If you want to be half decent on a bike, it helps if you’re fit. In fact, if you want to be a world champion, you need to be fit. Properly fit. That’s why all the professional racers of this world seem to spend their life in the gym… or at least tweeting about being in the gym anyway. Us normal people though, probably aren’t ever going to be world champions. Nor do we need Olympic athlete levels of fitness. And so, if you ask me, the best way to improve your ‘bike fitness’ is by simply riding bikes.
Because let’s face it, who actually enjoys sweating their tits off, pumping iron in the gym? Nobody really. I would suggest that most of the people that say they do enjoy it are full of shit. They’re just saying it to look cool. And they probably spend most of their time in the gym taking pictures of themselves, anyway. No, it’s not enjoyable.
And what can you really gain by going to the gym? Apart from the selfies and stuff (i.e. the germs)? There are machines for this, that and the other that claim to build, strengthen and tone specific muscle groups. That’s all well and good, but there isn’t a machine in existence that targets them all. Well not in a gym, anyway.
When you’re flat out on a 1,000cc superbike or giving it the berries on an MX bike though, you will be using them all. Well most of them, anyway. Imagine the time you’d have to spend in the gym looking for a machine that simulates the arm-pump you get in the first session of a post-lockdown trackday, or the arse battering you get off the braking bumps at your local MX track. It’s not going to happen, is it?
“But it’s not all about lifting weights and building muscle.” is what the tight tee-shirt wearing brigade will tell you. “What about all the cardiovascular gains?”. Well you can ram ‘em up your arse as far as I’m concerned. Why anyone wants to go to a sweaty, stinking, covid-riddled gym to do a bit of puffing and panting is beyond me. If you’re desperate to get your heart beating a bit quicker, there’s got to be better ways. Why not go for a nice walk? Perhaps you could take up cycling. Or maybe give the missus a knee trembler when she gets in from work. Surely anything is better than sweating your conkers off in a room full of strangers grunting, groaning and staring at themselves in the mirror.
No, the best way to get ‘bike fit’ is to ride a bike. I’m not a doctor or a ‘sports-scientist’ (that’s a made up job by the way), but I’m fairly confident that the more you ride a bike, the more ‘bike fit’ you’ll be. I know kids with six-packs and biceps like bowling balls, that can’t do a 15 minute trackday session without needing an oxygen tent at the end of it. And I know a few very accomplished bike racers that look like they have just rolled off the set of a John Smith’s advert, but they’re still as fast as fuck.
Me and Fagan have got a huge task ahead of us. We need to sort our fitness out because in January 2022 we’ll be having a crack at the Dakar Rally. It’s one of the most gruelling motorcycle races in the world, and right now neither of us are in tip top condition. But I’m not planning on getting a gym membership to remedy the situation, and I doubt the boss is either. I am planning on doing as much riding as I possibly can, both off-road and on road, from now until Christmas. Because the best way to get bike fit, is riding a bike. Period.