ONE PHOTO & ONE STORY: RICKY CARMICHAEL’S TRAINING SECRETS
Accountability–subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.
Ricky Carmichael lived that word for the duration of his career. Even before he turned Pro at the end of 1996, Ricky was accountable for every riding and training session. His mother, Jeannie Carmichael, was meticulous about Ricky’s program. Jeannie is one of the major reasons why Ricky became the all-time winningest motocross racer. Track sections were dissected. Lap times were recorded. Drills were done to the point of exhaustion. Ricky Carmichael welcomed race day, because it was generally the easiest day of his work week.
Hopefully by now you’ve read Ricky’s Barn story on the website a few weeks ago (click here if you haven’t), as well as the story about Carmichael’s 2005 Suzuki RM250 two-stroke (click here for that). Those stories materialized out of happenstance. It was divine intervention. How else to explain the unforgettable experiences? Believe it or not, there’s another story that took shape–one that that I never thought would happen.
SOME THINGS, LIKE THE TRUTH BEHIND JIMMY HOFFA’S DISAPPEARANCE, ALIENS AT ROSWELL, AND RICKY CARMICHAEL’S TRAINING SECRETS WILL NEVER BE DIVULGED. BUT WAIT! CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUND REGARDING A SECOND GUNMAN ON THE GRASSY KNOLL IN DALLAS BACK IN 1963, BUT TIME HAS ERODED RICKY’S UNWAVERING RESOLVE IN KEEPING HIS TRAINING PROGRAM PRIVATE.
Back in 2006, I approached Ricky Carmichael about doing a magazine feature where Ricky divulged secrets of his training program. There was a 0.000001 percent chance Carmichael would agree. For starters, he wasn’t a MXA fan. Second, asking Ricky to give away his methods was comparable to a baseball pitcher revealing that he wipes his face before throwing a sinker. Some things, like Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance, aliens at Roswell, and Ricky Carmichael’s training secrets will never be divulged. But wait! Conspiracy theories abound regarding a second gunman on the grassy knoll in Dallas back in 1963, but time has eroded Ricky’s unwavering resolve for keeping his training program private.
Nearly 11 years later, I’m not upset that it took so long to uncover the details. After all, a Scotsman wouldn’t be disappointed seeing Nessie after staring into Loch Ness for decades. Better yet, I didn’t have to do so illegally by tapping Ricky’s phone or breaking into his house. Carmichael handed me the keys to his training program on a silver platter. Okay, now I’m pushing my journalistic freedom to the edge of reality. Here’s the truth: Ricky pulled out 11 yearly planners before talking to Suzuki’s top Amateur contingency earners at the annual Suzuki Camp Carmichael. Each year planner contained vivid details about Ricky’s riding program, laps logged, track conditions, sponsorship obligations, personal commitments, weather, and race results. With the flip of each page I became more astonished with what lay before me.
Ricky answered questions from the Suzuki riders, but I might as well have been on Mars. All distractions were negated by my intense focus on the notes that littered each journal. There lay the secrets to becoming “The GOAT.” I might as well have figured out the formula for Coca-Cola. Imagine an amateur rider following Carmichael’s workload, day by day, to absolute success. That success would result in race wins, subsequently leading to championships, and the millions of dollars that come with being the best.
Only reading a training program isn’t actually like following the program to a ’T.’ I would collapse from exhaustion after the first day, much less make it 4015 days–or a span of 11 years. However, even if your aim isn’t to be a professional racer (that’s me), there’s still a lot of great kernels of information hidden inside the annual planners.
The photo featured in this “One Photo & One Story” is from Ricky’s journal in August 2005. What makes that calendar month painfully obvious are the notes written on Sunday, the 17th. Ricky’s mom wrote “Unadilla; 1st Moto=2nd; Big Bubba jump on win; 2nd moto=1.” One of the most memorable crashes in the past two decades, James Stewart landed on Carmichael off a flyaway jump. Bubba was knocked out in the crash. Ricky got up, threw Stewart’s Kawasaki SR250 off his Suzuki, and finished second to Kevin Windham. It was one of only two outdoor motos Ricky lost that summer.
There are other useful tidbits, such as how Carmichael rode rutted turns for 50 minutes on August 26th in preparation for the Washougal National. On August 13th, Mike Brown, Earl May and Les Smith rode with RC. Click on the photo to enlarge it and take a look at the other dates. Let Carmichael’s notes encourage serious motocross racers to be accountable for their riding and training by logging every lap, workout, top time and section. If it worked for Ricky Carmichael, it should work for you.