BY JIM KIMBALL
ALEX LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT RACE, THE RED BULL STRAIGHT RHYTHM. WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE IT, AND HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT IT? Just mainly because Red Bull is the sponsor of the Troy Lee Design Team, and it is somewhat a no pressure event. There is really not much training required. I was in California in October, and riding Supercross anyway. The event was only like forty-five minutes way from where I was staying. I just wanted to do it because it looked fun, and having to miss the last four outdoor races due to being hurt, it was nice to do a little racing
YOUR TEAMATE JORDAN SMITH GOT INJURED THERE RIGHT? Yes, he did. He made five or six runs in the morning and he over jumped a big quad that I don’t think any of us were able to jump all day, even the 450 guys! So yes, it was very unfortunate for him. It was definitely somewhat of a nerve-racking race, because it is not all about corners; in fact there are no corners at all. It was all about the timing, and having to do these quads, and big jumps, so it can be a little stressful.
I DON’T MEAN THIS TO BE DISRESPECTFUL, BUT THAT RACE IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT IS IT? A lot of people do say that, but that does not mean that you cannot show up, and have a good time. But I would be lying if I told you that I was taking it seriously, especially in the night show, because by the time we were racing later on at night I only had 12 practice runs the whole day. I was still more or less still feeling out the track, so you had to be a quick learner.
AND YOU SPENT MUCH OF YOUR TIME IN CALIFORNIA BEFORE GETTING MARRIED RIGHT? Well, I was in California the month of October, and then flew back towards the end of October to Minnesota, and got married. But now since basically November 1st, we have been back in Florida. Getting married was a big deal. My wife and I have been together for around 12 years. We went to school together back in elementary through high school and stuck together the whole time. We finally made it official and had a lot of friends and family there so it was a very special day.
WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE A BIG HONEYMOON? Unfortunately, no we could not. But we were not really too bummed about it because right after the wedding we relocated to Florida where I started boot camp. So there was no honeymoon, but I was not too disappointed about it. We have been together for a long time, and in between paying for a wedding, and buying a house down here in Clermont, we had already spent a lot! Ill just save up a little bit extra, and we will go somewhere nice next year. The other thing is that we are typically on an airplane going to a race at least 25-30 weekends out of the year. We took advantage of not going somewhere; we just came down to Florida.
YOU TRAIN SOMEWHERE NEAR ALDON BAKER’S PLACE RIGHT? Yes, it is all one piece of property essentially divided down the middle. There is a fence where you have Aldon’s side with Zach (Osborne), Jason (Anderson), Marvin (Musquin) and now Broc (Tickle) and they have two Supercross tracks, an outdoors track, and a big barn. This summer, we were pitted on the fence line, but now we have a nice shop as well. It is somewhat divided between TLD KTM, and Husqvarna, and there is a gym in there. So we have our side with a Supercross track and an outdoor track. We ride at opposite times, but like in the outdoors this past summer, we shared the same outdoor track in order to get it a little rougher, and let the lines develop. It works out good because now we have two outdoors, and three Supercross tracks. It is nice, and we have lot at our fingertips.
YOU MENTIONED HUSQVARNA. DOES THAT MEAN YOU SHARE YOUR PLACE WITH SOME OF THE NEWER HUSQVARNA GUYS? Yes, right now, we have Shane McElrath, myself, and then Jordan Bailey. Then with Husqvarna we have Michael Mosiman, and obviously Dean Wilson, although Dean has been in California for the last month because he did the Australia, and Paris Supercross I think he will be back out here in December, but I am not sure. Regardless, we spent a lot of time with him this summer; we definitely have a fun group for sure.
HOW, OR WHERE DO YOU DO THE PRE-SEASON TESTING? It is all based around what the team thinks is best. In October our Supercross track in Florida was not finished yet. And there was the Red Bull Straight Rhythm, The Monster Cup and quite a few things going on in California then, so we spent the month out there testing, and getting comfortable. We have a lot of Supercross tracks at our disposal out there. Recently we came here to Florida to buckle down, and up the volume and intensity to get our bases built. We had some of the guys come out this week and we were able to do some suspension, and motor testing in Florida. I think it is important to do testing in both places because for your California set-up, the ground is hard, and things are just a little different. In Florida it is rutty, soft and loamy. The tracks break down more in the east so it is nice to do testing in both spots, and getting settings that work everywhere.
WITH THAT SAID, DOES YOUR TEAM WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO DECIDE WHICH RIDER DOES WHICH SUPERCROSS COAST? AND DO YOU HAVE A COAST PREFERENCE? I would like to do west, but I will not really know for sure until later. If everyone on the team is healthy, or if someone is injured that plays a part. And obviously who is riding good and who is not. When the time comes, if we are all healthy, we are all riding good, a lot of it just ends up with Tyler Keefe (TLD/KTM Team Manager), and even Roger (DeCoster) and Ian (Harrison), may have some opinion. Regardless, I will be ready to go for A1. And then we will just see what happens.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEST SERIES APPEALS TO YOU? Just because I missed the last four outdoors, and I have been off the bike for so long makes me want to get going. I have not raced in a while, and it just makes the off-season feel a lot shorter when you can get right into it after Christmas. For the east coast, you are basically waiting another six, or seven weeks to go race. I just want to go race as soon as I can. I have been healthy since maybe Indiana (Ironman) the last race, so it would be nice to get going. Both coasts are a pretty big deal. I will say that there is a lot more hype around Anaheim, as it’s the long awaited race. Everybody is fresh and feeling spunky.
