Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, Dr. H. Rey Gubernick is better known throughout the industry as “Doc G.” He went to school at UCLA and Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and is now the chiropractor for Ryan Dungey, Marvin Musquin, Cooper Webb, Cole Seely, Chad Reed, Justin Bogle, Broc Tickle, Aaron Plessinger, and Austin Forkner. Some of his previous clients include Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, Ryan Villopoto, and Tim Ferry.
Doc G is at the races to help his riders stay loose and alleviate the aches and pains that come with pushing your body to the limit. During the week, Doc G is in his office to provide additional service (along with all his other patients), and then he travels to all the races on the weekends to give them a “tune up” before and/or after the race, depending on the needs of each rider.
I myself sustained a massive shoulder injury at the end of last year and have been nursing it back to normal ever since. After my insurance coverage for physical therapy ran out and with frustration from lack of progress, I started looking at other options. I’ve seen Doc G at the races and know how many motocross athletes he works with, so I knew he was my guy to try. The crazy thing is I had been to physical therapy 30 times in the past four months and I feel like I’ve made more progress in a single session with Doc G than most of my time at the previous facility. He’s got some machines that help do some serious work on scar tissue and although it’s not the most pleasant feeling during the session, I walked out of there amazed by how loose I felt immediately afterwards.
Feeling good, I decided to interview the man to learn more.
Racer X: You’ve got a lot of former patients jerseys hanging on the wall here in your office. How have you managed to get into this sport’s niche?
Doc G: When I first started this I just wanted to help people and make them feel better. I wish I could say that I was smart enough to kind of find that niche, but it just kind of fell into my lap. I’m a surfer myself so when I first started a practice I started working on some of my friends at the time. They were like team managers and they started sending in their pro surfers to see me when they found out that I was doing what I did. Then that’s when I kind of started specializing in my practice towards athletes. It first started with the surfers, then I went onto skateboarding, anything that was like surf/skate/snow. That was my niche. Then I got introduced to Tim Ferry by a friend. He was my very first motocross guy. He was struggling with some things and I didn’t even really know much about motocross at all. I had ridden when I was a little kid, but just for fun. We kind of hit it off, then he introduced me to Ezra Lusk. Then every year from that point I’ve been working with the riders. I actually became a fan over that period of time too, where I just wasn’t working on them—I started learning a little bit about the sport. Went to a Vegas Supercross. Tim asked me to come and he introduced me to Kevin Windham and to Ezra Lusk. From that point on I’ve been working with a racer or several racers.
What year was that?
Nineteen ninety-seven. Tim won the championship that year. It was the year he didn’t win a race, but he did well enough to win the championship. Ezra was at Honda and I started working with him. That was his really good year. I became a fan. Also, I think I started helping these guys and once you help somebody be a part of their championship, the word gets out a little bit. People started to ask and started to see me around the races. Then I got asked by several people to start helping them out. I’ve been with somebody ever since then.
Who are some of the other riders that you’ve worked with?
I’ve been asked this question before and we kind of figured out that I’ve had my hands on some of the top riders throughout their careers and now throughout mine. I think the only one that I didn’t have a regular working relationship with was Travis Pastrana. Jeremy [McGrath] at one time, there was Ezra and Kevin [Windham] and Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto. I’ve worked with several champions. It’s been a fun job. It’s a lot of traveling, but I think I’ve helped these guys in a certain way. Over the time doing it, you become friends. It grows beyond the doctor/patient relationship and you become friends with them. They’re almost like little brothers to me over the period of time. I worked the most with Ivan Tedesco. He was the one that really put me on the map. He was the first rider that had me go to every single race. I did all the supercross and I did all of outdoors with him. People started to think at first that I was his bodyguard, and then they started to realize what I did. He kind of put me on the map and showed people how important it is having someone like myself be a part of your program on a regular basis.
Who are you current athletes?
My 450 riders this year are Ryan Dungey, Marvin Musquin, Chad Reed, Cooper Webb, and Cole Seely. Then I help out Justin Bogle, Broc Tickle. I think those are all my 450 guys. Then my West Coast riders are Austin Forkner and Aaron Plessinger.
What’s a day at the races like for you?
