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Privateer Fitness

by Kirk Layfield, PhD EMT-P


They are called “Privateers!” Clearly the underdogs on the professional Supercross circuit, but no doubt fun to watch and even more fun to shoot the breeze with. Depending on which definition you look up you might find something like: ”one who raids and plunders ships” or “pirates authorized by the government to attack foreign vessels in hopes of prize money or captured cargo.” Whatever the case, if you ask me they are working class heroes who pay their own bills to go racing against the high dollar factory-backed guns in hopes of getting their hands on some of the gold, silver or bronze. Most Supercross fans put little thought into how the ranks of the privateer break down in terms of training on and off the bike, equipment available, the weekly routine one goes through just to get to the races each weekend and how they finance the operation. My mission at this year's Atlanta and Daytona Supercross events was to track down some of the top privateers in the business and find out how these guys train to compete with the best riders in the world. As with any blue collar worker, they all have similar struggles but each has a different story with challenges most never realize. My inquires centered around their physical training with questions such as, "How many times a week do you ride?" "Do you have a warm up routine for practice and race day?" "What is your workout of choice?" "Do you work with a trainer?" "Do you take any kind of supplements and do you use any type of modalities such as massage, acupuncture or chiropractic to enhance your performance on and off the bike?" Inquiring minds want to know how the privateer survives in the world’s most physically demanding sport!

Gavin Faith is racing a privateer effort for the 250SX East Region

I started the interview process in Atlanta with Gavin Faith, and found no real surprises behind his success while talking with him. He lives and trains at MTF during the week, incorporating weight training, cardio, some riding technique coaching and overall a pretty solid program in the off season. In season he only rides 2 days per week to allow his body to rest and no weight training at all, but does include a warm up in all of his riding sessions. As for supplements, yes, he takes them, but that’s top secret, folks! He would not elaborate, period. Faith’s desire to beat the factory guys is very evident in his demeanor. The surprise came afterwards when his mechanic stepped in and said, “Hey, can you make sure you mention that we are real privateers with very little help.” Needless to say, I mentioned that it was not that kind of article I was writing but tell me more. “Ti-Lube loans the transporter to us and we pay for pretty much everything else, even air filters related to building the bike.” Here’s a rider who has been pretty successful, national #49, and he is funding the majority of his own program. I was super impressed with the fact that although paying most of his own bills, he still invested in his fitness program off the bike understanding the importance of his conditioning to his career.

My next stop was Mitchell Oldenburg from Texas by way of Minnesota. Mitchell has the complete set-up back home for training. His parents own Oak Hill, so that helps with getting the seat time he needs to advance his career. His off-the-bike training takes place at Fit-N-Wise Sports performance where he trains with Beau Boynton. His gym sessions consist of weight training, plyometrics, cardio and flexibility. Oldenburg has trouble keeping weight on, so he has an all-you-can-eat nutrition plan to maintain his weight with little to no supplementation. He rides every day possible and is not a fan of warm ups. It’s cold turkey for the #62. In addition, Fit-N-Wise is a Sports Medicine based center which affords Mitchell the opportunity to be seen by an orthopedic doctor if needed, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist or whatever he needs to get the job done. This program is one of the most complete I encountered in my journey and could clearly be a blueprint for future rider development.

My last stop in the 250 ranks was #72 Ohio’s Daniel Herlein. Like most of the riders from the great white north, Daniel moves south for the winter to train at Georgia Practice Facility owned by former pro Josh Woods. Herlein hits the gym 3-4 days per week and cycles roughly 30-miles every day possible. In the gym it’s free weights, TRX, Bosu ball and maybe some dynamic stability exercises. Along with variety in his program, Herlein will cycle roughly 30-minutes prior to a night program in supercross to get ready. Supplementing is a key component is his regimen with protein shakes twice daily and a host of other vitamins and minerals. No time in the schedule for massages, acupuncture or chiropractors but would be used if time allowed. Herlein nearly escaped the interview without mentioning his trainer, Gavin Gracyk who could twist a throttle pretty hard in his day.

Nicholas Schmidt, a 23-year-old privateer from Marysville, Washington, rides a Honda that his grandfather bought for him with help from the TPJ/Fly Racing Program.

