A few weeks ago, just before the opening round of the SX series in Toronto, Virtual Trainer called Aldon Baker to congratulate him on winning another few Championships with RC and one with MotoGP star, Nicky Hayden. I caught up with Aldon as he was returning home from the gym after a training session with the Boys. This is what he had to say. - Virtual Trainer
Hey Aldon, what are you up to tonight?
Oh, not much. I just got back from the gym with the boys.
That’s cool. I haven’t talked to you in a while now. Congratulations on another set of Championships with Ricky in 06’ and another great year overall with the MotoGP boys.
Yeah, thanks I really appreciate it. It was a good year.
Was this year as smooth as past years?
Well, I wouldn’t say it went smooth; there were some definite challenges. I think with SX coming right down to the wire, it wasn’t an ideal situation for Ricky. And then we had to deal with bike issues and fuel issues; things you normally don’t have to deal with. But overall, we all came through it. And then with Nicky in MotoGP, that guy just never gives up. That is key to never lose that heart and to dig and do what ever it takes to win. In a way, this year was even more gratifying because of the challenges.
Yeah, I’m sure you get bored winning all the time without any competition (laughs).
No, there is always competition. There are always things that challenge you along the road. But that is what makes it interesting. But it’s been real good. You know its funny because some people think it gets a little boring with Ricky winning all the time, but for me it’s the greatest thing ever. I could never get bored with that. I know people like to see good close racing, but from my end that’s not very fun.
Now that we are into the heart of the so-called off-season, what have you been up to the past month or so (interviewed just before Toronto SX)?
Well, mainly we have been rehabbing Ricky’s shoulder, so we have a had a little bit more downtime than usual which is good for him, but I shot off to the MotoGP thing for the last four races. It worked out pretty well, but it hasn’t been very slow for me. Once Ricky got his shoulder feeling a little better he has been out to California getting the bike ready for this SX season. The new bike is coming along and testing is going well. He is getting an early jump on setups for the bike.
Which rounds will he be racing in SX this year?
He will be racing the two Canadian rounds, Anaheim 1, Phoenix, San Francisco, Atlanta, Daytona, and Orlando.
Since he is racing an abbreviated season this year, will your training change to reflect the abbreviated season?
No, not really. I think the biggest thing that I’m trying to change is making it more fun for the guy. I’m trying to change things up this off-season to try to make things a little more fun. We are doing a combination of some of the training we did two years ago and some of the stuff we did last year and a little bit of some stuff we did way before that. So, it’s a good mix and match, but basically it’s the same amount of time that we spent before. You know, its like I tell Ricky, even if you only race one race you have to be as prepared for that one race as you are for 12.
So, you are still training Ricky like he is going for a Championship?
Oh yeah, definitely. You have to.
Is that more for Injury prevention or self-satisfaction that he can still go out and beat everyone, even on a limited schedule?
Well, Ricky isn’t just going out there to kind-of mix it up with everyone. He wants to win. Even if he isn’t racing for a Championship, he still wants to go out and win. I think he may even want it more now with not as many races. He can just focus on 6 instead of an entire season.
Yeah, that will be great for the fans because now instead of Ricky racing Bubba for the Championship and having to maybe race cautiously knowing that the ultimate goal is the Championship, he can just go all out and let it all hang out.
Yeah, for sure. Because of that, we have changed up our strategy a bit. For an overall Championship, you know it’s a long season and you have to pick a time during the season where you are coming on strong not only physically but also mentally. Being on the road week after week can really start to wear on you. So, when you are racing an entire season you really have to deal with being strong all year long. Now we can concentrate on coming out strong right out of the gate, especially Anaheim 1. So, that’s our main focus for now. And then you have three pretty close races together and then a little bit of a break and then three pretty close after that. So now, he can focus a lot more on just the wins.
Who else beside Ricky are you working with?
Ben Townly in MX and Nicky Hayden is my main guy in MotoGP. I also work with his brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee.
I know that you have been with the Hayden brothers for a while now and they all live in Kentucky. How do you handle training them when you live in Florida?
