Sunday, June 16, 2013

Moto GP

After a nice little break, all good things must come to an end and the time has come to good the wheels rolling again. I decided What better way to do that than a trip to the moto GP on the final day of my little break to really get me revved up!! This year I have been really fortunate to have a new Aussie neighbor here in gavirate. Brian Staring who is the only Aussie currently racing moto GP moved into town over the winter and through our mutual love for 2 wheeled sports we have been hanging out a fair bit.

It's amazing that between races these guys never see let alone ride there moto GP bike. Instead all riders mix there 2 weeks between races with some motor cross or dirt flat track riding and crossing training of all sorts. It turns out alot of the guys involved with motor bike racing love riding there push bikes and Bryan is certainly one of those. So with that being said he has become a very regular training buddy for me between moto GP rounds. I was pretty tired after the giro, not so much physically more health wise and mentally fatigued so while I have resumed riding my bike I have merely been doing it solely for enjoyment. In fact I basically ride my bike for as long as I have good company or have a good view to look at. Bryan is great company so its been awesome spending time with him out on the road for quite a fews hrs a day learning more about him and his sport. It is always an absolute honor to meet sportsman at the top of there game and meeting bryan has certainly been no different. For me the greatest part about meeting these guys you see on tv and admire is simply the realization they are just normal blokes or woman as may be the case and having a normal conversation with such high achiever's is something I always cherish. So with spending so much time hearing about Bryan's moto GP career it was only fitting I get m backside along a round while on my little mid season break.

So off to mugello in Tuscany I went a couple of sundays ago for my first european moto GP experience. Bryan had organized me a VIP pass so I was pretty jolly excited about the prospect of hanging out in the "paddock" for the day. The first thing that was apparent when I entered the prestigious "paddock" as it's know that contains all the semi's, motor homes, hospitality, and off course the access to the garages and track itself, was how seriously cool it was! The hospitality setups as they call them are more like a mobile restaurant. And not a small one either, each team has it's own setups which requires between 4-5 semi trailers which transform into these entertaining areas for the race weekends. They are simply mind blowingly cool! I met Bryan in his team go&fun set up and sat down with him for his Pre race meal. It turns out the intensity of a moto GP race is pretty much the same as a 45minute time trial in cycling so bryan was diligently tucking into his pasta a few hrs before the race to give it plenty of time to digest. Don't want to be disturb by food rolling around when you are wrestling a moto GP bike around the track at 350kmph! I did not want to disturb Bryan but he seemed to like having me around I tagged along for the rest of his Pre race routine. next he took me into the garage to check out is bikes. 2 identical, one set up for rain and one for the dry. Also if you crash on the warmup lap you at least still race on your second bike. Bryan rides for an Italian team so was great to meet the team behind the team, management, staff, mechanics, and see that they ran a similar very organized ship to that of my fantastic cannondale cycling team. The only difference perhaps being the number of grid and pr girls hanging about! Don't see that much in the mechanics truck at a cycling race! As a result of this very Italian feel of the famous cresini family set up I intantl had a good feeling with the guys on the team. Also Bryan was proudly introducing me as his mate who rides for cannondale and had jus finished the giro. With most in the sport very interested in bicycle racing it certainly broke the ice nicely and I quickly became part of the furniture in the garage!

Next job was watching the start of the moto 2 race which precedes the moto GP race. Bryan wanted to study the lights and also for some reason have my second opinion as while it's random it is usually consistent between all races at there particular tracks. So we studied that and both came to the conclusion that they delay between the red and lights out (the don't have a green light any more) was very quick. Bryan's start in the race was a cracker and by the first corner he had made up 4 grid positions so the recon must have worked a bit! Now it was time for bryan to get himself organized into his race suit and race mode so I just hung out with the mechanics as they went about the final preparation on the bike for the race. It was also interesting watching bryan getting organised and realizing they go thrpugh the same things as us. Small things like have i eaten enough? Drank enough? What if this happen what if that happens. All the normal thngs every everyday athlete goes through happens just the same on the world stage! Only difference the world is often watching you while you go through it. Often i find  in these times all you want is a voice you can trust to give you an opinion on whatever t may be, help yo make a decision. Often the decision you are making wont make one i ota of difference either way, an extra sip of electrolyte drink, an extra bite of the honey sandwich, did the light really appear to go out quickly?? Small things that go through your mind and you just want a second opinion on. Well today I was giving that second opinion and it was a facinateng experience for me to be on the other end of these moments building up to the big race! 