As I dove into the 450 class riders one thing was very evident, big bike bigger riders. It is hard not to notice the size of Nicholas Schmidt #415 who has been on a roll making main events in 2014. Nick’s off season weight gets up to 235 pounds according to him and he is 6’1”. So if the pro Supercross thing does not work out, look for Nick lined up as a fullback some day. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Nick moved south to SoCal to train at Milestone with former Arenacross Champ Buddy Antunez and Weston Peick. Schmidt has a little bit different approach to his fitness, which he does mostly on his own.  He plays a lot of basketball to get his weight down before the supercross season and “just kind of maintains”, as he said, throughout the SX season by hitting the gym 3 days per week with cardio, cardio and more cardio. Nick’s the kind of guy that can walk in a gym and bulk up without touching a weight. In season, he pounds out the lap’s everyday possible with fellow privateer Peick on Milestones SX track to sharpen his skills under the guidance of Antunez. Schmidt is one of the few guys in the privateer ranks who flies back and forth to the races. When asked about modalities, he said, “I would love to use those things to supplement my program, but I just can’t afford it.” How about a warm-up routine for the big fella? Schmidt will hop on the elliptical to get the blood pumping before the evening supercross program starts. No need for supplements on this program, he says, “I just eat clean.” On an interesting side note, Schmidt wanted to thank Privateer Adam Enticknap #722 for driving the transporter to all the races.

"Augie Lieber was by far the truest privateer fielding an effort in 2014" - Kirk Layfield

With limited time and resources myself, I decided to see who really fit the bill of true privateer in the 450 class. Turns out, I did not have to go far.  South Florida’s Augie Lieber recently switched to the 450 class after 2 attempts in the 250 ranks. The 5’10” 180 pound rider stated he feels better on the 450 but the AMA required him to ride the 250 initially since he had had renewed his license in a few years. Lieber’s race program could not get any more grass roots level as a professional racer. In fact, one may perceive it as a hobby, not taking #879 seriously and that would be a mistake. I spoke with several privateers in my research and decided – hands down – that Lieber was by far the truest privateer fielding an effort in 2014 in my opinion and here’s why.

“Augie, how many times a week do you ride?",
"Maybe once a week, but usually I work till 6pm each day when I am not traveling so that does not leave much time to ride."

"Ok, what is your workout of choice?"
"I did a boot camp preseason but got a very late start on preparing for the east coast rounds as my program came together very late expecting to ride the 250 class."

"Ok, so what are you doing currently?"
"I cycle once in a while, but again I work during the week so not much time to get on the bike."

"So there is definitely not a trainer in the picture?"

I could go on, but you get the idea where this is going. No riding, no training, no money, but yet he nearly makes the main at Detroit and advances to the big show with a 5th in Semi #2 in St. Louis in the premier class. Impressive, to say the least.  Just raw talent and the desire to go racing with 22 elite athletes.

Crosley Radio’s #91 Jake Baumert is another privateer competing against the big dollar factory budgets. Jake is one of my Virtual Trainer riders and I wanted to make sure every other privateer in the paddock knows that they have affordable options beyond just winging it when it comes to off the bike training. The first choice is this website. With contributors like Aldon Baker, Coach Seiji and the author of this piece, Kirk Layfield there is a wealth of knowledge available that no rider should be left guessing what to do when it comes to training for motocross. Taking that one step further, Coach Seiji and I have made available 5 complete training programs based on the amount of time a rider has available throughout the week for a ridiculously low monthly cost. And taking that one step further is the program Jake utilizes. His program is what I like to call an online hybrid plan. 95% of his training is delivered online and carried out by Jake on his own. The only contact we have week to week is via phone calls, email, and text messages. The hybrid part comes from when we first start the plan. In this case, I traveled to Jake’s house and put him through an initial evaluation which included my understanding of what I think he could handle on his own. No sense in providing a plan that he is unable to follow. From that point I constructed a training plan based on Jake’s goals, his strengths and weaknessess, his race season, available time to ride, available tracks, financial restrictions and so on. In the end, Jake's off the bike training consists of a periodized program that includes cardio, strength, mobility, flexibility, nutrition, and mental coaching that is planned out 7-days per week. All bases are covered and for a fee that consumes a very small portion of the overall race budget, Jake is able to focus on what is really important: getting faster on the motorcycle. - Virtual Trainer

In the end, all the privateers I spoke with seemed to be having fun, and that’s why we all started riding dirt bikes. One should walk away from this knowing that there are the haves and have-nots, even in the privateer ranks. The riders in this category do what they have to do to go racing, many surviving on pure talent alone.

That’s it for this contribution to Racer X Virtual Trainer. Questions or comments – please send me an email or check out my website for all your fitness and nutrition needs.

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. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Maurizio Gatto April 03, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I love lamp

  2. Gravatar
    michael April 04, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I like this article. Way more interesting than the privateer profiles on the main site. In sporting terms there are not a lot differences between a pro racer and a privateer who is able to afford to live and train at MTF

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