Our man “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti had been grinding and his hard work paid off in the 250SX East Region of Monster Energy AMA Supercross…until he suffered a big crash at the 250SX East/West Showdown that resulted in a broken ulna (forearm bone). Nicoletti is doing well in his recovery and is hoping to return at the High Point National round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Despite the injury AND being on vacation, Nicoletti still answered some of your questions! Got a question for Phil Nicoletti? Send it to Phil@racerxonline.com.
(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
I had a question about muscle cramps and if you have a method for avoiding the, or controlling them (if you get them) after a supercross or national. I am sure that proper nutrition and hydration play a huge part in controlling leg cramps after competing, so I was wondering if you or any other riders suffered through this magical time while on a cramped plane on the way back home. I know that after a day of riding and trying to prepare through the week with hydration, I sometimes get the leg cramps at night, often times waking me up in complete discomfort. I was just curious as to how the top-level guys prepare and, at times, handle them at inopportune times.
That is a really good question! Our sport is literally stuck in the Stone Age when it comes to proper nutrition and hydration. For the conditions, and the amount of time logged through the weeks, most riders are uneducated when it comes to hydration and food. A lot of guys struggle with cramps. Not just muscle cramps though, also stomach cramps due to over exertion. But an easy way to get cramps under control is a proper sweat rate test. You can also calculate it on your own: weigh yourself in the morning and measure the amount of water and electrolytes you have throughout the day, weigh yourself once through the day and after each moto and training session. If will give you an idea, especially on hot days. Electrolytes and salt are your friend. Your blood is as salty as chicken noodle soup. I’m not a trainer, but I had one of the best in the sport for a lot of years, Seiji Ishii. I’ll post a link to an article he wrote that gives better understanding. Through my career, I’ve been fortunate enough where I never struggled with muscle cramps. However, stomach cramps I have. I OD’d on electrolytes at a national, not once, but twice. It was the worst experience riding a dirt bike I ever had. I learned my lesson the hard way. So always test the limits on a practice day no matter what.
Anyway, here is an article Seiji wrote about preventing muscle cramps.
While watching the Seattle Supercross I noticed that Justin Barcia and Cooper Webb were going through the whoops at about the same speed. Neither one had an obvious advantage, even though Barcia was blitzing, and Webb was jumping through them. Were those the perfect whoops because they didn't favor either style? Or were they crap, and it was just stick to your strengths and salvage what you can?
From my couch, the whoops looked awesome. They always look so much better and easier from TV! Personally, I skim until I’m blue in the face. I’m so bad at jumping whoops it’s not even funny. Jumping them is much more efficient, but I don’t feel like it’s necessary most of the time. Especially if your bike is set up right, I don’t believe there is a reason to jump. If the whoops can hold up when guys are jumping and skimming, then that’s a win. Those whoops seemed a bit tricky though because the dirt was like the surface of the moon. Looked really hard to see the edges. Most of the time skimming is faster in the beginning, and slower at the end. Jumping is the opposite. So, it’s a catch-22. But I’m against jumping. Mostly because I’m to uncoordinated to figure it out.
I am picturing the Phil man cave someday when you stop racing professionally. Will it include any of the bikes that you have raced over the years, do you own any of your old race bikes? Is there a team bike or two that you raced and would have liked to keep?
What about gear, do you have a collection of cool race jerseys, helmets or gear filed away? Did any of that stuff mean anything to you?
I guess what I am trying to say Phil.. are you sentimental?
I am sentimental about certain shit. I wish some of the teams would have let me keep a bike or two for memorabilia, but you only get that if you win a stupid championship. We are a ways away from that if you haven’t noticed. But I do save some of the badass gear that was made through the years, and mostly all my helmets. So, one day my place will be set up pretty awesome. I do really wish I kept a few of my amateur bikes. Like my CR80’s and CR125-250’s. I regret getting rid of those things because I could still ride them now for shits and giggles and remind myself how far dirt bikes have come. We are very spoiled nowadays. But yes, I am sentimental, believe it or not. I enjoy looking at the shit throughout the years. Some really good years, with great memories! Also, some really bad years I wish I had back haha.