After finishing seventh in last year's series, Brad Bakken took a big leap up the order when he finished second at the opening round of the 2011 Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series this past weekend in Salley, South Carolina. The Virginia rider is currently riding a shop supported KTM, but if he continues to land on the podium there's a good chance he will start picking up major support.
Cycle News spoke with Bakken in South Carolina.
Looks like you came into the series fairly well prepared.
I think so. I've been training really hard and I've been riding a lot of events to get ready. Last week I won the Cherokee Enduro in Georgia, and there were a few top guys there like Cory Buttrick and Steward Baylor. I've been down in Florida for most of the winter and I've been riding with Russell Bobbitt and Charlie Mullins and I think that is paying off.
Have you been working on anything specifically, or just riding?
We've been doing a lot of motos and sprints to work on our speed, because that's what it's going to take to win races. We've been going to some motocross tracks and it's helped me a lot riding at those with Russ and Charlie because I know how fast I need to go.
I'm also working on being a smoother rider, just pushing forward and being smooth.
Are you doing anything in the gym?
Actually, I'm working harder than I've ever worked. I've been doing a lot of weight training and cardio to help my endurance, in addition to all the riding we've been doing.
You are riding the 250 XC two-stroke. What do you like about the two-stroke for enduro racing?
I love the two-stroke and I've been riding it for about five years now. It's just so light and nimble and it's got a lot of power. The 2011 is narrow, it's a little skinnier between your knees and it just feels really good to me. I've been riding it for so long that I really know how it works. It's really light and I can just throw it around, which helps in the tight stuff. I had a 350 for a while, and I liked it in the faster moto kind of stuff. But it just didn't compare to the 250 in the tight stuff.
You had a really good ride this weekend. What do you think you are doing this year that you weren't doing last year?
I think it's just that I have smoothed out. I had fun in the race and that helped. I really didn't think I was riding that fast, but I guess that's because I was riding smooth. I actually caught Thad DuVall in two of the sections, so that let me know I was going fast. I've been really working hard on going fast but still flowing and not making any mistakes; that's the key. Russell flows really well in the sections and I think I'm learning that form him. I'm just trying to think about moving forward, instead of thinking about the turns.
I got lost a couple of times, which hurt me, so those are the kind of mistakes I need to eliminate. But I got fastest time in one of the tests so I'm pretty pumped about where I'm at right now.