Interview: Aldon Baker and Blake Baggett
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
Racer X Virtual Trainer: Hey guys, thanks for taking my call today.
Aldon Baker: No problem.
Blake Baggett: Yea, for sure, no problem.
Blake I assume you are familiar with what I do at Racer X and that my interviews are more about training and stuff like that as opposed to race results and such.
BB: Yea, for sure. Aldon has told me about what you do and I’ve seen the site a few times as well.
|Even with the wrist injury suffered at the Monster Energy Cup, Blake is still not sure which coast he will be riding for Supercross; East or West.|
Ok, cool. First of all, congratulations on a great run this year for the outdoor championship. To me, it was very inspiring. Throughout the season, it seemed like when you needed to reach down and grab that extra gear, you had the physical fortitude to do so? Do you attribute that to better conditioning or just the general maturation process as a whole?
BB: Well, I definitely think it was a combination of both. As you get older you naturally get a little bit stronger and slowly learn to read your body better and that is one of the things that Aldon helps you do better. Aldon does a really good job of teaching you how to recover during the week with training and all the cycle rides we do. He’s good at telling you when to push and when to back it down so I definitely think he was a big part of what I was able to do with the outdoors. With Supercross, we didn’t have the greatest season but for sure with the outdoors we came out swinging. We didn’t have the greatest races every round but we were able to put it together all 12-rounds and win the championship.
Have you worked with other trainers in the past?
BB: No, I’ve never worked with another trainer on the level that I worked with Aldon this year. My first professional year with Rockstar Suzuki I only rode a few Supercross races and two outdoor races because I was hurt. At that time, I was working with Nathan Ramsey and he is really the only other trainer I’ve worked with. But definitely not to the level I’m at with Aldon. But other than that, I’ve not worked with any other trainers.
Yea, that seems be the common thread with most professional riders. I’ve said it a thousand times before and it blows my mind that you guys don’t train for the most part as amateurs and then you get into it as pros. Well, at least the guys winning championships do! When you were an amateur was it ever a thought on your mind to start training and prepare for a pro career or did you just rely on riding your motorcycle to prepare?
BB: Well, I think that as you progress into the A class and start to prepare for the pros, it is crucial to start learning about training and getting into the grove of working with a trainer. But before that when you are on mini bikes and stuff I don’t think it’s too important. I mean, you are only going to go as fast as your skill can take you. Conditioning isn’t going to be the thing that limits you.
For sure. I always tell Cooper [Webb] and a few other amateurs I work with that what I’m doing for them week to week really has no bearing on how they will finish an amateur race. These kids ride enough that they are in good enough shape to complete a 10-20 minute amateur race. What I’m trying to do is build the foundation so that someday when they do turn pro they will have the basic skills needed to be ahead of the curve when it comes to tackling a full on program like Aldon’s. When did it click for you that you needed to step up your game and work with a trainer like Aldon?
BB: Well, I’m actually not even sure how it all came together (laughs). It had to do with the Pro Circuit team to start with.
Aldon: Hey Tim, I’ll explain how that all came together. Originally I was going to be training Mitch’s team back when I stopped working with James. At that time I wanted to be a little more spread out over a few riders and do more of a team deal. Mitch was very interested in that but the problem was coordinating with every guy on the team when they live in different places. So Mitch liked the idea and spoke with each of his guys to see what they thought and what each of them wanted to do. At the same time Ryan had approached me and I think Mitch backed off a bit on the team idea since he thought I would be 100% with RV. But I told him I at least wanted two other guys on the team. Rattray wanted to work with me and Blake had just joined the team and wanted to talk about training since Mitch had mentioned it to him. It all happened pretty fast and it just came together a few pieces at a time. And Jake was added as another 450 guy because Ryan said that was okay. So Ryan hired me as my main rider and the rest of the guys came on partly because of the team deal I was talking to Mitch about and because Ryan didn’t have a problem with it.
So Blake, it doesn’t sound like there was that light bulb moment when you said to yourself, “Hey I need to hire this guy to get to the next level.”
BB: Yea, not really. Like Aldon said it was weird how it all came together. I was just starting out at Pro Circuit and there was talk that Mitch was going to hire Aldon for the team and then there wasn’t talk, and then there was and then all the sudden he was at the track one day and we talked a bit and two days later we linked up.
Blake, now that you have had a chance to reflect on the outdoor championship, how much do you credit your work with Aldon towards that success?
BB: I would definitely have to say that it was a big part of my success outdoors. If you look at all the times I came from the back and got back to the front, that credit would have to go to him [Aldon]. If you count all those times, there are quit a few especially at round 1 (laughs).
So now that you have drank for the Kool-Aid so to speak, and know first hand how effective Aldon’s program is, how will you all proceed especially once you get on a 450 and start competing with Ryan?
BB: Well, that won’t happen for quite some time. I won’t move up to the 450s until 2014. I have another full year in the 250 class so for now it’s not a problem.
