GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Thad Duvall

Tuesday Toolbox: Thad Duvall

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 | 4:55 PM
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 | 4:55 PM

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, as pretty much everyone can attest to right now. Over the next couple weeks, until we go racing again, I’ll be talking to several of our GNCC pro riders who were injured very early in the season, to see what their road to recovery has been like and what they’ve been up to while everything is on hold. First up is Thad Duvall, a longtime XC1 pro who has been a race winner and title contender for the last several years. He was taken out this season by a knee injury at round one.

Ken Hill For those of us who don’t know you very well, tell us a little about yourself.

Thad Duvall: My name is Thad Duvall. I’m from Williamstown, WV. I’ve been racing since I was seven years old. I also like to cycle and hunt in my downtime.

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a Tuesday Toolbox interview with you – I think your last one was in 2015. Can you update us on some of the things that have happened in your life and career since then?

I’ve since started riding for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, and have had several wins and injuries since then. I was also fortunate enough to be a part of the first USA team to ever win the ISDE, which was really cool. I had my first child in October of 2018, Jacobi Kash Duvall.

Unfortunately, you had a bit of a rough start to the season, with a knee injury at the first round. What happened?

I originally hurt my right knee just practicing back in October, and decided for the time being I would put surgery on the back burner. Everything seemed to have healed up perfectly and I went into the off-season training feeling really good, but then I re-injured it again at Big Buck. I got off to a great start during the race, but had a weird crash on the first lap and just couldn’t shake it off. I knew something wasn’t right, but I tried to push through the rest of the race. Unfortunately, I ended up tearing my ACL completely and opted to go home for surgery to have it fixed.

Ken Hill

How have you progressed so far with your recovery and what still needs to happen in order for you to get back on the bike?

My recovery has been going really well! I still have a long ways to go before I will be riding, but every week at therapy gets me closer to being back riding again.

What are you doing to keep busy during the stay-at-home orders?

Jacobi has been keeping me on my toes. He is on the go all day, every day. Therapy for my knee keeps me busy too – I go three times a week for two hours each time. I just got released to be able to walk a lot more, so I’ve been turkey hunting just about every day.

Since everything has been on hold, how has your outlook on the season changed?

I feel like I’m probably one of the only ones who doesn’t mind seeing races get postponed or cancelled, because that just means less race/seat time I’m missing out on. At the same time though, I’m ready to be back with my race family at the track.

Mentally, what are some of the things you’ve done to cope with your injury and everything else that’s been going on?

Honestly, I knew this time was coming and I’m glad I waited, so the feeling that I did the right thing makes dealing with it better. Obviously losing basically an entire season is not ideal, but recovery in the winter just sucks. I can’t be outside and my kid loves the outdoors, and now it’s easier to get out and play with him on his strider.

Ken Hill

Assuming we get back to racing sometime this summer, what are your plans for the rest of the season?

My big plan is to come back for the second half of the season, but I’m not going to rush the recovery process this time. There isn’t any point in coming back before I’m 100%. It’s going to be hard not to feel like I need to be racing at the earliest opportunity…. I’ve came back a little early a few times now and in the long run that wasn’t best. So this time, we’re doing it the right way.

Looking back over your career, what is the one accomplishment you are most proud of and one thing that you still want to achieve before you’re done?

The one thing I’m most proud of would be winning the ISDE with my team. That feeling was indescribable. I wasn’t really familiar with the 300 two-stroke before I went to Spain and raced on it either, so to accomplish something like that while being on a different bike was just the cherry on top. One thing I still want to achieve before I retire would obviously be to finally put it all together and win an XC1 championship. I’ve been so close the last three years but injuries have sidelined me and left me unable to wrap it up. Even though I feel like I’m one of the older ones in the XC class, I still believe I am at the peak of my career. I’m still learning and getting better and faster every season and I have a lot more to do before I’m finished.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that doesn’t involve racing, training or dirtbikes.

When I’m not doing anything dirtbike related, I’m usually doing some type of hunting, whether it be deer, turkey, you name it. I also like to fish a lot, and generally just be outside. I also love being a dad, and I wonder what I did in all my free time before Jacobi came along.

Ken Hill

Is there anything I did not ask you that you would like to talk about?

Yes. I think a lot of the time people forget to have fun in this sport. I feel like I see that attitude more that I should, with parents pushing their kids more than they need to. I know this is a touchy subject, but you need to let your kid grow on their own, and if they lose, that’s okay too. I have seen some kids with a lot of talent fizzle out and step back from racing the last couple years. My parents never pushed the way I see people pushing now. Sure, they were disappointed at times, we all were. But no matter what they still let me know that they were proud of me and made me feel proud of myself too. If your kid gives it everything they have, no matter the result, it’s alright, and you should be proud of them. Sometimes I still have to remind myself to have fun, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the desire to win over all else. Sure, I don’t have a bunch of XC1 championships under my belt, but I’ve had a lot of fun doing this and I am one of the lucky ones who was able to make a career out of what I love. I think a lot of kids would get a lot further with this sport if they remember that at the end of the day, it starts with having fun. I really enjoy the youth racing – a lot of us pros will go out and watch the kids Sunday morning while walking parts of the track, and we try to do our part to help them when they need it. It’s cool to think I was once that kid looking up to the pros, and maybe one of the kids I’m watching out there is going to eventually be a pro too. I think it’s important for them to remember to have fun and I hope to continue to do my part.

Who would you like to thank?

I would like to thank the whole Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing Team, with a special shout-out to Timmy Weigand and Tanner Tremaine. All of the team sponsors, as well as my personal sponsors: 100% Goggles, Hammer Nutrition, POD Knee Braces, Custom Outfitters, and EPBC Bicycles. I also want to thank Andrew and Jeremiah, my physical therapists for the last couple of weeks, and lastly Dr. Lavender for everything he and his team have been able to do to get me back on top.