IT MAY AFFECT THE 450 CLASS MORE, BUT WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE 2018 SUPERCROSS CHANGES? I am excited to see the changes. If you do West, I think that there is only one round that will do the three-moto format. On the east coast, I think you will see it twice. I think it is very cool that they are doing an East/West Shoot out in Indianapolis. That is really cool, and it will be something to liven the series up when it gets later in. I think it was time for a change, and I am glad they did not do anything crazy or stupid.
IN THE PAST, REGARDLESS OF BEING ON DIFFERENT TEAMS YOU HAVE SPENT TIME WITH YOUR BROTHER JEREMY, DO YOU FEEL THAT WILL CONTINUE FOR 2018? We lived together in Clermont this past year. He was renting Ken Roczen’s old place, and we basically stayed there all summer together. But he is going in a different direction for next year. He has a new training partner, and a new training facility that he is going to be at. I don’t know if it has come out yet, but I am sure it will eventually. He has some exciting things going on for him. For myself, I have bought a house in Clermont and getting settled in Florida, and will be east coast based year round. We are going in different directions, but I still talk to him almost everyday so in terms of our relationship, nothing has changed.
IF WE LOOK BACK TO THIS SUMMERS OUTDOOR SERIES YOU HAD A VERY LEGITIMATE SHOT AT WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP. Yes, yes, I know it. It is frustrating because it gets overshadowed obviously with Zach’s consistency. And he just carried the momentum from Supercross into outdoors. His killer ride in Vegas carried all the way through the year and never really gave up anything. For me, it was just an unfortunate slow bleeding of points all season long. I had a lot of 3-3’s and 2-3’s and he would just be going 1-1 or 1-2. The last outdoors that I raced was Millville and I got second overall. I still lost points to Zach, but was not too far down in the championship. So being second in points going into Washougal all in all, for my first year on KTM was good. People do not realize that for me after spending 3-4 years on the Yamaha that it was very hard to adapt to a new bike. I feel like we did a pretty darn good job in the time that we had, so I was happy. I just feel like a whole new person going into this year, because I know the team really well now, and I really know the bike. I have gotten lots and lots of seat time on this dirt bike to get to know it, so I am happy with where we are.
I IMAGINE THAT THE GUYS AT KTM WERE HAPPY WITH YOUR RIDING. Yes, they were happy. They never really had a guy who had been in Championship hunt that late in the season. So they were happy and also really bummed when I did get hurt. Like I said earlier, it was a good learning year for the team and myself. There was a lot of work that goes in trying to be that competitive late in the season, and you really learn from one other, so they were happy with my outdoor performance for sure. Roger and Ian, were not really too involved, but I would see them on the weekends. For the most part, they are pretty absorbed and involved in the 450 program, but I know they communicate a lot with Tyler Keefe. As for now, like I said earlier, no better time to learn a bike than getting a full season under your belt. There is a lot that can be said about seat time.
OBVIOUSLY, YOU WERE INJURED DURING THE LATER PARTS OF THE MOTOCROSS SEASON, BUT I BET THAT ALEX MARTIN WOLD HAVE BEEN A GREAT MXON CANDIDATE. That is an interesting point, because before I got injured, there was definitely a very strong chance of me being on the team. Obviously I got injured at the end of July, but I would say that I probably close to 100% by September 1st; pretty much the week after Indiana. I very easily could have trained and been ready in the month of September, and showed up to race The Motocross of Nations because it was not until the first or second week of October. I don’t know if they just thought that my injury was more severe then it really was. It was definitely not that bad, and like I said I was back in four weeks. I actually rode the day before Budds Creek, which is the second to last round, but at that point, I decided not to race the rest of the remainder of the series. Because I had three or four weeks off, and started to lose some fitness. I did not want to put myself like in a dangerous situation. But by the Motocross of Nations for sure, I could have raced then with no problem. But obviously they picked the team they did because the guys really wanted to go. But you know when I was watching the race from the couch, and it was muddy and raining, I was thinking, “I am glad that I am sitting on the couch.”
I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT! LETS WRAP UP WITH YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 2018 SEASON; CAN YOU WIN A TITLE? That is heavy goal of mine. That is what the team is hoping for, to bring home a championship. Even with me being hurt and having a bit of a rough Supercross season we still got a podium. And then especially with being in the hunt in the outdoor series, confidence wise, I know I can win. We just need to put it altogether, and have a little luck too. But I am doing the best I can down here in Florida with Tyla (Rattray, Team Trainer), and the guys to be 100% prepared and I guess we will just see what happens.