Before I knew the moto 2 race was over and Bryan was aboard his go & fun Honda and heading out for his warmup lap. This is where my first official task within a moto GP team began! Bryan had given me the job of water boy!! He figured in cycling I had plenty of experience in these duties so should be able to also handle it at moto GP level. So those cool looking drink bottles with long straws I was now in charge of carrying out to Bryan on the start grid so he could keep his fluids topped up while he was sunning himself on the start grid waiting for the start. I had always been fascinated by these bottles when watching the GP on tv, watching casey stoner sip from his red bull bottle before the start is an image entrenched in the moto GP section of my brain! Well now I was in charge of this special bottle and out onto the start grid I marched, handed over the bottle, got a polite wink from Bryan, he was in focused race mode now, and then proceeded to hang out with the mechanics monitoring the tyre warmers pretending I had some idea of the whole process. With 3 minutes before the start the warmers came off, the bottle was pushed in my direction, and bryan slammed on his helmet and we were scurrying of the grid. I got a little distracted or start struck as I bolted for the pits and had to stop for a couple of photos of Valentino Rossi and the other moto GP stars while they revved the be jingos out of the machines moments before the start. I certainly got a little held up as I was ultimately rushed off the start grid by security into pit lane as quite latterly the race was about to start! The noise was incredible as they launched off, loud but a real beefy good note load that I am sure only a rev head could appreciate! So with bryan underway I retreeted to garage before deciding to have a little wonder around the track as I could quite literally go anywhere I wanted. 

What I was most intrigued about by the race was the battle between team mates. Infact one of the honda riders Marc marquez was forced into a crash by his team mate Dani pedrosa, bet mark webber wished there was the same inter team rivalry allowed in formula 1! I asked Bryan about it after and as he said they are both fighting for the championship so there just another competitor, team mate or not, that was interesting to see that's for sure. Bryan had a great race and moved up a few spots and finished just outside the points but both he and his team were happy with the improvements he was making in his season of moto GP so that was great. After the race I was amazed to see how fatigued and drained Bryan was, I knew it had to be hard work, gee you try wrestling a motor bike around a race track a speeds touching 350kmph! But he was really whacked and had probable sweated in the region of 5kg of perspiration. Upon seeing I said I think its time to ramp up the intensity on some long climbs on the bike, simulate the fatigue he experiences on race days! He agreed and certainly has up the anti this past couple of weeks on the bike and today scored his first points in the championship with a awesome 14th in the catalunya GP. Bryan certainly needs no pushing in training, he is an animal, but like I enjoy training with him and pushing a little more as a result, I hope I have been able to help him a little with that aswell.

With the race done and de brief done it was time to pack p the circus. Just like with our cycling team there process for this is immaculate and goes as smoothly as possible. I helped out where possible with some lifting of crates and asking way to many questions about this and that while Bryan dealt with his media commitments. Then just like in the cannondale family, once the las bit of work was done with the pack up and everyone was ready the team headed off for dinner all together. Well the entire team plus the days groupie tagalong! Me! It was great to see them all come together like that at the end of a long weekends work and unwind. I got to tell some stories about the giro and even signed a few autographs myself, seemed a bit strange doing that at a moto GP event so was very flattered by that. The food of course was incredible, pretty ny on impossible to get a bad feed italy and in the moto GP paddock its no different. And then like all good things the day had to come to end as everyone said there good buys and headed home. Was an amazing day and incredible experience, great to see what Bryan goes through first hand and I am hooked! Will be going to every round I can make it to from here on in that's for sure. But a the end of the day having had the honor of witnessing the ins and outs of yet another elite level sport, was the realization that like all great events and great athletes, there so much behind the scenes that makes It all happen, the team behind the teams.