Well, they come down here quite a bit for testing and we go over everything to make sure they understand the program and stuff, but the rest of the training they do in Kentucky. Like today, they trained and then send their stuff to me on the computer so I could go over it and we talk every night to go over how they are feeling. And then I balance everything up to make sure everything is being done the way it should be. You know for those guys its not like they can go out and ride like Ricky does at the SX track. Like right now most of their training is on the road bike. They just don’t have tracks available to go ride on like guys in MX do. But, everyone in MotoGP is in the same situation, so it kind-of levels out the playing field.
Do you have those guys on a program at the gym as well?
Oh yeah, they do all the gym stuff for sure. I set up their programs and they send me their stuff every day and we go over what they did that day.
Does that work out very well with having to do things over the computer all the time?
You know it actually does. And I have them come down here so I can run tests on them and if there are any new types of exercises that I think they should be doing, we go over it then. Its worked out pretty good with what time of year they come down here. Normally in December and just before the season starts.
Do they all live pretty close together?
Oh yeah. They all live real close to one another so they can do most of their training together. Sometimes Nicky’s schedule is a little different than the other two, but overall I try and keep it so they can do all their stuff together. Although each is on their own personal program they are all pretty close.
How do those guys compare to Ricky when it comes to training? I mean, Ricky’s training standards are pretty much legendary.
Oh, they are right there with him. They have just as much desire and dedication. Nicky is very focused and has a lot of desire. You know Ricky has been on my program for 6 years now and Nicky is just in his third and Tommy and Roger Lee are only in their second. So their progress is definitely coming along but I wouldn’t say they are up to where Ricky is yet.
Training wise, how was 2006 different compared to when you first started training Ricky? Did the increased competition push him harder than in the past?
Well, for sure the competition pushes him. Every year has its challenges, but I think the main thing that has changed is his mentality. When he first came in against McGrath, it was more like ‘am I a winner’, and ‘can I be a champion.’ Now it’s changed to ‘being a winner’ and ‘being a Champion.’ So, the approach and the mental side of it change as you go along. And also as Ricky has matured, you tend to see not as much risky stuff. Also with the physical side, in the beginning as you are building a base, the next year you have a bigger base to work from. You also see more of how much of that base is maintained each year. Then from there, you find areas to increase and build on. There was also the difference of going to the 450. It hasn’t always been the same old deal year-after-year. Each year has changed and there have always been unique challenges. I mean, everything from going to the 450 like I said to Bubba coming along and even when Reed was sort-of hitting a peak was very challenging. It’s just different every year dealing with different scenarios.
Do you think training and eating right are now a part of Ricky’s lifestyle that he will continue once his career is finished?
You know that’s a tough question. I really think it is part of his lifestyle now. Even now, when he gets a break, he is excited to get back into training and doing stuff. I think his biggest problem will be his eating habits. That will be his big thing once he is done racing. Not that he has bad eating habits but he will definitely have to stay sharp. His genetics are not the greatest when it comes to having a couple deserts and stuff like that. I don’t think he will ever just shut it all down. And he assures me, because we have a bet going, that a year after he retires from MX I think he will probably get into weighing in the 170’s and he refuses to believe that. So we will see. I pray and hope I am wrong.
You know once it becomes part of your lifestyle, it is very hard to stop working out. It’s funny, because I’ve been working out and trying to stay healthy for so long now that if I come up with an excuse and miss a day I really start to feel guilty. And the older I get the more I see those days off. They seem to compound the older you get.
Yeah, definitely and I think with Ricky he will see it quicker. When he takes a little time off now his weight picks up quickly. So he will definitely see it and even now he is like, man I’m glad I’m getting back into it and he is motivated. I think that he will always keep that but he has a lot on his plate though and next year he is going to have even more with his wife having twins. But he has always been able to focus on what he needs to so I think he will be ok. To me that’s always a sign of a Champion when they can put distractions to the side.
Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our conversation with Aldon, as he discusses his plans for the future with RC, the challenges of transitioning from the bike to the car, the merits of V02 max testing, and his personal achievements as a trainer in the MX industry. That's it for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org . In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.