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Aldon Baker Interview (12/10/15)

by Racer X Virtual Trainer

Virtual Trainer: Hey Aldon, thanks for talking to us today. It’s been a while since I last checked in. How is the facility and the boys’ preseason prep coming along?
Aldon Baker: Well it’s just the normal deal where we are trying to prepare as best as possible and the start of the season. Everyone is doing good. Every one is healthy. Marvin is the only one who is a little bit behind since he had hand surgery to repair some ligaments. But he is back on the bike and riding obviously not up to full speed but he’s coming along fine. The rest of the guys are doing good. Adam is progressing nicely. We obviously had to wait as long as possible with that shoulder injury to get beyond the four month mark which is the standard recovery time for shoulder surgery. That is standard but everything seems really good but obviously with him doing the east coast series that gives him some extra time. Jason and Ryan are doing good and are going full on. No issues there. The facility is coming along good and I feel like we are finally over the hump to where I can focus on the stuff that matters and not all the little things that need set up initially. The second supercross track is almost complete and we use it for more section type work. That track will also become the east coast track in February when everyone returns. But at the moment it’s cool that we can use that track to practice sections like whoops and rhythms. And then we have what I call the west coast track which has harder dirt and has the baseball layout. So yea, at the moment we have everything at the facility to provide a good training base needed for the start of the season.

So is it your goal to have two complete supercross tracks that will basically try to replicate east versus west coast style tracks.
Yea, that is the plan. I’m pretty lucky on my property I have some great dirt that is different. It’s not all sand like you might think in Florida. If you dig down a bit there is a nice layer of clay. The initial clay we used was more of a hard pack clay more like you would find in California where you can get that blue groove. When it gets some moisture it gets really rutted and when it’s dry it’s a bit more crusty. So it really is similar to west coast type dirt. The other track has a red clay and it is a completely different type of dirt. It has more of a sandy texture and deals with water much better. It’s just softer and more pliable similar to what you would find on the east coast. So it’s really cool that I have two completely different tracks with different types of dirt. I got lucky that it all comes from this same area too which makes it affordable. A lot of facilities have two different layouts but it is always the same dirt. We have different layouts and different dirt.

My relationship with RV is really good. I am really happy with that.

So it sounds like the facility is really coming on line. Do you have a watering system and all those bells and whistles planned or installed.
Well, for right now we just use the watering truck to spray the track. I’m not sure if I will put in the infrastructure for a watering system for the outdoor track because then you are limited in making changes. It’s way more difficult to change sections with pipes in the ground. For now it’s just easier to fill the truck and spray what we need. I do plan to do some sort of sprinkler system for the supercross tracks in the future.

So rider-wise, you still have Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, Ryan Dungey, and Adam Cianciarulo. Are those the only guys who get to utilize the track for now?
Yes, for sure. Those are the only 4 riders who are typically here but actually Marvin hasn’t been in Florida much. He had to stay in California to rehab his hand and then get some base settings on the bike and stuff so he has not been here much.

So this has to pretty exciting for you 4-5 weeks out from Anaheim 1 with four healthy riders and guys like James Stewart coming back. The motivation for all your riders has to be at an all time high. Each guy has something very specific to himself to prove this season.
Yes, for sure but to be honest I don’t really think of that stuff. We are so busy preparing for the season and trying to get everything in that there isn’t enough time to think about who’s racing or past injuries or any of that stuff. I usually don’t start thinking of that stuff until I get to California. Right now I am just worried about covering all of our bases and making sure we get the most out of everyday. But for sure we are all excited for the new season. It’s coming around quickly!

Do you find this time of year to be more stressful on you  the trainer and easier on the riders and then once the season starts the stress role gets reversed.
Yes, for sure because for me once we get into the season there is a limit to what I can do. At that point we are mainly concerned with maintaining what we have and dealing with issues like injuries and fatigue but for me this is the most stressful time. It is so important to get the most out of every day.

Baker's Factory...Where champions train.

Let’s talk a little about Adam and his injury situation. I feel bad for that kid. How is he dealing with all the setbacks? It almost feels like he hasn’t turned pro yet.
Yes, for sure. But AC is a racer and he is dealing with it just fine.