What’s really fun is figuring out what each rider needs. Each of them has their own schedule. They all have their different wants and needs. For example, Marvin, I think from his European background, he loves to be worked on the night before. So I’ll usually fly out on a Friday. I’ll go directly to his hotel room and I’ll work on him on Friday nights. Then Saturday if he has arm pump or if he’s a little tight I’ll work on him a little bit, but most of the things we do for him are on Friday night. Then at the end of the race that night I’ll go back to his hotel room and I’ll just do a little tune up on him so he’s ready to go on Monday. Someone like Cooper Webb and Ryan Dungey, they’re more race day type stuff. I’ll do a little rub down, a little tissue work with Ryan right after track walk. Get him loosened up. Do an adjustment if he needs it. Then we’ll hit one maybe before the main event. Then Ryan loves getting worked on after the race. So each guy is kind of something different. I try and make sure that they get exactly what they’re looking for. Each one’s different and we just kind of make sure it’s fair for everybody.
It sounds like you must be pretty busy on race day.
On race day I barely even get to watch practice. This year during the West Coast I was a little busier because I have two West Coast 250 riders. On the East Coast I was a little less busy because I don’t have any East Coast riders. So it’s spaced out. There are always injuries, which sometimes unfortunately lessens the amount of guys that you have to work on. But part of my deal is when the guys sign a contract with me and decide to work with me that the treatment is included here at my office, so they can come in for treatment during the week. That’s a majority of the reason why I think a lot of these guys decide to work with me is because they get that hands-on stuff during the week as well.
Are they in the office all the time then?
Pretty much. Austin was here today. Plessinger was here today. Coop was here today. Cole Seely was here today. The ones that are around here a little bit more often. Ryan’s on the East Coast so I only get to see him during the week when he’s staying here for testing. Same with Marv. Marv has a house here in California so I see him a little bit more often. I’ve expressed to these guys how important it is to tune up your body, just like they do their motorcycle. The more times I can get my hands on them during the week with the amount of times that they train, I think it’s really important for their program. I think they understand that and they take advantage of it. I think that’s part of the reason why they choose me to work with them, is I include that as part of the package.
When you say “worked on,” what does that typically consist of?
For example, some of the guys today they’re changing and they’re making that transition from supercross to outdoors and their body goes through a lot of different changes. Different muscles are getting sore. They’re using their bodies in a different way. I’ve expressed this to the guys and I’ve been interviewed several times—basically I’m just their body mechanic. They have a guy that works on their bike and keeps their bike working at an optimum performance, and that’s what I think that I do for their bodies. So some of them their low backs are getting a little sore. Some of them their tension builds up in their shoulders, or they had a tip-over, they crashed. So we’re trying to keep their bodies tuned up just like their bikes and make them work at their optimum so they perform at the best that they can when it comes time to race time.
How would you compare a motocross/supercross athlete to some of your other athletes?
I’ve been asked this question several times and it’s the topic of many arguments in my office with some of the elite athletes that I work on. There is no doubt in my mind that motocross/supercross athletes are, when it comes to training, the most elite conditioned athletes that I work with. I work with MMA. Don’t get me wrong—I respect other people and what they do. These triathletes, it’s crazy. But when I tell people what these athletes in motocross heart rates are on a race day outdoors or supercross, they say there’s no way that that’s possible. Then I show them. It’s very respectable. I think people are starting to understand how hard this sport is and how demanding it is on their body. I think they’ve gained a lot of people’s respect that it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest sport.
What are the most common injuries that you see from motocross?
We’ve had the broken femurs and the tib/fib fractures, wrist and all that, but what I think I’m the best at is maintaining the “boo-boos” I call it. The little aches and pains that everybody goes through just from training as hard as they do. Two 20-minute motos and then spending time in the gym. These guys are constantly doing something and they need tweaks every single day. So we’re doing a lot of tissue work. We’re doing a lot of manipulation to the spine and to the extremities. We’re trying to get them stronger. There are a lot of things that that entails. The more I can get my hands on them, the better they’ll perform.
Who is one of your favorite athletes to work on?
