MX Vice: Jordan, let’s talk about your new training regime. How have you ended up at Bath University?
Jordan Booker: It actually goes back to 2011. When Tom Church was still racing, I used to train here with him with Danny Holdcroft, who was actually the head skeleton coach. When TC quit I went off and trained with other people and then coming into this off-season I got back in touch with the people here, so I’ve been training with them again. I’ve actually sorted out a program with team Bath to be one of their full-time athletes. They’re trying to get a bit more involved with some outside sports.
MX Vice: It’s great that they are trying to get behind different sports. Are there people here that you are specifically working with?
Jordan Booker: Yeah, the great thing about it is that there isn’t just one guy that is average in each area. I use someone different for everything that I do. Sometimes it’s quite hard and stuff, but they have people that are really experienced. It’s really specific training that I’m doing and it’s all been good so far. The facilities here are great really; you’ve got the gym, which is second to none with the equipment and the size of it. You’ve got different running tracks, an Olympic size pool, facilities for phycology and physio. Everything you could want is under one roof.
MX Vice: We talked a little before and it seems that you’re not sure on what you’ll be doing in 2015. What is your thought process at the moment?
Jordan Booker: It has been a very up and down year for me; riding three bikes in one season was not my intention at all. Obviously I was on a Kawasaki at the beginning of the year and then, to put it lightly, that kind of fell through at the last minute. I then got a KTM the Thursday before the first British [Championship round]. I ran the bike in before, with stock everything, to go and race Landrake. That didn’t go too great, as well as a lot of other races. But, as my dad always says, ‘proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.’ There was definitely no proper preparation at all!
At the midpoint of the year I was struggling on my own. I had one bike that I raced and practised one. I did most of the maintenance myself, so I was missing out on a lot of practice time because I had to get the bike ready. I ended up getting on a Suzuki with Neil Prince; I was chatting to him at one point and he said ‘why don’t you come and try to ride the bike?’ and just offered to help me out for the rest of the year really. That was good; I really appreciate what Neil did for me there. He had no reason to help me out or anything like that; he just saw that I was struggling a bit.
I rode the Suzuki for the rest of the year; the bike was good and everything like that. I had some pretty good results on it too actually. He only really had one bike, so again it was tough, but it was great to have someone like Neil alongside me. All in all, it was a bit up and down; I had no real structure or anything like that. It was tough, but as of right now I’m unsure what I’m doing next year. I’m playing with a few different ideas and I’m not one hundred percent sure where I’ll actually be racing yet. I’m just trying to do something a little bit different. It’s not so much to get a fresh start, just to do what is best for my racing and my career really. I’m not just thinking about 2015, but also the years after that as well.
MX Vice: It seems like you have been around the paddock for a long time, but you’re only twenty-two…
Jordan Booker: For me, I’ve been racing the British [Championship] for four and a half years – four years full on. It feels like it has been a long time. You’ve got people like Adam Sterry and Ben Watson coming through and the toughest thing for me is that I was that guy, Iwas that young kid racing at seventeen and mixing it up with the guys near the front. I had a good couple of years, but the last few years haven’t been the best for me. I’ve almost been sat on a plateau a little bit and not really moving forward like I would have liked to. That’s for a few reasons though really, obviously myself and I’ve had some problems the last couple of years like bad preparation.
MX Vice: One of the things that I think has helped you a lot in the past is spending time in America during the winter. Is that good for you?
Jordan Booker: For us, the main thing is it is a lot easier to go over to America and ride than to stay over here. In an ideal world you go and do what the likes of Cairoli do, and stay in the south of Italy or train in Holland, as that is the best preparation for the British Championship and the European stuff. But the problem with that is it’s all well and good if you have a factory team and three bikes there, but when you’re trying to do it on your own you’ve got to wash your bike every night and it makes it difficult. If you are down in Spain and you blow an engine up, you’ve got to drive home and then go back down there.
With California it is easy, you can go and buy a bike out there. We’ve got a van out there, a lot of connections, friends and places to stay. Last year I was out there five weeks; I think we washed the bike twice and never changed a filter. It is easy just to get your bike time in; it’s not great, as the tracks are pretty smooth, fast and very different to what we have over here. But, what helps me out is that I already have forty or fifty hours on the bike coming into the first round, whereas some people over here haven’t had that time. It is not just that; when you are riding over here and it’s cold and wet, it makes it tough, you’re always prone to injury and it makes it tough to get through the off-season and come in ready to go.
MX Vice: For 2015 America is one of the options I guess, as I hear your little brother may be out there competing? Is that something that may happen?
Jordan Booker: Yeah, my little brother may be going out there to race a few amateur races like I did in 2009, which will be great for him. So it is a possibility; I may go out there and do the odd round, I’m not too sure really. I’m still trying to see what I can get in the UK. It may be possible to do some stuff here and then head over there. I think it’ll be good for me and also good to be out there helping my brother out. It looks like it could be a possibility, so we’ll see.
