Aldon Baker Interview (10/4/14)
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
On Ryan Villopoto....
Virtual Trainer: Aldon, it’s been a while since we last talked and a bunch of stuff dropped earlier this week with Ryan Villopoto announcing his European trip. So get us caught up. What’s up with RV and are you still his trainer?
Aldon Baker: Yea, man it has been quite a hectic couple of months. But yes, I am still RV’s trainer. His deal has changed a lot with him doing the European racing and so my deal will be adjusted. It will be different from last year with him not being here in Florida full time. And obviously I cannot be with him in Europe full time. But I will oversee all of his training and help out as much as possible. But actually everything is really good between me and RV, which if you listen to some of the things people write on the websites and such you might think otherwise. I even read somewhere where I was fired (laughs).
Yea I read some similar stuff and I always think, “Wow, I wonder if Aldon knows he’s been fired?” (laughs)
Yea, some of that stuff just blows my mind. I always wonder where people get this stuff. I mean all the media has to do is call me and I’ll tell them straight up.
Can you give us some insight as to how this whole, “Racing in Europe” thing came about. Certainly it’s not as simple as RV waking up one day and saying, “Hey, I think I will finish my last year racing the GPs.”
No, certainly not. It all started with the knee injury. That was the one thing that set this all in motion. Without the injury, RV would have raced this summer and would be preparing to defend his Supercross title. But the whole knee issue turned out to be a bit worse than we first thought. This injury had more damage that required a longer recovery than a normal ACL repair. He had some meniscus damage too and that really increased the recovery period. So, obviously he was not going to be able to ride the outdoors this past summer and there was no way he was going to be able to adequately prepare for Supercross so that was out. I mean as it stands now, he will not be back on the bike until November. So with the knee injury RV had to put things into perspective and try to figure out how to keep everyone happy concerning the last year of his contract.
After months of speculation, it is now official: RV is headed to the GPs in 2015 and Baker will be his trainer.
photo - Simon Cudby
And one thing about RV is he has always taken his obligations seriously and he wanted to try and do something that was beneficial to everyone involved. So with supercross off the table he was faced with doing the outdoors here in the US next summer, which would only partially fulfill his commitments. At this level most of his sponsors want him to do both supercross and the outdoors. So that is when the European thing got thrown out there and for RV to have an opportunity to do something no one else has ever done, he liked that idea. So with all the options in front of him, that was probably one of the better ones, but it is definitely going to be a very difficult, hard, and unique thing to do. It ain’t going to be easy that is for sure.
So what will RV’s schedule look like the next few months?
Well, the GP’s start in March and if I’m not mistaken there are only two races that month. So that is still not ideal because he is not able to get back on the bike until November and even that is pushing it a bit. He will have to go to Europe and meet the team and try and go through the testing scenarios. He will be there with his teammate Tyla [Rattray] which will make things a little easier. So as a team they still have to go through testing and get things right which is going to be tough for him. So by no means is it going to be an easy task that he will have to deal with. But he is committed and is going to go and do the best he can.
So how is the knee coming along? Will he be as good as new once the rehab is complete?
It’s coming along good. Obviously we are trying to accelerate the recovery as fast as possible but the ACL part of it is golden. Now the meniscus area, that is another story. Unlike the ACL you don’t really know how good the meniscus repair is until a little later. It should be good but you definitely do not want to do anything to irritate that. The longer you can leave that area alone the better it is going to be. So at this point we are playing the game of waiting as long as we can to get back on the bike without potentially irritating the knee and without effecting the preparation to go racing. But the one thing we are hoping comes back quickly, is the actual riding once he gets back on the bike but he will have to deal with a different bike set up and rules, different team, different country, living conditions, food, and all that.
What is you plan moving forward to advise RV of life in Europe and how hard it can be? I mean you are well traveled with Nicky Hayden and surely you know some of the pitfalls that can really jump up and bite a rider.
Well, that is a tough one for sure and traveling in Europe is never easy. The one thing that I will say is going to be a huge plus is having Tyla Rattray with him as a teammate. Tyla has just been back over there for the year from racing here in the US and even that was another big transition for him to get back to his European program. But I think having Tyla is going to be huge for everything from where they live to where you get certain food and all that advice. The more you can keep the change as small as possible the better.
I would also think a huge advantage for RV will be having his wife along with him.
