For most of us when we think about getting some training in, the first thought that comes to mind is a session down the Gym – not for Phoenix! We embedded ourselves in the Phoenix Rocket Honda team to see how they prepare for race season over the winter.
This meant we had to force ourselves to get away from the cold British weather with a trip to Spain, or more specifically, Fortuna Ranch training camp in Murcia. Once there we could see what types of fitness training Phoenix do and ask the riders why they think it’s more beneficial than the usual training regimes they do back home.
Whilst staying with the team for five days we would find out about the facilities, training, resources and the many more training services Fortuna Ranch have to offer. As well as why the team thinks it’s a different kind of training.
Fortuna Ranch is a great training camp for any physically demanding sports especially motocross, BMX, mountain biking, enduro and more… As a multi-purpose training camp it’s ideal for off-season as the weather is perfect to endure a full day’s fitness training – especially cardio fitness and it really pushes you to the max. Phoenix Rocket Honda team uses this camp as their main training resource during winter.
Phoenix Rocket Honda team coach, Richard Dye organised this trip for the team because he knows that it makes a difference to their riding performance and they will be ready for race season. He says: “We do a 14 week training course and most of it takes place in the UK. A certain degree of detachment from family, friends, work and so on, coming out here to Spain helps because it allows you to focus on specific areas of training. Especially at the level of Luke and Alex, it’s a total commitment you need to this sport and to training.
“Putting full effort into training you need to be in an environment where you don’t have phones ringing, Internet, friends coming around and any other distractions. The main reason for coming to Spain is the close proximity to the UK – it’s pretty close, only two hours on a plane. It’s also a nice place – back in the mountains here, the air is very good and it’s a comfortable atmosphere to train in.
“There are ten of us training at the minute and we all motivate one and other and I think this week and all the weeks we have spent together have been very fruitful. It’s very worth while financially, time wise it makes sense for us to come here and for me as a trainer and a coach the opportunity to come to Spain specifically training for motocross set Phoenix Rocket Honda team aside and above from any of the other teams right now.”
Fortuna Ranch is situated in a remote mountainous area. The mountains are a big part of the training programme here and they’re put to good use as the team rides the mountain bikes. There are countless trails and dirt tracks that the team uses as a guide to jog along and do circuits. Of course, you can go jogging back home but it isn’t the same as over here at Fortuna Ranch as the weather conditions are more than likely to be fine. Also, with high altitude up in the mountains, working on cardio fitness is one of the main types of training you wouldn’t get back in the UK and it’s much more intense.
Along with jogging and circuits there is also mountain biking included in the training programme and the Fortuna Ranch offers a wide range of mountain bikes for the Phoenix Rocket Honda team to use. With countless mountains surrounding the training camp they choose to cycle up Pila Mountain – one of the highest mountains in Murcia. The team needs to maintain a constant durable speed as they’re timed.
Even though the conditions were tough Alex Snow manages to beat his previous time and cycle the mountain in 36 minutes, then Luke Hawkins with a time of 39 minutes and shortly followed by Mitch Chalmers and Richard Dye with 43 and 44 minutes. With an average time of 48 minutes to cycle the mountain these guys didn’t stop for a second. They were aiming high and all wanted to beat their previous time, which they all managed to do.
As the team coach, Richard is always telling the team to aim high and achieve their goals. The Phoenix Rocket Honda team are set aside from other teams as they work together and help each other out. Also, many teams don’t have a guy behind the scenes helping them distinguish between work relationships and friendships. This helps the team work extremely hard.
As well as training, bike performance will be crucial if they are to make 2014 a success. However, as the team would all say: “You can have a trick bike but at the end of the day it takes a fit healthy rider to race it and not fizzle out towards the end because they have nothing more to give.” Your bike will always have more to give but if a rider’s fitness isn’t up to scratch they won’t have all they can give and that can cause a loss of places and that ultimately means points lost too.
As the weather over here in Murcia is nearly always tip-top, the team makes the most of the resources around them. Richard prepares the team for outdoor circuits. The team is partnered up to do a series of team building circuits at the bottom of the ‘Z trail’. It’s a constant circuit that the team has to endure through until the end. This maintains a high heart rate, which ensures they’re building on their cardio fitness.
The team mainly focuses on cardio fitness at the Fortuna Ranch because the resources are perfect for it and you don’t have this type of thing back home in England. When the team is back home they tend to focus on gym work, which is feasible as they all have a local gym but they don’t have local places to work on cardio fitness at such a high level.
On the third day of the five-day training programme, the team head to the beach about half an hour away from Fortuna Ranch. Here they cycle through the town as a warm up and they return to the beach to carry out more circuit training. The weather is just right for training and the temperature of the sea is still mild so swimming is an option the team takes as well. The team usually comes over here in the off-season, as it’s not busy at all.
Phoenix Rocket Honda team find that the training at Fortuna Ranch is much better because it’s much more intense and extremely reliable. Ben Butler is another new addition to the team for 2014 and he says: “I think it’s good to train at Fortuna Ranch because there are so many different opportunities out here. Obviously going to the top of the mountains both running and cycling. I always enjoy the Spa as it allows us all to chill and relax.
“It benefits me personally because it makes me break away from everyday life and it’s a week away for me to put my head down and dig deep. Also, coming out here to Spain for training is something I’ve not done with any other team before and I think this is what all teams should do because I feel it’s definitely working and I’m confident about this season.”
After a long hard five days of tough training the team are treated to a well-deserved spa break and a competitive karting session.
There is the option to ride over here at the Fortuna Ranch as there are about 14 motocross tracks within an hour of the training camp and two are GP tracks. You can bring along your own bike or you can ride one of the Ranch’s bikes but this comes at a slightly higher cost. The team chose not to ride over here this time as they’re mainly focused on training.
As a reflection on these few days training, we can see that the team have all worked very hard and after asking Luke, Alex, Ben, Richard and the rest of the guys, they’ve all said it’s worth it and agree that it will make a difference to their racing performance and stamina on the track.
Sadly, only three of the team could make it over here to Fortuna Ranch as Kelvin Townsend decided to take a month out to go to America and train.
With all the hard work the team has put in and with guys behind the scenes like Richard Dye and Barry Moore, they’re all hoping this year will be full of successful races. We will see the team rocking up at all the rounds of MAXXIS ACU British Championship, British GP, other race series like Phoenix Tools Premier MX Championship and more.
They’re gunning for big results this year and we think they’ll be ones to watch.