(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
There is a lot of discussion about the altitude at Thunder Valley and its impact on not only the riders but the bikes. There is no doubt that a 10 or 15 percent loss in power can cause a bike to feel “slow” to the riders and possibly cause varying degrees of comfort loss depending on who the rider is. So, this makes me wonder, if Eli Tomac spends most of his time training at altitude where his bike is making 50 horsepower, isn’t it possible that on race day the extra 10 horsepower his race bike may make closer to sea level may cause some discomfort? Is it possible that this may contribute to some of his “mystery” rides where he is tinkering around in fifth place, or his inconsistent and sometimes horrible starts? I wonder if anyone has ever asked him?
Thanks for the time, Ping.
That’s an interesting question and, though I haven’t asked Eli this question, I’m going to give you my opinion. Four-strokes are less affected by the elevation change than their two-cycle predecessors, so I’m not sure 15 percent power loss on a 450 is accurate. Additionally, since we are talking about one of the brightest stars in the sport at the moment, I have to believe Kawasaki, Tomac himself, and Eli’s support crew have addressed this issue. They can actually adjust fuel mapping and ignition timing in these machines so that any power that is lost from lack of oxygen at elevation can be made up for. I would guess there is less than five percent difference in power/throttle response from his race bike to his practice bike. They could even run different fuel to help make up the difference. Remember, Kawasaki could easily squeeze more power out of their race engines; they spend more time moving it around and making it usable than trying to find more. So, they can simply run a more aggressive setting in his Colorado bike and make up for the elevation. Again, this is all speculation but I’ll see if I can track ET down this weekend and ask him. Cheers!
Not gonna schmooze or waste your time. Love you articles and show. Great to see your wit and intelligence in the sport. Takes me back to one of my old favorites quite often, Brad Zimmerman.
My question is this: I've often observed European riders coming to the U.S. to race after years on the MXGP tour and developing the Epstein-Barr Virus. You have more factual data than any of us, so, have you recognized any trend? And, if so, why do you think it is so prevalent?
Thanks again for all you do for our sport of motocross!
Chronic fatigue, EBV, adrenal fatigue, and similar afflictions are a result of over-taxing your body and running your immune system down. If there is a higher number of MXGP riders suffering from this when they move stateside, I could easily make a case for it. First of all, we have a much hotter, and humid, climate than the EU, which is the hub for most GP racers. That means that all of your training and riding is done in a much less hospitable environment that requires more of your body to perform, recover, and simply maintain homeostasis.
Additionally, our travel schedule is brutal compared to the average GP racer. We start off with 17 rounds of supercross in the height of cold and flu season, then take one weekend off before rolling right into 12 rounds of Pro Motocross where the climate resembles an open-air Brazilian sweatshop. It’s difficult to explain to folks just how hot and humid these races get, especially when the track sits in a valley surrounded by trees; there isn’t a stitch of a breeze at places like Southwick. After the regular season there is just enough time to start testing for the Monster Energy Cup and international races, which leads us right back into A1. That is the perfect recipe for EBV or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Riders and teams have to be smart and take recovery seriously. Chase Sexton, the winner of the first moto at the Florida National, was unable to compete in the second moto because he was so exhausted after the first moto. There were many riders in the same boat. Then I heard Chase jumped right back into his regular training program Monday (huge mistake in itself) and rode all week before going to Southwick, the most brutal track on the tour. Once again, he had to sit the second moto out because he ruined himself in the opening moto. The importance of recovery is way understated in our sport and it’s rearing its ugly head right now. Sexton, Roczen, and Covington, among others, are all riding front seat on the struggle bus at the moment, likely because they didn’t spend enough time recovering. Any rider that competed in Florida should have spent the following week sleeping, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and doing yoga or stretching. If you did motos that week at the practice track, you went backwards. Some starts or play riding would have been fine, but the focus should have been recovery.
Now that all factory 250 teams have required gear brands for the riders, is it common for a rider to dislike certain bike parts or gear when they switch teams? I would imagine riders would have strong preferences about their boots and helmets but may be required to wear a less-preferred brand or something with an uncomfortable fit.
Also, when a guy (say AC92) leaves his 250 team, how easy is it to find gear deals? What is that process like? I imagine AC could name a price and choose what he wants while others may take whoever offers the most.
Guy who is still stoked about free stickers.
Free Stickers Guy,
Yes, I would tell you it happens on every team that has gear requirements. Without blowing any team or gear company out, there are always riders who dislike certain pieces of equipment that they have to wear. Usually it’s the helmet, goggles, gloves or boots, since those are the contact points and the protective gear that aides/impedes your vision. I wish I could be more candid and tell you some specifics of teams I rode for, but I’m going to stick to the high road. Just know that most teams are building custom gear for at least one rider at all times. Some riders want more padding in their gloves, others don’t like any. Some riders need a tighter waist in the pants, others need theirs taken out; there is always adjustment to make gear fit different rider sizes and preferences.
When a guy like AC makes the jump to a factory team, he can pretty much write his own check. That means that his options will be limited to the companies that have fat checkbooks; He isn’t going to get a $500 contract from a smaller brand, and he isn’t going to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table because he likes the look of another brand better. Careers are short in this sport so you make hay while the sun shines. I’m guessing Adam already has his deal done and his agent has shopped him around for gear/goggle/boot deals. The agent will bring the best offers to Adam and it will be his decision to make. It works the same way with other riders, but the numbers are probably much smaller. If you really love free stickers, shoot me an email to email@example.com and I’ll send you some DeCal Works / The Whiskey Throttle Show stickers.
Have a great weekend!
Have a question for Ping? Hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.