Ask Ping!Friday, July 19, 2013 | 9:20 AM
I won’t lavish you with compliments to get my question answered online but I am a wife of a moto enthusiast. I have been riding for about 3 years now. I truly love the races and every week we read ‘Ask Ping’ and ‘10 things to watch’ the Friday before races (I do think you are funny). I am so into the races that I have a dry erase board that my husband maintains with the top 10 of the last several races written on it. We track qualifying times on Sat and the last two weeks James Stewart has won pole. My husband teases ‘It’s Raining Yellow’ ‘It’s Going to Rain Yellow’ because he is a Stewy fan. I however, am not, at all.
I shrug my shoulders because that means nothing. It has no bearing on the race results themselves. I draw the conclusion that they aren’t pushing race speed to qualify first. However, he swears that they do try 100% to get first gate pick. My question is: Do you think that they are riding race pace for each hot lap they do? How many laps do you think that they are running full speed?
Carrie (It’s Raining Orange)
I hate to burst your bubble here, because you are obviously a Ryan Dungey fan, but those guys are throwing down their best stuff when it’s time to qualify. But you have to remember that timed qualifying is a separate skill set from racing; some guys are just better at it. I always sucked when I had to throw down one quick lap, which used to only be when I raced in Europe since that practice is relatively new here in the US. I needed the additional adrenaline of an actual race to pick up my pace. Some guys, like Stewart, are able to summon that speed at will and you’ll find their names at the top of timed qualifying frequently. Unfortunately for Stewart you are also likely to find him on the ground later in the day as well. Hopefully you and your husband can find some common ground and avoid dissolving your marriage over the issue of timed qualifying importance. If not, I’m sure there are plenty of racers who would love to have a girl as interested in racing as you. Good luck.
I know it is like beating a dead horse to talk about the involvement of the mindset of victorious riders in MX/SX and any other kind of motorcycle racing in fact. However I would love to hear from one who has been behind the scenes and up close with the sport for a while, how the approach to mental fitness is these days.
As we all know by today's standards, you will not succeed on the top level in our beautiful sport without somewhat scientific calculations of metabolisms, recovery times and nutrition facts. Watching a gifted rider like James Stewart, for example, frequently eating dirt while Ryan Dungey seems to stay off the deck quite well made me think if there is not more to it than suspension flaws and such. I'm starting to wonder if there are lapses of concentration to blame?
If that was the case I would think by accounting the entourage of advisers these top riders have these days that such things would be pointed out, singled out and improved on immediately.
I guess the core question is if the top riders of today do any form of mental training beyond "staying focused" and learning the list of their sponsors by heart? Any kind of meditation, concentration exercises, hypnosis, heck what do I know?
Thanks for your time,
Regards, Oliver (Germany)
I’ve been doing some research to answer your question and I think I’ve come up with an answer. After following some of the sport’s top riders on Instagram, including your countryman Ken Roczen, I’ve drawn some conclusions about how these riders get focused for the weekend. Judging by the pie charts and analytical data I’ve collected it seems like hanging out with your girlfriend, fishing, jet skiing and taking selfies when your hair is disheveled are all fantastic ways to get psychologically focused prior to competing on the weekends. This is some earth-shattering stuff so take a minute to absorb it.
I saw this on Vital yesterday and I couldn’t help but think that we just don’t have any riders like this anymore. Am I being too nostalgic or am I right? (Go to the interview part at 4:00)
We don’t have riders like RJ anymore. But Rick was unique even for his era. This is the same guy who went down to the stadium floor at the LA Coliseum, grabbed the mic out of the announcers hand and called out the riders who were sandbagging their heats to get a better start position for the main. And then after winning that main he pounded a Coors Extra Gold and made out with the trophy girl on the podium! He was as much of a showman as he was a competitor and he was 100% both. I can’t think of one other top rider in this sport, ever, who would break dance during a Japanese television broadcast. Can you? It’s a shame he injured his wrist and was forced out of the sport early because I think he would have continued to win races and titles for several more years. Despite his early retirement he is still one of the sport’s greatest heroes and a motocross icon.
Have a question for Ping? Email him at [email protected]
Share this article:
Did you like this article?
Check out THE MOTOCROSS OF 40 NATIONSin our Latest issue of Racer X available now.
The 2013 FIM Motocross of Nations at Teutschenthal, Germany, hosted teams from a record forty countries. Here’s how it played out for each of them. Page 90.