Ask Ping

Ask Ping

May 29, 2015 11:30am

Ping,

Young Mr.Tomac put an ass-whoopin on everyone 4 motos in a row now. I hear everyone (Dungey) who got beat, talking about set up as one of the reasons. Last year Honda switched to KYB and suddenly got faster. Last year KTM was fast consistently. It occurred to me that Honda used their settings from the end of last year as the base set up to begin testing for this season. Didn't KTM and everyone else do the same? I realize that KTM has a new chassis, but they are using the same suspension components. 

My questions are as follows: How, with all of their resources, testing, computer modeling and years of data from all of the tracks in the USA and Europe, did KTM miss the mark so badly? 

I have heard Dungy and others speaking of "chasing the set up" many times when they have lost. When Ricky Carmichael was destroying everyone week after week for so many years, was his set up perfect at every race? I recall one time he even lost control of his bowels, pooped his pants and still crushed everyone. Is Tomac's set up that much better or is he just hauling ass in spite of technical short comings?

Please provide your thoughts and insights from the professional racer's perspective. 

Bill Bandy 

P.S. Please excuse my punctuation, paragraph and sentence structure as I went to public school.

Bill,

Any time you redesign a chassis from the ground up you have to expect that your old suspension settings are going to be off. The KTM is a completely new motorcycle, so settings from last year wouldn't be much help. They’ve had the entire supercross season to get a good setting indoors, but there’s a learning curve again when the motocross series starts. They will get there, but it truly is like starting over when frame geometry is altered like that. Having said that, the excuse of "chasing setup" does get a little old. One of the best things I ever heard Ricky Carmichael say after getting beat was that he just got beat. He would congratulate the winning rider and reiterate that he got his ass handed to him and that he had work to do that week. Maybe that was his way of reminding himself why he was going to be working so hard the ensuing week. Either way, his honesty was refreshing, and I always respect a rider who calls it like it is and doesn't try to make an excuse, even if there is something going on. I think Ricky had some great people behind him helping get his bikes dialed in, but there’s no way he had the "perfect setup" for entire seasons and during his reign at the top. Ricky just rode the wheels off the bike and made it work the best he could. He was good enough to make changes to his lines or the way he was riding the bike if it wasn't working good in an area. There is a reason he's called the GOAT.

PING

 

Hey Ping, 

I've been noticing a trend of pro riders getting sick an awful lot, and wanted to know your opinion as to why. I understand that they travel a lot and run their systems down, etc., but it still seems like an excessive number of riders come down with debilitating, long-term illnesses like Epstein-Barr and mono. Does it perhaps go hand-in-hand with the crappy diets I see a lot? It's odd to watch a behind-the-scenes type video and see a rider sucking down a soda and cheeseburger at Five Guys. I hear top riders talking about going to Chipotle or Subway, or drinking coffee on raceday, which even a Vet B rider would think twice about if they're smart. I'm not trying to criticize, but you don't see Olympic athletes standing around drinking a Coke or eating at chain restaurants. It seems like a lot of riders don't take their diets seriously the way other hard-core athletes do. 

Keep up the good work,

Jason

Jason, 

Training, traveling, practicing, and racing demand a lot from a rider and his immune system. Unlike low-impact sports like cycling or swimming or baseball (or anything else where you don't get thrown to the ground at speed) are easier to recover from because there’s less damage done to the body during training. Even a good day at the track is tough on your joints and muscles. Add to that the time spent in the gym, running, cycling, etc. and you have some serious break down. That means riders have to be on top of rest and recovery as part of their program. Getting enough sleep, proper hydration, proper diet, proper supplementation, flexibility, addressing small issues before they become big ones, and just basically taking care of yourself are critical aspects of training. Some riders go as far as spending regular time in hyperbaric chambers to aid in recovery. Unfortunately, motocross riders are young and the sport itself is young. That means that unless you have a trainer who knows what they are doing and can steer you through some of the pitfalls of overtraining or improper training, you could end up with an illness like you mentioned. There’s a big difference between a 17-year-old kid hitting the pro motocross scene with some running shoes and a lot of enthusiasm and an NBA rookie who has the entire team staff to help him through the physical preparation for his sport.

PING

 

Ping,

I love your section about letting us fans ask you questions. I have been making predictions on who I like, who I think are going to live up the expectations coming into the ranks. The last 3 riders I have picked have all came to prove myself right against all my racing friends. I proved them all wrong and they can't believe that I am able to see the potential in the riders I pick. This is what I would love to do, it's a dream job of mine to be a pro scout for a team. My question is what more does Alex Martin have to do to get the chance of landing himself a factory ride or a shot with one of the great factory teams? Over the last 2 years the guy has proved himself time and time again he deserves a shot.  Just to let you know the picks I have made were Jason Anderson, Aaron Plessinger, Jessy nelson. I made those picks from their last 2 years in there a amature days. My next pick is Ryan Suratt. But either way Alex Martin what more does he have to prove to get the factory position he deserves? 

Ed

Ed,

I've gotta be honest, Eddie, you are coming off a little Forrest Gump-ish here. You've made a couple successful predictions, so maybe it’s more of a Rain Man vibe, but, either way, it's not good. First of all, Nostradamus, for years the factories have groomed all three of those guys you picked, and their potential was obvious. Second, there is no occupation titled "pro scout" where you just hang out at the races and predict which riders will be successful in the future; those are called bench-racers and they work pro bono. I will give you this: Alex Martin deserves a factory ride, although his current team does get some factory support. His results have continued to improve, and with his recent finishes this season, it won't surprise me to see him with a factory effort for 2016. Now get back on the porch and put your helmet on, you window-licking fortune-teller. If we don't' have you telling us who is going to win races in the future the entire sport will implode. You are truly doing God's work.

PING