09 January 2013

by John Wakefield

** Watch for news about the Pelotrain MX camp in JHB 22 - 25 March.

I'm from Cape Town South Africa - born and bred - and I love it here. I plan on retiring to Thailand sometime in the near future but for now Cape Town it is. I got involved with motocross in 1980 when my dad came home 1 day with a Italjet 50, things progressed from the field outside to the MX track as things normally do. I always enjoyed the training aspect of the sport, or sport in general and actually enjoyed the training side Monday to Friday more than the actual racing for some silly reason (weird I know) and after breaking my back and leg in 9 places in 2001 I had a rather extensive rehab period and that eventually led me into doing what I do now.

During the rehab period I was in total awe with process of through proper training and exercise how my body made a full recovery and I actually came out better physically then before my accident. This led me to want to become a trainer of sorts and over the years I did some studying, alot of reading and research I decided it was time to leave my job at the time and go head on into doing what I really had a passion for although I had 1 client and he was a friend (who I'm convinced paid me cause I was jobless but thanks anyway bud). He started to get some pretty solid results at the Nationals and from that over a short period of time my client list grew and realised that this may actually pay my bond. I then started doing alot of research and testing specifically for motocross, off-road etc to see what stresses the body was under during a race and what I thought was the most beneficial way to train for the sport being in darkest South Africa. I also spoke and swapped ideas with trainers overseas and came up with some of my own specific protocols for motocross through a little trial and error and research with certain athletes during the early years while collecting as much data as I could. The early years were alot of work in this regard but when I look back on it now it was a incredible learning experience for all involved. Things then somehow progressed into a MX Team and from 2008 - 2011. I ran a National Motocross team which was a racing advert for Pelotrain but to be honest it got really big really quick with sponsors and calibre of riders coming onboard and Championships won that wasn't really what I intended it to do and brought out a person in my I didn't like.
Although the results were great and better than I ever imagined it wasn't what I started out to do. Looking back at it now it was very good for the riders as they had rides and a proper support system so they could do what they needed to do without much worry and that to me is what it should always be about for the rider. In saying that it was a incredible experience and I loved it and watching those riders go onto achieve personal goals results wise.

My one funny story from that team was in 2009 Michael Kok phoned and asked if he could get a ride, he had been injured that year and I said if you win the last National going 1-1 at Zeemans not really thinking he would so I would be in the clear. Mike cleaned up and I had to deliver on my promise.

Now I have gone back to my roots and am just working with athletes and trying to stay out of the hustle and bustle of the racing scene a little and focus purely on making riders physically and mentally better which in 2012 resulted in fantastic results for the riders.

Going forward and into the future I will split my 17 hour day between Pelotrain Athlete Excellence and another company I am a shareholder in Science to Sport that I became involved in a year ago. Training with athletes will stay the same and be approached with the same intensity and scientific approach with each athlete being evaluated in order to prescribe the correct training and techniques and monitoring that athletes training and provide positive feedback from the data collected. One new part we will be focusing on and will roll out more during the 2013 season is training camps with Darrel Fitzgerald who has come onboard with me at Pelotrain to help share the workload and make me tea at lunch time. We did one camp in December and it got a huge response, more than we actually thought it would. Riders and parents gave us some very positive feedback from it at the end so now we will be holding more camps throughout the year and use them as a type of Long Term Athlete Development camps and focus not only on training the athletes both on and off the bikes but to also help guide them and their families in the right direction with regards to the correct steps and protocols that should be followed in order to keep their racing and training sustainable over the many years ahead. This way it will help them not be burnt out or broke for that matter from all the racing and training that goes with trying to become a Pro or reach specific goals. Reason I say this is cause when you ask most riders where they want to go in Motocross they say "SX Champion in America or World Champion" that's all fine and well but what about now in the next 2-3 years when you haven't done top 5 or so in a local race or know how to do a push up properly? These are the sort of things we want to bring to the table for riders and will help them be a smart and complete athlete.

There is so much raw talent in South Africa but from what I have seen and this is nothing personal to riders but they don't know how to train correctly in South Africa, many think they do but they don't and its often their pure talent that carries them through over the years but there are only so many years that can happen and then you have to train and the sooner you do that the easier it is when you have to train. When this is not done this often sets them back in their development and progression as a athlete and racer. I would like to help correct them of that in order for them to make the forward gains needed to become a better well rounded rider. It's not just about going fast.

Every job has its good and bad points and this is no different but people say this alot but I really do feel this way that every day when I wake up I really look forward to going to work and working with athletes and seeing them progress wether its 1 on 1 session with Anthony Raynard for example or downloading and analysing Justin Mittens heart rate data from the training the week before to make sure he is hitting targets and recovering correctly, I really love what I do and wouldn't change it for anything in the world and I learn new things all the time so it keeps it interesting.

I am lucky and honoured to have about 80% of my athletes currently be with me for a number of years now and that makes the job from both sides alot easier for everyone as you have that relationship and trust in each other along with knowing each athletes different personality and how to tap into that personality to get the best out them as no 2 athletes are the same mentally or physiologically.

For 2013 to date we have a very solid bunch of athletes we are lucky to be working with and to name a few they are:
- Anthony Raynard
- Caleb Tennant
- Darrel Fitzgerald
- Kerim Fitzgerald
- Bradley Fenton
- Justin Mittens
- Charl van Heerden
- Scott Bouverie
- Bradley Cox
- Marco Ras
- Calvin Wiltshire
- Danny Lailvaux
- Cam Petersen
- Matthew Beers

Over the years thou I really have been honoured to work with amazing riders like Brad Purchase, Michael Kok, Wesley De Jager, Brad Woodroffe, Louis Lazarus, Calvin Vlaanderan, Alain Pretorius, Mike Creevy, Zane Farquharson, Chad Taylor, Angelo Piccoto, Grant Frerichs, Tyson Engelbrecht, Vincent Conlon to name a few that at my old age I can remember - sorry if I left your name out anyone. Although some have stopped racing unfortunately, many have not but all have moved onto great things in their lives and I am really appreciative that at some point I was able to help them in some form or another.

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