From the October 2016 issue of Dirt Rider Magazine.

Less than five hours after winning the Cherokee National Enduro in Greensboro, Georgia, Steward Baylor was on his 22-foot Triton Center Console boat bow fishing his favorite lake near his home in rural South Carolina. Hunting and fishing are a big part of a young man’s life in the Deep South, and the Baylor boys, 21-year-old Steward and 19-year-old Grant, are as passionate about those hobbies as they are about racing motorcycles. The difference, though, is that when it comes to the National Enduro Series, the siblings rank among the elite. During the start of the 2016 season, the dynamic duo swept the first three rounds, with Grant winning rounds one and two in South Carolina and Alabama, while Steward topped the third round in Louisiana.

Last year, the brothers finished first and second at the Pennsylvania round of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series, which has never been done before. Interestingly, the Martin brothers, Alex and Jeremy, made history by doing the same thing in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series at Glen Helen this year.

Dirt Rider went on location with Steward and Grant at their 100-acre farm near Belton, South Carolina (population: 4,134), to find out more about their practice techniques and to learn just what makes them so deadly in the woods.

Baylor Brothers story
Steward leading Grant through the trees.Photo by Shan Moore

Life On The Farm

Like most brothers, Steward and Grant have their disagreements. In fact, when I arrived for the photo shoot, the two weren’t speaking to one another, according to their mother, Jeanette. But that quickly changed when we began setting up our camera gear. “If we’re going to argue, it’s going to be over something stupid,” Steward says. “It’s not usually about racing.”

With almost three years separating the two, “Stew” and Grant are polar opposites when it comes to personality. Steward is the brash, confident, and outspoken one, while Grant seems almost shy; he’s the quiet one. When it comes to racing and practice, however, the Baylor boys are serious, even though they don’t adhere to any particular training philosophy. Neither one of them has a trainer right now, and they don’t have a set practice or training routine or subscribe to a particular dietary philosophy (I found out that Steward is particularly fond of cheesecake). What makes them fast is they spend a tremendous amount of time on their bikes during the week riding a wide variety of tracks and trails on their “farm.”

Practice

Over the years, the Baylors have built dozens of practice tracks and put in countless hours of training on their property. They’ve literally got a little of everything to ride.

“We have some really tight sections, which are similar to most of the tighter enduros like Sumter, South Carolina, and the Cherokee in Georgia,” Grant says. “Then we have what we call our GNCC loop, which is super tough. It’s maybe not quite as fast as a GNCC course, but it’s very similar to the GNCC style of racing. And then we have a motocross track and an EnduroCross track for when Steward raced the X Games in 2012.” Probably the coolest thing the Baylors have is a rocky creek that they use to practice for races like the Rattlesnake National Enduro and the Snowshoe GNCC.

“We just have little tracks everywhere,” Grant says. “Some aren’t even tracks, just bits of trail we ride over and over.” They also have a turn track that consists of S-turns that takes about two minutes to ride, which they use to practice their corner speed. Steward says it’s great practice for the ISDE; the two have been selected to ride for the US Junior Trophy Team for the past five years, including this year’s team that will compete in Spain. “It’s just turn after turn after turn, and that’s all that racing is, really,” Steward says. “You can’t make up time going down a straightaway; you have to make it up in the corners.”

Most of the time the brothers will practice whatever they know the upcoming race will have, like rocks or log crossings, but sometimes they will pick out a technique that they feel they are struggling with, like exiting turns, and practice that over and over.

“Usually when I go out and ride I work on not making mistakes,” Steward says. “That’s the biggest thing. I think I have probably one of the best corner speeds out there, but I can only do it so many times before I make a mistake. So when I go out and ride I try to be mistake-free. I work on trying to be consistent, trying to make sure I’m breathing and making sure I’m always setting up every turn, standing up coming into my corners.”

Steward puts 400 to 600 hours on a bike in a year, which means he goes through a couple of practice bikes for every calendar.

