Alex Martin and John Wessling Interview | We Speak with the Men behind Troll Training

By Greg Poisson

A troll and a cyclist walk into a bar…

If you’ve followed Supercross and Motocross at all for the past decade, you’re familiar with Alex “Troll Train” Martin. Alex started off as a privateer but has had stints on teams like Eleven 10 Mods, TLD KTM, Star Racing Yamaha, JGR and most recently the Club MX Yamaha program. We have a strong connection with the ClubMX team as Canadian Scott Jeffery is a part owner of the team and winners of our DMX Total Devotion Award receive a free week training at the South Carolina facility.

The last season or so, Alex and co-founder John Wessling have been developing Troll Training, an online training platform for motocross athletes. Troll Training utilizes Alex’s experience as a pro racer along with John’s extensive cycling record into a one stop shop for racers beginner to pro.

Most recently, Canadian Triple Crown Series national #14 Quinn Amyotte made the move to the Manluk Yamaha team and at the time Alex was a part of the US contingent of this program. Quinn started on the Troll Training platform and his results improved almost immediately. As you can see from his improved results over the past two years and his ability to charge until the end of the moto, something is clearly working.

I reached out to John and Alex regarding Troll Training and have signed up myself to see if they can really take a “below average Joe” and make improvements to my personal riding.  I will be providing updates via DMX regularly throughout the winter to show you the progress I’ve made.

Alex and John have both been very gracious with their time and have answered a few questions about their personal/professional careers and what makes Troll Training different.

Alex Martin:

Direct Motocross: You’ve been over this 10000 times at this point, but for those who are new to you and your career, how did you get started? Obviously, your dad owning Millville helped, but what made Motocross be your sport? 

Alex Martin: I was very fortunate to grow up with the Millville race track in my back yard.  My grandpa raced, then my dad raced professional off-road in the 80s, he actually raced for factory Can-Am and ATK and won the AMA National Hare-scrambles championship in 1985.  My parents bought the Spring Creek property in 1988 and I was born in 1989.  So it’s safe to say I had a strong influence to want to ride my dirt bike all the time growing up!

How do you feel your last season/first full season on the 450 went? 

This past season racing the 450 was awesome!  I really just wanted to try the 450 one time before it was all said and done.  I’m happy with what I accomplished on the 250 and I gotta say after racing the 450 this year, I’m glad I stay on the 250 for all those years! Haha. It is a very long season, and just racing 17 Supercrosses in 18 weekends is insane.  It was nice to get some top 10’s in Supercross and Outdoors for sure but ultimately I’m happy I was able to finish the season in one piece.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your career? 

The greatest accomplishment of my career is probably getting to represent the USA for the MXDN in 2016 over in Italy and coming super-close to winning it.  That was pretty special.  Also ranked up there would be finishing 2nd overall in the US 250 championship twice in 2016 and 2018.

What made you want to become a “trainer”? You’ve always been open and communicated your training methods to the general public, but was this something that inspired you to start Troll Training? 

The inspiration behind Troll Training came from John, for sure.  We both have very similar passions for health and fitness and have learned so much in the last 15 years chasing the dream as both a racer and a coach.  I definitely made a ton of mistakes over the years and I enjoy helping people so they don’t have to make the same mistakes I did! I’m grateful we were able to create a platform that lets us share our knowledge to the general public.

What does the future hold for Troll? Will you be attending the SX/MX series as a trainer or will you be working with pros on a closer level? 

What does the future hold?  Haha. That’s a big question!  I guess we will see. For right now, I’m planning on continuing to grow Troll Training with John and help my parents out with the Millville local races and the National in July.  Those are my two main priorities going forward.  I do plan on being at a few races for some of our Pro guys, but I’m going to try to minimize the travel as much as I can to be home with the family.

Where can we expect to see Jeremy this season? I feel the new team and change of scenery will be a great fit for him. Will he finally get back to his winning ways? 

I’m excited to see what my brother can do on the Club MX bike next year!  He doesn’t have many years left and I know he really wants an SX championship before it’s all said and done.  I’m cautiously optimistic that the new team will be a good fit for him.

For those just heading into their racing careers, what’s some advice you’d give them if you could? 

For those just starting racing I would recommend making sure they prioritize good technique and that their fitness is somewhat decent.  It’s no fun when you buy a 10K dirt bike and you can only ride it for 3 laps because you’re tired or get arm pump!

We know you must be in this conversation, but who would you say is the baddest cyclist in moto history? 

My brother for sure has to be at or near the top of the list.  His Vo2 is head and shoulders above mine!  Also, Ryan Dungey was pretty damn fit on a bike in his prime.  Right now, Chase Sexton is very strong on a bicycle.

