Editor’s note: Travis Fant is the heavyweight champion of the moto-video world. He shoots, produces and edits almost 200 videos a year for Dirt Bike and Motocross Action. Early this winter, he put down the camera to go train at Baker’s Factory with the KTM and Husqvarna factory motocross teams. Here’s what he had to say.
I like to think that I am in shape. Between video jobs, I pedal 100 miles a week, ride once or twice a week, and try to do some sort of gym workout three times a week. By Aldon Baker’s standards, that’s not even a starting point. Aldon, in case you don’t already know, is the single-most successful trainer/coach in the history of motocross. From Ricky Carmichael to Cooper Webb, the list of champions he has mentored includes the greatest riders the sport has ever known. I got only a small taste of what makes Baker’s Factory so special.
The group wasted no time. We were out of the hotel room and waiting in the parking lot at 8 a.m. for a bicycle ride with Aldon Baker, Aaron Plessinger, Malcolm Stewart, RJ Hampshire, Jalek Swoll, Dean Wilson, Mike Brown and Stiles Robertson. I warmed up a bit in the parking lot and tried my hardest not to think about cycling with all these professional athletes. The first day was supposed to be a recovery ride for the group since they had a long week. That didn’t happen.
We all took off in the group, and it turned into a high-intensity ride really quickly. I did get a laugh out of some of the riders telling me that this wasn’t a recovery ride whatsoever, even though they were less than thrilled at the pace we were running. Jalek and I slowly made our way to the front of the group. As I got closer, I lost my senses a bit and decided to lead. I led the group for about five minutes. Unfortunately, I gassed out and started to fall apart the rest of the ride. Big mistake! Malcolm and RJ were yelling at me to get going and stay with the group as the ride went on. I survived the one-hour push, but my lungs were feeling it. My Polar watch said that my heart rate was around 180 the entire ride, so I was on the brink of my max threshold for one hour. It wasn’t the type of ride I was used to. It wasn’t the type of ride anyone should be used to.
We ate a healthy breakfast after the ride and then went to Top Golf. The evening was capped off with the 2022 Husqvarna FC450 Rockstar Edition intro at Baker’s Factory. I just kept thinking to myself, “I need to stay off my feet, because tomorrow is going to be a big day.”
Another bike ride was kicked off at 8 a.m.—high intensity and full gas for an hour. The terrain was gorgeous but really hard to enjoy with my tongue dragging on the road. I felt like I recovered from day one moderately well. Some of the others in our group didn’t fare as well. There were a handful of other journalists there to experience the boot camp as well, and I could tell some of them were tired from the day before. They say misery loves company, but being a little less miserable than the next guy is always a good thing.
After our bike ride, we went straight to the track. There was a small fleet of 2022 Husqvarna FC450s and 350s. I picked the 450. I felt right at home. I think the FC450 is one of the best bikes in the class right now. I enjoy the 10mm-lowered suspension, because I’m not especially tall. Aldon was busy with his guys training for Supercross, so we were left to fend for ourselves. We rode the outdoor track, which was extremely deep sand and rough. I did two 40-minute motos and then another 20-minute moto.
That was a mistake. I should have taken some time to rest. In between motos, I was filming with my gear at the track as the Baker boys rode Supercross to prepare for Anaheim 1. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity, but it didn’t leave me with any downtime before we went into the gym. Aldon had us doing circuits through the gym on different machines, medicine balls and bands. The warm-up started with a complete abdominal crusher that made me want to quit right then and there. Some of the workouts were based on balance and others were more on strength. When you look at most of these athletes, they are skinny as a rail—no extra meat on them anywhere—then you see them in the gym and scratch your head. How in the world can someone that skinny be that strong? It was encouraging having these athletes go through the workout with me. They would push and trash-talk to keep me motivated. I have known Aldon for a long time, so he wasn’t going to play nice with me, either. He called me a “soft biscuit” when I wasn’t doing the workout right.
At the end of two days with Baker’s Factory, my body felt like it had been hit by a truck. Even my fingers were sore. I remember asking RJ Hampshire what the rest of their week looked like, and he said, “We do more of this; we do it all week long.” I just can’t fathom how many calories and how much energy they are burning to get through a week on a program like that. The flying, the training, the autograph signings and the riding all take a toll on their bodies. There is very little downtime, especially after racing season starts. It baffles me that they still love what they do. The amount of sacrifice and self-discipline involved would break me. Two days broke me! There is “average fit” and then there’s “pro-athlete fit.” Most of my riding buddies think I’m a fitness nut. I look at these athletes as the real nuts, not me. I’m even more impressed that Mike Brown and Aldon Baker, who are in their 50s, can still hang with these guys in the gym and on the road bike. Motocross is a freakishly demanding sport. Even at the amateur level, it requires fitness above all, because being in shape keeps you safer on the motorcycle. Pro athletes are riding at such a high level that the training has to match that.
My ego got checked at Baker’s Factory, but it was a cool experience to be a part of. Josh Mosiman at Motocross Action made a cool note to me. He said, “It’s so cool you are the video guy and you are able to cycle and do gym work with pro athletes. I don’t know if anyone else could do that.” That really humbled me. I may not be on the level of these pro athletes, not even close, but I was able to survive it. Not bad for a guy with a day job.