Baylor Brothers story
The Grant KTM launchPhoto by Shan Moore

Riding Styles

Grant is one of a handful of riders who can win at the Pro level at a really tight National Enduro on a 450. “I can manhandle the 450 pretty well and throw it back and forth in the tight stuff like I need to,” Grant says. “I’ve always been told I was really aggressive on the 450, and everybody thinks I need to shift up a gear or two, but I think I’ve gotten better over the past two years about riding higher gears on the 450.”

Both riders sit down and slide way back on the seat, which has sort of been the signature style for the Baylor boys. “I’m pretty much on the fender when I ride, and I steer with the rear wheel and just pull the front end wherever I want it,” Grant says. “Everybody always tries to tell me I need to sit further forward, but it works and that’s how I ride.”

Steward rides the same way, but he does it out of necessity. “Before my wrist injury I never really rode too far back,” Steward says. “I always rode up on the bike. I was very aggressive, always over the front of the bike. Since my wrist injury, though, I’ve had to change my ways. Grant was always hanging off the back; he sits on the fender. Since I’ve had the wrist injuries I look at pictures of me and I’m like, ‘Wow, I look like Grant.’ I’m hanging off the back. Basically I’ve got to ride on the back.”

Training

Training for the Baylors is kind of a mishmash of techniques. It seems to be working for them, though, because both are usually strongest at the end of their races.

“I’ve been putting in more time on the bike and less time in the gym,” Grant explains. “And it seems to be working for the Enduros.”

“I’ve had a trainer for the last seven or eight years, and I know how to work out, but I felt that I could do it a little bit better on my own, and this year it’s really been going well,” Steward says. “I change my training quite frequently, and every week it’s something different. Every day it’s a surprise. I go to the gym four to five days a week, and my training consists of high-rep, explosive workouts. I work out upper body two days a week, lower body two days a week, and then I have a preventative day. Basically an injury day working my knees and my shoulders because those are obviously the two main injuries you have on a bike. I want my workouts to be explosive because that’s the way I feel I move my bike around.”

Baylor Brothers story
The Baylor bothers discuss technique.Photo by Shan Moore

Reading Trail

Since you’re not allowed to pre-walk or pre-ride the course at National Enduros, during the race you’re riding trail you’ve never seen before and you don’t know what’s around the next turn. There’s an art to reading trail, and every­body has their own way of doing it. Some just watch for arrows, and some just look at the trail. The good riders do a little of both.

“The main thing is looking ahead,” Grant says. “You can watch some guys and they’ll look right at their front tire. I try to look around, and I try to look two corners ahead. I’ll look for arrows way up ahead—that way I get an idea of where the track’s going. Most riders follow the trail; they don’t really follow the arrows, but that will bite you in the butt real quick if you’re following the trail and the riders in front of you overshoot the corner. You’re just going to go the same place they did and go right past the turn. I think looking ahead plays a big part in doing well in Enduros.”

Baylor Brothers story
Baylor brothers night fishing session.Photo by Shan Moore

Brothers In Arms

A few years ago, the bothers were both part of KTM’s off-road team, but the last few years they’ve been on different teams, though they still feel a connection at the races that’s still sort of a team dynamic.

“It doesn’t matter to me if he wins or if I win,” Steward says. “And I try not to give Grant advice on riding because I know it will make him mad, but occasionally I’ll chip in. I’ve made my mistakes. I was the older brother and I’ve seen what happens. Our sport is vicious. You get chewed up and spit out real quick. Right now, I’m winning national events but I’m paying for my own bikes, and it all goes back to a couple of bad years. I know that if he has a couple bad years, it’s going to be tough for him. Whenever I’m speaking on that topic usually I’m trying to speak from experience. I know how quick things can change in this sport. When I see him making mistakes I try to say something to him, but obviously since he’s the younger brother he thinks I’m picking on him.”

Steward and Grant were talking again by the time I packed up my gear and left the farm, and they told me they couldn’t remember what they were even fighting about in the first place because they were already fighting about something else. Brothers!