Privateer and MotoSport rider Cody Gilmore got a late start to the 2014 Supercross season in terms of being physically and mentally ready to race. Snow kept him from preparing for the beginning of the year and he missed the first two Mains. For Round 3 at A2 he went down with a broken collarbone after crashing in practice.
Yet, if there's anyone racing Supercross today who knows how to make a comeback, it's Cody Gilmore. After losing feeling in his legs and then eventually from his waist down in 2005, doctors found a cancerous tumor pressing on his spinal cord. Gilmore took to his dirt bike just a few months after the surgery - this despite the fact he still couldn't feel his legs.
Two years later he was back racing and took first in a number of indoor Supercross races. He hit the five year mark after his diagnosis - cancer free - and in 2012 he took the leap from the 250SX class to the 450SX class in New Orleans placing 16th. Last year he made the final three Mains reaching his career high of 15th in Seattle.
Now with a healed collarbone, Gilmore is back again. This year he's reached the last four of five Mains placing 15th the last two weeks. With four races remaining, Gilmore is focused and fully expects to be in the night show from here on out.
Years riding pro: Nine
What age did you start riding and on what: I started riding dirt bikes when I was 7 on a Suzuki JR 50
What do you ride now? I ride 2014 Kawasaki KX 450F's from Yankton Motorsports
Hometown: Spencer, Iowa
Career highlights: I have a Loretta's championship in the Intermediate class, that's my brightest point from Amateurs. Pro wise I would say anytime I make a main in Supercross is a highlight for me.
Other sports participated in: I was pretty much only a dirt bike guy when I was a kid.Other hobbies/interests: I enjoy riding my Harley and hitting the lake with all my buddies. I also like music and have enjoyed trying to learn the guitar but so far that isn't going too well!
Significance to your #374: Nothing whatsoever, it is the pro number AMA assigned me and has stuck since.
1. How did you get started riding a dirt bike?
My parents own a custom Harley shop so I have been around motorcycle's my whole life. I watched a race on TV one day and I remember telling my parents that I wanted a dirt bike.
2. When did the reality of riding professionally hit you?
Ever since I was a kid racing 50s I knew I wanted to race professionally and I don't think it ever crossed my mind that I wouldn't.
3. Injuries tend to end careers but you faced a vastly different fight. Were you able to take lessons from the track and apply it to your fight against cancer?
Yes for sure, racing always taught me to never give up and stay strong. I had the same outlook when I was going through my treatments.
4. You've mentioned losing feeling in your legs but still managed to ride - was that part of the rehabilitation process or a fighting determination to ride no matter what?
It was definitely not part of the rehabilitation process! It was probably frowned upon by some of my doctors and the Rehab department at the hospital where I was learning to walk again but my Oncology Doctors were super cool about it and they said as long as I wear a helmet then go have fun! I don't think they knew exactly what I was getting into though.
For me it was rehabilitating in the sense I got to go do what I loved and really at that point I was just dying to ride again. I had just come off a broken navicular that kept me off the bike for five months and I just needed to clear my head. My buddy would start my bike for me and put it in gear, I'd walk over with my walker or cane, then he'd help me get on. I'd go ride forever just seat bouncing jumps and having a blast.
I ended up crashing and breaking my leg pretty bad one day riding towards the end of my Chemo treatments but it didn't really bother me, I never regretted riding, and it gave me something to look forward to during the tough days.
5. Last question on this topic - you've been through something life changing. How did your diagnosis and successful defeat of cancer affect your outlook on not only life but riding professionally?
On life without a doubt it taught me to live each day to the fullest and appreciate the days we have. I always took for granted having good health but now I know it's something to be appreciative for, because you never know when things can change.
On riding professionally I don't know that it changed much, I watched everyone I raced with my whole life move through the Pro ranks and start doing well for two years while I sat on the couch and watched. That was kind of tough. When I first came back and tried my first Supercross in '09 I just wanted to have fun and show myself I could still ride with the best. I had no expectations whatsoever. I went out and made the main that first night, that was pretty cool for me. The last few years I have taken racing more seriously though and now I'm wanting and expecting to do well.
6. OK, let's talk about the present. You missed four races this year. Injury?
Yes, I went down in practice at A2 and ended up breaking my collarbone. Dr. Alexander plated it up, I took a few weeks off and it has felt good since.
7. So, you come back and reach four out of the last five Mains. What's been the difference?
I wasn't ready for A1 mentally or physically. I showed up to California two weeks before the opener after sitting on the couch in Nebraska while it snowed all the time. It wasn't enough time to prepare and being hurt (after A2) gave me a few more weeks to prepare and get my head where it needed to be. I feel getting hurt was almost a blessing in a way.
8. Clearly reaching the Main is not easy. How do you approach each week preceding a race to ensure you've got the best chance?
For me it's just making sure I'm happy and am comfortable with what I'm doing during the week. Seems like lately all I do is practice starts all week! They are improving a bit so that's good.
9. With four races left how do you approach the rest of the season?
I just want to keep riding well and improving my starts. After I missed the main in Daytona I was pretty upset and I told myself I'm going to make every main from then on out. So far so good.
10. Can we expect to see you racing Outdoors? Not unless a good deal opens up for me to race them. It costs too much money for a privateer like me to compete for what we make in them. I would like to do Millville again, just for fun though, and maybe Colorado.
Written By: AndrewT