FRENCH GP: Do MotoGP™ Riders Practice Other Sports?
*Disclaimer – Riders tend to keep some specific aspects of their training more secret for obvious reasons, therefore most of the information gathered in this article is from their social media profiles and public events.
It takes A LOT of preparation to be at the top of your game in any sport, MotoGP™ is no different. But in a sport where the physical and mental demands are so vast, how do you cover as many bases as possible while maintaining the fun and enjoyment that keep you motivated in the first place? We’re taking a look at the other sports the riders keep themselves busy with when not at race weekends!
A Jack Of All Trades
Marc Marquez is the most public with just how many sports he partakes in. The 6-time World Champion is partial to anything from archery, tennis, cycling, football, surfing, go-karting, and obviously all kinds of two wheeled sports!
MotoGP™ Funds Cycling Addictions!
Unless you live under a rock, it’s completely obvious that near enough all MotoGP™ riders are huge cycling fans – particularly road cycling. 15 of the current premier class grid regularly post about their pedaling antics, often heading out on group rides with members of the pro peloton. Cal Crutchlow for example, is one of Mark Cavendish’s best friends, whom has said he’d happily have Cal as part of his lead out train in sprint finishes! Aleix Espargaro also regularly competes in various amateur races and trains with the likes of Joaquin Rodriguez and many, many others in Andorra! Pedrosa is a low key but equally as keen cyclist, often cycling round Geneva near his home. Meanwhile, Petrucci and his brother prefer the trails – they’re pretty rapid downhill mountain bikers!
Aleix Espargaro is the only rider to have competed an Ironman Triathlon (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) - though he is not the only triathlete on the grid. Bradley Smith has been an avid swimmer, cyclist and runner for his entire career, as it helps provide strength and endurance in all parts of the body, as well as the strength and conditioning aspect helping give riders what they need in terms of flexibility and explosivity on the motorcycle. Scott Redding also took up tri in recent years, competing in amateur races up to Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run). Alvaro Bautista isn’t a triathlete per se but is a strong runner, often seen every Thursday of a GP getting his laps in on foot!
It comes as no surprise that when off season comes around and in Europe the white stuff falls from the sky covering the mountains of Switzerland, Catalunya, Andorra and Italy (4 locations where many riders from all classes choose to live), riders swap running shoes and cycling cleats for skis and snowboards! Some, such as the Espargaro brothers, Alex Rins, Moto3’s Albert Arenas and Jorge Martin even competed in amateur skimo races last season. Miller, Simeon, Lüthi, Viñales, Syahrin, Marquez bros, Rossi & Pasini (pictured) and Lorenzo are often seen during the winter months going full send down a mountain.
Cool Off With Watersports!
On the other hand, sometimes it gets a bit much with training on the bike or running through trails in 30 degree heat… so numerous riders turn towards the coast or lakes to go wind surfing, wakeboarding, even kayaking! Pedrosa in particular is a keen wakeboarder, Bradley Smith was spotted kayaking along the Colorado river while in Austin this year and Gabriel Rodrigo & Pol Espargaro enjoy wind surfing together.
TAKE IT TO THE EXTREME WITH WATERMOTORSPORTS!
Jakub Kornfeil, of SENDING IT in Le Mans fame, is also a two-time motosurf world champion! With motocross helmets and goggles, riding ultra-lightweight motorized surfboards, motosurf racing is the same principle as other forms of motorsport: first past the finish line, wins. He’s pretty decent to say the least.
It’s ALL About Engines!
What’s the best way to practice racing a motorcycle? Ride a motorcycle. Every rider practices riding a bike in one form of another at least a couple of times a week, perhaps with the exception of Cal Crutchlow, who aside from the odd bit of trials riding on the Isle of Man, really does just train by just riding his bicycle.
Dirt track, flat track, motocross, enduro, minibiking, track days, supermoto… there’s plenty of ways to get the two-wheeled fix!
It’s no coincidence that the majority of Marc Marquez’s wins come from anti-clockwise, largely left turning race circuits… that’s how he spends most of his training days in winter, on a dirt track bike turning left!
Over in Italy, Rossi has created ‘The Ranch’ for himself and his VR46 Academy riders. One giant circuit with many different configurations, loose dirt, flat track bikes, racing day in day out. The Doctor used to go on Enduro rides until an incredibly slow accident on an Enduro bike last year caused him a broken leg ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix.
Tito Rabat is one rider who clearly prefers asphalt to dirt and is notorious for pounding out lap after lap after lap at Almería race circuit in Spain aboard a Honda CBR1000RR road/track converted bike, day in & day out. There’s not an inch of that track he doesn’t know.
The likes of Dovizioso, Marquez, Petrucci, Miller, Redding, the Espargaros, Bradley Smith, Bautista, Iannone, and Rins are all keen motocrossers with a number of riders actually starting their career on dirt before switching to asphalt.
But What About Four Wheels?
Franco Morbidelli is another rider who enjoys getting his weekly speed fix through engines but with four wheels! The Moto2™ World Champion regularly spends hours at the go-karting track.
As for his mentor, VR46 – The Doc is a 6-time Monza Rally champion and has previously competed in 3 World Rally Championship races in Great Britain and also New Zealand. It has always been said that once Rossi retires from MotoGP™ he will make the switch to rally.
And F1? Ok, none of the riders have competed in F1 but currently two, soon to be three of them have tested cars before. Rossi had been rumoured all the way back in 2010 to make the switch with Ferrari, he completed several tests for them with promising results but obviously ultimately opted to stay in MotoGP™. Jorge Lorenzo had tested the Mercedes F1 car of Lewis Hamilton back in 2016 but he has not been linked with a full-time drive in F1.
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa could well be the next MotoGP™ riders to test F1 cars but this, like Lorenzo, will be under a promotional event rather than any intention of a switch.
All this sport and preparation “just to sit on a bike”? Who’d have thought it!