Brian Catterson

"Triple Tweaked"


I remember that day well: August 29, 2001, just 13 days before 9/11. It was media day at the new Saddleback Park, and a bunch of us were standing in the pits looking at this gnarly rhythm section called the Saddleback Six-Pack. "You're not gonna open the track to the public with a section like that, are you?" someone--I think it was Terry Beal from Yamaha--asked the owners. They ended up mellowing it out, and I'm the reason why.

Pro racers Greg Albertyn and Doug Dubach took the first ceremonial lap after the ribbon cutting, and when they came back around I set off after them. I knew them both pretty well from motocross intros, and they were taking it pretty easy on what was for everyone an unfamiliar track. When we got to the Six-Pack, they double-double-doubled it and I followed suit. "That wasn't hard at all," I remember thinking to myself.

A half-dozen or so laps later I came around to that section, and one of Bruce Penhall's kids was in front of me on a 65. I slowed so as not to startle him, turned inside him in a berm and hit the first jump in first gear. Barely making it, I upshifted to second for the second jump, my Yamaha YZ250F bogged, and I landed short. The bike promptly endoed me into the face of the third jump. I put my elbow in front of my face to break the impact and ended up breaking my humerus (not funny) and shattering my elbow (a.k.a. the funny bone). Painful, but better than breaking my neck, which was a distinctly possibility considering the bike pile-drove me into the ground.

I had four surgeries following that accident, and it was almost a year before I could get back on a dirtbike--by which time Saddleback was closed. My upper arm now bears a gnarly scar and my elbow has limited range of motion, but what bothers me most is my jaw clicks when I eat. It never used to do that.