Trainer Talk with..... Aldon Baker - Part 2
By Tim Crytser

In part 2 of our conversation with Aldon, he talks about how long he plans on being in RC's camp, the challenges of transitioning to car racing, V02 max testing, and his personal achievements as a trainer in the MX industry.

Looking for Part 1? >>>> It's Here!

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RC and Aldon will be together again in 07' and beyond

Will you continue to train Ricky when he gets into full time car racing?
You know, right now I have to wait and see. Ricky will be doing some car racing this year, so he really has to decide if that is really the direction he is going to go. He has a good opportunity and has set up the deals for the car racing and just has to make sure he isn’t wasting his time. Once he decides on that for sure then I think he and I will sit and decide what is best for the both of us. So far, he has told me that he wants to keep things going the way they are even with the cars. So, I think at the end of next year we will sit down and see how things are going and if I’m going to go into that kind of field. I mean, obviously I want to stay with Ricky and train him through the end of his career. I also need to see if that is a viable career for me or if I just go with another rider and stay with MX.

Do you know much about the demands placed on a racecar driver and how you would train a guy for that form of racing?
I have been looking into that, and Ricky is good friends with Kasey Kahne and I have spoken to him about the challenges of car racing. You know, its definitely different stuff than MX. Its not as physical but requires a lot of concentration. And they are in that hot car for a long time so there are dehydration issues and stuff like that. I think fitness can only help. I have ideas about focus and keeping concentration and hydration and all of that sort of stuff that I would like to incorporate. And I’d like to do all that with a guy like Ricky who can come in and maybe change the whole thing up.

I used to race go-karts quite a bit and you may be surprised at how demanding car racing really is on the body. Its not MX, but I guarantee that being in shape is key to maintaining proper body position in the car throughout the race and also maintaining your concentration as your body fatigues after several hours in the cockpit.
Yeah, it is definitely demanding on the body. Just imagine taking a ten-pound weight and holding it up in front of you for ten minutes and turn it back and forth like a steering wheel. You can imagine how tired your arms and shoulders would be. Car racing will definitely be physically challenging but I don’t think it is quite like MX. But, I think that there are areas where conditioning will only help.

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Something tells me RC won't have any trouble adapting to the physical challenge of car racing!

photo: Scott Taylor

Since car racing and motorcycle racing are so vastly different with the demands placed on the body, how will you handle this as a trainer?
Well, that is definitely a challenge for me. I have given it some thought and initially I am just going to keep training the way we train for MX until I get some feed back from the car. I’ll have to see how he feels if he is having trouble holding focus, or if his shoulders are getting tired. Then I’ll start changing stuff around and incorporating things with regard to that. I am looking at a couple things already that I’d like to suggest from January, but initially I’ll start off with our plans that we already have for MX.

Being Ricky's trainer must come with its own unique type of stress. Knowing the responsibility that you have being in, arguably, the greatest-rider-to-ever-throw-a-leg-over-a-bike’s camp, how do you end up dealing with that stress?
You know it is stressful, but I guess I have gotten used to it because that is how it has always been. Ricky has a bunch of good people around him. And everyone just seems to be right on it with what they have to do. It’s kind of cool because we all just seem to gel and we all have our places. I think that helps with elevating the stress. Initially for me there was a lot of stress because in the beginning my training plans were new and unique and completely different from what he had been doing. I had a bunch of time just sitting and waiting to see if it paid off. But now, I know I have been at it long enough to know that the plan works so from that side of it I think the stress is less. My only worry now is not having enough time. There are so many other commitments. You know the more popular a guy gets and the more Championships he wins the more people want to tug on him. He has photo shoots and this and that and now the car stuff when he has to go off and drive.  That worries me a bit because I have always had him completely focused on what I want him to do.

Do you ever speak up and say, ‘Hey I think this is too much and we should maybe not do so much?’
No, not really. His mom and Scott Taylor handle all that stuff and are really good at understanding the importance of trying to keep all that stuff to a minimum. Otherwise, things can just get out of control. They also understand how much effort he needs to be putting into his training. They are good at balancing that and narrowing it down to the right commitments.

What do you think about everyone in the industry saying that you and RC have come in over the past few years and set such a high standard when it comes to preparing and training for MX?
Well, that’s great when I think about it and yeah that’s pretty cool. You know all I’ve done is what I felt was right and what I’ve understood to be the right preparation. It’s definitely cool when I hear that but I don’t normally think about those sort-of things.

How do you think training in MX has evolved over the past 10 years?
Well, when I look around now, everyone has a trainer. I think everyone has seen that you can’t do like back in the day and party and ride and party and ride. I think that era is gone, at least for a while. So I think it has evolved back to the day when every little piece is taken seriously. Not every rider is like that but I think to be an elite rider, that is the way it is and I think it is good because that is the responsibility to the factories and your sponsors too. They have put in a lot of money and effort and I think the rider should put in some effort too. And also for their own personal safety. If you aren’t prepared, this sport can be dangerous. It’s a dangerous sport on a good day. Johnny O’Mara actually introduced me to Ricky back when Ricky was still on 125’s. Johnny and I had spoken and he had told me, you know when Bailey, and Johnson and Hanna and himself were racing they were fully into it. We used to watch Ricky when he was on the smaller bikes and think, ‘man, if this guy was just in a little better shape, imagine what he could do.’ I mean he rode a lot and was great on the bike, but I think we saw that he was going to have some trouble moving up to the bigger bike and going the distance. But then things seemed to phase out and maybe guys like Emig and McGrath didn’t think they needed to train like that. Take a guy like Bubba. I think if Ricky pulled back completely, Bubba would have it pretty easy. If it’s easier and you have that amount of ability and control and you aren’t pushed, then you don’t really need to be in that extreme condition because it’s not too hard for you. But, I think things go in phases. But as far the future, it looks like a lot of the younger guys like Ryan Villopoto are putting the work in. And Ben Townley is coming on and is going to be good down the line. I think those guys will keep Bubba motivated and working hard.

