In a typical year, riders put a lot of thought into the transition from supercross to motocross. This season is anything but typical. Everyone is still struggling to decide the best way to prepare for what essentially has been two off seasons.
Ralph Sheehen and Ricky Carmichael caught up with legendary trainer Aldon Baker to get his insight into the unique challenges faced in 2020. Baker is partially responsible for nearly 30 combined 450 supercross and motocross championships.
The full interview can be viewed by watching the video above.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 break, Baker was forced to shut down the riding part of his training.
Partly this was to keep the riders safe. A trip to the hospital for a broken bone might prove catastrophic. But also to keep from stressing a supply chain that stretched to Europe for the KTM and Husqvarna brands. At the time, Europe was the frontline in a shifting battle against the illness.
Usually, the plan is to peak one week before the supercross season begins and maintain that conditioning through May.
“We almost had to go back into a holiday period, but also not lose a certain amount of fitness and then figure out when are we actually going racing,” Baker told NBC Sports.
At the moment, riders are eight weeks away from a return to racing. If the latest schedule remains in place. Everyone who has been waiting through this break knows just how big that if can be. But there is plenty of time for Baker to put his plan into motion and execute it.
The riders are well-conditioned athletes who are doing a variety of things to stay in shape during the break. Physical conditioning will not be an issue.
Baker is much more concerned with their mindset once racing resumes.
“I want the guys to obviously be fresh mentally going into the racing,” Baker said. “Because now we are going to have a very limited offseason (between motocross and supercross) and then go back into it. As a trainer, I’ve got to look at each guy’s individual mentality and their experience. How are they going to cope with it and what are we going to do to still be ready to go racing and be in good fitness and good on the bike, but not be mentally fried by the time we get back to supercross.”
There could be hidden positives in the break. One of his riders, Marvin Musquin is recuperating from an injury during the offseason. Cooper Webb is 29 points out of first in the supercross standings and can use this time to reset for a seven-race charge on Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen once that series returns to action.
And then, there are the intangibles. Those silver linings everyone looks for around every dark cloud.
“We actually get a period now where we can work on the things that are tough to work on when you’re under the gun, like technique, not using rear brake or no clutch,” Baker said. “Stuff like that when you’re in the middle of the season and you’re trying to maintain and keep up intensity, that’s a little tough to do. So I’ve got to get creative about not only how I maintain a certain level, but get the guys mentally (focused) on riding.”