There’s no doubt that when it comes to the elite right now that I’m working on, Ryan Dungey is the epitome of what everybody’s searching for. What I respect about Ryan is he is the most well balanced athlete that I’ve ever worked with ever. And I’ve worked with some elite athletes. His mental toughness, just his endurance and the way that he looks at his sport and what he does, it’s the most respectable thing I’ve ever seen in my life. He knows what he’s doing. He’s prepared the most that anyone can ever prepare, and the results show. He’s the four-time consecutive supercross champion. That doesn’t happen by mistake. It happens because he puts in the work. He’s a hard worker. He’s mentally tough. When it comes time to perform, his mind doesn’t drift and he stays focused. He’s the most consistent guy on the planet. I have serious talks with him. I’ve tried to get into his brain and he is so mentally tough and focused at what he does, and nothing else matters to him other than winning the championship. I really respect that. It blows me away. He always surprises me that right when I think he’s at the maximum mentally, he takes it up to another level. This last year is a perfect example that he’s been able to withstand all the pressures, all the mental stuff that’s been going on, and he’s been able to do it again. Here he is, the 2017 450 supercross champion. With all the trials, all the bumps in the road he stayed mentally tough and did exactly what he set out to do. It’s proof in the pudding. I really respect him.
What is your relationship like with Dungey? You were telling me about a text he sent you when you couldn’t make the Vegas supercross a few weeks ago.
Here’s a perfect example. It’s the first supercross race that I’ve missed in four or five years working with these guys. It was unfortunate, but my son tried to pick his wedding date on the weekend off, and unfortunately it didn’t happen and it had to be on Vegas. I was like, oh man, this is going to be bad. Hopefully Ryan clinches the championship before this happens. Well, he didn’t. It was unfortunate, but I sat down with all my guys and I said, “Hey, I’m bummed. I’m really happy that I’m going to be there for my son, but I really take pride in what I do and I’m not going to be there for you guys.” And with Ryan battling for the championship, obviously I sat down with him and I said, “I’m so sorry. I really apologize.” So it’s the wedding day on Saturday, it’s noontime, and I get a text from Ryan Dungey and these were his exact words: “Hey, bud, don’t worry about this. You just embrace your day, spend time with your family. This is a great occasion. You being there for your son. It’s not like your son gets married every single day. I’m going to be okay.” I was like, you got to be kidding me! This guy is class act. Here it is the most important day of his life and all he’s doing is thinking about me and how I’m bummed that I’m not going to be there, and he’s just trying to calm me down. Right there is the epitome of Ryan Dungey. He’s a class act. He’s always thinking about other people. But he knows how to focus when it comes time to focus. Right there I was like, this is a guy that I want to be associated with. I call him more than a doctor/patient relationship. He’s my friend. I hope he feels the same way. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the guy. People have asked me if I ever get burned out doing it, and I think I have the coolest job in the industry. I become friends with these guys. These guys are going to be my friends for life. I look back at Ivan and Ricky. Ricky and I still joke around. I see Jeremy and I can say hi. I bumped into Ezra in Atlanta. That’s what I’m really appreciative that this sport has brought to me, is that during the time that these guys put their faith in me and say, “I’m going to put my belief in Doc G. and I really think that this is going to be beneficial for my program.” I hope that I bring the professionalism to that, but I also love to have fun. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest jokester. I like to have fun, but I take my job serious and I really do think that I can help these guys and benefit them. It just makes them a little bit better and if they can win championships, great. I’m just as proud of Ryan Dungey winning this championship as he probably is. I think I was a little, little part of it. But when you look beyond it, I’m going to be able to look and see someone like a Cooper Webb and a Ryan and hopefully when I’m old and I can’t do this anymore I can always call them up and see how they’re doing and enjoy it when they start having kids. There’s life beyond racing. That what I really feel like this job has done for me. I’ve built some friendships and I’ve made some relationships that will go beyond riding.
You aren’t just a normal race day doctor. You still have your entire practice, right?
I work Monday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. On Fridays I’m here unless I need to be somewhere for them. In my contract with a couple of the riders they like for me to be there early. So when it’s on the West Coast I’ll usually work a half day and then I’ll split to wherever I need to be. When it’s on the East Coast I won’t work on Fridays. I get on a plane and then I travel. I take my little goodies. I have a lot of goodies on the trucks—tables, ultrasound units, anything medical, tape. The truck drivers and everybody has been very nice to keep those things on the truck. So we’re ready for anything that happens—cuts and things like that. I think the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Center does a great job. When it comes to something serious I’ll always refer that to Doctor [John] Bodnar, but when my guys are hurting or they need something that I can help them with, that’s what I’m there for. I’ve done this for such a long time. I appreciate the fans who kind of understand what I do and come up to me and always give me a high five. I just want to make people aware that we’re trying to help the longevity of these riders a little bit more, so there’s life beyond riding. There are people like us who really care about the riders and we’re doing what we can to make them the best that they can be.