CATCHING UP WITH JAMES STEWART
By Donn Maeda
With Anaheim I a little over three weeks away, we caught up with Supercross Champion James Stewart to see what he’s been up to since returning home from France…
Anaheim I is just a little more than three weeks out. In spite of the food poisoning and the virus that kept you home from Italy and Australia, do you feel ready to go?
Yeah, I think so even though I haven’t been riding too much because I’m just still trying to recover. But even through all that, the little bit of riding I have done has been good and we have made it count each time we went out. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen and set us back so far, but we are getting past it, and I’ll be ready once the time comes.
You said your bike was turning almost too well a few weeks back and that there were a few things you hoped to hammer out on the bike. Have you made much progress since then?
I think we are in a good position now and I’m just anxious to race. We are better at this point in the off-season right now than what we were last year, so now the only way to figure out if we are on the right track is to race and see how we stack up to everyone else. We’ll go to Anaheim with confidence in the bike and all the work I have done and see how things work out.
Did we catch you during a break in Aldon’s boot camp?
(Laughs) Yeah, you did. It’s been different than the past because I usually have been coming off the outdoor season and maybe the US Open, but instead we skipped the Nationals completely and went to Las Vegas and Bercy. I have had more time to prepare than I ever have, but there has been more to overcome with getting sick and working to come back after that set back.
How intense does a typical day get there? Is one day harder than the next or is it a steady build up?
There isn’t really one day that is harder than the rest because we stretch them out over four or five weeks and progress as the days go by. You get to a point that your body starts to shut down and a 10-lap moto feels more like 40, but that’s when you make the most progress. When the season gets in the home stretch like Seattle and Jacksonville and those races count more than usual, you see where the boot camps pay off.
What do you go through on a typical boot camp day?
Normally we wake up and stretch before going to the gym for all our cardio training, which we try to take care of in the morning before we go on with the rest of the day. Then we get out on the road bike for a training ride. After that, we do motos at the track and see what needs to be worked on and then end up back in the gym if we have more cardio to work on. During the Supercross season I’m done by 3:30 or 4:00 o’clock, but if I’m training for a National I won’t be done until after dark. With it getting dark sooner in winter I leave the house in the morning when it’s dark and I pull back in my drive when it’s dark a few long hours later.
You have a lighting setup that rivals any stadium we go to through the year. How often do you actually turn them on and test under normal Supercross conditions?
I turn them on three times a year: when Answer, Nike, and Red Bull want to do a photo shoot and when we get rained out during the day and have no other time. (Laughs) Sometimes we will turn them on when my dad needs to work on the track at night or something…
So they are really more for show than go?
No, because I used to use them a lot a few years back, but now my program is so strict that it’d be hard to fit it in. I have the energy to ride at night once the day is done, but I have to be up at 6 a.m. the next day, so I just want to head home and hit the bed (laughs).
How much does you power bill go up when you turn them on?
I don’t even know an exact number, so I just tell everyone that when I hit the switch the rest of Haines City’s power dims out (laughs). I’m sure it’s a pretty good bill and I’d rather not know exactly what it’s costing me.
Switching gears a bit, Christmas is less than two weeks away. With all your training and preparation, where do you find the time to get gifts for everyone?
I honestly don’t; I just give them money and tell them to buy whatever they want (laughs). Every day is like Christmas for my family and I because we are up and living our dreams, so we can’t just limit ourselves to one day to appreciate it.
What’s the best present you have ever gotten?
I’m sure something should stick out, but lately I don’t even think of Christmas as a big deal as I did because I’m still out there riding later on in the day. When I was on 125s I was able to enjoy myself a little bit more because it wasn’t so stressful, but it’s much different now. Just being healthy is the best present anyone could ask for.
Back in January, I was working in my garage and Megan came out to hang out with me, and while I had my back turned she found “Santa’s” wrapping paper and figured out that Santa was really me. Do you remember when you first found out your parents were the actually ones putting things under the tree?
(Laughs) I don’t remember that day because I always had kids saying that he was fake all through school. I always told those kids he was real and they used to make fun of me for that, but I didn’t really think some of that was possible. I thought the Tooth Fairy was always jacking me though… (laughs)
So what goes down between now and January 9?
Basically we’ll focus on getting more riding in and seeing what else we can improve on. I want to get through the first few races and get back to where I belong as far as speed and health. It’ll be important to ride smart and carry the number-one plate the way I should.
Has Josh Hill made it down to Haines City yet?
I saw him in California a few weeks back and he was actually faster than me, but this was before Bercy. (Laughs) He flies in tomorrow and I’m interested in how we compare to each other. I’m excited to see how he does this year because he has lots to prove to people and this will be his best year to show what he can do. No matter where we go, he is capable of riding better than most expect of him.
This year you have to drop your trademark number seven for the number one plate and you’ve been running it since Las Vegas back in May. The switch is mandatory, right?
Yeah, I have to change it for this year, but if it was up to me I’d still be running a seven because that is my number. They changed the rules and I have to have it on there, but it’s not a bad thing because there is so much weight and honor that comes with it. Just like the switch to Yamaha, it’s a change that will work out and I’m happy to do it.