Aldon: Yea, and that is something that I really try to do is give all my guys equal time and treatment. That’s why I’m so picky with who I train. It’s so important to have the right guys on the team. It’s cool that they are all at different points in their programs and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. They are all respectful and feed off of each other and most importantly they gain things from training together.
Blake, how do you feel about the teams in motocross not supplying the riders with trainers and coaches and leaving it up to the rider?
BB: Yea, if you compare it to other sports it seems a little funny but that is just how has always been in motocross. It just seems normal to me to have to go out and get my own trainer.
Blake, I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but since Aldon started training Ricky 12-years ago, he has never not won a championship. That is an incredible string of championships. Now that you are the latest in that string of champions, can you put your finger on just what it is that is so special about what Aldon does?
BB: It definitely has to do with how much dedication and hard work he puts into getting the most out of each of his riders. He definitely leads by example when it comes to putting in the hard work and I think that goes down the line to the riders. I think that is the key; hard work, dedication, and leading by example.
The Monster Energy Cup was pretty tough not only on you but the rest of the guys as well. What is the status of your wrist and prognosis for supercross?
BB: Well, my wrist is broken and I’ll be off the bike for 4-weeks to start. I go back to the doctor in a few weeks to get it checked out again and see where we are. My wrist actually has a “Y” fracture. It starts off as one crack and then splits off into two. The good thing is there is no major displacement so surgery was not required to pin it or anything like that. So the doctors opted to cast it and we will take a look in a few weeks with x-ray and an MRI to see how it’s healing.
Aldon, for all the amateurs out there reading this, what is your advice to them if they are in a similar situation? Should they continue to cardio train or is 100% rest better?
Aldon: Well, I don’t think their situations would be any different than Blake’s. The first week in the cast, Blake is not doing anything but resting. No stationary bike or anything. I want complete rest to let that bone settle and start healing. No accidental knocks or vibrations or anything that can slow the healing process. After that first week or two, Blake will start back on his cardio program but only indoors on the stationary bike. But even then I’ll have him be very careful not to jar his arm or get too much movement. We talk each day and I’m always concerned if there is any inflammation or tingling in his fingers. He can move his fingers so we keep a close eye on how much he can move them and if things are generally getting better or if they are getting worse. So by evaluating those things we can make decisions on whether to back things off or keep moving forward.
Well, Blake the last topic I want to touch on is that of performance enhancing drug use in Motocross. Lance Armstrong has been the topic of conversation as of late and I think we all can see the devastating effects of PEDs to an athlete’s career. Do you think that PED use in motocross is a problem that deserves more scrutiny from the people in charge or is the whole topic a non-issue?
BB: Ah, I knew this question was coming (laughs). As far as testing goes, they can test me anytime they want. I know I’m clean and have nothing to hide. In my opinion, you can take all the drugs you want and still not win a championship. It might help a rider gain a few spots but it’s not going to take a 15th place guy and make him a champion. You still have to have the skill.
Aldon: You know we have heard the accusations this year from a few people that Blake is doing something wrong. People don’t get to see the hard work that my guys put in and that’s too bad for the rider. If they saw how hard my guys worked, they would understand why Blake is able to do what he does. In cycling, where there is much less skill required than motocross, it is easy to see why PEDs would give such an increase in performance. But in motocross, there is so much more involved. There is the skill on the bike to be worked on, cardio fitness, strength, coordination, and the mental side. My guys work so hard on everything. So many things are involved. The accusations are pretty heavy and I have given them a lot of thought this year and spoken to all my riders. I think the only way around this whole issue is there needs to be a more aggressive testing program. This has to happen for sure. I don’t know how we are going to get there but somehow it needs to happen. I would like to think that motocross can learn from the problems that cycling is going through and prevent it from ever getting to that level. I don’t think you can prevent all cheating, but at least make people think twice about the consequences. Just look at what it has done to Lance. I would hate to be him right now. Whether you think he is guilty or not, he is losing everything. And that’s a lesson everyone in motocross needs to learn and think about before going down that wrong path.
Blake, do you follow cycling now that Aldon has you on the bike so much?
BB: No, I do not follow cycling one bit! (laughs).
Aldon: He has made improvements. I remember the first time seeing him on the bicycle and thinking oh no. But now he is pretty good. Actually, Blake is a good runner. He is one of my only guys who really likes to run. Well, Rattray does as well I guess but Blake is like the perfect runner. He is lean and has really good form for running. But there is so much impact with running I’ve had to change him over to more biking. It’s cool to see too. He has come a long way in two years on the bicycle. But either way, cycling or running, it’s all used to get in better shape for riding the motorcycle.
Yep, and that’s what it is all about in the end.
BB: Yes, for sure.
Well, guys I certainly appreciate your time.
BB: No problem, Tim anytime.
Aldon: You got it Mate. Cheers!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.