Trainer Talk with....Aldon Baker (5/22/08)
By Tim Crytser

Virtual Trainer: Hey Aldon, first of all congratulations on an obviously successful rehab with James.  What did you guys do during your time off that kept him such amazing shape?
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With Aldon now training James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael racing cars, there is no reason why James can't make a run at RC's record of consecutive race wins.

photo: Tim Crytser
Aldon Baker: Yea, thanks Tim.  It was a great weekend and James rode great. The key to recovering from an injury like James had is a good recovery plan.  You have to be patient and not go riding until everything is ready so we concentrated on rehabbing the knee and getting leg strength back.  We worked a lot on proprioception and just tried to maintain his overall aerobic fitness and built up his overall strength.  We worked a lot on his diet plan and fixing all the other areas that my plan involves.  We ran tests to determine his weak points and obviously worked on that right up until a few weeks ago when he passed his strength test and was cleared to ride.  Once we got the go ahead to ride we worked that into the program. 

Well it was obvious to me from the moment I saw James step out of the rental car that he was as fit as he had ever looked.  You guys were obviously in the gym a lot this winter.
Yea, we did a lot of strength training during the time off.  When I did strength tests on James initially there were a lot of areas that needed to be worked on with both the lower and upper body.  It was actually good because he didn't have to allocate time to ride during the day.  So we could concentrate purely on strength and aerobic capacity. 

Yes, and it might have actually been a blessing in disguise with you taking over his program and him incurring the injury when he did because it allowed you to be able to break him down to the basics and work on strength and aerobic conditioning without having to worry about messing him up in the middle of a season.  You actually got to have an off-season.
Yea, for sure. It was a lot like when Ricky had his knee problem and we got to regroup and focus on doing things right.  The only problem this time was that we didn't have as much time. We only had 4 months from the surgery to the race. You always want more time to prepare and I just feel that James is going to get better and better.  But the time off really allowed us to get his diet straight and work on little things like flexibility.

So the big question is how is the knee?  Is it 100% or do you have to still treat it with kid gloves?
No, it's 100% good to go. That was one of the key things to check on and he feels no issue with his knee at all.  He said he didn't even really think about it on Sunday until I asked him about it later.  I thought he might be a little stiff or have some pain but he said it felt perfect. 

Was there ever any concern on his part about sticking his leg out in a turn and getting it caught in a rut?
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Two things are apparent in this photo.
1 - James is not afraid of re-injuring his rehabbed knee in a corner, and 2 - check out the Heart Rate monitor on his left wrist [inset]. Aldon never stops compiling data!

photo: Simon Cudby
No, he was never concerned but I was a little.  We had a plan for him to stay within his limits and do what he thought was comfortable.  But he said that he never thought about his knee the entire time.

What did James say to you after his motos?  Was he stoked to be in such great shape so soon?
Yea, he said it felt so unreal. He remembers how he used to feel after his second moto when he was racing Ricky and he said to ride and feel like he wasn't getting tired or having to bite the bullet in anyway, he said it was just unreal.  After the race he told me that that was some of the most fun he ever had in a race.  He said it reminded him of 2002 when he was on a 125. And for me that is good to know because from just watching, I always wonder just how the rider is feeling but he said it was one of his easiest days.   

As a trainer, that has to make you feel pretty good knowing that your rider is in great shape and saying things like that.
Yes, it does.  I mean I must admit I was expecting a little more of a transition period since he had not had any racing experience in a while and you cannot duplicate racing.  You can only prepare as much as you can and hope that you have done everything right.  But I was really happy because it was even better than what we were predicting.

When we were hanging out after the race and I saw James in street clothes it was obvious that he had lost a significant amount of weight from last year.  Was that purposeful or is it a result of the training?
I think it is a result of the training but also from correcting his diet. I always believe that you should have a good power to weight ratio without loosing strength or becoming vulnerable to getting sick. It is probably a bit of both because he has been training a lot and has really changed his diet.  Doing that I think his body has gone to were it should naturally be. 

Well he looks like he is ready to dominate for the next 10 years if he wants.  I just read the Racer X Monday Conversation with James and I thought it was great because you could just tell he was having a blast out there talking about trying to blow out berms and having fun in the sand section.  The other riders must read that and just be crapping themselves.  And he says it in such an innocent way like a kid.  Not like a Cocky Punk.
Well, that's the thing. He really respects all the guys out there and understands that everyone out there is racing at such a high level.  He is never like, 'I'm going to go out there and just ruin everyone.'  He knows that you have to be on top of your game and that all the other guys are trying real hard too.  I think the time off has really given him a renewed appreciation of just riding again and how much that means to him.  Sometime when you get denied from doing something you love you end up appreciating it more and respecting everyone and everything more when you do return. 

He seems like a great guy to work with mentally as well.  He seems to have confidence but never comes across as cocky or arrogant.  Does he ever show you any self doubt or lack of confidence?
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Would the history books tell a different story if Aldon had been working with James during RC's reign of dominance? 
No, not really.  He is definitely aware that he has to be on top of his game to make sure he can win.  I think it is more of just anticipation especially at the first race.  You always wonder how fast everyone else will be. But it is great that he isn't a cocky person or disrespectful to any of the guys out there. 

Has he ever said to you yet, "Man, I wish I would have you in my corner when I was racing Ricky."
(laughs) No, he has never said it like that but he has said that now he knows how Ricky felt back then. He gets a little frustrated when he thinks back on it now how Ricky would be out there just having fun and he [James] was working his butt off.

I truly believe that if you could turn back time and instead of you working with Ricky you had been working with James, the results would have been quite different for Ricky.  No disrespect intended to RC, he is still the GOAT, but I think that what you are doing with training, nutrition, and mental conditioning is on a whole other level than what most people realize.  And with two guys as equally talented as RC and James, I truly believe that the determining factor would be in training.  And I think that anyone who saw the race at Glen Helen would agree.
Well, geez, I appreciate that, Tim.  I think that not only is training important but the whole support program.  From the machinery to the inner circle of what I call "confidence of people" that cover all the bases and are behind him.  From the parents and everyone around them that creates that positive ora. Ricky and James are both great riders, that's for sure.

For me it was a great weekend getting to meet Ricky...I mean James.  Wow, have you made that mistake yet.  That's like calling your wife by an old girlfriend's name!
(laughs) No actually I haven't made that mistake yet but, actually I haven't (laughs).  Sometime I would get Ricky and Nicky [Hayden] mixed up on the phone but I guess that isn't the same.  But I haven't slipped with James and I don't know how that would go over (laughs). 

Well I would like to be there when that happens (laughs). So you are on your way to Italy after one day of being home from Gen Helen?  You have to be beat!
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The weather was cool and cloudy at Glen Helen which might have been a lucky break for James' return to racing.
photo: Tim Crytser
Yea, it's tough but that is where I really believe in the MonaVie. I have been doing this for a long time and I remember how I used to feel and since I have been taking that stuff, I really feel better.

Is James still using MonaVie?
Oh, heck yes, it's a part of his program for sure just like all the guys I'm involved with.

Well, Aldon I can hear the captain in the background saying that you guys are getting ready to take off so I'll let you go.  One of these days I am going to pay you back in a big way for being so open and honest when we talk.  I'm sure everyone that has an interest in training appreciates it as well.
No, you don't need to do that dude.  You do an awesome job as well and I am just happy to be involved with guys like you in the sport. Really, it's just solid mate!

That's it from Aldon for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at .  In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.

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