Nearly every racer goes through a different type of offseason, whether they hit the couch immediately after the Nationals conclude or stay in the saddle to remain sharp for the few one-off races throughout the downtime like this year's MXGP Of USA, Red Bull Straight Rhythm and the Monster Energy Cup. Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM's Shane McElrath is one to remain on the bike as he prepares for Straight Rhythm and MEC after just finishing up his first ever MXGP. McElrath and the team have kept their focus on the mission at hand, and that's winning races. We caught up with McElrath this afternoon to discuss the MXGP, his preparations for Straight Rhythm and the team's new world champion trainer, Tyla Rattray.
So how's the offseason been treating you?
We actually haven't had much of an offseason since we raced the GP and then I did the TransWorld SLAM, and now we've got Straight Rhythm and Monster Cup coming up, so there hasn't been a whole lot of down-time for us. After outdoors, I took about a week off and then got right back into it. I'm doing my best to keep it fun and different, so I've been riding some things I normally wouldn't. We haven't had a set schedule, but we're staying fresh and everything is going good. We're actually going to begin working with Rattray after Straight Rhythm, so I'm looking forward to that. Basically, we're getting things ready for the upcoming year.
Working with a World Champion like Tyla Rattray should be hugely beneficial for you guys, right?
Yeah, absolutely! Especially since Dean (Wilson) might be working with myself and Jessy (Nelson), too. With Deano being on a 450, that'll give us an extra little bit to work on and someone else to chase. I'm actually really looking forward to that!
You had a good showing at the MXGP of USA and you even logged the fastest lap time going into the race. Was that a nice little boost of confidence since you've never done a GP before?
Yeah, it was cool. The race was obviously at a track that we know, and we just went in with an open mind. That race actually taught me some things that I needed to eventually learn for the races over here. It was such a cool experience being that it was so laid back since the schedule for racing is so stretched out. It was a lot of fun and the whole team had a great weekend, and there was so much to take away from it, for me. Now I can apply that stuff towards the races over here.
Now that you guys are switching gears for Supercross since you're attending the Monster Cup and Straight Rhythm, how has preparation been going since outdoors and SX are so different?
It actually hasn't been too different, but we've been riding Supercross a little bit. Like today, we're out here at Pala Raceway practicing on the Straight Rhythm track to play around a little bit, but mostly to get used to it since the qualifier is this weekend. Right now, we're out here just to ride our dirt bikes. No stop watches or training schedules. We're just focusing on seat-time and not worrying about too much else.
When it comes to Straight Rhythm, do you guys have a lot of options as far as different places to practice or is Pala Raceway's track really the only place to prepare?
Yeah, this is pretty much the only place. Last year when it was at Milestone, I think I made only a few passes on it during the week leading up to Straight Rhythm. We spend most of our time on the SX track, and by the time Straight Rhythm rolls around, we've had a good amount of time on normal SX tracks, so it works out good because they're so similar. We just got back into the flow and routine of riding SX. I mean, practicing on Straight Rhythm is like practicing on a normal SX track without any corners.
Last year at Straight Rhythm, you rode a KTM 350 and this year you're gonna be riding a 250. Are you excited to ride a bike you're more familiar with?
Yeah, definitely. Now that there's a 250 class and an open class, that'll help level the playing field. Last year was cool because we got to race with the big guys, but I was underpowered and I lacked experience on the bigger bike and obviously racing against those guys wasn't something I was used to. Being in the 250 class, It's comforting knowing that my entire team can be up there fighting for the top spot.
One off races like the MXGP, Straight Rhythm and Monster Cup have to be a great way for you guys to stay sharp on the bike, right?
Yeah, it's good to get in gate drops and seat time. I mean, It's actually a long break till the beginning of SX once outdoors concludes, and I don't really know of anybody that wants to constantly put in laps everyday until A1 rolls around. There's almost nothing that you can do when it comes to training that's even close to actually racing. It's gate drops, it's seat time and even different learning experiences, whether that be a local weekend race or a good one off race like Straight Rhythm that keeps you sharp and ready for the next season. It's just good all around.
Now that everyone is switching gears for Supercross, are you happy to get back to the cooler temperatures of stadium races?
Yeah, I've actually heard a lot of people say how ready they are for the heat to move on, and I kind of agree! I'm ready to get back indoors and I'm excited to change up the pace a little bit from outdoors. It gets old constantly doing one thing, so with Supercross half the year and outdoors the other half, that keeps it fun and not so repetitive. I think the biggest thing is to find some way to constantly keep it fun. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to changing up the pace and also having a different training routine.