Do you see any trends in the future of training?
Well I have my own ideas. I think every year guys are looking for that little edge. I see a lot more equipment coming in where you will be able to test and regulate and see where the guy is with regard to his riding on the track and also keeping up to speed with his conditioning. I think things will get more and more fine tuned with testing equipment specifically for MX.

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Ryan Villopoto gets his V02 test.  Everyone else is doing it......

photo: courtesy Charles Dao

Yeah, it seems like the first thing everyone wants to do now is run out and get V02 tested. What are your thoughts on V02 testing and do you think it is a useful tool for MX training?
Well, I’m not a favorite of V02 testing for MX guys to be honest. I think a lot of them go out and get the test and then what do they do with the test and the information? I’ll bet that half of them don’t know what to do with it. So then, I look at that and say, ‘what was the point of going for the test?’ Well, then they want to know if they are elite by the test and what capabilities they have. And I think that is a touchy subject because V02 testing for endurance sports like cycling, running, and swimming are good because they show you what capabilities you have. But for MX, there is a lot more involved than just that. I think it can really mess with the guys head. If a guy tests low for a V02 max and he is in a race next to guy that he knows tested high, then he might be mentally out of it already. It’s the training that is key and what you do with the abilities that you have that is important. There is so much more to MX than endurance that makes you successful. There is the machinery and how you set it up and finding your weaknesses and trying to get better. At the end of the day, it’s a 45-minute race in MX and 20 minutes or so in SX. So, it’s not an ultra endurance event or anything like that. It’s physically demanding and tough, but it’s not necessary that you go and get V02 tested to see what your numbers are.

What about using the test as measuring stick to see if the program you are on is actually working or not?
Well, no, I don’t even think it is good for that. You could do the test today and then the test tomorrow and the results can change. You can lose some weight and your V02 results will increase. I really don’t think V02 tests are good to measure improvement. There are much better tests like power output to heart rate to measure improvement. That is a way better test if you wanted a good starting point. What your plans are to get better and how economical can we get an anaerobic threshold and stuff like that. You know, with a V02 test, you can improve it a little with training, but I don’t think it is a real solid test.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I know I have heard you speak of Ricky’s V02 being pretty decent and stuff. Why then would you have him tested?
I have never had him tested since he has been with me. He was tested prior to me and I have looked at those results and yeah, he has a pretty decent V02 max number. But beyond that, it was never ever a part of my plan. You know, I have other ways of testing the guy right out of the gate. I have always had other ways of looking at a guy and saying, ‘well we need to improve on this or that.’ So that was never part of my deal. So yeah, I’m going to stick with for MX guys, its not a good thing to do. And I know a lot of teams are like, you have to go and get tested. Maybe that is a good thing to motivate a person, but if you have to rely on that to motivate a guy, then I don’t think he has the desire right out of the gate.

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From the looks of things in Canada, RC won't be riding off into the sunset anytime soon

photo: Matt Ware

You know for me, I really think the best test to see if your training is working or not is to ask yourself how you feel after a race. If the answer is, ‘good, I didn’t get tired at all,’ then your training is working. Otherwise, you have to evaluate what your weaknesses are and correct them.
Yeah, exactly. And also you can look and see who is winning the races. At the end of the day, that is the name of the game. You know guys can ride within their realm of fitness, but when it comes time to turn it up a bit and go a little beyond that, that is when you will see the difference. You know with Ricky, he says our name of the game is to get better and better because he still thinks there are areas where he can improve. But he is limited by how much his body can do. Its like in bicycling for example.  There is no limit to how fast you can ride up a hill. It depends on your conditioning. That’s what’s cool about motor sports. There are so many combinations. Take a guy like Kevin Windham. Every time Ricky watches him, he is like, ‘My God, look at that guy how good he is!’ But there are a couple of other areas that haven’t come together for him.

You got that right. Lets close this out with two personal questions for you. First, what do you feel are your personal achievements as a trainer in MX?
Just to watch the guys that I am taking care of be at the top of the field. I like watching a guy put in the time to train and put in the hard work and then fulfill their dream. I could have made a lot more money working with other guys, but that cannot, at all, compare to that enjoyment and that warm feeling when you see the guy pull off what he has desired and dreamed of for years. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

And lastly, what are your goals as a trainer over the next several years?
My goals are for each and every guy that I am with to reach their goals and be a Champion. So there is still some work to be done!

Well, Aldon as always it was a pleasure talking with you and thanks again for your time tonight.
Thanks Tim, anytime.
That's it 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.

Have a Question for Aldon? He is over on the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum !

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