Ken Roczen on Anaheim 2 Press Day | Transcript

by Chandler
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It is little wonder why Ken Roczen has become such a fan favorite away from his on-track antics: charisma oozes from his pores. Approaching him with a different approach on press day, this scribe endeavored to show a different side to ’94’ and how his mind ticks. There is so little need to ‘overdo’ this introduction, as the beauty lies in the words below. Enjoy. The video version of this interview is available elsewhere on Vital MX or, of course, YouTube.

Vital MX: A slightly different question. Of these three options, what do you feel like you could have done better throughout your career: Communication, acceptance of criticism or mental contentment?

Ken Roczen: I actually thought about it the other day. I wish that… I am 29, almost 30 now, and I look back at the sport and everything a lot different. I think that if I could have been in the mental position that I am now earlier on, I would have been better off. My personality when I was younger – I was a little high strung. I am still high strung [laughs]. I was a little bit high strung when I was younger. I think that, you know, that is just maturity, right? We did mix it up a bit by coming overseas and stuff. It was not the normal environment. There were a lot of factors to it. I think that where the sport is nowadays is different than, say, 10 years ago when I first came over. If I could have had that mentality that I have now when I was younger, just the calmness… I feel like I am a lot smarter nowadays than I was back then. I was fast and fit! I am a lot more content nowadays then I used to be.

I guess that you were always chasing this happiness, but that could not be quantified. It did not matter if you won the MX2 title or 250SX West. You just never quite got there! It must have been confusing.

You get so used to winning as well. I think that the injuries threw a massive wrench into things. Honestly, the reason that I am talking about the mental side of things is the whole EBV [Epstein Barr Virus] struggle that I had over these past few years was really hard for me to deal with. It was just out of my control. I never understood why and, mentally, I always wanted to. I always tried to do all of the right things. For me, I struggle with depression and stuff naturally with the Epstein Barr. Whenever I had these flair ups and could not shake it, your self-confidence goes down the drain. It does not matter how much training you have done or what you do.

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You just feel super weak and fatigued. I was never able to access the fitness and strength that I had. I just think that the biggest thing, probably, was the Epstein Barr for me. Over weeks and sometimes months, I just could not shake it. With that, like I said, all of the confidence went down the drain. I now know how to deal with things a lot better. Maybe because of that? It is a unique situation for me, having the struggle with Epstein Barr, and some people may not… I actually think that it is really hard to explain to someone who does not struggle with it. They just do not understand. It comes out of nowhere and just sneaks in. It is a funky one and really hard to explain.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If a young rider asked for your help once you retire, would you try to help them find that mental balance quicker. Do you think that’s even possible to teach?

I think that guidance is for sure possible. Depending on who you work with, you have to figure out the character a little bit. I would plan and adjust that accordingly. Say you retire and step into the position right away then my mind would be a lot fresher on the racing side of things versus if I went away for four and five years then came back. I think that you can definitely guide someone to keep calm and cool. You can evaluate situations a little more for them or guide them to make certain mental decisions. I think that it is absolutely possible.

Is that a regret then, that you did not have that guidance or perhaps the correct guidance?

Like I said, I feel like the sport now is in a different spot than it used to be.

What does that mean?

10 years ago, social media was just starting to hit. Look at the technique side of things and how many riders were good. There are potentially, what, 10 to 15 riders that could win a main event right now? I think that everything has advanced so much that now people know more of the right things to do and the way to train. I feel like, back in the day, there was no such thing. Everybody was like, “Hey, go race! Go and do this.”

Going with the flow a little more.

Yeah, going with the flow a little bit more. Now everybody has these ideas. I feel like things are a little more… I do not want to say perfected but looked into in a little more detail. I think that the reason that I probably feel like that now is I have been able to witness it firsthand over the last 10 years. It is like anything. 10 years from now, it will probably be in another area again. It is an interesting question. Luckily, I was able to find out firsthand and go through all of this. I am a lot more mature now. I wish I would have known back then what I do now.

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