Taylor Robert was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and has been living in Scottsdale since he was seven years old. He has since bought a house only a mile from where his parents live and has an Endurocross track in his backyard. With his crazy travel schedule he said it is nice to be close to his parents because Mom is good about stocking up on groceries for when he gets back from his trips! And it was between these travels I was able to sit down with Taylor to discuss his accomplishments in 2014 and what he was looking forward to in 2015.
I met with Taylor on a Thursday night in Scottsdale, Arizona. He got back into town from Poland earlier in the week and was preparing to go to Southern California the following week, then off to Germany on New Year ’s Day. To say he loves to ride a dirt bike is an understatement. Just talking with him you could tell how much he loves it when reminiscing about this years’ Endurocross series, the two WORCS races he raced and won, the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), or his first Day In The Dirt event. He accomplished some of his goals in 2014, fell short of some, and has his sights set high for 2015 and beyond.
Robert’s focus coming into 2014 was the nine round Eundurocross championship with a few select fun races thrown in. It didn’t start out according to plan for Robert as he had a nasty injury while training with the opening round just five weeks away. He lacerated his intestines in two places while practicing when he hit a log wrong and took a handle bar to the stomach. Once he was stitched back up he went on a liquid diet, suffered some weight loss, but was able to line up for round one. Robert said he went into survival mode as he was slow to start the series while working through recovery. However, the last half of the season, when he was back to full strength, was an improvement with podiums and his first win at the Everett Washington round. The win was extra sweet as Taylor had been contesting the series for four years and has had numerous second place finishes. It was not an easy win either as he crashed and fell back into the pack and had to fight his way back to the front.
If you have not had the pleasure of watching endurocross, it is one of the most chaotic races to watch, much less participate in. Think of taking everything you would find up in the mountains (rocks, logs, ponds, and wood) and putting it all into an arena. There is only one good line and Robert is running into lappers only four laps into the 15 lap main event. Robert says the toughest obstacles are the rocks and fire wood pit. The fire wood is always moving and changing and it is anyone’s guess where a piece of the camp fire fuel may deflect the bike.
Robert will be continuing that chaotic racing with what looks like an equally chaotic travel schedule. He will be racing Endurocross the entire 2015 year. As a warm up to the U.S. series, Robert is contesting the FIM Superenduro series. He completed the first round in Poland earlier this month and will continue racing in Germany, Finland, Guadalajara, Brazil, and concluding in France. He will be travelling quite a bit as each round is about a month apart with the exception of the Guadalajara and Brazil rounds which are back-to-back weekends (Taylor will stay down south of the equator for those races). The tracks are pretty much the same, but the format is different. Instead of a 15 lap main like here in the U.S., Superenduro has three main events, each at six minutes plus one lap. I asked Taylor if he likes the short sprint type races or the longer U.S. format. He feels he has better conditioning and endurance than his competition so he likes the longer races where he can use that to his advantage. Either way, he is riding endurocross all year and will be able to stay focused on one discipline.
In 2015, the U.S. series is expanding from nine rounds to eleven. Robert said he had been bugging the promoters to add a Phoenix round, and his persistence has paid off because in 2015 he will be able to race in front of a hometown crowd. Robert is excited to show off endurocross to the huge off-road community in Arizona.
With more races here in the U.S. and his warmup with the FIM Superenduro series, I asked if his training is any different than when he raced WORCS? He compared endurocross to circuit training where the heart rate is maxed out for short periods of time, while training for WORCS was more for endurance since the races were two hours. With the shorter Endurocross mains taking about 15 minutes, I asked if any additional strength training was part of the program to better man-handle the bike. His answer can be applied to any type of moto training: “There is strength involved but it doesn’t really matter what type of riding it is, what I learned is technique can win over strength”.
2014 was also another year of ISDE racing, Robert’s fourth appearance for the U.S.A, and this time the race was held in Argentina. He was looking forward to it and had lofty goals as the Argentinean terrain is very similar to what he rides in Arizona. Last year the U.S. team got second which was a huge accomplishment as it was the first time in about 30 years since the U.S. placed so high. This year the goal was the team overall win and Robert wanted to win the individual overall.
If you are not familiar with the ISDE, it is a team race that covers six days of racing against the clock. There are certain checkpoints that need to be made in a certain amount of time and if the rider has any bike issues, it is he and he alone that can work on it with whatever tools he is carrying. Robert found this out on day 3 when his bike sucked some dirt and failed to re-start. Fortunately he broke down near his mechanics who could shout instructions, but it took over 30 minutes to get his bike up and running again. That delay caused him to miss his checkpoints and incur further penalties and took him out of contention for the overall. He finished all six days fourth in his class and 12th overall while the US secured a second place finish for the second year in a row. 2015 the ISDE is heading to the hills of Slovakia.
Taylor was able to check one event off his list he hasn’t done before: the Red Bull Day In The Dirt at Glen Helen over Thanksgiving weekend. This event is so big there is a race going on all the time. Robert had his dance card full by participating in six events. He raced and won the ProAm GP, and Moto-A-Go-Go. KTM also built him a MC300 to rip around the hills of Glen Helen for the two stroke race.
Motocross is an individual sport but the Day In The Dirt has a bunch of team races too. He raced in the three man team race, but this is not a race where one third of the team is out on the track at a time. Oh no, it is all three riders from every team fighting for position. Best finishing team wins! For the Stunt GP team race he and Ivan Ramirez paired up. The team races were crazy as he would come hauling into the pits while dodging other riders and pit crew personnel to try and hand off his wrist band admitting there were a few close calls. Despite the craziness, he and Ivan were able to claim the second step on the podium. The hardest part of these races? It was the weaving in and out of the slower riders. And unfortunately it was a slower rider that was his downfall in the 90 minute Coup De Gras GP.
Robert was battling in the lead with Zach Osborne for the first half of the Coup De Gras. He was battling up until coming up over a jump and seeing a fallen rider on the downside of the landing causing him to crash out of contention. Once he did get up he was able to charge back to second. Next year, Robert will be throwing down the death blow on the Coup De Gras going for the win.
Taylor Robert has been a Red Bull athlete for almost a year. I asked what is the best part of being part of Red Bull? His response was that Red Bull has a global presence and participates in so many different events. Being a world traveling racer that finds the fun events, being part of Red Bull makes it that much more exciting. He likes doing more than just U.S. races so no matter what event in whatever country he races in, it is like having a little bit of a home crowd in his corner.
2015 is fast approaching and Taylor Robert is looking to jump into the new year with both feet. Able to focus on one discipline and still travel the world is all that he can ask for. The goal is title contentions in both the Superenduro series as well as the U.S. Endurocross. With his outlook on life, there is no reason he cannot accomplish his goals and have fun while doing it.