Getting race ready: the physical side of MotoGP™

Crutchlow talks to the Telegraph about training

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) is leading the MotoGP™ World Championship after round two at Termas de Rio Hondo, and as we get ready to race in Austin the Brit is featured in the Telegraph newspaper in the UK talking about training and the physical side of MotoGP™, alongside some other famous faces in the paddock.

“The physicality of riding a MotoGP bike is on par with some of the top level sports in the world,” says the three-time GP winner, “it is just a different discipline and set of demands. We don't have the same repetitive movement – like a runner, for example - and have to control different situations and that places extra stresses on the body.

“Even in Argentina, which is just round two, you ride on the first day and you get up the next day and you’re sore. You cannot ride anything else that replicates that GP bike. Using a Superbike on a track day or a motocross bike is different because it means different muscles. I doubt you’d get up the next day after motocross with an aching neck, whereas in MotoGP you will because you’re doing 220mph and when you sit up your helmet is being pulled off your head because of the wind. The G-forces you are dealing with is a lot. I honestly don't think you can train for it.”

That, then, is why Crutchlow doesn’t train specifically for that – he’s one of the few in the paddock who doesn’t ride anything with an engine in between races, instead opting to cycle.

“I don't ride a bike in between races,” he states. “I rode my trials bike once before the first test and I rode a motocross bike for 25 minutes in California and that was it for the whole winter.

“I used to run a little bit but I don't go in the gym because I put on too much weight, no matter what I do. I went through a phase years ago of doing a light weights programme but I still get bigger. I don't have any problem physically with upper body strength on the bike, sure you get a bit tired but I believe – compared to my competitors and without going to the gym – I am on a good physical level with them. So I don't bother with it. I just ride my bicycle and that's my preference, simply because I love it and I know what works for me.”

Knowing what works for you is, says Crutchlow, a key – with each rider a different beast.

“Some feel more fatigue on the upper part of their body and others feel it more in the legs. It depends on their ‘structure’. I remember talking to Mick Doohan a while back and he said he always felt his legs were giving a little bit more than the upper body, and that was in the days of the 500cc two-strokes. Different bikes, different stresses: it is very individual. For me Marquez has really developed more muscle, if you look back a few years then you can see a difference in his stature and maybe he felt he needed more strength for the way he rides which is very loose. There are a lot of little details and personal training really has to be personal in the case of road racing, and adapted to the athlete.”

For Crutchlow, that would certainly seem true. He’s leading the title fight after two rounds and the first Brit to do so since Barry Sheene in 1979. And, he’s the first Independent Team rider to do the same since 2004. Good reading as we saddle up for COTA, with lights out on Sunday at 14:00 (GM -5) for the race.