Two machines drive the sport of motorcycle racing. Today's racer experiences a hunger whose appetite for speed is captured inside a body driven by stamina and strength. Each year the talent in all moto-sport divisions becomes more impressive. The rider is awed as an Adonis of two-wheeled racing. Riders need to transcend from just a talented and fearless rider into a Moto-Athlete.
Let's start with cornering.
The body and stamina of the rider is a variable worth addressing. When dissecting the body mechanics of a motorcycle racer, it becomes apparent that the timing of the weight shift has a tremendous impact on the outcome of cornering. For example, if the rider shifts their weight too early, the bike falls into the corner prematurely. If the rider shifts their weight too late, the bike will resist the steering input, thus upsetting the chassis of the motorcycle while at maximum lean angle. In either case, ensuring the correct line when entering and exiting the corner relies in part on the rider's timing while maintaining perfect body position. Timing within the context of sports, defines an athlete's ability to move precisely with coordination. The Moto-Athlete achieves this timing as their mental and physical capacities integrate.
Revealing further insights into body positioning or how they may vary from rider to rider is less important than sharing how can a rider can improve timing, enhancing their mental and physical integration. Through sport-specific training, riders will improve their stamina and avoid the physical fatigue that ultimately enables them to sustain mental sharpness.
The Moto-Athlete who incorporates sport-specific exercises into their training can improve their lap times. The following is an example of one sport-specific exercise which can aid in one aspect of cornering. This exercise relates to the muscles which are being used in the abdomen and lower body during the weight shift for cornering. In future articles, I will address other parts of the body used when cornering, and how to condition them.
The adductor (inner thighs) and abductor (outer thigh) muscles along with the core are utilized when the legs push against the tank to help steer the bike with pressure from the knee. This skill is physical and waivers if the rider suffers even a moment of muscular fatigue.
The skill of kneeling on a resistance ball and maneuvering the body side to side as to assimilate tight cornering is one example of a sport-specific exercise that will transcend a rider into a Moto-Athlete. This exercise recruits the same muscles needed to dominate corners. It also helps to improve balance and focus.
Kneeling on the Ball - Corner Assimilation Series One
Carefully approach the ball, placing both hands firmly on the ball. Then place one knee on the ball and begin to center your weight. As soon as you begin to mount the ball, focus on using your core to gain control over your center of gravity.
Once you have both knees on the ball and have control over the ball, release your hands from the ball and lift yourself up into a kneeling position. Move slowly when making this transition.
From the kneeling position, begin to move your knees side to side. Keep this lateral movement slow and precise to avoid falling off the ball. Use your hands to assist with balance, placing them in front of you.
To take this drill into a full cornering assimilation, you will shift your knees completely to one side while shifting your upper body in the opposite direction. Keep in mind, in order to safely make this move and to re-enact this position without falling off the ball you must compensate your center of gravity by utilizing your inner thighs, gluts, abdominals, obliques and back muscles. Try to minimize your head movement and keep your gaze steady to also integrate the focus required when on the track. Sudden moves, abrupt changes, and ballistic energy will cause you to fall off the ball.
Like any other sport, cross training is an important element to incorporate into a regimen. In future articles I will talk about the benefits of riding a bicycle, doing yoga, playing ping pong or baseball as it relates to motorcycle riding and racing.