Eventually you will see Tyler Custer line-up for a Supercross Main Event.
Like any rider seriously making an attempt at the pro level, Custer has endured his share of injury and disappointment. A few years ago, he broke his femur keeping him off the bike for more than a year. And, the 250SX West rider has qualified several times in the last few seasons only to find pain, quite literally, during the LCQ and an unfortunate early end to his evening.
But he keeps coming back because he loves riding and racing. Even when nursing that broken leg he managed to sneak in a ride or two, with a rod and screws holding his leg together (and still in by the way), just down the street to inject that antidote he so badly needed.
A MotoSport sponsored rider, Custer paints houses during the week, in fact for one of his other sponsors, and when he's not dipping a brush or roller into a paint can he maintains his fitness through road or mountain biking, workouts at the gym and of course, laps at the track. Budget wise, the California resident manages most of the entire West Coast series for Supercross but only makes select rounds in Motocross.
Custer resumes our "grassroots" series of sponsored riders who have regular jobs while racing on the weekends. This is what he said:
Years Riding: 19
What age did you start riding and on what: I started riding at 4 years old on a PW-50.
What do you ride now: KTM 250SXF Factory Edition
Hometown: Creston, California
Career Highlights: Leading the San Diego Supercross LCQ back in 2016
Favorite Track/Course: Zaca Station.
Other sports participated in: Baseball for a little while.
Other hobbies interests: Mountain biking and BMX, even though I do a lot of mountain biking for cardio I enjoy it.
1. How did you get started riding a dirt bike?
My dad had a dirt bike and I would always watch racing on TV. I told my dad I wanted a dirt bike and he told me, once you take the training wheels off the bicycle we'll get you a dirt bike. Later that day the training wheels came off and a PW50 followed.
2. Did you start racing as a youngster or did that come later?
I had done a couple races when I first started riding, but it wasn't till I was 7 years old that I started racing a local series regularly.
3. You have been on the cusp of a pro career, certainly more than most riders, was this always the goal?
Being a professional rider has always been the goal and dream for sure. There's even a video my dad had made of me riding when I was 4 years old and one of his questions in the video is, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" My response was "I want to be a motorcycle rider like Kevin Windham."
4. You almost won the LCQ at the 2016 San Diego 2 Supercross but ultimately failed to make the Main. What happened?
I unfortunately landed on a tough block splitting my chin open. Instead of a chance at the Main it was a trip to the Asterisk medic rig for some stitches.
5. Just a mistake or did the nerves and excitement of reaching the Main bend your focus?
It was a combination of both, with the nerves I was riding super tight. There was a 90 degree corner after a rhythm section we were setting up for by jumping to the right side to make a straighter line through the inside and that one lap I tripled a little too far right and landed on the tough block and that was it.
6. We've heard some injury stories over the years but yours ranks right up with the best of them. Tell us what happened in 2014.
In 2014 right after I had gotten my Supercross points through Arenacross I went back to getting ready for some Outdoors and unfortunately hit a false neutral right on the face of a pretty good sized jump and ended up breaking my femur pretty badly. That resulted in a blood transfusion and because of complications, four surgeries spread out almost a year. By the time I was finally able to throw a leg back over the bike it had been a year and several months.
7. How long did it take to get comfortable riding up to speed once you got back on the bike?
During the first few laps hitting a false neutral again on the bigger jumps was in the back of my mind but that went away pretty quick. I felt pretty comfortable the first day and felt like I hadn't lost much if any speed. It was just my endurance I needed to work on. It did make me pay attention to my foot position on the peg and really making sure I'm riding on the balls of my feet to keep my toe away from the shifter because I'm still not sure if I clipped it with my toe or if it was a freak thing.
8. Was there ever a point during recovery when you questioned whether to continue riding?
There was never a time where I said no more. I couldn't wait to get back on the bike. I would take the bike up and down the road a few times while I was waiting on the leg to heal just to get my riding fix. Motocross is just something I've always loved doing, it all comes down to you and the bike working together as one. When everything is going right and you're flowing it's a feeling you just can't beat.
9. So you were practicing for the Nationals and that obviously came to a halt. Have you competed in Outdoors since the accident?
I haven't but not because of the injury. I really enjoy Outdoors and just hanging it out on the bike but it comes down to expenses for me. With Supercross, all the rounds are fairly close but with outdoors being spread out all over the country it definitely makes it tough.
10. So you've been to all West Coast rounds (except Indianapolis) for Supercross this year, qualified twice but did not get out of the LCQ. How does this sit with you? Frustrated because you know the speed is there or still learning the ropes and just glad to be trying to compete?
I qualified in Houston and Oakland but those definitely didn't go as planned. In Houston there was a pile up in the LCQ I came into the first corner second and the guy in front went down and I had nowhere to go. I flipped over on to his bike landing on his pipe getting some burns and a bent up and broken bike so I couldn't even finish.
Then Oakland I struggled in the ruts all day and had a pretty good get-off in qualifying. As for the others there were a few where I missed qualifying by a few tenths of a second so that's definitely tough and frustrating because I know I have the speed to make it I just haven't been putting it together on the weekends. This year I've kind of been struggling with the whoops. Right before A1 last year I had a get-off in the whoops that broke my collar bone, so I just have to get comfortable and confident in those again.
11. What do you think it's going to take for you to not only qualify consistently but then make the Main?
I need to ride like I know I can and block everyone and everything out like it's another day at the practice track and tie everything together better.
12. What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
For the rest of 2018 I have the west coast Supercross rounds that'll be starting back up so I'll be racing Seattle, Salt Lake and then Vegas. After Supercross I'll still be riding a lot, and race Mammoth and a few other races here and there. Other than that I'll be working to get money saved back up for next year to do it all over again.