One of the most recognized East coast riders of the 2012 season, Steward Baylor has experienced his fair share of ups and downs throughout his chase for both the 2012 NEPG and GNCC championship. After suffering from a broken wrist mid-season, Baylor made a game plan to continue his season strong. As of just this past weekend at the Muddobbers National Enduro, Baylor has been crowned the 2012 champion. Read on for his take on the season and his plans as we move into the final GNCC rounds...
So tell us a little bit about your season. I know you had an injured wrist, so how tough was it to push the pain aside and focus on the ultimate goal?
It was really difficult with my wrist injury. GNCC’s are really difficult too, but it’s what I am supposed to do. I am not going to let something like that stand in the way.
It means more to me to get a championship with a broken wrist than not. To make things worse, it was my throttle hand! And at my age with a broken wrist it was a big accomplishment. It hurt a lot. But, I took a few pain shots and I was good to go [laughs].
Do you feel if your wrist wasn’t injured mid-season; you might have wrapped up the title earlier?
I would say I’d definitely have had a more comfortable lead. In Wyoming, Lafferty got the win and it put me 15 points down. Then I finished 3rd in Missouri, that’s where I lost it. It definitely affected the way the season went. Without my wrist, I might have gotten the title one race earlier. Though all the rounds it was always a well fought battle with Lafferty.
What are you doing to keep your wrist manageable?
Lately, I’m training everything else around my wrist. I’m mostly strength training my wrist. After surgery, it weakened a lot. It took a lot of effort to get my body in good enough shape to not rely on that wrist. It’s like bad luck follows me wherever I go, but I spend four hours in the gym everyday. I have to get my legs strong enough to not rely on my arms.
Who would you say was your biggest competitor this season in the NEPG series?
Most definitely Lafferty. Him and I finished off the box in one race each. Other than that, we were consistently on the podium. It was really close, and kind of cool! I’ve always looked up to him- my whole life. I have a picture of him giving me trophy at one of my races. He is the oldest in the series while I am the youngest.
What was the toughest round for you this year?
Wyoming, for sure. I’ve never ridden terrain quite like it. West coast terrain is dusty and powdery with gravel road. The trees were more like bushes you couldn’t clip. I’m big on clipping; it helps me win [laughs]. Clip a tree and keep going. So it was tough because the trees don’t clip. They don’t have enough water and grow slower. I was a week and half out of surgery for my broken wrist. It was definitely my hardest.
How did you celebrate your big win?
You know, it hasn’t settled in. I’m already back in the gym two times a day. I’m focused on the remaining GNCC's. I’ll get to celebrate when the season over. I just can’t celebrate with another potential title on the line.
Moving into GNCC next weekend, where is your focus as far as making sure you get to the top of the box in Indiana?
Honestly, I’m going to try to take the "job" part out of it and have fun. Lately, I’ve been treating it like a job. Training three times a day wore me down; I can overthink and it affects me. They say there is no such thing as luck, but maybe it’s because I’m over thinking things. These last few rounds, it’s back to the basics and about having fun with the family. My focus is to enjoy the sport I’ve done my whole life and come out with a win.
Any word on a possible KTM ride for 2013?
We will just say it’s possible and leave it at that. Nothing is final. We are getting closer to next year and see what pans out. I’m testing out what I might ride. We will know soon enough.
Who would you like to thank?
I have a pretty big list! KTM, FMF, my parents, Grandparents, brother, sister, aunts, uncle, pretty much my whole family. Neeley Racing. Everyone who helped me get to Wyoming including Randy Hawkins. All of the clubs that put on the Enduros, as well as the GNCC's, Mid East, NEPG crew, and SETRA for having places for me to race every weekend, Steve Hatch, Jason Raines with the Raines Racing University. I was his first student and got the opportunity to train with the whole Am Pro team every day for over a year. All my friends that support me and of course all of the guys who help me out: Fly, WP USA, PG, Silicone, Bullet Proof Designs, Motion Pro, TM Design Works, Shoei Helmets, Leatt neck braces, Bax Tech Quick stands, Scott goggles, Asterik knee braces, Fastway Pro Moto bullet, Cycra Plasitcs, Renthal handlebars, Sidi boots, Ankle saver foot pegs, Dunlop tires, V Force Reeds, Glory Hog Action sports, EBC Brakes and St. Lawerence Radiology. Dr. Mersca hooked me up with the surgeons that got me back on the bike and able to win a championship against all odds. Also, any other sponsors or anything that helped me get to where I am at today!