But mentally that has to be tough on a guy. Especially a guy so young.
Yes, you are right. Adam is really excited to race but at the same time it is tough because it is so frustrating. Obviously when you have an injury and you have to wait it out and heal up it’s tough. He has had a taste of what it’s like to do well as a pro so that almost makes it more difficult because he has had to sit out for so long. But on the other hand what else can you do? You deal with the situation you have been dealt and you move forward. You take everything day by day and the next thing you know you are back racing again.

Are you ever afraid that since he has had so many injuries that he is a little reluctant to pull the trigger and ride on the edge?
No. He’s a racer and when he gets to the race and puts the helmet on, all the injury stuff goes out the window. The racing mentality is always there. You cannot concern yourself with things that are out of your control. And injuries for the most part are out of your control so you cannot worry about injuries no matter how many you have had in the past. You train and prepare as best you can and you go race. And once you are in the race you have to rely on reactions to race situations. You can’t think; you have to react.

Situations like this where you are coaching a young rider; I think a lot of people forget that this is a big part of a trainer’s job. It’s way less about sets and reps or how long to ride your bike and more about how to race and manage situations like injuries that make a good trainer great.
Yes, and that is the mental aspect of the sport. People talk about mental training and really what does that mean? To me it is about talking to the rider and helping them deal with difficult situations like a string of injuries in Adam’s case. You have to have a good line of communication with your riders and be able to figure out their thought patterns and what is really going on inside their head. Then as the trainer you have to be able to fit the program accordingly. You have to have a good relationship and a high level of trust with the rider to be able to do that. The riders want to race and they need to have as little on their plate as possible and it’s my job to make sure that the only thing the rider is focused on during the race is racing. He can’t have any distractions worrying about what anyone else is saying or thinking. He has to be focused on racing and that is a big part of my job.

As a group do you feel like things are working out or at times do you wish you were back to only having one rider to worry about? Now you have to worry and deal with 4 distinctly different riders, personalities and teams!
No, I really feel I have a good group. They all support and push each other so that is all good. They realize they are all in the same boat. Each guy’s situation is different but they are all in the same boat. That is huge part and really very cool. It’s also really nice for a guy like Adam to not feel so isolated since he has been out with injury. It’s nice for him to be able to ride and talk to these guys. I think he has some really good examples around him all the time. Plus it’s a good gauge of where he is at with his riding.

Have you heard from Ryan Villopoto lately or has he dropped out of sight?
No, no I’m still in communication with him. We chat every couple of weeks or so. He seems pretty busy. He’s back up in Washington state just dong his thing. He did that section of the Baja as the second driver which was really cool and he really enjoyed that. He has been talking about getting a bike soon to do a little riding and keep that connection with Kawasaki. He wants to help them develop their product especially on the racing side. He definitely sounds like he has plenty going on and is definitely not bored.

Is he still training at all? I know his wife is a huge runner so fitness and a healthy lifestyle is a part of their life.
No, he is not training like we were before. He has tapered off of that for sure. But he did tell me he went to some class at the gym I’m not sure if it was a spin class or what but he was like, Oh man he could not believe how much fitness you lose so fast (laughs). So that was cool to hear that he was trying to get back in the gym and try to maintain some sort of healthy lifestyle.

You know, that is an interesting point. You take a guy like RV who, for the most part may have the view that fitness and exercise is all about becoming a world-class athlete. That could be a tough adjustment to understand that fitness and exercise is also about just being a healthy person. That could be a tough transition to make especially considering the type of training he was doing for motocross is far different than what he would do now.
Yes, for sure. It is definitely different but it’s cool to see RV have interest in wanting to stay healthy outside of motocross. It’s very cool that we are still friends even though the racing is over. He is very supportive of what I am doing with the facility and sometimes I run scenarios by him about the other guys and he has some very good input. So that is good. My relationship with RV is really good. I am really happy with that.

Well, great catching up with you Aldon. Sounds like, as usual, everything is on point. Good luck this season!
Thanks Mate. Always good to talk!

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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