The Long Dirt Road Back – A Conversation with Braydon Stuart
By Billy Rainford
You probably remember hearing about the crash at an Arenacross race in Washington that caused serious damage to the likeable British Columbia rider, Braydon Stuart, a couple years ago. It was an ugly one that left Braydon with a head injury that threatened to change his very way of life.
That was then, this is now.
Braydon just lined up and raced the grueling Big Kahuna race out at Whispering Pines in Kamloops, BC last weekend. We grabbed him for a chat to find out how his road back has been and how it felt to be back at the races on a bike again.
Direct Motocross: Hey, Braydon. We haven’t spoken with you for quite a while. First off, would you mind introducing yourself to those out there who may not know you?
Braydon Stuart: Sure. My name is Braydon Stuart, I’m 24 and I’m from Mission, BC.
Let’s start back with some of your riding experience. Can you tell us when you started riding? Racing? And how did you get into it?
I started riding when I was 5. There was a gravel pit near our house in Abbotsford and it was on a 1970’s Honda Trail 50. As far as racing, well, that all started at Areanacross at the Chilliwack Heritage barn!
You made it up to Pro and what events did you hit at that level?
I started racing nationals in ’09 and would hit up the western rounds and all of the local races in BC that I could, and also going down and riding in the states.
Unfortunately, you had a rather freak Arenacross accident a couple years ago. Can you take us through what happened?
Ya, my accident happened in 201. There was an off weekend for the Areanacross series up here so I went down to the states to stay sharp and practice up. I was in a race and got landed on by another rider. I was rushed to the hospital and put into an induced coma for a week and spent the next month-and-a-half in the hospital.
And what was the end result for you? What did you have to go through afterward?
In the hospital, I had to have a drainage hole drilled into my skull because there was so much swelling. I also broke my collarbone, again. But it healed back just fine because I was laying on my back for so long. I spent the next year living at my parents and going to cognitive therapy and a bunch of other programs to get me back to where I was pre-accident.
And you were off the bike for how long?
I was off the bike for a while. I actually bought a trials bike in 2015 and rode that for 6 months, then I bought another dirt bike. I was missing the feeling of being on a track.
Did you always know you wanted to throw a leg over a bike again?
I always wanted to!
You raced this past weekend, and we’ll get to that, but when did you start riding again and how did it go?
I rode Vedder Mountain (local trails) with my friends a while ago. Trevor (Carlson) let me borrow his Redemption Racing 450 – it was a blast!
Was the Big Kahuna your fist competition back?
Don’t call it a “comeback,” but ya (Laughs).
So, you’re off the bike for that long and come back to a 2 1/2 hour race?! Was that a great idea?
I rode in the morning program so it was only 1 1/2 hours, but I was still feeling it (Laughs).
Can you take us through how your day went? Did it feel great signing up and walking the track again etc.?
My day was awesome. It was great seeing some old faces and hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I didn’t walk the track, I was too busy making a custom spark arrester (hose clamp, mesh) (Laughs).
How about the actual race, itself? Can you take us through it?
We had about a 100m dash to our bikes, then started them up and we were off! But my bike didn’t have a kick stand so I just turned the gas off and laid it down.
How did you finish?
As far as finishing, I fell in the tree section and ripped off my lap card, so the next lap I just got them to punch a hole in the jersey instead of the card.
So, what’s next for you? More racing? Moto? Enduro?
Well, I definitely would like to race some more Enduro this year but my main focus in life isn’t moto anymore, so really just having fun on the bike, weather it be moto, enduro or just a free-ride session is time well spent.
Have you done much off-road stuff in the past or has it been all moto?
All moto for the most part, but I rode lots of trails for fun as a kid.
How would you compare the two disciplines?
Moto is more of a sprint where you’re just trying to shave time off of each lap. Enduro is more like a marathon. It’s not gonna do you any good if you just sprint for 30 minutes then you’re winded. You’ve got to ride cautiously over the logs and rocks and such.
I always got a new-found respect for woods riders whenever I’d make a fool out of myself at an enduro race. How do you feel?
Same. I kind of made a fool of myself in the woods by slipping out over the wet roots and falling over (Laughs), but I think I just have to remember just to slow down and ride it more like a trials bike when I’m in the woods.
How do your hands look today? Are you walking OK?
My hands were numb as hell when I was at the halfway point, but I came in for a pit stop to gas up and that gave me some time to get some feeling back in my fingers.
Are you looking forward to this season’s Rockstar MX Nationals? The field should be even more stacked than normal. What do you think?
Honestly, I’ve been pretty removed from the moto scene, so I couldn’t tell much, but I’ve heard a rumour that Davi Millsaps might be coming to race up here over summertime, so that would definitely add to the mix.
Who will you be cheering for in June?
Well, I always cheer for Colton (Facciotti) because I remember watching him at the Mission track as a kid. This year will be no different. I will also be cheering for all of my buddies and local pros here in BC that are doing the Nationals this year.
What was the main thing you missed while you were away from the track?
I missed the feeling of being content when I was at the track – it was my happy place (Laughs). And all of the faces you see every weekend.
Did everything feel normal for you in Kamloops?
Ya, I’d say for the most part…things like race day food I forgot about (I only brought brownies) and racing a 2-stroke different. I hadn’t done that since I raced in beginner!
OK, great to have you back again, Braydon. Is there anything else you ‘d like to tell us?
Well, to all the young up-and-coming racers, I’d say enjoy ever second of it…and wear your helmet!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Who would you like to thank?
I would love to thank Big Top Power Sports for always having my back, and also all of my friends and family that have been there with me along this crazy ride!