Oh definitely, Kristin will be a huge factor in how successful RV is in Europe. She is a great cook and she will take it upon herself to find the good grocery stores and make sure all that is taken care of. She will definitely play a role in allowing Ryan to just focus on riding and leave a lot of the other stuff up to her. One of the bigger challenges for Ryan will be getting used to the fact that he will not have his own place to ride. He will have to use public tracks and finding available tracks is not always easy. Plus a lot of them are closed during the week or restricted to certain hours, so that is one of my concerns. But I think he and the team will get it figured out and it will be fine.
I would also think that one of the major advantages for RV is the fact that he has been on your program for a few years now and knows what to expect and how to execute the program.
Oh for sure. That will be the easy part. I’m not worried about that. My biggest challenge will be to make sure we get all the ratios right without having too many interruptions.
RV has always been you number one guy even with the addition of Adam Cianciarulo and Ken Roczen. Will that remain the same or will Kenny step up to that position with RV obviously taking less of your time for personal training?
I’ve definitely had to do some shuffling because obviously my deal with RV will be changing. Yes, Kenny is stepping up to pretty much be that guy. But actually all of my guys will be stepping up a bit. Adam will be going into his second year as a professional and I’ve added a few more guys to the group. Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, and Ryan Dungey are all on my program now. It will be a big change but I think it will benefit all the riders. So what is going to happen is Marvin, Jason, AC, and Kenny will all live here close to me, and Ryan Dungey will come down from time to time when it fits in with his plan. He still has his facility in Tallahassee and rides and trains up there. But he will be close enough to come down through out the year for testing and evaluations and training. I really feel it is highly beneficial for two fast guys to train together for periods. Kenny and Ryan were teammates and got along really well. The situation will also be a big benefit for Jason since this will be his rookie year in the 450 class and to get to ride with those two guys which will be good for him.
On Aldon's New Facility....
So it sounds like you are going to have your hands full this year. Plus you have a brand new facility outside of Orlando near where Villopoto’s property used to be. Tell me a little about that project.
Well, yes I do have a new facility here in Central Florida and it is a massive undertaking that is going to take some time to develop into the dream of having a one-stop shop for top riders. This year I will be starting off with the pro guys I have and building it from there. I have partnered with Jason Baker of Dream Traxx, which is really awesome, We have spoken often in the past about joining up. To be partnered with what I believe is the best track builder in the business is huge and he is based in Florida, which helps putting it all together. So Jason and I are developing 90-acres that is close to where RV’s place was in Groveland. We are through the process of getting it permitted and the first SX track is about done and the building is going up.
We have been a little under the gun because the timeframe is short since I actually went out and started looking for land at the end of May. So it’s been a whirl wind of four months getting the land, getting it permitted, getting all the financing in place, and getting the tracks and building built. RV has really helped me out quite a bit putting some of this together since he had been through the same process with his track.
So for now this will be a private facility only for your guys. Do you plan to add any other elements like amateurs in the future?
Yes, that is the plan. But for now it will only be open to my guys and later on the plan is to develop it into a place where top amateurs can ride as well. I learned a lot when Adam [Cianciarulo] made the jump from amateur to pro and I think I could help others make that transition. So I’d like to take the amateur kid and develop him into a pro and then take that young pro and develop him into the seasoned pro. With this facility I can do that. I mean I have the land to build different level supercross tracks that amateurs could learn on as their abilities improve. Same with the outdoor track. The property is one big rectangle and my plan is to cut a line down the middle and have the elite pros on one side and the amateur development on the other side. That is the goal and the plan for now. I have been doing this for 15 years now and that is the next big step. But the big question is how quickly can I get that big step accomplished.
Will the facility ever be open similar to a public track where riders can come and ride for 20 bucks a day?
No, I am not looking to go there with the facility. It will be full on private for select riders at this stage.
Well that area of Central Florida is really becoming the hotbed for motocross. With your land, Dungey’s, Reed’s, Stewart's, and Geico Honda purchased RV’s old property. That is some real fire power.
Yes, and Baggett bought a place not far from mine. I think all these teams and riders are starting to understand just how good training in Florida can be and having a solid east coast base. For my situation it is really good. We are 30-minutes from the airport so travel is easy. The weather conditions allow us to ride all year around in really good conditions. And once the season gets going there are a lot of east coast races so the logistics for that are really good. And land is cheap compared to California. I wouldn’t be able to do this in California. I couldn’t afford to get the permits let alone the land (laughs).
Well, Aldon it sounds like things are really going good for you. A new facility, new riders, and a guy in Europe. I cannot wait to see how things work out for you this year. It is certainly going to be exciting!
Yes, for sure. Thanks for the interview Tim!
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