Motocross legend Walker, 39, hitting the gym hard to keep up with 'the kids'

Dave Ongie • Jul 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The sun has barely cracked the horizon and motocross legend Kevin Walker has already worked up quite a sweat.

After the 39-year-old rider finishes wearing out the rowing machine at the Tri-Cities Lifestyle Center, he moves on to a grueling training session with his personal trainer, Lee Snider.

Along with his job at a local Yamaha shop and racing his motorcycle on the weekends, Walker has come to see his workout routine as a third job, a job he takes very seriously.

“You’ve just got to put your time in,” Walker says with a chuckle.

Walker is nearing the end of a 13-week training program geared toward getting him ready for the AMA Amateur Motocross National Championships, and he freely admits that he’s feeling good.

That’s bad news for anyone hoping to dethrone the 13-time champ at this year’s event, which will once again be held on Loretta Lynn’s property outside of Nashville at the end of the month.

“The expectation is to win,” Walker says. “If I didn’t think I could win, there wouldn’t be no use in going.”

Walker’s 13 national championships are the most in the history of the event, putting him two ahead of his closest competitors. But his goal is to win two more, starting with a victory in the Vet 35 Plus championship in a couple weeks.

That’s where all the hard work in the gym comes in.

“Everything changes — bikes change, people change — but still, in our sport, it comes down to the guy sitting on top of the motorcycle,” Walker says. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an old bike or a new bike as long as the guy on the back can ride it to its potential.”

Now that Walker is pushing 40, he is aware that Father Time and Mother Nature are teaming up to slow him down.

Racing against kids half his age on a weekly basis has hammered home that slice of reality.

“In my sport, if you don’t train at this age and still try to run against the young kids, you might as well just give up,” Walker says. “I’ve got to at least keep up with what they’re doing regardless of whether my body will let me or not.”

So while he won’t be facing the youngsters at Loretta Lynn’s place this month, Walker is still looking for any possible edge over what promises to be a talented field. He feels like his physical conditioning might be enough to make the difference.

Walker points to a solid performance at Muddy Creek Raceway last weekend as evidence that all the hard work is paying off.

“My body is just not near as tired,” Walker says. “This past weekend, we ran two complete days of racing and even the kids were getting tired by Sunday.

“I think the biggest difference was my recovery time between the two days.”

After completing his workout, Walker stretches out and finishes off his bottle of water.

Up next is a stop in Wytheville, Va., at the motocross track where he earned the nickname “Sky Walker” by catching some air off a massive jump on the backstretch. Then comes a weekend off to rest up for nationals.

While Walker has another championship on his mind at the moment, he’s still trying to enjoy every moment he has left on the back of a bike.

“I’m almost 40, so who knows if I’ll go the next 10 years or if this is my last year?” Walker says. “I’m just going to take it as it comes.”

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