Josh Perry qualified eighth in Friday’s BMX park prelims at the Dew Tour Championships and earned a spot into the first Dew Tour final of his career. Before making his return to the Dew Tour last month at the Toyota Challenge, Perry spent the better portion of the summer recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor as well as an injury he sustained overseas. Alli caught up with Josh after he qualified for the finals in Vegas to get an update on his status and to hear how he feels after making his first BMX park final on the Tour.
Give us a quick timeline, when was the tumor discovered?
It was at the beginning of April. I had a bad fall at the end of March, but I put off going to the doctor for awhile. I finally got it checked out at the beginning of April, and they got me into surgery about a week or so later.
It seemed like you were really positive going into the surgery and really positive coming out too.
It helped with everyone being supportive and so many people sending good thoughts. That helped me a lot and kept me from being bummed. I think being confident about coming out good, and everyone thinking about me kind of helped and put me in a good mood. I went into it thinking not the worst, which made a difference for sure.
How did the whole recovery process go for you?
The doctor said it was a 50-50 thing, some people come out really well and others take a long time to recover. I was in the hospital for two or three days after my surgery, and they let me go home. But sometimes, it could take a week or a month for people to leave the hospital. The doctor was really surprised by how well I was healing and understanding things. I guess the surgery, the possibilities of it going wrong based on where it was located, I wouldn’t have been able to move or talk when I woke up. That really scared me. But when I woke up, I was able to see and hear everyone, so the doctors and I were really psyched.
I got my check up five weeks after my surgery, and the doctor said I was way ahead of schedule. My skull was almost completely healed, and the doctors all thought my ability to bounce back had a lot to do with my BMX background.
Did you go back home to Cape Cod to recover or to Greenville?
My mom wanted me to go home really bad, but she didn’t realize how many friends in Greenville I had that were close to me. All my friends back home had moved away like to college and stuff like that, so I kind of lost touch with them. I mean, I’ve been away from home for three years now. I had my surgery at Duke, in North Carolina, and ARF actually flew my family out to stay with me. They stayed a week after my surgery once I got home. So, I got my mom’s cooking there and all my family there and all my friends that she got to meet and realize how close we all are.
Do you think having a BMX community around you helped the recovery process?
They are some of my closest friends. I live with some of them and then everyone giving me good thoughts and praying for me and stuff like that. It definitely helped. It kept me from thinking the worst, I was just going into it all thinking, “Oh, I’m going to be okay.” That definitely helped.
So, your first contest back was the Toyota Challenge in Salt Lake, right?
Salt Lake was my first time competing again stateside. But my first first contest back was NASS in Europe, and I guess I pushed it a little too hard. I ended up reinjuring my elbow and getting some bone chips from it. So that made me miss the first two Dew Tour stops this year while I was recovering from that.
After having to recover twice, was it right back to normal once you got back on a bike?
Health wise, I was back to normal, but I guess my tricks and just being confident on my bike, that was the problem. It seemed like things I wanted to do worked out, I mean I’ve been riding my bike for years so being out for two months wasn’t that big of a problem, but the confidence level was what I was having troubles with. I wasn’t confident in certain things. But it was weird at first too because I haven’t been off my bike for that long and having brain surgery kind of messed with me and my balance a little bit. Once I got back into it, it came back pretty well.
You go from your first Dew Tour contest back to your first final, how crazy is that?
It’s crazy because six months ago, the doctor told me I probably wouldn’t be able to ride my bike again. I came out, had fun, did what I wanted and ended up making finals. It’s awesome.
How does it feel to defy the odds?
I went from them telling me I wouldn’t be able to ride again to my fourth year on Dew Tour and making my first final. It’s pretty sweet.
What made the difference and gave you the edge to make it to finals?
I just stuck to my own thing. Usually when I do that, I mess up on something really small or just don’t have the confidence to do the stuff I want, but this time I just didn’t care. I had fun, did what I wanted and the course definitely fit with my style of riding and I just stuck to that and it worked out.
More of the same Saturday?
Yea, I want to do some of the same things, but also work on some other lines and get stuff going a little better.
Check out Josh in the Finals today, (Sat., Oct. 16) beginning at 2 p.m. PT for the live webcast of the Dew Tour Championships BMX Park Competition on Allisports.com.