MX Vice: Are you looking at 2015 as a year to get your passion back, enjoy riding and get your confidence back up again? So that you get to a level where you’re happy and can then start thinking about the future…
Jordan Booker: I wouldn’t say I’ve lost any passion at all. It’s just tough being a fifth, sixth or seventh place guy in the UK, it just doesn’t get you anywhere, especially when you’ve got a seventeen year old getting the same results as you; the team’s are always going to pick them first. Obviously in the GPs I’d have one more year [in MX2] and then I’d age out. There are a lot of guys around my age that I think find it hard to get motivated every year, because it is almost like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
I think that’s why, when I think about America, it’s almost like there are no limitations. If you want it and you’re prepared to put the work in to get it, you’re almost derestricted to what could happen – there are so many options – whereas if I stay here now I would just be a British guy for the next six or seven years. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you can make a living racing in the UK. But, I just want to get to the end of my career and have no regrets. If I can get out there, maybe do a few races, and it doesn’t go to plan, but I’ve given it my all, then great. I can just come back and get back into it here. But hopefully I’ll have no regrets.
MX Vice: Is it a little disheartening when you see the tracks that are being used in the British Championship next year, with six of them being sand?
Jordan Booker: Obviously there have been a lot of mixed opinions since they announced the tracks for next year. The way I look at it is that we probably have ten really good tracks in the UK and they’re using two of the, Hawkstone and Foxhill. Nothing against the other facilities, like FatCat is a great facility and it caters well, but at the end of the day it’s just a flat field. But as a rider, and from the perspective of a spectator also, they want to be going to these iconic tracks.
Desertmartin was always a favourite of mine, you’ve got tracks like Duns, Farleigh Castle, Winterbourne Gunner; there really are some great tracks. For some reason, I know they’ve given their opinions (I don’t think they’re valid ones) the ACU aren’t using them next year. A lot of people aren’t excited about the tracks for 2015, but at the end of the day we’ve just got to go from A to B as quick as you can, regardless of where you are.
MX Vice: They are great points. Is the EMX250 something that you would want to do, after looking at what Steven Clarke has achieved this year?
Jordan Booker: I think the EMX250 is a great series and I really take my hat off to Steven this year, I was really pumped that he was able to come away with the win, but he has won that against some really fast kids and where has it left him? Obviously the next step would be to go into MX2, but he has aged out of that, which sucks! He has done all of that hard work and what has it got him? I think it’s great for the likes of Sterry and Watson, who have obviously done great this year. It is a great series to go and do and it is accessible. But, as for looking at it as a step, I think it is almost a bit of a dead end for anyone over the age of twenty-one or twenty-two.
MX Vice: So, in a way, it would be a bit of a step back for your progress?
Jordan Booker: I wouldn’t say it would be a step back at all. Obviously I did the EMX125 series in 2010 and the EMX250 series wasn’t really about then like it is now, so I just jumped into the deep end with the GPs the following year. That was too much of a big step and I really could have done with doing the EMX250 and then GPs. I did that, then took a year away from it with Buildbase and then I took a sideways step and went to the Europeans. I had some good rides, some bad ones and other issues, but looking back on it I should have been a top five guy. This year I went back to racing just in Britain, but the thing that has let me down is that I’ve struggled to stick to any sort of path. If I could go back and change a few things I would. I would maybe go up the ladder a step at a time rather than jumping two steps up and going one step back. The main thing I need to do is not dwell on what has happened or what hasn’t happened. Like we said, I’m only twenty-two still and although we’re now getting it drummed into us that we should be thinking of retiring and a four-time world champ at this stage, I am still young. In the days of Coppins and Everts, they hadn’t peaked by this age. Roczen and Herlings have set the bar really high at a young age but, in my eyes, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a run at it if you’re twenty-two, twenty-three or even twenty-five years old. I feel like I’ve definitely still got my best to come.
MX Vice: Going into 2015, is there any help you’ll be getting with machinery or product?
Jordan Booker: That all depends on which way I go really, it is hard to say.
MX Vice: On the British side, it doesn’t seem like there’s too many opportunities available at the moment. Four teams are gone now, have you noticed that it makes things difficult?
Jordan Booker: It is making things extremely difficult, especially for the guys that are around my sort of level. You’ve probably got five or six guys in both MX1 and MX2 that are really getting good support. For everyone else it is just money, money, money. It is a shame for the sport to be like that and I don’t think it needs to be. I think too many people look at it as a business. But, because you’ve got your big teams that are making money and are taking a lot of riders on, it takes the budget and support away from the smaller teams. It’s becoming more expensive to get to the races and less accessible for a privateer and people like that.
I worry about the British going the same way [as the GPs]. In Britain it’s still perfectly acceptable to go out, get your expert points in your regional series and go to the British and line up. So at least it is accessible still and you can do it on a budget, like I proved this year. Apart from when I was with Prince, I had one bike and I raced and practiced on it. I had a guy come and help me a little bit on the weekends, but it was a bone stock bike; I just added ignition and a pipe on it, but I pulled four holeshots at the MX Nationals and five in the British Championship.
MX Vice: I guess it helps if you’ve got other people around you that help you stay focused on the riding though…
Jordan Booker: Yeah, I think that’s the main thing I missed out on this year. I was stressing so much about getting my bike prepared, organising what I was doing during the week, who was coming with me at the weekend, whether I’ve got to stay in a hotel or not; everything like that. I missed out on a lot of riding. I could only ride once a week, whereas I used to ride two or three times sometimes. It does make it a lot more difficult, when all you’ve got to do is turn up on the weekend get on your bike and go [when you’re on a team]. I took it for granted when I have had that; this year has made me realise what I had. You know, hopefully I can get it back. Sometimes you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone; it’s a cliché but it’s true. It makes it more difficult when you’re on your own, but it is still doable. It would be nice to see a lot more riders, not just myself, there are a lot of guys I would like to see have a lot more support.
MX Vice: Brilliant, thanks for your time Jordan.