Q: What physical training should a rider (racer) focus on?
A: I liked this question because as a racer, I spent my whole career trying to find what works the best. Its not until very late in your career I found the right balance that worked for me. I think many sports people are the same. This is what I found…
Racers are always looking for an edge. They are to quick to believe crap they don’t need. I was the same. Someone said ‘Bananas are good’, so I ate them all day every day. Racers are easy prey for anyone selling any fitness junk that is not necessary…. magnetic bracelets, sports drinks for before, during and after training, bikes, shoes, clothing and anything else people can think up. At the end of the day, like any other human, racers need a good balanced diet, sleep and training. Not to much or to little of anything.
Many racers get into cycling because its a great sport and one of the best ways to get your cardio fitness level up really high. Plus it does not niggle your injuries like running does, pounding the pavement rattling all the screws loose. But because racers are competitive they want to beat everyone they ride with on a bicycle too. Cycling is hard going at first, but before you know it you are addicted to it, flying along with ease, eating up the miles/kms. When you are strong on a bicycle it makes you feel very good……but at the end of the day we are not bloody cyclists, we are motorcycle racers!
Life is a balance, not too much not too little of everything….. fun, food, sleep, training and also the things that are not good for you but are nice. So getting back to training, you don’t need to be a machine on a bicycle, you need to be in good shape for riding a motorcycle. So I would advise a young racer to keep in good condition all round. Gym and some sort of cardio often, but the most important is riding a motorcycle.
When racing at a high level, the only good practice for this is to be testing at that same high level, and this is very expensive so not possible to do often enough to keep you fit. So back to square one, you need other things to keep you fit.
MX and Enduro is excellent for fitness but has its risks. Eventually you get hurt.
I think Trials for hours is hard to beat as a training tool as it trains most of the same muscles and brain. Also maintenance and running costs are lower than other motorcycle sports (tyres last a year!) and providing you don’t take silly chances, the risk of injury is lower. Finally, the bike control you learn doing trials is excellent. Problem is, you need the right terrain. So back to square one, you need to do other exercise.
Try to do something everyday and don’t muck about, push. Change your types of training so you get a varied program. Take a day off now and again. Take the three days before you race off but do something to loosen/warm up a little those days. Don’t bother changing your eating habits just for race weekend. Eat and drink what you normally eat and drink to feel well and sleep well (which should not be unhealthy). Health and Fitness is a lifestyle commitment not a race weekend commitment.