Alex Martin is new to the JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki team for 2019. He’ll be trying to both solidify the Suzuki 250 program, but also to prove he can be an effective supercross racer after missing most of the last two seasons with injury. Can A-Mart get it done? He’s taking a very technical approach to the new season, including getting a training certification, and running a half-marathon (at a ridiculous pace).
Alex will be ready, physically. Will it translate to the races?
Racer X: How’s this transition going? I don’t know if anyone’s checked in with you. We did see you briefly in Montreal, but beyond that, behind the scenes, how’s it going?
Alex Martin: Honestly it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been splitting my time between North Carolina and Florida. Pretty much this week was the first real week that we’ve had a good, solid week of testing suspension and motos. Honestly, I’m pretty pumped with the bike. I’m really, really happy with the ’19. I feel like I’m in a good spot. Just right away there was a comfort level that was there, which I was really happy about. The last two supercross seasons have been filled with injuries, so for me I’m just trying to stay healthy and just rebuild the body and just get the confidence back. So far so good. I’m just really happy with where we’re at.
You were on the bike in September-ish or October. Why is the first testing happening now at the end of November? They just didn’t have all the stuff they wanted?
September was kind of… It was funny. The Montreal deal came about, so it was like, it’s too good to pass up. So I literally just rode. I rode the ’19 Monday, Tuesday, and I rode the ’18 on Wednesday and then I went and raced Montreal.
Yes, against 450’s on the 250. I almost didn’t race because they were having such a fit. Apparently the rules up there are like, you can’t race a 250 in the 450 class. Which I’m at a disadvantage, so I really don’t understand the whole process. So after that, basically I took a couple weeks off. I came back and we did do one day of testing at the beginning of October. The setting was good enough to where I was like, “I don’t even really want to do more testing.” The bike was new. Everything was new. I was like, “Let’s just take it down to Florida and kind of feel it out. Get some motos and get some time riding on it.” The plan for me is to do East Coast, so I didn’t really attack it too hard riding-wise. My wife and I signed up for a half marathon over Halloween. It was actually our wedding anniversary.
I saw that on Instagram. That’s how you spent your anniversary?
Yup. So it was fun. It was something different.
What was your time?
I ran the half marathon in an hour 23. It was about 6:18 pace. It was fun for me because it was a good way to stay in shape and just kind of mentally it gave me a break because I wasn’t riding as much, but I was still in shape. So that was really fun. Basically since then we’ve just been focusing on supercross and just trying to get better.
So if you wanted to test or needed to test you could have.
Yeah, it just wasn’t really a priority in the month of October to be at peak form on a dirt bike.
What is your training program? I know you’re at the Moto Sandbox now. Are you just your own guy or are you working with somebody? Or are you just doing your own program?
I’m working with John Wessling this next year. He’s basically just giving me an online program and then I meet up with him once a month maybe. He’s living in Southern California, but he’s a Minnesota guy. We stick together. I’ve known John for a long, long time. We kind of have the same philosophies and ideas. Not only training, but what’s going to make me a better rider. So that’s been fun working with him. I also have Jay Whipple helping me as a riding coach. I worked with him last summer in outdoors as well. Also, riding at the Sandbox, being with Kenny [Roczen] and Adam [Cianciarulo], and Chase [Sexton], it’s a really fun group of guys. It’s a cool atmosphere. They’re definitely putting in the motos right now getting ready for Anaheim, so it’s cool to be around that.
I always have to ask you, you have such humble roots as a privateer, but here you are. Now you’re riding with the super elite guys all the time, which you’ve done the last couple years. Do you ever have to remind yourself, I’m just in with this group? This is the level I am now? I’m not privateer Alex anymore. I’m a guy that rides with Ken Roczen. That’s normal.
Yeah. It’s funny. Obviously I talk to Phil [Nicoletti] quite a bit and we kind of reminisce. Man, we’ve came a long ways. I’ve ridden at Ricky’s [Carmichael] and trained with [Gareth] Swanepoel and Tyla [Rattray] and seen what the Aldon [Baker] guys do. As time goes by you really get to see all of these different programs. There is no one size fits all program. Everyone’s doing something different. It’s just cool. It’s cool to have that experience and to have been around and to have seen everything. It really gives me a good perspective when I think what I need and what’s going to make me go faster.
Let’s talk about supercross a little bit. You’ve almost barely raced it the last two years. Can you just tell the world you might be good at it if you were just out there more often? You’ve had podiums and stuff.
