track with my eyes closed.

“There are always a lot of people who support me too. The number of people and fans who come to talk to me makes me forget everything that bothers me and allows me to ride my bike and do what I know I can. … It’s always good to be home with friends and family.

Wiley C. Thompson