John Wessling:

John Wessling with Malcolm Stewart.

Direct Motocross: Give us some of your background. What got you started in cycling and ultimately in the MX world?

John Wessling: I grew up competing in a ton of sports: basketball, hockey, soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross, running and eventually cross country skiing. I fell in love with endurance sports when I was 15 years old or so and knew I wanted to ski in college, so that’s what I did. Once I graduated, I began to dabble in cycling more and started mountain bike racing in 2014 and 2015, and now I’m a full blown cycling nut.

As far as motocross goes, I grew up as a weekend warrior riding and racing. I lived most of my childhood in Minnesota, so I really only rode six months a year and on weekends – mostly at Millville. Once I decided to go all in on cross country ski racing, any riding was put on the back burner. 

You’re an experienced MTB racer. What is your biggest career accomplishment to date?

I was able to win three Cat 1 XC mountain bike national titles between 2019 and 2021 and I now race Pro UCI XC in the USA. I finished in the top 20 as a Pro at this year’s nationals in XC and XCC, along with completing my first Leadville in a time of 7 hours and 15 minutes. 

You’ve worked with some pretty big athletes in the past – Chase Sexton, Christian Craig, Alex Martin, just to name a few – can you give us some insight on that? How did you get started training MX athletes? 

Working with the best Supercross and Motocross racers was always a dream of mine. In high school and college I would help some local pros, like Dalton Carlson and Zack Williams, with small training plans, as a lot of cross country ski training transfers into moto nicely.

After college I randomly met up with Christian Craig on a road bike ride in Minnesota and that basically snowballed into me training him, Sexton, Henry Miller, and local pro Jake Loberg in the summer of 2015. From there I moved to California to work with the Geico Honda team and the rest is history. I feel really fortunate to have met the people I did and learn from some of the best athletes in the sport. 

You’ve co-founded Troll Training with Alex, what inspired you to want to create a training platform with MX athletes in mind?

Alex and I first had the idea in 2018 or 2019 to start a training program. He’s a really knowledgeable athlete and has a lot of experience, so we figured between his background and mine we could team up and help athletes out. He and I have seen most or all of the top programs in the sport first-hand and wanted a way to deliver what we know and what we’ve learned to people at a reasonable price. 

Alex and John:

With regards to bicycles for moto, do you suggest Road or MTB?

Alex:  It really depends on the area in which you live.  When I’m in California I prefer the MTB, but in Florida road biking was easier. 

John: Whatever you enjoy more. Some places it’s just not worth the risk to ride on the road, but others there isn’t great access to trails to mountain bike on. 

If you can only have one piece of cardio equipment for training for moto, what’s your go to?

Alex: Running shoes!  If your knees and ankles can handle it, running is the best bang for your buck, time-wise.

John: The Concept 2 rower or ski-erg. 

How young do you suggest kids start their off-bike attention to training and what would you suggest they do to get started?

Alex: What John said is spot on.

John: I don’t think there is a perfect age to start, but we aren’t keen on having a 10-year-old training like a pro. I think being well-rounded and playing other sports when you’re young is the way to go. Once you start getting in that 14-16 year old range, getting some strength built up and an aerobic base foundation are key to having a long career. If I could go back and start strength training at 15 years old, I would have been a lot better athlete. 

What are some of the biggest mistakes moto athletes make when training during the off season?

Alex: Too much intensity is for sure common.  Also having the discipline to not ride your dirt bike for 4-6 weeks is in important.  In the states we are racing and training from November to September.  That’s a long season.  I think it’s important to disconnect for a little bit and doing so will give you more fire to race and train when it counts.

John: Too much intensity. We see it all the time with athletes training too hard, too often. Going at a slow to moderate pace to build aerobic efficiency takes discipline, but after a couple of months you will see huge fitness gains while riding and recovering. 

What does Troll Training bring to the table that’s different from other training platforms?

Alex: I feel our biggest asset is the combination of John and me.  I raced at a high level for 15 years and have a decent amount of knowledge when it comes to bike setup, bike technique, on the bike structure, tips for arm pump, race mindset, balancing training, travel and rest, and how to heal fast from injuries (not proud of this but shit happens!). While John has almost the same amount of time spent in the trenches being a coach and trainer to some of the best racers in our sport and really knows his stuff when it comes to building strength in the gym, a strong aerobic foundation, and knowing how to juggle that with on-the-bike training.

Will you guys have any athletes competing at Mini O’s that we should keep our eyes on?

Alex: Yes, we will have Avery Long, Patrick Murphy, Grayson Fair and a few others representing in the A and B classes!

Thanks for your time, guys, and all the best with this endeavour.