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Essential MX Catches up with Michael Akaydin #918

We are now a few rounds into the series, in your own words, how do you think it’s gone thus far?

The season started off about how I expected it to coming from the midwest where we can’t ride much in November and December and coming off several injuries. I usually have to use the first several rounds to play catch up and get more comfortable, then I usually pick it up towards the second half of the season. I did crash in Phoenix and have a slight compression fracture in my back, but I will be back at the races this weekend or next weekend.

Training, living, racing, and doing it all as a Privateer is tough work, what does your riding and training schedule during an average week look like?

Ha, well during-the-week riding is virtually non-existent during most of the SX season and throughout the motocross season. I DO train off the bike routinely. My biggest obstacle is having to work a full time job, but that’s the way it goes for me. I wouldn’t be racing if I didn’t love it!

When it comes to staying on top of your fitness, what is your favorite way to stay in shape off the bike?

My go-to exercise is certainly running. It’s so easy and time efficient to come home, throw on shorts and a pair of running shoes and step out my front door versus getting all kitted up and driving somewhere to road bike or mountain bike. I also go to a cross-fit style gym near my house called IronTribe Fitness and that really helps with strength. I bought a rower a couple years ago and use that pretty often as well.

Do you follow a strict diet to compliment your training? What are some go to foods and what do you stay away from?

I wouldn’t say that I follow a certain strict diet, but we all know which foods are healthy and beneficial to your body and which ones we should avoid. I’ll admit that I do slip up here and there and enjoy taking full effect of Sunday Funday, but for the most part I do really well with sticking to the fruits, veggies, clean proteins, and healthy snacks. Chicken and and other clean meat like fish are always a great option and there’s plenty of meals that can be made from them. Things to avoid; sugar, grease, too many carbs, processed foods.

Getting your bike ready week in and week out is a huge job, do you do a lot of the work yourself?

For this season I only have one bike and it makes things simple, yet challenging. It’s hard to wear a 450 out so I’m not worried about putting too much time on the bike and I get very comfortable riding the same exact bike every time. At the same time, if something goes wrong with the bike I have to repair or find the parts it ASAP or I won’t be riding. Yessir, I do all of the work myself aside from suspension. I have replaced cranks before so motor work is not a problem usually. I do have a mechanical engineering degree, so that comes in handy when I’m making sense of what is going on in the motor and so on.

Speaking of your bike, I imagine it rips pretty good compared to a stock bike, what are some of the trick parts that you have on there?

I usually don’t do a whole lot to the bike because of budget, but this year a buddy from back home, Dave Hogstyn, hooked me up with a PC high-comp piston, PC cams, and race gas. Other than those motor mods, I use Works Connection parts, Rekluse clutch systems, Yoshimura pipes, SunStar sprockets, Braking brakes, and Mika bars (shameless plug for my hop-up parts).

One thing that a lot of amateur riders struggle with is getting consistent starts, how often do you practice starts? What tips do you have to help us improve at the starting gate?

Back in December when I was healing up some injuries, I went to my buddy’s track and did over 40 starts on the new metal starting pads. Practicing starts is huge and often overlooked by many riders and it could be the difference of starting in the back of the pack or starting out front and forcing yourself to ride the pace of the leaders. Too often riders will get a bad start then just start riding the pace of the back of the pack when they aren’t riding at their full potential. Some quick tips would be start in second gear, both legs down in front of the foot pegs, scoot up towards to tank and lean forward with elbows up. Once the card goes sideways, release your clutch slightly until you feel it starting to engage (while holding front brake in of course!) so that your chain tightens up and the bike is ready to explode out of the gate. Also, practice, practice, practice!

I’m sure have had a pretty nasty crashes, what is the worst injury that you have sustained?

My longest recovery would be an ACL, meniscus, MCL tear long ago, but my worst overall crash might have been this last year wear I went for a quad at a local track and took a trip to Indonesia instead…that’s moto talk for endo-ing and going over the bars. That crash landed me in the hospital for the evening with a concussion, broken collarbone, slightly collapsed lung, and broken ribs.

You have some pretty cool gear, what brand is that? Where can we get some?

This year I went with a new brand, Skillz Racing! I had been with FLY for 8 or so years and they were great, but they couldn’t do custom designs and work hard for me like Skillz is. Also this year, Bubba Pauli and I decided to put a team deal together and Skillz already supported him and he loved it so I came aboard! Basically with Skillz, everything is fully customized and they are designing some unique gear sets for Indy and St. Louis, mine and Bubba’s local races, and for Vegas. They even had some great camo gear made up for San Diego but I haven’t gotten to wear it yet, but I sure will soon! Overall I am very happy with Skillz and they are working hard to keep stepping the brand up. is where you can check out the line up! They will also work with you to make your own custom gear.

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