ALEX MARTIN INTERVIEW: ALEX IS DECIDING IF HE SHOULD KEEP TRAINING OR GO ON VACATION DURING THE 2020 SUPERCROSS & MOTOCROSS SEASON DELAY
We always enjoy talking to Alex Martin. Along with being arguably one of the most fit riders in motocross, he may also be one of the toughest mentally. He is friendly, and open to talk too. We talked with the Minneapolis native about his 2020 Supercross season to date, about his JGR contract being up at the end of the year, the bad luck that the JGR team has encountered, training with Ken Roczen, Adam Cianciarulo and Chase Sexton, and of course we talked about the coronavirus that derailed race 2020 Supercross season. MXA’s Jim Kimball caught up with the JGR MX Yoshimura Suzuki rider after a late afternoon bicycle ride to learn his thoughts on all of the above.
By Jim Kimball
I REMEMBER TALKING TO YOU LATE IN 2019 AND YOU DESIRED TO RACE THE EAST COAST 250 SUPERCROSS SERIES. WHAT HAPPENNED TO MOVE YOU WEST? Racing the East Coast was the plan for most of the off-season. But then I had been riding and training back to the normal volume, and normal intensity since November. Then when Joey (Savatgy) got hurt around Thanksgiving time, the team just thought it was best if I raced West Coast. They wanted to have more of a presence on the West Coast for Suzuki and JGR in general. It definitely caught me off guard a little bit, but I still had about five weeks to get ready for Anaheim 1, so it was not too big of a deal.
SO, THE TEAM NEEDED IT, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE PREFERRED EAST? Yes, I guess I would have preferred East because I live in Florida now. Being on the East Coast, travel would have been a little easier with time zones. After west coast was determined, I was trying to get used to staying up a little later and getting used to the West Coast time zone. That is something you really do not have to do when you are on the East Coast. It worked out, though. Being near Orlando, I could get a lot of non-stop flights out to California, so it was not too bad.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RESULTS IN THE FIRST PART OF THE WEST COAST SERIES? Definitely bittersweet, if I could sum it up in one word. I felt like we had a good training block, and good preparation in the off season. With it being my second year with JGR and Suzuki, I was really looking to put a mark on the season. We were solid, but just not great. I wanted to definitely be on the podium, or at least contending for wins. We seemed to be in fourth place quite a bit and we left the series fifth in points. There was a race in Oakland where I was in third with a lap to go. At St. Louis, I was within five feet of getting third at the finish line. So, as I said, it was definitely bittersweet. We had a lot of potential to be on the podium but was not quite good enough.
“I will say when you are on a contract year, and it is up at the end of the season, it definitely adds more pressure for sure.”
I BELIEVE YOUR CONTRACT IS UP AFTER THE 2020 SEASON. DOES THAT ADD ANY MORE OF A PRESSURE ELEMENT TO PERFORMING WELL? Oh yes. I believe when you have a two-year deal, you are a little more relaxed the first year which sometimes can help because the pressure is not there, so you can sometimes ride a little better. But I will say when you are on a contract year, and it is up at the end of the season, it definitely adds more pressure for sure. It just depends on the rider. For myself, I definitely don’t mess around, and I always take things very seriously. That has to be my strong suit, along with the physical side of it. I may have a little bit more of the “need to get the job done” mindset. I definitely am trying to get the best results possible, so that way I am in a good spot, and have good opportunities going forward.
SUZUKI GETS CHARACTERIZED AS BEING A BIT BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT CURVE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RMZ250? I guess it comes with riding for Suzuki at this time, but it sucks to hear it. I do feel like I get negative comments about the kick starter, the bike being slow, or whatever it is. But everybody acknowledges that the bike handles and corners like a dream. And it does; it is a good handling motorcycle. I really do not feel like I am at a disadvantage. The JGR guys have put in a lot of time and effort with the engine. I really feel like we have a very competitive engine, and the bike handles and corners well. Having said that, we have put in a lot of time and effort to make it that way, and that is what is kind of bittersweet about the second year with JGR Suzuki. It is just the fact that we are six races in, and we were so close to the podium at quite a few of the races. We have a good bike, and it is competitive! You hate to hear a lot of the negative stuff about the bike because I really feel like we worked hard to make it a good bike.
ARE YOU ABLE TO INSULATE YOURSELF FROM ALL THE KEYBOARD WARRIORS THAT ARE PREDICTING SUZUKI WILL BE DONE FIELDING A PROFFESIONAL MOTOCROSS/SUPERCROSS TEAM? I definitely hear all that talk, rumors, gossip or whatever it is, but for me I just focus on the training, and trying to show up to the races prepared. The team is there is every weekend. Dean Baker, Mitchell Key, and everybody with the team has the bike dialed in and I am doing my part, so all I can really do is focus on just getting ready and going racing.
ONE MORE COMMENT ABOUT THE JGR/SUZUKI TEAM, IT ALMOST SEEMS LIKE THERE HAS BEEN A BLACK CLOUD OVER THE TEAM THIS SEASON. It kind of sucks. I have not been around too much with the East Coast series happening. I went to Daytona and Tampa, and it was definitely not an ideal situation at Daytona there with Jimmy Decotis pulling out, and the guys getting hurt on the 450 side. But you have to be a little bit narrow minded, or selfish. I am just trying to focus on my program and trying to do the best that I can and just try to lift JGR up as best as possible whenever we do go racing again. I have to be prepared and try to kick some butt, and at least get a win or podium for these guys.