It is really frustrating. I’ve been second in the outdoor series twice now. You could argue I should have been three years in a row second. I feel like outdoors it’s kind of a moot point. Supercross is the priority.
Yes, but you don’t want to get branded as “he’s only a motocross guy.”
I feel like that’s already happened, but I couldn’t care less. It’s not like I’m terrible week in and week out in supercross. I’ve had a lot of good motos over the years in the off-season, and I’ve been on the podium quite a few times in supercross. So for me it’s just about getting there healthy. Last year that was the biggest thing is I was never healthy and I had a lot of crashes.
Were you not healthy coming into the season?
I was planning on doing East Coast last year and then [Sean] Cantrell had a pretty bad crash in I think the beginning of December so then that switched for me to race West Coast. I had been doing less volume and less laps than Shane [McElrath] the whole time. So then it was like, okay, now we need to start ramping it up. Then I had a crash and I actually had a small fracture to my collarbone two weeks before Anaheim 1. Then I overshot the triple in practice at A1 and that really hurt it. Then I crashed in the main, then I definitely broke it again. It was not good. It was kind of a mess.
So it was already somewhat broken before you even showed up at Anaheim?
Yeah. The thing is, I wanted to race so bad I was kind of neglecting the pain of the symptoms. I really, really wanted to race. I had a point to prove. I was almost neglecting the symptoms that I had. So for next year it really is just about being healthy and trying to get good results. Being a part of the Suzuki JGR team, it’s such a cool group of guys that I just want to get good results for them and as well as for my career.
I’ve known you as a guy that’s really into the training thing. I’ve heard you read about it and you study it. This is actually a passion of yours, not just something you have to do for your job.
Yeah. Actually this year I kind of decided I didn’t have anything to lose so I enrolled in a strength and conditioning certification course. Just in the off-season to keep my mind going. Honestly I love to learn. I’m under the assumption that you can never know enough. I want to understand how things work, how the human body works. For training I think that was kind of the next logical step forward for me was to get some sort of basic certification course. It’s been fun. I’ve already learned quite a bit.
Is there stuff you learned that’s totally contradictory to what you’re already doing or already knew? You’ve obviously learned a lot on your own anyway just from being an athlete.
Being a strength and conditioning base, it’s more gym. So I would say my knowledge is better understood with endurance and more of like aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. So to get the gym side of it is kind of a good other half of the puzzle. Even talking with Wessling, I was like, “Should I do it or not?” He’s like, “Yeah. What do you have to lose? Why not?” I’ve learned some things that I can apply to my racing, and other things, it would have been a good idea to do five or six years ago. I wish I would have known that back then!
Could that be something for you in the future when you’re done racing?
Yeah, potentially I think I could set myself up that way, but at the same time right now racing is the main priority so it’s like, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. And it is—that is my main priority is racing, and like you said, proving myself in supercross. Also there’s Millville. My parents have been running Millville for a long time and they’re getting a little bit older, so they’ve thrown that out there too that they’re like, “Hey, Jerma and Al, what are you going to do?” So that’s something, to go back and help the parents out at Millville.
That’s probably in the cards for you at some point?
You can’t be here all off-season. Just a couple weeks in and out. Do you drive back from here? Do you just head back? Is that what you do?
Yeah. The Suzuki’s have been kind of limited, the 2019 250F has been a little bit limited so I have had to drive up here a couple times from Florida. It’s pretty quick, seven or eight-hour drive. It’s not terrible. Then I make it worthwhile by staying for the full week and then I’m able to be hands-on with Johnny Oler [JGR suspension] and Dean [Baker, JGR engines] and all the guys and work with Lee [McCollum, mechanic]. So it kind of pays off. I feel like every guy will say in the off-season, especially when you’re on a new team, it’s great, everything’s great. I don’t think anyone’s ever had a terrible off-season when they’ve switched teams or whatever. It really is just a matter of how do we perform when the gate drops? I have that in mind as well. I try not to think that everything’s too cherry. I’m trying to be realistic with my expectations, but I do feel pretty good right now.
At least you’re not motoing down by yourself. You’ve got fast guys to ride with, so you have an idea where you stand.
Right, and that’s what’s nice when I come up here. I have the teammates and Justin Hill to ride with, and Chad Reed is here. Then down there I have Jason, Adam, and Ken, and Cole Seely was there for a couple weeks too. So, it’s a good mix. Even one of the days I rode with RJ Hampshire. So plenty of guys to ride with.