DO YOU THINK YOU’LL HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE TO RACE SUPERCROSS THIS YEAR? Things change all the time, but as of March 22nd, we are still planning on another four rounds of Supercross, and then the Outdoor Motocross Championship. We just don’t know when we are going to race again. So, we’re just being patient and hoping that everything gets back to normal soon.
WITH RACING ON A HIATUS, ARE YOU STILL ON THE PROGRAM YOU HAVE BEEN, OR HAVE YOU ALTERED IT? Well, I feel like I am in peak form right now, and ready to go racing, but basically, we do not know what the schedule is. We could potentially be racing until October. I am almost going to have to treat this like an off-season, and just pump the brakes because you want the body to be performing well four or five months from now; if that is the way our season is looking. It is not good for us to be in peak shape right now. It is definitely weird. Me and John Wessling (trainer) have been trying to get a game plan together, and make sure that we are not peaking when it does not matter, you know?
“There has been so much grey area the last week or two. I know that Ken Roczen, Adam Cianciarulo, Chase Sexton, and I have all been training together at Moto Sandbox. At the beginning of the week are all highly motivated and ready to get after it, but at the end of the week we are wondering “well, should we go on vacation?”
IT’S A CRAZY TIME. SUPERCROSS IS ON HOLD, AND MOTOCROSS DELAYED. Yes, that is the problem, Jim. We don’t really have any clear foundation of a date to go off of. There has been so much grey area the last week or two. I know that Ken Roczen, Adam Cianciarulo, Chase Sexton, and I have all been training together at Moto Sandbox. At the beginning of the week are all highly motivated and ready to get after it, but at the end of the week we are wondering “well, should we go on vacation?”
IS IT HARD NOT HAVING A SET DATE ON WHEN YOU’LL RACE NEXT? Obviously, we are not going to travel or anything for a vacation, but it has been really weird mentally, and coping with not having like a “set-in stone date” in which to train for. Twelve years of my career has been “Okay, Anaheim 1 is January 7th, so you structure your training in the off-season, do testing and all of that with the team and your trainers to where you can peek for that date”. Now we do not know when we are racing next. They stay tentatively June 13thbut that could change. I think I am just going to go on vacation, or have an extra beer and some pizza, and chill out for a little while.
YOU PRACTICE A LOT WITH COMPETITORS LIKE CHASE SEXTON, KEN ROCZEN, AND ADAM CIANCIARULO. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? I believe that these training groups are becoming a little more common. In the last five years, you have seen Aldon Baker doing that with his guys over at the Baker’s Factory, and I have been training at Moto Sandbox for two years now. Not that it works for everyone, but it seems like between Kenny and Adam and Chase, we have a pretty good group, it is fun and we kind of keep it lighthearted. Adam and Kenny are at the top of their class in the 450 division, while Chase is East and I am West on the 250, so it works out. We are all getting along, and we hangout outside of the track as well, so it has been a fun group to be a part of.
WHEN YOU SAY YOU THAT HANGOUT WITH KENNY AND ADAM, DOES THAT MEAN YOU’RE AT THEIR HOUSES FOR DINNER AND STUFF LIKE THAT? We will definitely grab dinner and stuff every once in a while. Like I said we hangout outside the track so that is what makes it fun.
“Watching Kenny hit a set of whoops can be kind of mind-blowing.”
ARE YOU ABLE TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW BY WATCHING THEM RIDE? Oh, for sure. It applies a little more in Supercross, probably, just because you can watch the whole track from the finish line easily. Watching Kenny hit a set of whoops can be kind of mind-blowing. It is cool to have those guys there, see what they are doing, and just try to translate it to my skill set.
HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT CORONAVIRUS? I don’t know; every day we are learning new things about the Coronavirus. One week from now the picture could be totally different, but we are totally doing our part to try to minimize contact, washing your hands, social distancing and all of that stuff. Besides that, we are just trying to go about our normal routine. Obviously, we are staying away from airports or malls or any place that is packed and busy. Fortunately, we can go out to Moto Sandbox and there is only five to ten people out there. We are all healthy younger people but were just trying to stay healthy and safe at the moment.
WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW FOR TRAINING? Being that we are not going to be racing until June, I might take a week or two off before we start hammering again. Really it is just trying to give the body a little bit of a break. We just went through a six or seven week pretty hard training block. Hopefully we will know for sure that we will go racing in June. The biggest thing is you do now want the body to be flat or burned out four or five months from now when we are actually racing.
“With having no sports at all to watch on TV or go spectate at is definitely is a realization on how important those things are in our life… It would be cool when everything gets back to normal in two- or four-months’ time that people come out in droves for these sporting events.”
DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON WHETHER SUPERCROSS SHOULD BE CALLED, AND CHAMPIONSIONS CROWNED, OR RESUME THE SERIES LATER ON IN THE YEAR? I would prefer to go racing Supercross again because I felt like I had a lot to prove before racing was over. But really at this point, I just want to go racing either way. Not to say that we take it for granted, but with having no sports at all to watch on TV or go spectate at is definitely is a realization on how important those things are in our life. We definitely do not want to take those things for granted. It would be cool when everything gets back to normal in two- or four-months’ time or whatever it is that people come out in droves for these sporting events.